THOUGH he was a man of many hats, former Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee’s legacy will forever be bound to his controversial statements made after Japanese pan enthusiast Asami Nagakiya was found murdered in her Carnival costume on Ash Wednesday 2016.
His victim-shaming and his assertion that women are to blame for abuses inflicted on them (“the woman has the responsibility that they ensure that they are not abused”) rightly drew condemnation.
But there is more than one way of looking at this chapter of his life which ultimately cost him political office.
If anything can be said about Tim Kee, who died on Saturday at the age of 71, it is that after doing the wrong thing he ultimately did the right thing, even if in pressured circumstances, by acknowledging the outrage and tendering his resignation.
At a time when politicians can act with impunity, his departure was a rare example of a leader stepping down and stepping down for, most unusually, a matter relating to gender attitudes.
It is hoped that because of his career, future politicians will abide by robust standards when it comes to the tact and timing of their remarks as well as the appropriateness of their views in the context of modern life.
Before the controversy, however, Tim Kee was already demonstrating something of a commitment to public service. He was appointed PNM treasurer in 2010 and alderman and mayor in 2013. Over the weekend, the PNM remembered Tim Kee as “a giant of a man, a gentleman, and a patriot.”
However, not only politicians mourned his passing but also members of the football fraternity. Tim Kee was TT Football Association (TTFA) president from November 2012 to November 2015. He briefly expressed his intention to run for president at the November 24 election but eventually withdrew citing ill health.
It was the second major blow for the TTFA for the year, coming after the death of another former TTFA president, Oliver Camps, in January. Insurance industry figures too paused to observe the passing.
“Tim Kee distinguished himself in his professional career within the insurance industry, winning many awards and accolades during his tenure,” the PNM noted.
In a way, then, here was an example of a multi-faceted individual who was willing to offer his time and talent to serving the country in many spheres. While things did not always go well, such a willingness to offer oneself in this way is something to be praised and encouraged. Like the late Sat Maharaj, he was not afraid to speak out, for better or worse.
“I would ask the population to judge him not only on the controversy but on the other good things he contributed to society,” former mayor Louis Lee Sing said in reaction. Not an unreasonable request.