Mystery Hotel

Performing Arts Centre under construction
Performing Arts Centre under construction

T&T’s Newsday Editoral
Friday, May 2 2008

In giving his reasons for firing Diego Martin West MP Keith Rowley as Trade and Industry Minister, Prime Minister Patrick Manning offered one piece of hard evidence: a design plan for the Performing Arts Centre which included a 60-room hotel. But it now seems that this evidence cannot stand.

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has admitted that Udecott failed to disclose an alteration to the original submission, which did not include a hotel. The EMA disclosed this several days after environmental activist Eden Shand publicised a copy of the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) which made no mention of a 60-room hotel. Bureaucracy apart, it seems that such a revelation should have come from the EMA rather than a private citizen. And surely, even if no environmental damage has occurred, the EMA cannot allow companies to change approved plans without notification to the Authority.

The question also arises as to how the Prime Minister of the country could have been so ill-informed. At last Thursday’s media briefing where Mr Manning explained the circumstances leading to Dr Rowley’s dismissal, Mr Manning was at pains to display the plan for the Performing Arts Centre and indicate exactly where the hotel was to be. “This was always so,” he told the media, adding that if some Ministers weren’t aware of the hotel it was because they had not attended the relevant presentations. The implication was that Dr Rowley had not been keeping abreast with the developments under his portfolio as a Cabinet Minister.

But it is now clear that the hotel plan was not always so. And, if Mr Manning thought it was, then it was he who did not attend or pay attention to the presentation where plans for the Performing Arts Centre were first revealed. Indeed, if there was a second presentation, we assume that the Udecott presenters would have drawn the attention of the Ministers present to the change. So either such a presentation never happened, or Mr Manning was not present when it did. The Prime Minister was also challenged by the media to say when exactly the hotel plan was approved by Cabinet.

He said he would check the Cabinet minutes. So far, he has not told us the result of that check. Citizens will now be asking if the Prime Minister was deliberately misled by Udecott whose correspondence on the matter Mr Manning presented as proof that the plan for a 60-room hotel was known to the Government. Whatever the case, Dr Rowley’s position has certainly been strengthened by this revelation. The negative implications for the country, however, are much wider. Mr Manning’s explanation last Thursday was greeted with widespread scepticism by the majority of citizens. The net effect is that the country will now view its political leadership with even greater cynicism than is normally attached to politicians.

Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday has already been judged in the court of public opinion because of his now infamous London bank account, whether or not the germane issue of his declaration to the Integrity Commission stands or falls. And now Prime Minister Patrick Manning has come to be perceived as a man who is spending the country’s money freely and allowing his blue-eyed boys to do the same. Such cynicism, tempered though it surely is by partisan party loyalties, surely undermines the country’s democracy at a time when it is especially crucial that citizens band together to fight the many ills now plaguing the nation.,78131.html

2 thoughts on “Mystery Hotel”

  1. Pastor Manning has a problem speaking the truth. Rather than hear both sides of the “Rowley matter” he decides to get rid of Rowley. Did anyone conduct a poll to determine how the populace view Manning’s integrity and honesty. Is Calder Hart running the country with free access to the Treasury? Are his acts dictatorial in nature?

  2. Its disgusting how T&T came over to Malaysia in the business and financial news.
    They (Malaysian News)by reason of this HART scandal likened us to natives who couldn’t manage our own affairs as a people and the need for colonial masters is dire.

    Why can’t we make our own blunders after all it is less colossal than have foreigners treat us as backward people yet commit worst blunders with impunity while they display arrogance insulting our intelligence.
    In the end they leave us less better off or bankrupt then migrate to their home of origin wealthier than ALL of us.
    I am surprised Manning could be so blind and demonstrate so little confidence in our own people. I hope he put this episode to rest rather than wait on these powerless commissions to bring to an end this fiasco.

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