Manning’s Political Integration Lacks Credibility

By Stephen Kangal
September 03, 2008

CaribbeanSeveral reasons can be advanced to support the incremental view that Manning’s latest political incarnation totally lacks any semblance of credibility. Readers will recall that in 2004 Manning floated a similar plan to achieve political union with St. Vincent and Grenada by 2007. That plan never saw the light of day.

His current political union aberration now involves an Eastern Caribbean political union with six countries by 2013. That is one year after the 2012 General Elections that Manning acts as if he is guaranteed to win because he does not need the support of the Opposition for the proposed union.

He also does not need the support of either the Opposition or the electorate (referendum) for the requisite constitutional amendments because according to his convoluted and doomed ratio dicidendi a simple majority is all that is needed. The proposed political union will entail the total abandonment of the existing 1976 Constitution to be replaced by an Eastern Caribbean Union Constitution.

With respect to his 2004 edition of the political union with Grenada and St. Vincent, an ANSA McAl poll then showed that more than 60% of the people were opposed to any political integration and 84% of those polled rejected Manning’s regional concerns and stance at the expense of domestic rectitude.

Why do these four Caribbean leaders still feel that they can adopt a failed and rejected, top-down, Federation -style approach to political integration without consulting the people? Has Manning ever considered it politically correct to issue a White Paper on his red herring approach to political integration that is designed to distract us from the serious domestic problems that are plaguing T&T and exposing the ineptitude of his governance? Is this union a diversionary political strategy designed to embellish his regional image to compensate for his flagging, Burnham-style lack lustre performance at home?

What is needed is as a first step is an internal study and political initiative that is designed to demonstrate quite cogently to the people of T&T what superior benefits will accrue to them were they to agree to proceed from the economic integration CSME stage to the proposed political union with Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia.

Having recently achieved favourable maritime boundaries against T&T, Barbados will not be keen to dismantle them in a hurry having decided not to send its PM Thompson to the POS meeting. As for Grenada I do not know what mandate newly elected PM Thomas received from Grenadians to be toting the union baggage/MOU of Mr. Manning in his trip up the islands to collect signatures from other Caricom Prime Ministers.

Manning’s political union driven by utter disrespect to Caribbean people is doomed to failure.

18 Responses to “Manning’s Political Integration Lacks Credibility”

  • I suppose the ‘Manning’ this writer is writing about is the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and he is also the leader of the People’s National Movement. There is no doubt that his intention is for us readers to take his piece seriously and he may even want us to ‘respect’ his views, but his language and style is to show total disrespect by constantly referring to the prime minister as ‘Manning’ and dismissing the authority of ‘Manning’ who is the executive head of our government and the political party running the government. To get ‘respect’ one must show ‘respect’. This is the problem with us in Trinidad and Tobago because you dont like a government or the party controlling government should not give us license to show disregard or disrespect to a person who told title to the office of which he is committed. Your writing will carry a greater acceptance when you give what is due to a title holder. Dismissing his apparent title and standing weakens your own argument.

  • Massaging the ego by Clevon Raphael
    “It’s not what you do but how you do it” is a time-honoured maxim which, if followed, would save right thinking people a lot of unpleasant repercussions and/or embarrassment.

    Clearly our Prime Minister’s now obvious misadventure with his sudden and extremely energetic thrust for a regional political federation suggests that he has not heard of that truism.

    Uniting in the dark by Gillian Lucky
    Why is it acceptable for us to be informed after the 99th hour about matters of state such as the most recent announcement that plans are afoot for political regional integration?

    Without a national mandate and with no hope of a referendum, our honourable and eager Prime Minister has revived an initiative which collapsed about 50 years ago.

    No one needs to be convinced that there is much to be gained by economic integration in the region but when talks of political unity commence, that is a completely different matter.

  • Granted, to get respect you must bestow respect; but more importantly, RESPECT IS EARNED NOT DEMANDED OR bestowed because of the office one holds or the position held. Please, highlight one event, law or assistance your “Mr.Manning” has developed or introduced to the nation of Trinidad and Tobago that would earn him some “respect.” He has abandoned the people of Trinidad and Tobago in search of his own legacy/legend. He is determined to make his mark in the caribbean/west indies so he could sit back in his old age and beat his chest “look at what I accomplished.” All of this at the expense of the people of the nation. No other PM in the caribbean/West Indies has a private jet, no other PM in the world has threatened a judge. Instead of picking someone with experience to run the education system he picks his wife; then funds a project in basketball his son is running. Perhaps the next move for your “Mr.Manning” might be to call the next stadium or school “The Manning Institution.” While citizens are being murdered, raped and robbed your “Mr.Manning” is running country to country to to create his own “caricom” agency. Dengue is killing our people and he and his cronie Dr. you know who is trying to cover it up. Since taking office your “Mr.Manning” has done NOTHING FOR THE PEOPLE OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.” He has failed as a leader and more importantly failed as a person who puts the welfare of the nation first.

