Thursday, July 7, 2016


Celebrating with Rowley as Manning departs Balisier House on May 27, 2010
The People’s National Movement (PNM), which Patrick Manning led for 24 years, has been mourning the death of the former Prime Minister with many members and officials shedding crocodile tears.

The party’s propaganda machine is also spinning the yarn that current leader, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, had nothing to do with hounding Manning out of office. For the record, Rowley was very much part of an anti-Manning campaign from the time Manning fired him from cabinet in 2008.

In the House of Representatives Manning faced hostile opposition from Rowley, as the Hansard records show, stating that Manning ignored warnings of bid rigging and other forms of corruption in UDeCOTT. Rowley declared the PNM under Manning to be corrupt and pledged to break the mould and rebuild the party “of Eric Williams, Learie Constantine and Kamaluddin Mohammed.”

Manning had strong reservations about Rowley standing as a PNM candidate in 2010 but did not stand in the way as Rowley did in 2015 when Manning wanted to run again in San Fernando East, despite his failing health.

He paid a high price for that. During the 2010 election campaign Rowley openly denounced Manning as he fought for survival as a “sailor” on the PNM ship. At the same time he promised to move against Manning. “And there shall be time enough for court marshal when court marshal is due,” he told supporters at a meeting in his Diego Martin West constituency.

But the “unkindest cut” came at Balisier House three days after the general election, on May 27, 2010.

On election night Manning accepted full responsibility for the PNM’s defeat and announced his resignation. "May I also indicate that if it is the party’s wish I am prepared to stay on as political leader until a new political leader is elected at which time it would be my pleasure to gracefully demit office,” he stated in his resignation letter. He added, "I wish also to assure you…that I will give full support to the new political leader and would at no time operate in any manner the effect of which would be to bring the party into disrepute.”

That was gracious enough and in keeping with political conventions in most democracies. But it was not enough for the pro-Rowley mob that gathered at the party’s headquarters that evening.

It was their little political war and they wanted it to end decisively. So while some PNM officials and members are now saying that Rowley was not a part of the move to chase Manning out of Balsier House they are avoiding the fact that Rowley did nothing to prevent the hooligan-like behaviour when Mr. Manning left.

According to the Guardian’s Gail Alexander, “Manning also underwent trials by privileged elements…and his vehicle was spat upon by certain PNMites when he left Balisier House for the last time on May 27, 2010, with hordes of them jeering him.”

She was quoting members of the PNM who witnessed the humiliation of a man who had served the party as leader for more than two decades, and who governed the country as prime minister for a dozen years.

Rowley was in a celebratory mood as Manning left and the party handed him the interim leadership. "Today the General Council has taken the decision to advise the parliamentarians that I should occupy the position of Opposition Leader…I have accepted that arrangement and I would proceed to do that to the best of my ability," he told PNM members.

Rowley had finally got his victory in the defeat of his party. It could have been a lot more civilized. But the “enthusiasm” of Rowley’s supporters was too intense; they wanted to show Manning that they had won and that he was now a pariah. Rowley did not stop them.

Karen Nunez Tesheira, who served as Finance Minister in the last Manning administration, remembers the ugly scene. “The bitterness, vitriol and disrespect shown to him—no matter what he did, he didn’t deserve that and it was clearly orchestrated and wasn’t an impromptu situation,” she told the Trinidad Guardian.

Former PNM youth officer (female) Laurel Lezama also believes the PNM’s treatment of Manning was unfair. She told the Guardian, “the bad treatment of him by those misguided people whose actions were contrary wasn’t deserving. It was unfortunate and unnecessary.”

Lezama’s male counterpart, Dane Wilson, agrees that the General Council conducted its affairs with civility but that was only one part of the story that night.

“I saw a horrifying sight of some PNM people jeering him (Manning) and spitting after his exiting vehicle and a man with a microphone chasing him and jeering, saying things only an idiot would say,” Wilson told the Guardian. “Now I note the platitudes from people inside and outside the PNM who’re calling him ‘visionary;’ when they had nothing good to say before. It’s hypocritical…they should say nothing.”

Death allows people to pause and reflect, to remember the best of what the deceased offered. That’s what most people have been doing and will continue to do until Mr. Manning is interred.

Wilson is right. There is indeed much hypocrisy in the tears being shed but the greatest shades of hypocrisy are from those who dishonoured Mr. Manning in the most vile manner, and from those who said nothing to censure PNM members who hounded and chased the former PNM leader out of Balisier House.

Jai Parasram – Toronto | 07 July 2016

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai