Manning Fires Rowley

Dr. Keith RowleyDr. Keith Rowley’s appointment as Trade and Industry Minister was revoked with immediate effect on Wednesday 23rd April, 2008, by President George Maxwell Richards acting on the advice of Prime Minister Patrick Manning. This dismissal comes six months into the term of the Patrick Manning administration and has impassioned many supporters of Rowley.

Dr. Rowley has been replaced by Dr. Lenny Saith and Mr. Manning’s office states that the new arrangement will ensure the government’s programme continues without interruption. Their explanation about the appointment of Dr. Saith is that he has been chairing a number of Cabinet committees, and with his vast experience, continuity will be assured.

Rowley, speaking with CNC3 News, said that he was fired because he objected to a plan by the Urban Development Corporation Of Trinidad And Tobago Limited (UDeCOTT) to construct a 60 room hotel at the Princess Building ground, (a piece of land formerly used by the people for recreation on which the Performing Arts Center is being built). Rowley said: “I was informed of a further development at the Princess Building grounds… and discovered that UDeCOTT had presented development plans to the Cabinet for the construction of a 60 room hotel on that site.” It was something, he said, he could not tolerate. He further stated, “As a member of the Cabinet, it was news to me and my colleagues. I took strong objection to it, questioning the jurisdiction of UDeCOTT. Even as a member of the Cabinet, it appears, I am not entitled to voice my objections. For voicing my objections I have been fired.” He was informed of the revocation of his ministerial appointment at White Hall. Rowley said that he was not surprised at what seemed to be his sudden dismissal.

After meeting with his Diego Martin constituents, Dr. Rowley spoke with the media. Here is an abstract of what he shared:

ROWLEY: As to my relationship with the constituents of Diego Martin West, I am [still the] Member of Parliament for Diego Martin West. I was elected to represent the people of Diego Martin West in Parliament and I shall continue to do that to the best of my ability for the duration of this parliamentary term. The other question which was the one about my relationship with the Prime Minister, as far as I am aware, I have had an extremely good working relationship with the Prime Minister…

Speaking on the matter of his dismal, Dr. Rowley said:

ROWLEY: This issue about the revocation of my appointment today, the specific issue on this is my objection to certain activities of a state company; that state company being UDeCOTT. As you may know, I have been the Minister for UDeCOTT when I was Minister of Planning and Development. We had issues there. I have been the subject of an integrity commission action which I have taken to the court and we had issues there, and the issue …of last week has to do with a project of which UDeCOTT is involved, and my reaction to it is reacting to the surprise that such a development could be taking place without appropriate Cabinet oversight. My concern had to do with a demand for Cabinet oversight of UDeCOTT’s activities where billions of dollars of state funds are being expended on projects which are quite necessary; I am not in any debate about the projects. My concern has to do with the procurement processes and the nature of the activities which [took place without] Cabinet oversight and I raise that and I claim it offended certain people.

REPORTER: Dr. Rowley, they spoke about the sixty room hotel.

ROWLEY: Yes. The sub-commission of the Cabinet was made aware of UDeCOTT’s construction of a sixty room hotel on the Princess Building grounds site as part of the Performing Arts Center. As you know, we are building a performing arts academy on the Princess Building grounds. We discovered recently as part of that [project] under construction is a sixty room hotel and as a member of a PNM Cabinet I had to ask the relevant questions and I had to take certain positions which I did which resulted in my dismissal.

REPORTER: What were your positions about this project?

ROWLEY: Well, for a start, it is my view that if I’m a part of the Cabinet and such a project is taking place and being funded by the state, that I would be aware of it and that some element of oversight should be . I was taken by complete surprise as well as my colleagues. This could only have happened because UDeCOTT business is being conducted in such a way that such a development can take place to the surprise of Cabinet members.

REPORTER: Dr. Rowley, the fact that at one time you sought the leadership of the PNM, given what now transpired, would you at any time consider another bid for leadership of the Party?

ROWLEY: I have no commitment to make to that except that I have always maintained that I am a team player and I represent the PNM to the best of my ability.

REPORTER: Dr. Rowley, are you concerned that there is an intolerance of decent in the Cabinet?

ROWLEY: Yes I am.

REPORTER: Dr., the Prime Minister accuses you of misconduct in connection with this project you spoke about earlier.

ROWLEY: It has to do with a meeting with the sub-committee …I have been accused of misconduct and I sought to find out what were the elements of this misconduct, and I could not find out what it was. What I was aware of, that I did, was to express my disagreement with the way UDeCOTT was allowed to conduct government business without adequate cabinet oversight. I didn’t use unparliamentary language, I didn’t shout at anybody, I didn’t use obscene language, I didn’t bang on the desk, I didn’t identify any person who could have been responsible for this. I took a position of principle requesting that the cabinet be in charge of the [public’s] affairs and they can only do that if they have proper procedures in place. And I did it against a background of my own involvement with UDeCOTT, where I was the Minister for UDeCOTT, and I had some difficulties with them. I did it against the background of elements and persons in UDeCOTT seeking to conspire with others in the integrity commission to have me charged with criminal conduct; and against a background of UDeCOTT’s involvement in the housing programme.

When I was Minister of Housing, I took steps to ensure that cabinet prevented UDeCOTT from getting involved in the housing programme. So, against that background, my position last Monday can be seen as a position of my dissatisfaction with UDeCOTT’s existence and presence in the public sector and how it is being allowed to function. And against a background where, as you all should know, recently I had a look at volumes of documents made available to me in parliament – documents of my speeches during the seven year period when the UNC was in the opposition, and I must say, I was quite stunned at the number of hours I spoke in the parliament – most of it having to do with misconduct on the part of the UNC cabinet. And with that track record, and where I was thrown out the parliament by the UNC for demanding proper procedures, I find it difficult to swallow that as a member of the PNM cabinet, and UDeCOTT’s problem as I know them, has to be glossed over by me because if I raise objections I would offend certain individuals. Clearly I have offended people in the UDeCOTT…

I was aware that the Prime Minister had concerns but I was summoned this morning and confronted with a position that the Prime Minister had received a report that I had misconducted myself. Now I don’t know what this thing is about. If I did something, ladies and gentlemen, I am quite prepared to stand the consequences. What I have difficulties with is being accused of things I didn’t do. I am in court; I have to pay 350,000 dollars to have the integrity commission say that I didn’t do anything. Now my own Prime Minister is telling me he got a report from somebody unnamed saying that I did something, and I am asking what did I do? I can’t be told what I did, but you are to be fired for what you did, and I am saying, tell me what I did. I cannot be told what I did, but I must be disciplined for what I did. I find that to be a very strange development in a PNM cabinet in Trinidad and Tobago. I am not here seeking to get my job back. I am simply saying this country’s business, if this is how the country’s business is being conducted, then something is radically wrong. And as a PNM person, I am saying that the party should take cognizance of how it is conducting the country’s affairs. That is all I am saying.

Related News:

Rowley gets the axe: Saith takes over as Trade Minister
Barely six months into his new Government, Prime Minister Patrick Manning yesterday morning “fired” one of his few senior front-line Ministers–Diego Martin West MP Keith Rowley who was replaced as Trade and Industry Minister effective immediately…

PNM Diego West MP sits on Opposition benches

UDeCOTT doing as it wants
Former Trade and Industry Minister Dr Keith Rowley last night said his concern over the way the state-owned Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) was conducting its business, was the contributing factor to his dismissal from Cabinet by Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

I Saw It Coming
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…Valley: I told you so
Former Diego Martin Central MP Ken Valley said yesterday that “those who have ears to hear, would have heard what he said before the election (about Prime Minister Patrick Manning)”.

Bad blood in PNM
AFTER JUST over four months as the Minister of Trade, Diego Martin West MP Keith Rowley was yesterday fired from his post by Prime Minister Patrick Manning, bringing to a head a strained relationship between the two men which surfaced when Rowley challenged Manning for leadership of the PNM in 1996 after the PNM lost the 1995 election to a UNC/NAR

PM: Mum’s the word
Firing of Keith Rowley…

Rowley firing stuns business leaders
Business industry heads were stunned yesterday by the news that Dr Keith Rowley had been fired as Trade and Industry Minister and replaced by Dr Lenny Saith, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.

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DR KEITH ROWLEY, who was fired as Minister of Trade yesterday, nearly did not make it to the People’s National Movement (PNM) slate of candidates for last November’s general elections…

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Shock, surprise and smugness

Kamla: Manning has to explain to the nation
Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Prime Minister Patrick Manning must tell the nation why he fired Trade Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

19 thoughts on “Manning Fires Rowley”

  1. Damned good for him.

    He gave silent support to the treatment Ken Valley, Larry Achong and before them Ralp Maharaj received from Manning.

  2. Mr. Rowley I am with you on this one, Mr. Manning you are driving away the good people of your party, what else will you do Mr. Manning.

  3. I had seen this coming long before the election and Rowley was a fool not to have sense this. Manning like Russia’s Vladimir Putin is a political giant , woe to those who can’t or refuse to see this.
    Now Imbert is Keith Rowley’s natural political opponent or enemy ‘have it your way’! Which means Keith Rowley is history as far as PNM is concern.
    A populist within any organisation usually is taken down from within at best just after a team’s victory- we have enough time to rebuild and or get over it.
    Keith Rowley’s only option is to form a new political party – mind you, he’d have to attend to full-time and the few popular rejects Manning left on the lines in the PNM. People Opposing Patrick (POP) within the PNM sounds appropriate.
    Like our Dearly beloved once intoned; who don’t like it, the door is open!
    Bye bye Rowley… I never like Rottweiler anyway, Aye like kyat
    The question is who will succeed the PM should anything happen to our Prime Minister.
    Moving on:
    No.1 Mr. Colm Imbert – Minister of Works and Transport
    No.2 Mr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid – Minister of Public Utilities
    No.3 Ms. Christine Kangaloo – Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education
    No.4 Mrs. Karen Nunez-Tesheira – Minister of Finance
    Chances of succession may go accordingly:
    No.1Though senior bright and of proud family heritage his alignment with Rottweiler could complicate due to bad blood from domesticated inbreeding 30%.
    No.2 Grassroots teacher intelligent family roots across racial lines young loyal and not extravagant. 75% .
    No.3 Intelligent again family roots across racial lines wet behind the ear but can garner women support for a Woman at the helm can be challenging 60%
    No.4 Bright loyal enterprising brave lady 55%
    Considering the racial polarisation and the desperate need for unity if we are to stand up to the global gridlock affecting smaller countries anyone with the unifying power(ess) to keep our NATION united as one in my view takes the cake.

  4. No one should be surprised. Vindictive Manning wanted Rowley out before the election but could not risk the fallout.

  5. Mr. Valley, Mr Hinds Now Dr. Rowley okay gentlemen who’s next Colm Imbert maybe you three should get together and do something towards a better Trinidad and Tobago.
    We are really at a Crossroad here….Mr Valley you did call this one. Mr Rowley God is to wise to make a mistake.

  6. Many of us knew that Manning would have been looking for a way to get rid of Rowley after the 2007 election. We could not predict what he would have used as an excuse to do so, and when.

    Basically, what Dr. Rowley is saying is that he and other members of cabinet were not aware that UDeCOTT (a state company) planned to construct a hotel on the Princess Building Grounds prior to a sub-committee meeting a few weeks ago. Apparently, Rowley and several other members of cabinet were of the view that UDeCOTT was building a few rooms alongside the construction of the Performing Arts Center, but not as many as sixty. Rowley is saying that he voiced his concerns and objections about how UDeCOTT conducts its business at a meeting of a sub-committee of the cabinet and it appears that the Prime Minister, who was not at that meeting, and other persons in UDeCOTT, have problems with his objection.

    Rowley said that yesterday Manning called him to his office to let him know that he received a report that he misconducted himself and asked him to resign. Rowley said that he refused to resign claiming that he did nothing wrong; he said that he did not shout or thump the desk at anyone and only voiced his dissatisfaction with UDeCOTT. Manning fired Rowley soon after.

    This issue may have been the excuse for removing Rowley but many of us believe that Manning wanted to get rid of Rowley a long time ago. Manning purged the government of persons who once supported Rowley for leadership of the party but held on to him because of his popularity for the 2007 election, and to deflect criticisms that he was purging the party because of Rowley’s previous leadership challenge. Now that Manning has secured another term as Prime Minister and has done so with a sufficient majority, he is getting rid of Rowley whom he feels can challenge him for leadership in the party. Manning is doing so early enough in his new five-year term so that the impact would be minimized before another general election.

    Having said all of this, I hold no brief for Rowley or any of those persons Manning ‘sacked’. They were all quite contented to be part of the problem. The only time they publicly speak out about the problems many of us speak about daily is when they get dismissed. So if Rowley and others who got dismissed intend to speak out about the lack of transparency and accountability in how the government spends our money then people should try to focus on those serious issues.

  7. Joanne “Tigress” Rowley:

    “Mr. Valley, Mr Hinds Now Dr. Rowley okay gentlemen who’s next”

    What about Larry Achong and Ralph Maharj? Do they not count? Your concern seems to be for birds of one ethnic feather, alone.

    Joanne “Tigress” Rowley:

    “you three should get together and do something towards a better Trinidad and Tobago.”

    So, Trinidad suddenly needs to get better, eh? Trinidad was a great place to be when Patos treated Larry and Ralph like dogs, and Rowley kept his silence and gave his tacit support.

    What goes around comes around. And Patos will get his just recompense in due course too.

  8. Heru:

    “Manning purged the government of persons who once supported Rowley for leadership of the party”

    Larry Achong through his full support behind Manning in that leadership battle. And what happened to him?


    I hold no brief for Rowley or any of those persons Manning ‘sacked’. They were all quite contented to be part of the problem. The only time they publicly speak out about the problems many of us speak about daily is when they get dismissed.

    Again, Larry Achong stands tall. He resigned from the Cabinet on a point of principle involving the welfare of his constituents for which he was ostracized and eventually rejected by both the party and the very constituents whose interest he sought to protect.

    That is why I mantain that the PNM is for a “certain type of people”. Good people like Larry and Ralph never belonged there in the first place but were too damned naive and idealistic to realize it.

  9. Correction to above post:

    Larry Achong threw not through his full support behind Manning in that leadership battle.

  10. LadyBird:

    Yes, there is racism in the society, but you are trying to make a dubious case for racism against Ralph Maraj and Larry Achong in the PNM. Incidentally, neither of these persons ever claimed to have experienced racism in the party.

    Larry Achong and Ralph Maraj were no different from other politicians in the sense that they were opportunists who were merely interested in their own personal gains.

    I do not accept your premise that Larry Achong was some principled person. He was uncouth among many other things that I would not mention now. Ralph Maraj, who I happen to know rather well, is not a good person. He is a coward and a hypocrite who betrayed ideals that he often spoke about for political employment.

    My dislike for politicians on all sides does not translate to hate, and I would not deliberately slander people to make a point. I find some of the comments you post on this blog to be repugnant.

  11. I hope this does not turn out to the most stupid decision made by Mr Manning in his new gov’t, I was hoping Rowley would be the next PM after Manning.(I am a memmber of the PNM party chapter in Toronto)

    I hope Rowley can suck it up since he was a stalwart MP during the UNC’s rape of the national treasury.(everyone remembers it was Manning’s talk about “not going into coalition gov’t” with Robinson’s NAR that caused the UNC to be in office in the first place)

    Let Dr Rowley know it ain’t over yet, he can still be PNM Prime Minister one day in the future.

