Manning should step down

By George Alleyne
April 07, 2010 – newsday.co.tt

PM Patrick ManningTwo things are clear. Political Leader of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), Prime Minister Patrick Manning, must step down and the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) and the Congress of the People (COP) are still light years away from any meaningful approach to political unity.

Indeed, current thinking suggests that the UNC is not prepared to surrender to the COP any of the 15 seats it holds in the House of Representatives which it won in the November 5, 2007 general election.

Acting Political Leader of the COP, Wendy Lee Yuen, clearly recognising this, is on record as stating she believed the sensible thing would be for the COP to contest the seats in which it placed second to the PNM in the last general election.

Despite no clear sign of rapprochement between the UNC and the breakaway COP, which fought against it in 2007, if, however, the PNM hopes to continue in power after the next general election, constitutionally due in November, 2012, Patrick Manning will have to step down as Prime Minister and PNM Political Leader.

For this to be meaningful it will have to be done shortly in order to provide any new political leader with enough time to rebrand the PNM and mobilise members and supporters of the Party for the crucial battle which lies ahead.

The Party has been badly hurt, specifically by a great deal of what emerged during the course of the Uff Commission of Inquiry into the construction sector, particularly the power wielded by the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott).

So great was the authority exercised by Udecott that a disturbing question has arisen. Was Udecott Government’s alternative personality?

In normal practice there are not only distinct lines of communication between Government and a State enterprise or public corporation, but that no State enterprise is permitted to act completely on its own.

Its authority is limited. While it can interpret the policy positions of a government, as it seeks to execute those positions, however, it is not expected to formulate policies which are wholly independent of Government’s.

It is not a public company as, for example, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC) or Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT). It should be pointed out, though, that for all the relative freedom of action TTEC and TSTT may enjoy this is still limited by a regulatory agency.

Udecott’s undisguised freedom of action, however, was not limited by a Government Minister, a regulatory agency or otherwise. It appeared as though Udecott was answerable to no one.

It entered into arrangements with foreign and domestic contractors even when, in the case of foreign agencies, these appeared to be virtual government to government arrangements.

In the process it committed the taxpayers of Trinidad and Tobago to the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars and in the exercise of this power would hurt the image of both the Government and the ruling Party. Since under the Westminster system which Trinidad and Tobago adopted at Independence the final responsibility for Government action or inaction rests with the prime minister, then Prime Minister Manning should accept responsibility for this colossal gaffe and step down.

The image of Government, along with that of the party in power, has been so badly bruised by the Udecott episode that Manning should and must step down and make room for a new political leader and prime minister.

He will have to give the new leader, and former cabinet minister, Diego Martin West MP, Dr Keith Rowley, who from early had the courage to question the seemingly limitless power of Udecott, immediately comes to mind, enough time to regroup the party.

In this context any hint or talk at this stage by Manning of an early general election is unamusingly absurd.

Udecott has squandered any chance of the PNM’s succeeding at the polls should an early general election be called.

Should there be a snap general election it would not be a question of whether a united or otherwise opposition would win, but rather by how many seats.

Will Manning, instead of declaring as he did on the night of the PNM’s 26-15 victory over the UNC on November 5, 2007 that “This is God’s victory,” solemnly announce: “This is God’s defeat?”

Meanwhile, many persons continue to have uncomfortable reservations about the silence of the UNC on the issue of the party’s long-standing major plank on constitutional reform — Proportional Representation.

This is disturbing, as, should the UNC win the next general election with the required three-fourths majority necessary to effect this change to the Constitution it could be in office indefinitely. This would be an unsettling situation, perhaps far worse than the trauma of Udecott.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/commentary/0,118605.html

NEWS:

Ramesh on Uff Commission findings: Worse than O’Halloran scandal
Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj says he is not surprised by the findings of the Uff Commission.

‘…Minister must go too’
THE Uff report has revealed nothing new and held no surprises, says president of the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) Winston Riley.

PM has a case to answer too
It may not have been ‘the Calder Hart inquiry’, as the Works and Transport Minister once protested too much in Parliament, but the former UDeCOTT executive chairman emerges as the unquestionable superhero in the drama of public-sector misbehaviour unfolded by the Uff report.

Kamla: Too little, too late
PRIME Minister Patrick Manning should resign and call a general election immediately due to Government’s refusal to act on allegations against the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), its former executive chairman Calder Hart and the company’s board based on evidence long in the public domain, advised Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Fresh probe into Cleaver Heights
Government is to conduct another forensic investigation into the Cleaver Heights housing project.

…Rowley: They’re out to get me
This is now the fourth investigation in Cleaver Heights Housing Project, Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley stated yesterday. Rowley said probes were done by forensic accountants Gerry McCaffrey, Robert Lindquist, the Uff Commission of Enquiry and all came to the same conclusion thing – that no money was stolen.

