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Aboud: I’m sorry, hurt over holiday comment

Saturday, June 2, 2018
Gerald Aboud, managing director of Starlite Pharmacy during the opening of the pharmacy chain’s South Park Mall, San Fernando branch in 2017. PICTURE KRISTIAN DE SILVA

Businessman Gerald Aboud has issued a formal apology over comments he made on his Facebook page referring to this week’s back-to-back holidays— Indian Arrival Day and Corpus Christi.

In his apology, Aboud said he feels “hurt” but promised to “lick my wounds and recover because I am not one to stay down.”

Aboud’s comment of: “Two stupid holidays in the middle of the week” was screen shot and posted to a group page accompanied by the comment “1% disrespecting the 99%,” which quickly went viral on social media. The comment caused a lot of backlash and racist comments. Aboud is the chief executive officer of Starlite Group Limited.

Aboud, in a subsequent post, clarified that his initial comment was not “an attack on the public.”He further explained that his comment was based on the lack of productivity and challenges faced by most businesses due to the share number of public holidays in T&T, especially when they occur in close proximity to each other.

“There was absolutely no disrespect meant to undermine celebration of our East Indian heritage yesterday (Wednesday) or of Corpus Christi today (Thursday), (I myself am a Roman Catholic), I am and have always been a huge supporter of the equal treatment of every creed, race, gender and religion,” Aboud said.“Saying this I am reminded of and always mindful of our watchwords of Discipline, Production and Tolerance, my remarks were a reflection of the impact of so many public holidays on the first two. I humbly apologise if anyone was offended it was not my intention,” he added.

In another post, Aboud again apologised and added that he was plunged into deeper hurt by the matter in which it was handled by the public.

“Of course they were never intended against any race because I would be insulting myself. Honestly, I am quite hurt by the way this matter was handled. In highlighting with what I think is broken in society the matter was turned against me. Many asked why I didn’t respond earlier, that is because I did not feel it was necessary to defend a comment that was not against any group,” Aboud said.

In a release issued yesterday by the Starlite Group Limited, it condemned the “malicious attack” made against Aboud.

It even added that the group is not affiliated “with any political agenda,” “We at Starlite do all we can to promote good business practices and actively support our local entrepreneurs irrespective of the colour of your skin or the religion you may choose.

“We work with community leaders and local vendors to do the very best that we can to improve our country, but we are not perfect. We will continue to strive towards excellence, setting ourselves as an example of how we would like to see other areas of our community,” the release added.

In June 2017, chairman of the Global Brands Group of Companies, Mario Sabga-Aboud had also issued a statement apologising for statements he made in the CNN production, ‘Parts Unknown’ that featured T&T.

Sabga-Aboud received much criticism after he said that while people of Syrian descent represented one per cent of the population, they were the ‘most powerful’.

In the conversation that followed during a family dinner with ‘Parts Unknown’ host Anthony Bourdain, another family member made reference to the diminishing middle-class and expressed fear that it would no longer serve as a buffer between the “haves” and the “have nots”, leading to possible civil commotion.Sabga-Aboud did apologise and admitted that his words were “careless” and misrepresented himself and his values.


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