PM Broadcast: Govt Abusing Authority

Prime Minister Patrick Manning
Prime Minister Patrick Manning
Govt accused of abusing authority

The Telecommunications Authority of T&T (TATT) has been served with a legal letter by the United National Congress (UNC), claiming that the Government is abusing its authority for this election period. In a letter dated May 15, 2010, Om Lalla stated that his client, the UNC, entered into contractual arrangements with various television and radio companies to purchase broadcast airtime. However, Lalla stated the Government had demanded the same air time for which the UNC had already entered an agreement. Those days include May 16 (today), May 17 and May 23. The letter stated that failing to hear from the authority would result in the UNC seeking redress in the High Court without notice.

Lalla stated that on May 14, a formal notification from the Government Information Services Ltd was sent to all television and radio companies. The letter claims that the notification said “that they (television and radio companies) are required to allocate certain days and times for an address to the nation by Mr Patrick Manning, Prime Minister, of T&T.” Lalla stated: “The times demanded are prime air time, which include the following days all at 8 pm, at which times our client has already entered into contractual arrangements with several radio and television stations.”
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UNC threatens action on PM broadcast

By Andre Bagoo
Sunday, May 16 2010 –

ATTORNEYS for the United National Congress yesterday called on the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to “forthwith” take action to prevent the reported commandeering of television and radio broadcast times by the Government Information Services Limited (GISL) for a broadcast for use by Prime Minister Patrick Manning. “This request by the Prime Minister for allocation of air-time when Parliament has been dissolved, not only takes undue advantage of its position as a caretaker Government but also abuses his authority in an election period in order to gain unfair, improper and illegitimate advantage over his opponents,” attorney Om Lalla wrote in a letter to the TATT chairman Winston Parmesar. “I shall appreciate hearing from you on this matter forthwith failing which I am instructed by my client to seek legal redress in the High Court without notice.” Lalla noted that “on or about May 14, the GISL formally notified all television and radio companies which operate under a State broadcast licence that they are required to allocate certain days and times for an address to the nation by Mr Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.”
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5 thoughts on “PM Broadcast: Govt Abusing Authority”

  1. If Patrick Manning has lost his senses, is there no sensible person in the party to remind him of common civility. They are all behaving as if there will be no life after May 24, 2010.

  2. Mr. Manning had planned on being Prime Minister indefinitely. Now, he is fighting tooth and nail for “his life”; so I expect him, his sycophantic ministers and supporters to use every nasty trick in these last days before election (not that the opposition would not be engaged in some too). It is easy to see Manning’s desperation.

    Unlike Manning, however, there is nothing for Kamla to be desperate about. She had a major victory in becoming leader of the UNC and then Opposition Leader. She won again when Mr. Manning gave her the gift of a snap election which allowed her to quickly purge the party of the vicious Basdeo Panday, his family and other Panday loyalists who were hostile towards her.

    While voting out Manning will give an advantage to the UNC alliance, a vote for them is still not a carte blanche endorsement of Kamla or the UNC alliance; it is a repudiation of Patrick Manning, his Hart, squandermania, nepotism, increased crime, the increase in property tax and lack of accountability and transparency among other forms of corruption.

    When the choice was between Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning, Patrick was the lesser of evils. Now that Panday is out of the picture and it’s between Patrick and Kamla, she now seems to be the lesser evil. There is nothing Patrick Manning can do at this ninety-ninth hour to change what he became before our eyes. Some of us knew all along that he was a superstitious egomaniac. Over time, more and more people saw how dangerous he became. He made the PNM all about him, to the extent that he even said that the drug dealers were not afraid of the PNM, just him:

    “…there are drug dealers in this country and I am not calling any names. I know the newspapers will ask me to name them, but I will do no such thing.

    The information that we have is not so much that they are against the PNM (People’s National Movement) you know. They would like to see a PNM government but they are against the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago because that is the man who is standing in their way.”,117857.html

    What should other PNM ministers have made of that statement? Manning discredited his ministers in his vainglorious effort to sell himself as the ultimate leader worthy of being Trinidad and Tobago’s Executive President for Life.

    The style of politics that both he and Panday stood for must now be rejected.

  3. What the PM didn’t say
    It was bad enough that Prime Minister Patrick Manning commandeered the entire electronic media at prime time Sunday. It was worse that Manning did not enlighten us on the raging issues of the day.

    PM uses broadcast time to promote manifesto
    PRIME Minister Patrick Manning last night used commandeered broadcast time to deliver an hour-long “State of the Nation Address” which, in fact, promoted the contents of the PNM’s 2010 election manifesto and did not deal with any issue of pressing national concern.

    Questions over ‘PM Unplugged’
    While Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s one-hour-long interview entitled Prime Minister Unplugged on prime-time television on Sunday night was not illegal, it raised an ethical issue so close to the general election.

