Manning emphatically stated that the motion was neither “ole talk” by Government nor an admission of failure to bring crime in the country under control over the last six years.
The Prime Minister disagreed with his National Security Minister Martin Joseph that the Government’s anti-crime measures had failed. However, he continued to support his beleaguered minister, steering clear of saying whether or not he would fire Joseph after four years as National Security Minister and few successes in the war against crime to date.
Manning also declared that under no circumstances would Government impose a limited state of emergency in the country to deal with crime.
Approached by reporters after he addressed the Sixth Annual UWI MBA conference at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s yesterday, the Prime Minister seemed surprised when he was told by the media that Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday and Chief Whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj had rejected the crime motion proposed on Thursday by Leader of Government Business Colm Imbert. “I am not aware of that but I am not surprised because we understand them (UNC) better than many,” Manning stated.
Asked if the Government’s crime motion was not in fact an admission that the security measures it has implemented to date had failed, the Prime Minister replied, “Not at all. The motion was intended to allow for a debate in the Parliament which the Opposition seemed to want. We were trying to facilitate.”
The Prime Minister disagreed with the views of Joseph and other persons that Government’s anti-crime measures were not working. “If we try strategy A and it does not work, we try strategy B. If it does not work, we try strategy C. We will continue to try until we get it right,” Manning stressed. On Thursday, Joseph said Government will review its anti-crime measures and will be able to inform the Parliament on Monday about the new strategies it will employ to win the war against crime in this country.
Asked if he knew whether Imbert had spoken to Maharaj and convinced him to get the Opposition to support the crime motion, Manning said Imbert, Joseph and Information Minister Neil Parsanlal issued three public statements on the motion which asked for the UNC’s backing. “We will introduce the motion into Parliament, if they wish to reject it, by all means. We will debate. I do not think that support from the Opposition is a prerequisite to having the motion debated. If you accuse us of not communicating it is an unfair criticism,” Manning said.