by Marcia Braveboy
Caribbean News Now Senior Correspondent
Having flip-flopped on purported press freedom issues that haunted the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) over the last six days, the entire executive has resigned with immediate effect, paving the way for fresh elections.
MATT confirmed on its Facebook page that the seven-member executive had quit en bloc. The statement followed the resignations of two of its members over the weekend.
“The remaining members of the interim executive of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (Matt) have resigned with immediate effect,” the statement said.
“As an interim executive, it was not possible to elect a new, fully functioning executive due to a very low turnout of media workers at our last general membership meeting. Our last act will be to convene another general membership meeting for the purpose of electing an executive,” the association explained.
The association said the pronouncements on Facebook and other public forums about the issues that confronted MATT over the last few days created a resurgence of interest in the association; the outgoing members hope this resurgence will trigger a better response to the upcoming AGM.
“There has been great resurgence of interest in Matt, if we are to judge from the comments and criticisms posted on the group's Facebook page, as well as various public fora, in the past few days. Hopefully, this will result in a strong turnout at the next meeting and members will offer themselves for executive positions to carry on the work of Matt.”
One hour before MATT made the resignations public, the association’s president Suzanne Sheppard posted on her Facebook page: “Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning,” to which the media association’s secretary Francesca Hawkins responded: “Well, it is now morning, so I hope plenty joy is flowing your way Suzanne”. Sheppard responded: “It is”.
Sheppard told the media she had resigned as president and took full responsibility for what happened.
Floor member Kelvin Baldeosingh tendered his resignation at the weekend, citing his displeasure with the association’s handling of the Trinidad Guardian issue, which saw the resignations of journalists Anika Gumbs-Sandiford, Denyse Renne and the news room’s public affairs editor Sheila Rampersad.
Baldeosingh said the executive lost credibility and had no choice but to resign as they mishandled the situation. He also noted that the Trinidad Guardian itself would have lost credibility.
The other floor member of the executive, Lasana Liburd, resigned from the executive just three months after taking up the post over two years ago.
Liburd and several Facebook posters had called for the resignations mainly of the president and vice president of the media association, following their handling of the Guardian fiasco.
Questions have also been asked about who authored and issued the conflicting MATT releases, since it was later revealed that the president and vice president had recused themselves from preparing such news releases. That person remains elusive.