    Muscling into the spotlight
    The conclusion is thus inescapable that Mr Manning is using his State office to appropriate for himself and his re-election campaign the extraordinary advantage of free prime-time coverage, crafted to derive benefits such as his political rivals are unable to enjoy.

    ‘PM abused his powers’
    Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has raised concerns that Prime Minister Patrick Manning abused his powers to make televised addresses to the nation both last night and Sunday night.

    Warner: Sad day for journalism in T&T
    UNITED National Congress (UNC) chairman Jack Warner last night strongly criticised the three journalists who interviewed Prime Minister Patrick Manning on Sunday night, during a Government Information Service programme titled Prime Minister Unplugged.

    TATT: Govt must consult media houses
    Telecommunications Authority (TATT) chairman Winston Parmesar yesterday warned that the commandeering of broadcast time for use by Prime Minister Patrick Manning must comply with provisions which regulate the State’s interaction with media houses.

    Kamla: We’ll pull plug on Manning
    UNITED National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night slammed Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s address to the nation, saying he is begging the people of this nation to reinstall him in office.

  4. Insult to injury

    Newsday Editorial
    Tuesday, May 18 2010

    NOT only did Prime Minister Patrick Manning raise the public ire on Sunday by insisting private television stations broadcast an interview of himself with three journalists, but he then failed to use the opportunity to clear up the public’s widespread nagging doubts that the Heights of Guanapo Church is above board.

    To many viewers, this was adding insult to injury. Afterwards, many citizens felt entirely dissatisfied with the interview, in which Manning really failed to clear the air over the Guanapo Church, but instead seemed to instead try to shield himself with evasiveness, ambiguity and generalisations. For example, Manning at one stage defensively told the interviewers, “He who alleges must prove”. We say, give us a break! You, Mr Manning, are Prime Minister of the country and you must account to us. We don’t have to prove a thing.

    At the end of it all, viewers were none the wiser as to where the alleged $30 million has come from to pay for the Guanapo Church which is after all a privately-owned endeavour. The interviewers should have pointedly asked Mr Manning if he was satisfied that no-one knows the source of funding for the church.

    All this evasiveness from Manning came the day after Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed very convincing documents that named Udecott as the client for the Guanapo Church, casting doubts on Udecott’s previous and current denials of involvement. The documents also cast doubts on the “assurances” given by Minister of Finance Karen Nunez-Tesheira to Parliament on March 19 who had likewise denied Udecott’s involvement in building the church. And as for Mr Manning he was either “Prime Minister” or project manager.

    Even common sense would suggest that if the Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) was intially brought to Trinidad by Udecott to build State mega projects like the Performing Arts Centre, but now SCG is seen working on the Guanapo Church, then it is most likely they were sent to this new and private job by none other than Udecott! Meanwhile, on Saturday the best the PNM party could do was to try to claim the documents presented by Persad-Bissessar — which carried much professional, technical detail — were supposedly ‘dirty tricks”. We don’t think so.

    The documents cast doubt on Manning’s denial of Udecott involvement in the Guanapo Church made on February 27 in a speech of church-State relations in Parliament. Manning had said, “I want to point out from the very onset that the church is not being built with State funds, that the building constructed does not belong to the Prime Minister, that the church is owned by the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ, that neither the Prime Minister nor any member of the Government gave any instruction to Udecott regarding the construction of the church.” In Sunday’s “live” interview, Manning claimed that the then Udecott head, Calder Hart, had helped the Guanapo Church in his supposed “private capacity”. Again, we say, give us a break, Mr Manning. A man who headed Udecott, TTMF and NIB can hardly be said to have any private capacity, in our view.

    Manning said the Guanapo Church is just one of any number of churches helped by the Prime Minister as Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, as he recalled Cabinet recently giving a $2 million for the Roman Catholic Church to upgrade the Archbishop’s Residence. “The assistance of the State to religious organisations is nothing new and is nothing unusual,” he said. We say, well yes, but we ask why is he talking in such vague terms, when the country remains no wiser as to where the whopping $30 million for the Guanapo Church had come from? Two issues must be considered.

    Firstly, one allegation being mooted is that the Government has paid out so many millions of dollars in cost-overruns on all the other projects involving Shanghai and Udecott, that these two companies could, in theory, now easily afford to work on the Guanapo Church for “free”.

    Secondly, while Manning admits knowing Rev Juliana Pena who heads the Guanapo Church, when one sees such a constellation of forces coming together to help in this construction — Shanghai Construction Group, Calder Hart, Manning himself, plus some unknown financier — one cannot help but ask whether a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act has occurred, in that someone may well have used his public office for someone else’s private gain. Next Monday on election day, voters may decide whether or not the Guanapo Church is an election issue.,121035.html

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