Saturday, July 2, 2016


Patrick Manning - 17 August 1946 - 02 July 2016
Former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Patrick Manning died on Saturday with his wife, Hazel, and immediate family at his side. Manning was 69. 
He was admitted to the San Fernando General Hospital earlier in the week where he was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia.

Dr Keith Rowley
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, who fought many political battles with and against Mr. Manning, paid tribute to his former leader, calling him “a visionary, a patriot and a Caribbean man who always strived for excellence."

He added that Manning "made development and the well being of Trinidad and Tobago a priority and in doing so dedicated his life to serving our twin island state."

He said up until his death Manning was a "source and inspiration to a generation of national and regional leaders who still sought his counsel even after he left public life."

The People’s National Movement (PNM), which Manning led for 24 years, issued a brief statement describing Manning as a leader with great vision. The PNM said his passing was a loss to the Nation and to his party.

His wife, Hazel, said her husband was full of love and charisma. “He was impressed with young, bright people (and) that made him a special politician,” she said.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who defeated Manning in the 2010 general election to become T&T’s first female prime minister, was the first to pay tribute to her political rival.

“The grief we share at his passing is, without doubt, grief that will be shared by our fellow nations in the region,” she said in a media release.

Regional leaders also sent messages of condolences. The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, tweeted this message: “My sincere condolences to the people of Trinidad and Tobago on the passing of their former PM Patrick Manning.”

And Dominica PM Roosevelt Skerrit said, “Patrick Manning was a sincere advocate for regional integration. As a young man I was very fortunate to have worked with him. Rest in peace.”

Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning was born on August 17, 1946 in San Fernando. He received his secondary education at Presentation College and later went to the University of the West Indies, Jamaica where he graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Geology. His first professional job on his return home in 1969 was at Texaco, the major oil company in the country at the time.

In 1971, following the Black Power unrest, Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams dispensed with the Gerard Montano, a white national who served in government and the constituency of San Fernando East. Williams handed the seat to Manning.

Manning entered parliament in 1971, winning the seat on May 24, by default because there was no other candidate due to a no-vote campaign by the opposition parties. Interestingly his final electoral victory was also on May 24 thirty-nine years later.

Between 1971 and 1978 he served as Parliamentary Secretary in various ministries before getting his first junior ministerial position in the finance ministry. In 1981 he received his first full Cabinet position as Minister of Information and Minister of Industry and Commerce. Between 1981 and 1986 he served as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

Manning gave the constituency unbroken service until the end of the tenth Parliament in 2015. He was the longest serving parliamentarian in the country.

In 1986 Mr. Manning found himself as one of only three PNM MPs following the historic election of that year that swept the PNM out of office in a landslide 33-3 victory for the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR).

Manning took charge of the party, rebuilt it from the ashes and won the general election in 1991. But internal bickering led to an early election in 1995, in which he lost the government to the United National Congress (UNC) by following his principle to “win alone and lose alone”.

His party was defeated in the 2000 general election but the UNC government fell within a year due to the defection of three of its MPs and in the election that followed in 2001 the two parties won 18 seats each. Manning and the prime minister at the time, Basdeo Panday, made futile attempts at negotiating a power sharing agreement and the president ended the impasse by appointing Manning Prime Minister on Christmas Eve 2001.

Less than a year later, after governing without a parliament for nine months, Manning called another election and won a clear majority; he repeated the success in the 2007 general election with a stronger majority. But he was developing a strong-arm style of governance that offended many people, even in his own party.

A public row with the current Prime Minister, Keith Rowley, was a significant chink in his political armour. That and allegations of serious corruption led to his unpopularity and loss of support from many of his strong allies.. At the same time the opposition UNC was going through a political renaissance, which led to the election of Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the party leader and leader of the opposition.

She challenged Manning’s leadership with a vote of confidence and in the midst of rumours of a palace coup Manning took a gamble. He asked the president to dissolve parliament and set May 24, 2010 as the general election date, two years ahead of schedule.

The electorate punished Manning and the PNM and handed victory to a new alliance led by Mrs. Persad-Bissessar, which won 29 of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives. Manning took responsibility for the humiliating defeat and announced that he would resign as party leader. Rowley led an angry PNM lobby that immediately ousted Manning. Rowley later became leader without an election since no one challenged him for the leadership..

In January 2012 Manning suffered a debilitating stroke and was initially treated at the San Fernando General Hospital. He was later transferred by air ambulance to the Walter Reed Medical Centre in the United States – at the state’s expense – for additional treatment and therapy.

Manning never fully recovered but in the 2015 general election he offered to serve again as the representative for San Fernando East, a move that the party resisted. At the last moment he declined although it was clear that Rowley did not wish to have his former political rival as an MP for the PNM.

Manning was taken by ambulance to hospital on June 27. His wife later announced that he had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer. 

Hazel and Patrick Manning

Hazel Manning said on Saturday her husband began having breathing problems at three in the morning and he asked doctors to do whatever was necessary. They sedated him to help his breathing; by six doctors attached a machine to help him breathe and by 8:15 he died peacefully with his family at his side.

Manning is survived by his wife, Hazel, and their sons, Brian and David.

Trinidad and Tobago’s national flag is now flying at half-mast to mourn the passing of the former prime minister and will fly that way until the state funeral on Saturday July 09, 2016 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain. 

Holy Trinity Cathedral
The public will be able to pay respects and view the body on Thursday July 07 at SAPA in San Fernando and on Friday at NAPA in Port of Spain.

Jai Parasram - Toronto | 02 July 2016

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