“The mistake I always make my dear friends is that I’m too mannish. I’m not taking that!” stormed Manning, through a hand-held megaphone amid a throng of supporters.
“You should know that the people of San Fernando East did not send me to Parliament for that (suspension).”
With wife Hazel Manning at his side, he won the cheers of about 150 jubilant supporters in red PNM jerseys, who welcomed him in a melee of adulation amid the beat of tassa drums. Also present were campaign manager Tina Gronlund-Nunez, Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne, Arouca/Maloney MP Alicia Hospedales, and former ministers Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, Christine Kangaloo and Gary Hunt.
Manning, in his 40th year as an MP, thanked the lively crowd for being there on a Friday.
“I should have been to Cuba every six months (but) I haven’t gone for two years, and therefore the doctors in Cuba were quite upset by that.” He said he has two artificial valves in his heart, uses a pacemaker and lost a cancerous kidney.
“But I am also pleased to tell you that the doctors gave me a clean bill of health.” The crowd cheered, as some shouted, “Praise the Lord” and “Thank Jesus.”
Manning gave his trademark battle-cry, “I’m ready to take them on in the east, I will take them on in the west, take them on in the north, I will take them on in the south.” The crowd went wild. He denied Works Minister, Jack Warner, had told him of his suspension on a flight to Panama.
“I will not be seen talking to Jack Warner anywhere,” he said. “Mr Warner was on the same aircraft as me. As I passed him I doffed my hat, which is the gentlemanly thing to do... I went past him and didn’t see him again.”
Warner in a Newsday interview on Wednesday said he did not speak to Manning about the suspension on the flight to Panama, saying it felt inappropriate to do so even though Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal had asked him to inform the San Fernando East MP about the disciplinary action. Manning said the Privileges Committee was a kangaroo court. “They took advantage of the fact that they have a majority in Parliament to take nefarious acts that we will find out in due course is perhaps one of the major mistakes of their tenure in office.” He thanked the PNM MPs who had spoken for him, namely party and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, Colm Imbert and Donna Cox. He said he would consult his constituency, Rowley and others.
“On Monday evening I am going to announce our next course of action, my dear friends,” he said. “All I will say to you, is that it now start. It now start!”
“I didn’t believe they were foolish enough to do what they have done. They have acted in a very high-handed manner, and that was their attitude from the start.” He said the Speaker acted as “King Wade”, while he was treated like a felon.
Manning said he attended four of the seven committee meetings to which he was invited. He missed three because of a funeral, late notification and the scotching of a meeting due to a related court-matter.
“What the Prime Minister said in Parliament was accepted. Nobody saw any documents, nobody has examined those documents to see what is true and what is not true. I said the total all-inclusive cost value of the building is $150 million, she said it’s $4 million, so they just decided they would accept that ($4 million figure),” said Manning.
“I say 150, she said four, and therefore she is right and I am suspended. What all you think about that? Is that justice my dear friends? And we not taking that, we not taking that, we not taking that!” He vowed to consult, and then on Monday state other steps he’d be taking further to his current legal action.
“Of course what you are seeing in the Gopaul matter is not an isolated incident. They have been behaving that way from the start. They felt that by winning the election they were given a licence to act as they wish.
You will find they have violated a number of laws and the Government is in considerable trouble,” Manning said, referring to questions about the Prime Minister’s stay at the home of Ralph and Maureen Gopaul during the election campaign. The couple’s firm, Gopaul and Co Ltd is reported to have received a $40 million NP contract. The PNM has since written the Integrity Commission on the matter.