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I will not apologize to PS Luis deShong! – ‘Marshie’

I will not apologize to PS Luis deShong! – ‘Marshie’

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Despite the threat of legal action for his controversial calypso “Professional Bowlers,” calypsonian Malcolm “Marshie” Marshall says under no circumstances, will he apologize to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Luis deShong.

“Print it! I have absolutely no apologies to make. They want to stop me from singing, but I will not stop. I am short and I will sing until I grow. I want him to read this. I want him to get it clear!” an animated Marshall told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.{{more}}

Marshall, who, with his song “Professional Bowlers” was selected to compete in the national calypso finals on July 5, received a letter demanding an apology from deShong’s lawyer, Patina Knights, last Friday.

The letter, which was copied to eight local radio stations and the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), said Marshall’s song “specifically makes reference to the Ministry of Health and a post ‘SPS’.

“My client holds the post of Permanent Secretary, a post commonly referred to as ‘PS’. It cites that the holder of the post SPS ‘is a bowler.’ My client contends that this is a less than veiled attempt to indicate the post of ‘PS’.

“It is clear that the innuendo is targeted at the ‘PS’ and the reference is intended to mean that he is a ‘buller’. It is well known in Vincentian context that this meaning imports acts of homosexuality.

“These words you published mean and were understood to mean that my client is a homosexual and as such implies my client engages in unlawful acts, that being criminal offences.

“These words are calculated to defame my client, when performed in public constitute a slander, and when performed on the airwaves give rise to a cause of action in libel. My client is aggrieved and defamed. He feels embarrassed and his reputation tarnished. The song serves to lower in the opinion of others my client’s character, professional integrity and standing. It has caused him considerable distress and embarrassment.

“In the circumstances, you are required to with immediate effect cease and desist in continuing to publish such defamatory statements of and concerning my client, further you are to tender in writing to my client a full and unequivocal apology and give an undertaking not to repeat these allegations.

“This letter is written in accordance with the pre-action protocol for defamation. We look forward to hearing from you without delay in respect to an apology. If we have not received a satisfactory reply within seven (7) days of receipt of this letter, my instructions are to institute legal proceedings against you. In the meantime, my client reserves all his rights.”

According to Marshall, who is employed at the Central Medical Store (CMS) in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, he received the letter from his supervisor on June 26, the same day he was scheduled to perform at the at the Calypso semi-finals, at Victoria Park.

“I got it (the letter) sometime after 2 p.m. When I open it, I called my supervisor and my co-workers and told them I got a lawyer letter from the PS.

“I read the letter aloud so everybody could know what it was saying. The whole place was filled with laughter after reading the letter,” Marshall told SEARCHLIGHT.

Marshall forcefully reiterated that his song is simply about cricket and noted that the abbreviation ‘SPS’ has many meanings.

“SPS is ‘serious public servant’, ‘senior public servant’, we have someone working with us who has the initials SPS. He (deShong) see it fit now to move the S and came up with PS and draw his conclusion,” he said.

The Rillan Hill resident said he got the idea for his song at the annual inter-ministerial games, which were held recently. He said during the cricket component of the games, he noted that his ministry has good bowlers.

As far as Marshall is concerned, he does not see what the “big hoorah” is all about.

“I really don’t get what the fuss is about. I really don’t,” he added.

However, after receiving the letter, Marshall said he was contacted by the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), who told him that he had to axe references to the Ministry of Health from the song.

“They told me I have to alter that and that I had to give them in advance before I go on stage. So I came up with the Ministry of Progress to replace the Ministry of Health,” Marshall related.

He said he the change was made in the presence of another calypsonian and two officials from the CDC.

This is not the first time that Marshall has come under fire for a song which references the ministry in which he works.

In 2012, Marshall performed a controversial calypso entitled “Sit Down and Wait,” which spoke to the response to members of the public by some staff members at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

“That one went down good with the audience, but it did not sit well with doctors and nurses at the hospital,” Marshall said.

When asked about his take on homosexuality, Marshall said that it is people’s business to live a lifestyle which is pleasing to them.

“Who want to involve in that, that is their lifestyle. That has nothing to do with me,” he said. (KW)

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