Carmona: Manning no armchair leader

“Patrick Manning was not a Caribbean armchair integrationist,” he declared while delivering a tribute at Manning’s State funeral service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-of-Spain.

“His commitment to the unfinished business of the full integration of the region should be documented for posterity.

“This should be compulsory reading for future leaders in whose hands we would inevitably pass the baton and who must seek to build on his unfinished work.” Carmona said Manning was bold enough to champion the cause of regional integration wherever he went.

“I recall in one of his addresses to the United Nations General Assembly he advanced that Trinidad and Tobago, within its limited means, continues to recognise the importance of building a Caribbean civilisation based on the common history we share with our neighbours,” the TT President said, adding, “He went on to postulate that Trinidad and Tobago was determined that no member of our Caribbean family must be left behind, as the region seeks to maximize the benefits of the CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy), in order to provide a better way of life for all of our peoples.” The President, who, like Manning and St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonzalves, also attended the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica, said Manning’s love for TT and the wider Caribbean was unmistakeable but recognised that he was also an internationalist.

“We would, however, be incomplete in our assessment of this veteran political leader and former Prime Minister if we do not recognise that he was also an internationalist,” Carmona suggest ed.

“This must not be seen solely in the context of bringing to the shores of our beloved republic, leaders from diverse corners of the globe through the hosting in one year, 2009, of the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

It must also be seen through the lens of his African oil initiative, and here I am referring to his initial work with Ghanaian authorities to assist that country to develop its infant hydrocarbon industry.” President Carmona continued,“He saw Trinidad and Tobago playing an important role based on its experience of over a century of involvement in the oil industry to aid African countries in this area of development.

It is a fitting tribute to his legacy that his work in this area continues to engage astute attention of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.” Carmona described Manning as “a true statesman with a formidable legacy.” “It is not easy to live in a country where patience is sometimes thin, memory is short and everything must be made instant like coffee, a society where there are Gods, men and women who make no errors, and countenance none, where compassion, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and mediation are expendables on the altar of political expediency and pragmatism,” Carmona said.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley alluded to Manning’s stubbornness in office but said such attributes were subject to relative interpretations.

“Some believed that he was stubborn but if you knew where we both came from that stubbornness could disappear,” he said.

Saying he had often challenged some of Manning’s ideals, Rowley recalled that on one occasion the former Prime Minister had insisted that ministers of government should not take holidays.

Rowley said he told Manning that he had children and needed at least one month’s vacation. He said it often “broke my heart” when his young daughter would ask him if he was “going out again.” Rowley said Manning also wanted his male ministers in Government to wear dark suits and ties at all times.

“He said that ministers should respect the dignity of the office but he left and I have worn all kinds of suits ever since,” he joked.

Rowley, who succeeded Manning as PNM leader, said during their 35-year relationship his plans for the development of T&T were always “outrageous” He said the establishment of the University of Trinidad and Tobago and efforts at Liquefied Natural Gas expansion were manifestations of this thrust. Rowley said the lofty tributes to Manning from regional leaders during the recently concluded Caricom Heads of Government Meeting in Guyana made him feel proud.


"Carmona: Manning no armchair leader"

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