Really, Mr Manning?

Dr Keith Rowley, Calder Hart, Patrick Manning & Hazel Manning

Keith Rowley, Calder Hart, Patrick Manning & Hazel Manning

Newsday Editorial
Friday, May 14 2010

MANY must surely question how closely PNM leader Prime Minister Patrick Manning is actually following the wonderful list of ideals for handling his Cabinet Ministers, that he espoused to a PNM rally at Fyzabad on Wednesday night.

Manning began, in fact, by quite sensibly saying that as leader his policy when a Minister errs in his performance in his Ministry is to support the Minister in the public glare, but to chastise them quietly in private.

All well and good, as an ideal. However it is quite clear that to this rule Manning made one glaring exception — former Minister of Planning, Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley.

When Dr Rowley as Udecott’s line Minister had complained to Manning that the then Udecott head, Calder Hart, was acting as a law unto himself, Manning not only refused to rein in Hart, but fired Rowley as Trade Minister, and spent the next few years lavishly praising Hart at every turn. So at the time when it really mattered, Manning fell woefully short of his own political dictum.

Addressing the Fyzabad crowd, Manning added that he would not stand by a Minister who has personally violated the codes of conduct and integrity expected of a person in public life.

While we will give Manning credit for sidelining two Ministers in the Cabinet appointed in 2001 who faced corruption charges, we say that again, the Udecott affair shows that Manning made one glaring omission to his very own precept, for a man now seen to have wielded almost more power than a Minister — Mr Calder Hart.

Here’s what Manning claimed, in Fyzabad, “The minute anybody breaches the code of conduct and standards of integrity that are expected of a person in public office, they stand on their own. And if they have a case to answer, we will ensure that they have a fair trial and they will answer before the courts.”

What the country is waiting to see is what will be Hart’s fate in light of his apparent conflict of interest when Udecott gave a $368 million contract to CH/Sunway whose two former directors were Hart’s in-laws. The word perjury is also being mouthed by observers who recall Hart’s denial of such familial links to the Uff Commission.

So, given Manning’s high-sounding words at Fyzabad, does he think Hart has a “case to answer”, and does he think Hart needs to have a “fair trial” and to “answer before the courts”?

We also question Manning’s supposed love of the word “integrity” which he repeatedly mouthed at Fyzabad, saying, “The one thing people know about me is that I stand for integrity and have always stood for integrity in the conduct of public affairs”. We are not convinced. Manning’s Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the force of public opinion, media lobbying and threatened lawsuit to effect the Integrity in Public Life Act.

Recently his Government tried to water down the Integrity in Public Life Act by such means as requiring whistle-blowers to expose their identity to wrongdoers. And of course we are not forgetting the fact that in clear violation of the spirit of the Integrity in Public Life Act which bans the use of public office for private gain, Manning appointed his wife, Mrs Hazel Manning, to a plum Cabinet post, twice in fact.

So while we say that Manning’s supposed precepts are all very nice-sounding, we are not convinced that he implements them even-handedly, especially as most-strikingly shown by the Udecott scandal.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,120728.html

5 Responses to “Really, Mr Manning?”


  • There is a word which Christians use to describe “men” like Manning. It is known as “hypocrite”..a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue.

  • I read the editorials of the newspapers before, and even more than I read other articles, commentaries and news stories.

    I do this because, in my opinion, editorials are expected to be more incisive and broadguaged in observation, analysis and recommendation than are other commentaries, etc., which can be expected to be partisan, etc. And by being clearly partisan not cloak themselves as being detached and objective commentators!

    I find, however, that most news coverage, print and electronic, is not objective, and unfortunately, editorials appear to be uniformly opposed to the PNM, and more disposed to the UNCOP.

    It is not that the PNM, or any party in government ought to be treated with kid gloves. No, they are to be held to account as exacting and precisely as possible.

    In addition, any party, as is the UNCOP, which aspires to governance must be also held to similar account for their statements and promises.

    Where, for example is any budgetary analysis attached by news editorials and other analysts to what the UNCOP is promising; for surely, to be a contender worthy of governamce, one must, before getting into office state as clearly as possible what proposed actions and promises will have for the country; its prosperity and its deficits.

    Is this not what the PNM is routinely accused of, and with good reason? On the other hand are there not actions taken by the government which were good for the country?

    In addition, when the UNC had been in power, should the voters not be also reminded of actions taken which were then also either for the ill, or for good? Is this not a mature way to avoid similar errors and at the same time better guarantee results which would better the wellness of the country>

    You might say that what I seek by way of this piece is some public accountability by the news media and especially by those whose editorial policies determine what is published and what is not. Even given human nature, I do not think this is requesting too much.

    In short, what I seek is to hope that if any if the news organs were to be the government that the same expectations for “morality in public affairs” should also apply to them. Being a private corporation does not diminish one’s responsibilities–and the consequences of one’s editorials–as those of being a corporate citizen!

    I hope that this is not asking too much of the media, who, apart from being corporate citizens, not only have a stake in the outcomes, but also in unelected positions, are able to significantly shape the outcomes and the future of the country … and yet never have to be called to account for their pre-election statements, analyses, and conclusions.

    Government is the domain of the politicians, but governance is the domain of all! Thus, what is good for the goose of the politicians should also be good for the ganders of the media!

  • There is something that you must remember Vic , it is not only politicians that are tempted to stick their hands into their mouths and similar crevices , then hold it high into the air so as to assess which directions the winds are blowing, then make a decision. Even Editors , and objective journalist can fall prey to such .
    May good sense prevail come May 24th- whatever the outcome,as the people that make certain private decisions ,in voting boots ,can surprise us all , yes?

  • What I can’t understand is why Calder Hart and Pena don’t come out and clear their names. If my name was calling in so much corruption issues especially this one with the “Church” I would surely come out and clear my name. Aren’t there God fearing people out there anymore. Don’t people want to the right thing on earth so they can secure a place in Heaven for when they die!!

  • WHAT A TEAM THEY ALL FULL OF CORRUPTION AND SURPRISES.

    PEOPLE IN SWEET T & T DON’T NEED THIS CRAP
    GET THEM OUT , ALL FOUR NEED TO BE PUT IN JAIL AND THROW AWAY THE KEYS FOR ALL OF THIS CORRUPTION.

    VOTE THEM OUT . VOTE THEM OUT.

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