    All this said, your “Mr.Manning” does not deserve one micro-spec of respect from anyone. Murder and mayhem has become a way of life in Trinidad and Tobago because the people has become accustomed nothing better. So, manning should take all he could now, ride the jet as much as he can and try to form all kinds of agencies in his name and kill as much of the nations citizens indirectly, because the day will come when he will have to answer to someone in a higher office than what he holds.

    What goes around comes around. The sufferings that he allowed to be imposed on our nation has a funny way of raising it’s ugly head and not even manning could change that. May he rot in hell. Not a dam bit of respect for him, not now, not tomorrow not ever.

  • It is too bad that the word ‘respect’ robs people like you the wrong way. It is exactly why we are in the position we are in today. Everybody thinks that their opinion should carry the day without regared tp facts and reality of a situation. While much is wrong with what is happening in the country, bad-mouthing the prime minister for everything that we dont like could never be a substitute for finding solutions for our problems.

  • Maybe not, But venting is good for the soul. You’re right it won’t bring solutions, but it sure makes people feel good. Our opinion is about the only thing our citizens have that can’t be touched by murder and mayhem. Regardless of who may have solutions and ideas, the only opinion and ideas seem to count is that of the dictator. Those of us who bad mouth the prime minister do so with a bit of cynicism in that he may read someone elses’ opinion instead of his own amd work with it. He is neither a bright nor is he caring, he’s nothing but a narcissistic load of “blub” that someone forgot to flush.

  • I wish the readers will stop focusing on the use of the name “Manning’ because this is a non-issue. Reference to “Manning” is an every day occurrence in the media without intending or showing any form of disrespect whatsoever Readers are invited to deal with the substantive issues that I raised in the article and not peripheral matters.

  • Ok so here’s the thing. It is only selfishness that will keep’s the caribbean from uniting. We are the same! same culture, same people from the same mother! The caribbean culture is distinctly African, from carnival to pelau and callallo. Im am not negating the other ethnic groups cultural and socio-political contributions, but one has to view this in its entirety. The dominant culture on which the caribbean stand, and the whole world is aware, is the African culture, as is the case in Cuba, martinique etc, where irrespective of the language barriers the culture remains the same. Of course taking into consideration the time each islands people spent developing on its own for the past 500 years, one has to expect slight variations to the culture. Included in that picture are the other ethnic groups that now make each country what they are. That as is may. Lets touch the unity question.

    Let us not forget that it was the advent of colonialism that created all of the divisions we have today, thus was the need for movements which eventually became our governments. Each island contributed to the other in the early stages of resistance. Did not Haiti provide refuge and financial and military assistance to Simon Bolivar when he was being hunted down? Did not Bolivar know that those were his brothers of darker hue? Was not Butler from Grenada? and wasn’t he a follower of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA the Jamacian? I am quite sure that a great many of us in Trinidad can trace our “recent” roots to another Caribbean Island. So anyone considering this must be for unity.

    I agree that the top down approach used by the Prime Mininister is not the best. But i would like some one to tell me what room does the westminster parlimentay model of government allow for consultation with the people besides their votes during elections!
    All matters that effect Trinidad are out of the peoples grasp. Do we know the details of trade deals being constructed as we post these comments, do they benefit the people etc etc. This is not really the real issue.
    “Todays World” is the real iussue. It is a “global”one, where those who think they are in charge of it are integrating their economies to suit their geo-political interest. For instance the EU, Russia, Indonesia (which are a chain of Islands as well), and before those the USA.