7 Responses to “Manning should step down”


  • We have a tragic state of affairs in this beloved country with a pm who have lost all meaningful respect of the public at large because on one hand he professes to be christian, yet he shows and displays an evil eye when it comes to Rowley. He brought back Jeremie to pursue this course to wits end regardless of how much of the tax payers money is expended. He gave uncheckered authority to Calder Hart to do as he pleases without reporting to any line minister. He is on record as making a case for the development of the Brian Lara stadium yet allowed the process of building become a fiasco. When there appears to be a shortfall in the budget because of wastefull spending he proposes a taxing of properties which was not fully vetted. When the Law association proposed the elevation of Gaspard, he rejected it without explanation. He allows key statutory positions such as the solicitor general to go on being unfulfilled. He is on record as saying that “Obama can learn a thing or two” from him, could you see him nominating his fiercest rival to compete on the PNM ticket? There is a Mugabeisque to this guy who intends to be in charge at any cost. While the opposition is in chaos, it does not necessarily follow that the population wants to continue with someone with “dictatorial tendencies” at the head of leadership in this country.

  • My , my what a novelty , Uncle JA wants to introduce foreign cultural norms into our country by suggesting that an MP resign over possible improprieties. Not only that ,he is beseeching Dr. Williams’s protégé, and favorite student Manning ,to possibly hand over power to another Tobago neglected son, and well known lifetime enemy. Seems like déjà vu all over again, but guess what , it ain’t happening.
    Robbie too was used , abused , misused , and discarded by the Doc and most importantly the people of Sweet T&T aka Rainbow country , and so was Rowley by Uncle Manning and the usually comatose , fete obsessed citizens.
    JA you have just confirmed what I have been saying all along about T&T politics. The PNM can get away with anything if it so desires since no viable ,organize Opposition is around to replace them with sound pro people policies .
    The people prefer to remain with the devil they know as opposed to giving a chance to folks who six months from now would be going at each other jugglers, like hungry caged pit-bulls cage somewhere in Central.
    In short as Granny would say,”if better can’t be done ,let the worst continue.” I wonder why no one ever make this demand of Manning other arch enemy Panday? A different issue , for another rum consuming occasion perhaps?

  • George Alleyne states:

    “Meanwhile, many persons continue to have uncomfortable reservations about the silence of the UNC on the issue of the party’s long-standing major plank on constitutional reform — Proportional Representation.

    This is disturbing, as, should the UNC win the next general election with the required three-fourths majority necessary to effect this change to the Constitution it could be in office indefinitely. This would be an unsettling situation, perhaps far worse than the trauma of Udecott.”

    Mr. Alleyne is showing his true colors by making the above statements.He is also stating the true feelings of many supporters of the PNM who will surely forgive any and all transgressions of the prime minister and his cabinet, for the sake of preserving their dominance in T&T.

    Proportional representation will reflect the population characteristics of T&T, thereby negating the voter/house padding efforts of the PNM.It will give an advantage to the largest population group in T&T.Any alternative to the PNM should be welcomed.It is puzzling that Mr. Alleyne considers an opposition victory as “unsettling.” Afterall, the PNM has been in power for approximately fifty years.Can any party come up with a worse record of corruption,crime, failures and wasteful spending?

  • There he goes again fronting unfounded Indo Trini population superiority claims. How did this comedian come about with his conclusions ,is what I would like to know ? Perhaps he has been drinking that imported Charlotte Street Demarara babas for too long , that’s it.When was the last authentic census taken in our country, and what category is he prepared to place our loving , though often ignored ,Dougla population is my fundamental question?
    Listen to what John Agitation brother is saying and see if it is not laughable my friends. He and his other Canadian pals are British subjects to the bone, but is talking nonsense about proportional representation.
    No T-Man , you keep your Privy Council , but First Past the Post system will also remain. If you and other sourgrapes , POWER HUNGRY ,cry babies feel that something fishy took place in every election since 1962 , then it is time to give Jimmy Carter a call, so that he can observe your next one come 2012.
    An opposition victory is unsettling if all they are prepared to do once more is tease the population with so called unity and change , only to start fighting like excited cats and dogs once in power for six months.
    Most importantly if 50% of the civil servants,Permanent Secretaries, and MP’s that function during the PNM’s fifty year reign were of Indo Trinidadian descent , this stupid and mute ,point about blatant corruption , is simply hot air that no one would take seriously, especially the vast cross section of people from every creed , and race that have repeatedly voted them into power .
    As spokesman, and political advisor to Madam K , T-man you are well advised to tell her and the UNC / COP hierarchy, to get their acts together , and develop coherent social and economic policies that can alleviate the sufferings , create jobs, and improve the lives of our people. Progressive politics is all about looking forward , not backward like Lots wife. You know what became of her.
    You are wasting your time Uncle GA.What more can one ask for in terms of a balanced ,objective article ? The man chastised the PNM and the only thing he did not request was that the PM go to the top of the Financial Towers ,and jump off. Not once did the man refer to the prisoner in hiding Mr Panday,and what was his reward? It’s your fault GA.Let’s wish the real voting public well , not foreign jokers like T- Man and similar destabilization agents,that for all their diastase for everything Trini, cannot tell the difference between a voting boot, and a Fizabad Run shop.
    “Perhaps there were a few million dollars that might have been stolen in the process. But how many millions of dollars have we saved because we have re-established the stability of Canada by keeping it a united country?”
    Jean Chretien
    To think that these people have the audacity to complain about my country, but then Sweet T&T aka Rainbow Country ,is equally divided.

