New NCRHA chairman resigns after threat, SUV tyres punctured
PORT OF SPAIN –– “We are watching you decline the post at NCRHA or else . . . .”
This threat was typewritten and placed on the vehicle of newly appointed chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), Dr Nalini Kokaram-Maharaj.
The perpetrator(s) also punctured the tyres of her SUV.
In fear for her life and that of her family, Kokaram-Maharaj has tendered her resignation.
She was recently approved by cabinet to head the NCRHA board, replacing former chairman Dr Shehenaz Mohammed.
There were three other new appointments to the NCRHA board: Dr Chandra Saroop, Joy Cruickshank and Ryan Ramcharan. The trio replaced former board members Sandra Sookram, Maureen Estwick and Stewart Smith.
The Express understands Kokaram-Maharaj and her two children, ages eight and nine, went to a mall on Tuesday and when they returned to the SUV, the tyres were punctured and the threatening note was on the windscreen of the vehicle.
On Wednesday, via a letter, she informed Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan that she could not accept the chairmanship position as the incident had left her family and herself traumatized and fearful.
“Unfortunately, this incident has placed my family’s safety and security in jeopardy and has forced me to make this very difficult decision. I do sincerely apologize for the great inconvenience this will undoubtedly cause, but as a mother I am duty-bound to protect my family. Thank you for this great opportunity to serve this country and the confidence reposed in me,” stated Kokaram-Maharaj in her letter.
Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, a traumatized Kokaram-Maharaj said she had no choice but to tender her resignation as her family was her life.
“My family comes first. This has been a very difficult decision to make, but I have to think about my family’s safety. I am a very family-oriented person and my children are like my appendages,” said Kokaram-Maharaj.
Khan, who was in Tobago yesterday for the cabinet meeting, said he had not yet received Kokaram-Maharaj’s resignation letter but he intended to ask her to rescind that decision.
The minister said he was willing to provide Kokaram-Maharaj with security for her protection.
Khan said he strongly believed Kokaram-Maharaj was the best person to lead the board and fulfil the mandates for the NCRHA.
He said the incident was very worrying and questioned the attack on the new chairman.
“I am extremely concerned because it points in a certain direction; it is very unfortunate and unfair that anyone would do something like this,” said Khan.
“It is also surprising that this chairman has been attacked in this vicious way, this is the first time that a chairman has been so attacked,” he added.
Khan said Kokaram-Maharaj has also been negatively targeted on the blogs.
The minister said the entire situation was “very strange” and he hoped Kokaram-Maharaj would rethink her decision.
Meanwhile, former chairman Mohammed yesterday expressed shock over the incident and disclosed that she too had been subject of attacks but via emails.
“It most unfortunate that when people are willing to serve, things like this happen; and I condemn it. In fact, I have also been enduring derogatory and disparaging emails for the last year and other types of harassment, which sought to interfere in my personal life,” said Mohammed.
She said she was subject to character assassination and during her two-year tenure as chairman; the vindictiveness never stopped.
It is with deep regret I write to inform you that I will be unable to accept the appointment as chairman of NCRHA.
This has become necessary following an incident that occurred on December 9 when my person and property were placed in jeopardy.
As I inform you today while returning to my vehicle with children I discovered a very threatening note on my windscreen demanding that I decline the position at NCRHA. (note attached).
In addition, I later discovered that the tyres of my vehicle were vandalized. These events have traumatized my family and have me fearful for safety.
I was deeply humbled as chairman of NCRHA — a region that has contributed tremendously to my professional development as a medical student and a medical doctor.
Unfortunately this incident has placed my family’s safety and security in jeopardy and has forced me to make this very difficult decision.
I do sincerely apologise for the great inconvenience this will undoubtedly cause, but as a mother I am duty bound to protect my family.
Thank you for this great opportunity to serve this
country and the confidence reposed in me.