    There is another side to this story. the ability to survive in this climate of “world domination” necessitates regional thus economical intergration. look at what’s happening in South America for instance. Where that continent is uniting to fight off the attack by the US and other who seek to continue the exploit each nations natural resources.
    This is the reality that Eric Williams had the vision to tackle, and the reason why the then JLP “Jamaica Labor Party” the party of the CIA refused to go along with. Thus setting the climate for the narrow view of nationalism now shared even by the current JLP and some of us in Trinidad today. Let us not be confused. The current PNM leadership is taking up the fight, but to what ends who knows. This is what we should really be concerned with, who is controlling this new effort. Given the lack of Health services in the land and the rapid pace of “sky rise” top heavy “development” being ushered into T&T, i fully understand and share the skepticism held by all. But we have to look at things for what they really are. I am sure that the forces that has controlled the caribbean through organs like the Commonwealth(British), and the CBTPA(Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act) which broadened the US control of caribbean, will sooner of later make the caribbean economies intergrate in order to better control them, This is also why Barbados who’s economy is totally controlled by the US currency has also said no to these plans of integrating. You see my friends if it is not done by us, it will be done by them, and the differences will be far worse, that we can all be assured of. And though i don’t support the present form of government in the country of my birth, or any other opposition party that will just be the same or in some cases worse. I do see the great need for regional intergration.
    I know some of us will be quite happy to see the US dollar or the Euro circulating like bake and shark or doubles do in T&T, but if that day comes it will be the end of any dreg of true Indipendence left in T&T.
    I have not even touched on the issue that will soon follow the dollar or euro which will be the circulation of US military bases on the Islands. The US already has joint operations with most of the caribbean military’s including Trinidad’s and they also have what they call “Lilly pad” operations where by they can re-fuel and do whatever is necessary when need be i.e Whenever there is a “regional crisis”

    On another a lighter note we must all thank the PNM for getting Peigon Point/Bucco Reef back for the people, after all it is a national treasure. But let us not forget the way the former “owner” tried to destroy it out of malice before handing it back. This is the mentality that that OWNERS OF THE CARIBBEAN have people! This is why it becomes so important to unify even without some countries, who’s people will eventually see the light. Nothing can stop this process.

    ” Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” “United we stand Divided we fall”.

  • excuse my miss spelling

  • Political union with Grenada And St. Vincent is no more than a vote bank for the PNM, no different to the Eric Williams’ Grenadian vote bank of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. As a natural born and bred citizen of Trinidad and Tobago I am opposed to the idea of granting unrestricted access and rights to people whose kith and kin are directly responsible for the lawlessless and criminality that pervade our country today. Make no mistake about it the gangland criminals of today, their ancestry, siblings and progeny are in the main fourth, fith and sixth generation Grenadians and Vincentians.

    I hope organizations like the Maha Sabha whom I have never before had any regard for wake up to the fact that such a union presents a clear and real danger to the East Indian diaspora in this country and that they make their voices heard loud and clear.

  • Kudos to you JR, well said. I would also add that the late Dr.Eric Willliams always had that extra vote, even from the illegal ones. That is exactly what Manning is hoping to achieve and be the leader of all the neighbouring islands. God forbid!

  • The only true”Trinidadians”are the Carib’s who have lived there for at least 7000 years, since 250BC to be exact. They are still based in Arima last time i checked.
    and being of 4th, 5th, or 6th generation”in any country” makes one a NATIONAL of the said country according to International Law. Just like the new wave of Chinese, The generations of Indian’s from 1845, the Africans of 1517 etc, all are fairly new to the Island. This is a fact.
    I think the problem we have here is the inability to go past petty differences and unite around a common enemy, who’s main goal is, and always has been to ensure that we keep reminding each other about “who came before who” and “what shade of color crime is being packaged and sold in”.

    Both people’s are of the same hue as far as i see, belonging to the same human race, both having made a major historical contribution to the world in areas of religion, science, philosophy, government and the arts etc. and though one preceded the other in civilization building and Slavery vis-‘a-vis Indentureship, both are still being used, “as before” by foreign and local capital to further drive a wedge into what’s left of the melting pot of Calaloo that is Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most unique and beautiful places in the World. This is the issue!

    Let us not forget the deliberate famine forced on colonial India by “Mother Britain” that left millions dead in it’s wake during this period. Or the countless millions that died during the trade of Africans, or even the turning of millions of Chinese into opium addics, which resulted in generations of set backs.
    These are the same forces that have put all of us on these ISLANDS for “their benefit”, with the single goal that we should eventually marinate in our differences instead of finding our common ground on which to fight. As Butler and Adrian Cola Rienzi(Krishna Deonarine) has taught us to do.