  • The following is a position statement from MND.
    Would PR bring about the unity desired for a successful country?

    Position Statements
    Proportional Representation the way forward

    Mar 18, 2007

    The Movement for National Development (MND) is firmly on record as saying that the politics of Trinidad & Tobago simply has to move forward, and that for Unity to be something of substance other than a mere platitude, then some new configuration of parties has to be developed which actually facilitates this process .

    We strongly advocate therefore that Constitutional reform which will incorporate the system of governance through Proportional Representation (PR), be put on the front burner of National Politics.

    Under such a system each and every vote counts, rather than the present system whereby if you are located in a strong PNM area there is almost no point in voting for the opposition. Or if in a strong UNC area then there is little or no point in voting PNM!

    Under Proportional Representation (PR), all the votes are counted up at the time of the election, and seats are then allocated to the contending parties in proportion to the vote they have secured. In this way every single vote counts.

    If for example out of say 1 million voters, 300,000 vote for PNM, 300,000 for UNC, 150,000 for COP, 150,000 for MND and 100,000 for another minority party, then seats in the House would be allocated proportionally i.e 6 seats for PNM, 6 for UNC 3 each for COP and MND and two for other.

    Such an arrangement ‘at a stroke’ would encourage all various demographic composition of our Country to unite behind a single government and not feel excluded from politics decisions as they are at present.

    Furthermore, under PR minority voices can be heard, then the smaller ethnic groups also have a say, and a very much more balanced government can be elected reflecting fully the broadest possible range of policy options open to any Government.

    The Movement for National Development (MND), therefore strongly believes that this single issue should be the first item on any parties’ agenda that is serious about new politics, and legislation brought within first 12 months of any new dispensation gaining power. We find it curious that currently out of all the parties contending the next election — the silence on this issue is deafening, which can only lead us to believe that ‘old’ politics remains the order of the day in Trinidad & Tobago at this time

  • To say so little, and none of it novel, lets practice the economy of words.
    HJS.

  • No my friend , this 14th century, motherland style of politics won’t do in our country. Tell your candidates to be more creative , roll up their sleeves, get out from inside their safe seats social milieus ,and connect with the voters across the nation. There is for example absolutely no reason why a prospective leader should grovel and pander to his or her secured base, instead they’ll be advised to spell out their own authentic message , to the wider population, and observe the positive returns.
    Is that not how they do it in your adopted homeland Canada? Do you naively think that Uncle Obama would be Commander in Chief today of the greatest country on earth if he was seen having drinks with Louis Farakan during Martin Luther King day in Chicago? Do you know what it took to bring the Royal Clintons, and ever loquacious Biden on board.Now if this guy was prepared to throw Rev Wright under the bus , what do you think he would have done to Sat Maharaj , short to locking him up in a the St. Anns Mental asylum , or recommend that he be chained along with Panday to a bed at Carraria Jail, that is ?
    Most importantly , now that Obama is in charge , see if he destroys the people’s trust, by resorting to stupid , idiotic daily fights in public on inconsequential matters so as to blow up the fragile alliance as done by the bumbling ,dinosauric, political has been leaders , that you so adore.
    I know that you are salivating over this early election development, that even the blind could anticipate was coming, but my advice to you is not to give up your day job as yet or pack your bags for the promised inner sanctum White Hall position as possible aid de camp of the new PM.
    As Tambu said ,”de journey now start,” and one cannot run with a major leg injury.If you doubt me, then ask a certain female youth Canadian cross country champion, and possible 2012 Trini Olympics hopeful. Since the drug using BenJohnson , dem Canadians are getting quite skeptical in allowing any and every foreigner to represent their country and Flag. We cannot really blame them , with their deep concerns of loyalty and all.
    Love country!

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