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Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning is dead

Published:Saturday | July 2, 2016 | 4:07 PM
In this 2009 file photo, Trinidad and Tobago's former Prime Minister Patrick Manning attends a news conference ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Manning's family said, on his official Facebook page, that the two-time prime minister died yesterday after battling acute myeloid leukemia.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday led the tributes to Trinidad and Tobago’s fourth prime minister, Patrick Mervyn Augustus Manning, who died less than 24 hours after he had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. He was 69.

Manning, who up until September 2015, was the longest-serving legislator in the twin-island republic, died at the San Fernando General Hospital, south of Port-of-Spain, at 8.15 a.m. (local time) surrounded by his family, where he had been taken to early last week.

“I am stunned!, I am shocked!” said Rowley, adding that Manning, who served as prime minister on two occasions, “dedicated his life to public service.

“I think we will all acknowledge that the country is poorer for his passing and whatever he represented, whatever he accomplished, the most important thing that he did is dedicate his life to public service,” he said, adding that “history will absolve him”.
Rowley said that even though the country was aware of Manning’s illness, “we are absolutely shocked to receive the news of his passing”.

He said the former prime minister will be accorded a state funeral “and we at the level of the prime minister’s office are making arrangements to make sure that Mr Manning has a funeral that is worthy of his station in the country, not only as the leader of the PNM (People’s National Movement) ..., but as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who has passed on, leaving us much better than when he started off.”

Rowley said that Manning will be remembered as a visionary, a patriot and a Caribbean man who always strived for excellence.

“He made the development and well-being of Trinidad and Tobago his priority and in so doing, dedicated his life to serving our twin-island state.
“During Mr Manning’s tenure as prime minister, the country experienced unprecedented growth and development.

The benefits from that period are still helping us through the trying times we face today.

“Up until his death, Mr Manning remained a source of guidance and inspiration to a generation of national and regional leaders who still sought his counsel even after he left active public life,” he added.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar said that Manning, who served for nearly 40 years as the parliamentary representative for San Fernando East, was “also one of the longest-serving public servants in the region.

“Indeed, his wife, Hazel, has always exemplified strength and fortitude in her family, something which was clear throughout their public life. The grief we share at his passing is, without doubt, grief that will be shared by our fellow nations in the region,” she said, adding that “we wish the Mannings God’s guidance and support and pray that the former prime minister will find a place of joy and rest”.

Manning served as the country’s fourth and sixth prime minister between 1991 and 2010.

A geologist by training, he became the leader of the PNM from 1987 until he lost the general election in 2010.Manning served as member of parliament for the San Fernando East constituency from 1971 until 2010 when he decided against contesting the general election.

He was one of three PNM legislators who survived the 33-3 routing that the PNM received from the hands of the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), an amalgam of political parties that defeated the PNM after 30 years of unbroken rule in 1986

He will also be remembered for calling two general elections ahead of the constitutional deadline, including the 2010 poll that brought the People’s Partnership government, headed by Persad Bissessar, to office.

Prime Minister Rowley told the nation, especially “those who might think that people in public life are worth nothing”, that Manning should be remembered for the various policies and programmes he put in place during his tenure of office.

“Anytime you think of LNG (liquified natural gas), it pays the bills for Trinidad and Tobago, think about Patrick Manning; when you think about GATE (Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses), think about Patrick Manning. It was his vision; when you think of UTT (University of Trinidad and Tobago), that was his vision, his doing.

Manning is survived by his wife, Hazel, a former education minister, and two sons.