Already marred by controversy, the saga continued at the 2020 President Medal Award ceremony on Monday as President Paula-Mae Weekes revealed a scholar sent her a letter containing a threat earlier this year. It has since prompted her to appeal to parents and teachers to instil emotional intelligence in children as part of their all-around development.
During her speech after presenting the awards, President Weekes revealed she received an email in January from the unnamed scholar complaining of “feeling disregarded because it had been over nine months since awardees had been announced but no further communication had been forthcoming.”
She said she understood the impatient and “impulsiveness of youth” but expressed her surprise at a threat contained in the letter.
“The author, while showing a clear understanding of the process—that is that my office had to await notification from the Ministry of Educatio—urged us to follow up with the ministry, and now here comes the kicker, and I quote, or else I will be forced to go to the media about the treatment I have received,” she said.
“I thought, why that tone? Why did the writer consider it appropriate to include the ominous, ‘or else’? Where did the writer learn that such an approach was acceptable?”
President Weekes said her office was no stranger to disgruntled letters from all sections of the country but noted the need for respect for public office and officials. She said one of her favourite writers who frequently penned her office was activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh for his exercise of this etiquette.
“Dr Kublalsingh could conduct a masterclass in respect of, respect for and communication with a public office,” she said.
It was this lesson, she said, parents and teachers needed to instil in the younger generation.
“While we must attempt to produce assertive, confident students, not afraid to question the status quo or speak truth to power—hould we not also be raising temperate and tolerant young persons who when faced with disappointment, challenges or frustration, real or perceived, rather than descend to bullying, manipulation or intimidation rise to treat individuals and offices with due regard even as they fearlessly pursue their justifiable cause,” she said.
“I leave these matters for your consideration at some later time.”