Had it not been for the conversation I had with the late Prime Minister Patrick Manning one month before he passed, I may not have seen the need to pen this open letter to you. I have taken the liberty to be informal with you, in the main, because of the kind of humble person you are. If I am wrong to be so presumptuous then I do apologise.
You will recall that one month before your husband, Patrick, died he had requested a meeting with me at his home. I went having been brought to his home by one Lloyd Walters who lives in Gulf City, San Fernando. You will also recall that only Patrick and I were at home the time since, according to him, he had requested privacy.
The content of that conversation and, especially, the passion with which Patrick spoke with me on certain matters, have forced me to pen this letter hoping that the fires which burned inside of you when he was ill and even when he passed on do not grow dim.
Patrick’s conversation with me was predominantly about the incumbent Dr Keith Rowley, the great disappointment and betrayal he felt he suffered at his hands and when he discussed how his arrogance and his greed destroyed the legacy, he wanted to leave for the nation to inherit. At that meeting, Patrick Manning broke my heart and I apologise for all the wrongs, real or imagined, that I may have committed. I bled deep within.
The worse Prime Minister
When I spoke to him, I was on the outside of the UNC and the People’s Partnership Government and I saw the PNM as a plausible option to return some level of sanity to a Trinidad and Tobago which seemed to be on the brink of disaster.
Patrick knew even then my intent to support Dr Rowley in 2015 and begged me, almost made me swore to him on his dying bed, not to go against his wishes and assist in ever putting Rowley and Imbert, at the head of any government to run this country. But Hazel, few people possess the political foresight and acumen that Patrick Manning had and which, up to today, I still do not have.
I never believed in my wildest imagination that Keith Rowley would have made a worse Prime Minister than any other who ruled this country. But your husband had a way of saying “facts are stubborn things; they are very hard to go away” and today the country stands as a victim for not taking his advice. Look where we are tottering on the brink of collapse.
The above preamble is simply to remind you that Patrick is no longer with us and his good name and what he stood for will be yours always to protect.
When you speak and when you advise, whatever you offer should always seek to uphold the value of a man who came very close to being anointed as the Father of this Nation but now the one who wrecked that legacy, who brought an end to that vision, the one who would wish his memory fades into oblivion and is never remembered now flirts with the very off-spring of the man he destroyed in an attempt to forge a legacy of his own.
Rowley was not Manning’s friend
I wish Patrick Manning was capable of communicating from beyond the grave because the actions of Brian are an antipode to the wishes of this great giant.
Your son, Brian, is ambitious though myopic because he only views his rise to power through a party that has destroyed his father, a party that drove him off from Balisier house like a stray dog, humiliated him and sullied his name. And those who dared to associate with Patrick, in any form or fashion, was banished into the political wilderness hoping to stifle and snuff out the name of Patrick Manning from the political history of our country.
If anyone can reach out to Brian Manning, it is you, Hazel. Talk some sense into your son’s head, even if he foolishly believes that “he is his own man.” Remind him that in 2015 when his father was alive Rowley did not see it fit than to have his son fill his shoes in San Fernando East, did not even have the decency to discuss with Patrick his successor for that seat – a seat which he had held for some forty-four consecutive years! Hazel, you possess that maternal power and charm that is capable of stemming many a swollen tide and with the calm assurance that you possess, you can instil the kind of reason that reaches beyond all the allurements that power offers.
Keith Rowley was not Patrick Manning’s friend, neither is he a friend to the Manning’s name……….and he never will be!
You would recall that shortly after he ascended the seat of power that he, according to his own words, had directed the then Minister of Housing Randall Mitchell to bring the Vieux Fort Housing Project to fruition.
That was not his only directive, Hazel. He also instructed Randall to ensure that he, Rowley, was invited to the distribution ceremony.
Hazel, it would have been too gentlemanly for Keith Rowley to graciously speak on behalf of his Government’s completion of the project. His heart was still filled with acrimony. He needed, even after Patrick was in the grave, to convince the people that Patrick was a kind of monster which only he knew and he then proffered allegations against a man who had nothing but love for the people of our country.
Hazel, on your return to the country, you stood up then in defence of Patrick. You became his voice and his bulwark and accepted the responsibility to reply on your husband’s behalf. Hazel, you reminded the nation that despite not having all the facts, the man that Keith Rowley described was not the husband you knew nor the Prime Minister you served and you begged Ministers who were familiar with the facts to come forth and stand in defence of your husband.
Hazel, you will recall that Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde, the Housing Minister who had replaced Dr Rowley in the Ministry of Housing came to your side and exposed the lie that Rowley told, uncovered the falsehood that he uttered suggesting that the project fell prey to “our politics in the PNM” an attempt again to sully your deceased husband’s name.
Dick-Forde defended Patrick noting that Vieux Fort was “badly planned and poorly implemented” and she too noted that it was never in Patrick’s will to deny citizens of this country any good thing.
Now is this the same Keith Rowley that Brian the offspring of Patrick is seeking to support in this General Election?
Is this the same Keith Rowley whose behaviour forced Manning to call an early election that tarnished his legacy, that Brian, the son of Patrick is creating a platform upon which this man who devastated his father must now stand?
When Patrick was in the hospital, at your weakest, you possessed the strength to withstand the hypocrisy of Keith Rowley and refused him entry to visit your husband, who the man from Les Couteaux wanted to see and rightly so.
How come when you are now much stronger you have forsaken the will to be that strong tower in defence of the Manning’s name and subject your son to the wiles of the man who destroyed your husband?
No other Prime Minister within the PNM party has ever attempted to destroy the image, character or legacy of any of their predecessors. The only one who dared to do that was Keith Rowley and you are going to allow your son, Brian, to become the Judas Iscariot and betray his father?
Hazel as I am writing I recall the 2010 General Election and, tell me if you can, how many times Dr Rowley campaigned on the same platform with your husband? And if you can recall tell me if the distance, he kept was not a betrayal of the man that brought him within the party to serve?
As much as Dr Rowley would have wished to destroy Patrick’s legacy the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme (GATE) will be a constant reminder that we had a Prime Minister who thought about the youth in our society. UTT will be a reminder of what we could have had if Patrick was not destroyed and what we should be encouraging Brian to do is to build a party with young visionaries and complete the dream his father had for our country.
Do not let Patrick Manning’s vision be corrupted
Patrick Manning died on July 2, 2016, but please Hazel does not let his vision be corrupted with Brian’s betrayal.
It is not too late. Do not let Keith Rowley railroad your husband again. Instead please work with Brian in building a party in which the nation will repose faith; that will be the most fitting legacy for the Manning’s name that you could encourage your son to forge for his father, Patrick.
The PNM is not a bad party. No party which has been in existence for some sixty-four years can be. What is bad in the PNM today is not the party but the party leadership. And were you to get Brian to withdraw his candidacy from the PNM does not mean that you do not like the PNM. All it will mean is that you love Trinidad & Tobago more!