Kamla prays Manning's peace
Petroleumworld.com 07 05 2016
Patrick Manning's dedication to public service, the development of Trinidad and Tobago (TT) and that of the wider Caribbean, came in for high praise from his former political opponents following news of his sudden death yesterday morning.
Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, highlighted Manning's terms as Prime Minister (PM) – 1991, 2001, 2002 and 2007. She noted also that he was TT's “longest serving parliamentarian and one of the longest serving public servants in the region.” Expressing deep sadness at the news of his death, Persad-Bissessar said, “The grief we share at his passing is, without doubt, grief that will be shared by our fellow nations in the region.” “We wish the Mannings God's guidance and support and pray that the former Prime Minister will find a place of joy and rest.” Persad-Bissessar and the People's Partnership coalition dealt Manning a heavy electoral defeat in 2010, ousting him and the PNM from office by 29 to 12 seats, although Manning remained an MP until last year. Persad-Bissessar and the PP's fortunes reversed when they lost the 2015 general election to the PNM under the now Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
The Opposition Leader also spoke highly of the strength exhibited by his wife, Hazel Manning, during their years in public life.
“Hazel has always exemplified strength and fortitude in her family, something which was clear throughout their public life,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Former political leader of the Congress of the People, St Augustine Member of Parliament (MP), Prakash Ramadhar, spoke of the “tremendous loss” Manning's death is to TT and the entire Caribbean.
“Though we sat on opposite sides of the political divide and we differed fundamentally on policy-related matters, especially policies which directly impacted the poor and the vulnerable, there can be little doubt that Mr Manning always did what he believed was in the best interest of the country. This made him a role-model for young politicians,” Ramadhar said.
He also praised the former PM for willingly sharing his expertise and experiences with others, “always with a smile,” which Ramadhar said made Manning “a source of invaluable information.” Regarding Manning's commitment to regional integration and cooperation, the St Augustine MP said throughout his terms as PM, “Mr Manning repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to our Caribbean neighbours by the alacrity with which he sought to offer them assistance - not just in times of natural disasters but for the purpose of regional economic development.” Recognising that the bulk of this country's exported manufactured products was sold within CARICOM, Ramadhar recalled that Manning's “often repeated mantra was that ‘for TT to be strong, the rest of the Caribbean must also be strong'.” Caroni East MP and Opposition member, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, also spoke highly of Manning's “unwavering service to his country as a career politician who entered parliamentary politics as the MP for San Fernando East in 1971, in the then Eric Williams Government, and continued serving in that post until 2015, when his illness forced his exit from politics.” Gopeesingh said during his terms as PM, Manning's policies helped to shape TT's global industrial thrust in the energy sector and had “the most significant impact over the shaping of our modern day economic and social systems and society as a whole.” Saying Manning served the nation “with obvious joy, dedication and commitment”, Gopeesingh declared that “we must always and eternally be grateful to him for all he has done to keep our nation the stable, progressive democracy that it remains today.” “We sat on different sides of the political fence but that never affected our mutual admiration and respect for each other,” Gopeesingh shared, revealing that he first came to know about Patrick Manning “through his father's proud comments” during Gopeesingh's stint as an employee of the then Texaco refinery labs from 1967 to 1968.
At the time, Manning was studying at the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Mona Campus, Jamaica.
Gopeesingh said Manning's father cited his son as an example of what education can do for a person.
“Mere years later, when I myself entered that same campus, I stayed on Irvine Hall where Mr Manning had also stayed, and learnt quickly of the considerable legacy he had left in such a short tenure as the then Hall Chairman.” Gopeesingh added that over the ensuing decades, they would socialise regularly through mutual friends and then, politics.
He said Manning “never failed to impress me as we moved in these professional and occasional social circles with his true gentlemanly status, his deep knowledge about the TT economy and politics, and his strong convictions of his philosophies for our development as a nation.” Manning's most famous political opponent and fellow former PM, Basdeo Panday, is out of the country right now but Sunday Newsday spoke with his daughter, Mickela Panday, about the loss of their close family friend.
“I was extremely surprised and very, very deeply saddened. I only saw him a couple of months ago and he seemed to be strong and well. We had a nice conversation, so yes, I was very, very shocked.
Very, very sad.” Asked if that last conversation occurred “by chance”, Mickela told Sunday Newsday Manning had asked to see her.
Although she declined to reveal what they chatted about, saying it was “private”, Panday said he “looked really well” that day.
She also said, “Our families have always been very, very close.
Contrary to what is portrayed in the media, the reality isn't always the same. So we've always been very, very close.” Mickela plans to visit Hazel Manning and her sons, Brian and David, very soon to lend her support in their time of grief.
Story by Sasha Harrinanan
newsday.co.tt| 07 03 2016
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