    I don’t hear anyone complaining about Eugene Chen, The great Trinbagonian Chinese who left his Law practice of 30 plus years to go back to fight for China, where “he” eventually signed the agreement with the British to give back Hong Kong to China. Is he not a great noble son of the soil who also had respect for where his people came. As we all do, and if not should! you see “ancestry” goes back much further than a sister Island!

    It is a “historical fact” that all of the the Islands share the common thread of the trade in Africans. So “naturally” it would be in their interest to unite. It would be in the narrow national interest to not do so.

    If it were the Chinese that comprised a majority in the so called West Indies and they opted to form some sort of union of states for their common interest, i don’t think we would be having this debate at all. And thats speak’s volumes!

    So one has to ask the question, who’s interest does it serve when Islands, comprising mostly of a common nation of scattered people are told not to unify their economies? When we can ansawer that question we will truely begin to understand the forces at play internally and externally, those who wish to retard the progress towards one Caribbean.

    “As sure as every Island in the “West Indies” has a variation on Rice and peas and Calaloo”. We will unite!
    It is our sacred duty to do so.

    One Caribbean!

  • Note. I ment Mr Chen was 30 plus years old when he left, he did not practice for 30 plus years

  • “I think the problem we have here is the inability to go past petty differences and unite around a common enemy, who’s main goal is, and always has been to ensure that we keep reminding each other about “who came before who” and “what shade of color crime is being packaged and sold in”.”

    Amen to that, friend! I support you on this. However, you also have to consider that our political system was inherited from Britain. They pioneered the “divide and rule” tactic, which I believe is still being heavily implemented by our politicians. Therefore the level of mistrust is not surprising?

    I have always supported the principle of Caribbean integration, ever since the days of Messrs Manley and (Dr)Williams. The implementation is far more complex despite the similar ancestry of the Caribbean territories, there are different cultures, customs, even affiliations etc.

    I do think that integration it is a necessity for the economic viability of the Caribbean (given the other powerful trading blocks, the likes of NAFTA, EU etc.), and still support it. But it has to be correctly, and in a accountable manner. Given Mr. Manning’s track record of transparency, and the way that he is attempting to go about it, I am not surprised by the bachannal that has been created!

    The first time around (Manley, Williams), I don’t recall there being all this secrecy, but then again I was pretty young. Can someone remind of why it flopped back then?

  • Well said Neil. You see too many times we let mainly politicians that dont’t have our interest at heart to influence out thinking and common sense.

    You are correct in that the only true Trinidadians are the caribs and nobody should fool themself otherwise or make stupid comments to try to justify thier true thinking and tendencies. Imagine in this day and age people still talking about “East Indian Diaspora.”

    I have to ask anyone that thinks they are part of that diaspora if they are truly Trinidadian or some other nationality.

  • Thanks Jason

  • What exactly motivated Prime Minister Manning to conceive such a plan that is exactly like CARICOM? Why not seek to strenghten CARICOM instead?

  • JR it is not commendable to say that the ancestry of gangland criminals are originated fron ST.VINCENT and Grenada when we look at Trinidad today its way more dangerous to live there than in St.Vincent…One should be scared to spend time there.

  • I like Neil LB enthusiasm, energy, and vision for transforming his society. Since he is relatively new to this forum I’ll give him some advice that might save him time and much heartache moving forward, as I too have been there and done that as well with some of these racial and dinosaur- like thinkers.
    My friend you’ll soon recognize something quickly as you make concerted attempts aimed at serious discussions with some of the characters on this board. Many are simply what I like to refer to as hate mongers, and glaringly unpatriotic destabilization agents that have no concern whatsoever for the development of their own country. In much the same way as perhaps the biggest national ungrateful figure a country could ever have in the form of the second rate writer V.S. Naipaul , they see everything laudable about large northern metropolitan countries such as England, Canada and USA. At the same time they selectively blame every failure in their own country on one racial and ethnic fragment of our population, while-conveniently-deliberately, ignoring others on the so called divide.
    Again Bro NeilLB , in similar fashion to fanatical right wing, and liberal nuts that are fixated on talk radio in North America , some of these characters with too much time on their hands , and hatred in their bosom, drivel and spew their poison across the blogersphere. However I wish you well as you do your part aimed at finding malleable progressives. You seem to be made of a stronger constitution than some of us, and that’s good. I prefer to focus my energy in bolstering our tattering civil society and work directly with the people.

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