  12. Why does LadyBird have to bring race into this issue? Joanne simply mentioned the latest of the list of casualties of the Manning dynasty. She didn’t omit people because of their ethnic background.

    Back on topic – this is in keeping with what I have said in the past – anyone in the PNM with some intelligence or independent thinking is perceived to be a threat to Manning and he has to eliminate that threat. The difference between the PNM and UNC in this respect is –
    UNC – strong leader, weak party
    PNM – strong party, weak leader

  13. “Heru:

    you are trying to make a dubious case for racism against Ralph Maraj and Larry Achong in the PNM.”

    My oblique reference to racism – “birds of one ethnic feather” – was in direct response to Joanne Rowley’s question “who’s next?’ and her stated wish for ‘a better Trinidad and Tobago'”. I never said that there was racism in the party.


    “Larry Achong and Ralph Maraj were no different from other politicians in the sense that they were opportunists who were merely interested in their own personal gains.I do not accept your premise that Larry Achong was some principled person.”

    Larry Achong resigned, not offered to resign, in the finest traditions of Westminster. In fact, if I recall corrrectly, he is the ONLY Cabinet minsietr to have ever resigned on a point of principle in this country. Others had to be fired. Why did he resign? Because of conflicting interests between the discharge of his responsibilities as MP to his constituuents, the people who put him in Parliament, and his duty as a member of a Cabinet, chaired by a Prime Minister who had reneged on electoral promises to those constituents. In resigning he took a ten thousand dollar cut in salary and sacriificed many perks that others would have found very hard to forego.

    Where was the self interest and opportunism that you allege?


    He was uncouth among many other things that I would not mention now.”

    Integrity and Principle are not compromised by uncouthness.


    I find some of the comments you post on this blog to be repugnant.

    The truth usually is.

  14. Riaz Ali wrote:

    Why does LadyBird have to bring race into this issue? Joanne simply mentioned the latest of the list of casualties of the Manning dynasty. She didn’t omit people because of their ethnic background.

    I am not saying that she did so deliberately. It was just natural for her to do so. State of mind, I guess.

    FYI, Valley, Hinds and Achong became casualties at the same time, rememeber pre-election screening process, though Achong’s fall from grace started with his principled resignation from the Cabinet three years earlier

  15. I have lived in the USA for many years. T;dad to me us always a very difficult but sweet place to live.I have also built my dream home there which i am sorry now . Not nothing my government is lazy ,lieing thiefs ,they are far letting t’dad become like Haiti. In a few years we the pride of the carribbean will be know more
    thank u

  16. As a member of PNM People Toronto chapter I read with concern the firing of Dr Keith Rowley by the Prime Minister. Rene Dumas wrote quite an interesting article on the issue (The Hart Of Manning) thank God for the free press of T&T. This issue like several others recently, begs for the public to be properly informed regarding all aspects ot this contentious matter. I hope that this is forthcoming even if a public enquiry is required.

  17. Whatever the wisdom or stupity of Manning’s dismissal of Rowley why are you people so determined to encroach on prime ministerial perogagtive to appoint and dis-appoint as the officer holder pleases. Orl yuh beating this topic into the ground.

    Let Rowley take he dismissal like a man and cool himself.

  18. Today,I read your paper and ther is a very disturbinig wave seen to be happening with the g’vnmt.Ibelieve that our PM has promise people or a group of people that back him in his bit for reelection that T’dad is up for garbs,noe it pay back time with our revenue.He does not want anyone asking him any inportant qestions that he will have to anwers to the population. Therfore T’DAD has become a place were the people get very little .Instead of making us proud with the income we are generating fronm our prduct.We have instead become a place of unholy criminals .why Manning donot fired the Police Chief???

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