By MIRANDA LA ROSE Thursday, January 10 2013
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COOL IT: A policeman tries to calm expelled Agricultural Society of TT board member David Pamponette yesterday following a heated meeting of the socie...
CHAOS ensued yesterday when a suspended member of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT) attempted to speak at a special general meeting at the Maloney Food Crops Garden facility, which later led to the meeting being aborted.
David Paponette later told Newsday he will sue the ASTT board challenging his expulsion.
Minutes after Paponette was asked to leave and he refused to do so, a police squad car arrived and officers were seen speaking to Paponette. By this time the meeting had already been adjourned to a date to be determined.
Paponette, according to minutes of the ASTT’s General Meeting last November 30, was expelled from the society, “for life with immediate effect for being disruptive at many meetings.”
The business of yesterday’s meeting was to include disciplinary matters, acceptance of applications for membership and presentation of candidates for upcoming elections to the committee of management.
Paponette showed up at the meeting and took a seat while discussions on the minutes of the November 30 general meeting were underway. ASTT vice-president Lall Bagaloo asked Paponette to leave. At this point, several members who appeared to be supporters of Paponette, stood up and asked to be heard on Paponette’s expulsion.
As several persons began to speak at the same time and Bagaloo could not restore order, he again told Paponette to leave and not be within 100 yards of the meeting venue. Paponette stood his ground and Bagaloo’s order was challenged by several members, who asked by whose authority were the order for Paponett to leave given.
A board member tried to explain that the order for Paponette to leave was in keeping with the society’s constitution. But members claimed that Paponette was expelled without a hearing and that provisions in the constitution needed to be changed to be more democratic.
Several persons, including chairman of the Maloney Food Crop Farmers’ Association Nawaz Karim, who hosted the meeting, asked for silence, but were ignored.
Karim later told Newsday Paponette was given the opportunity to defend himself against charges which led to his expulsion. He added that while it was the board which recommended Paponette’s expulsion, it was the general membership who voted on a motion to have him and others expelled for life. If Paponette wants to challenge the expulsion, he can do so through the courts, Karim said.
Asked why he was expelled, Paponette told Newsday: “I was expelled because of disagreements I had with the Committee of Management relating to governance of the association, spending of Government funds and the processes used to manage Government funds.”
Asked why he came to the meeting when he was expelled, Paponette said, “I came because I was expelled without being asked to give an account to the membership for my expulsion. They did it behind my back. They pulled a group of people together without consulting me. I was never invited to a meeting to defend myself. It doesn’t happen like that.”
“I was democratically elected by over 500 members. I was expelled by a handful of people and wasn’t given the privilege to answer for myself,” Paponette said.
Minutes from the November 30 meeting, showed that 161 persons voted for Paponette’s expulsion; 21 abstained and 40 persons were “unaccounted for”. Paponette was one of 11 members expelled on November 30.
Others expelled, Newsday was told, were Jenson Alexander, Roger Lashley, Krishendath Sooknanan, Ramdeo Boondoo, Mahadeo Rambharose, Feeraz Khan, Krishna Balgobin, Roger Waldron, Mahalia Hospedales and Elizabeth Mohamed-Ali. At the November 30 meeting, six other members were suspended.