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Ex-PNM ministers: Where are they now?
Former health minister Jerry Narace and John Rahael are no longer part of the Government and are not usually among the expected crowd when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar launches projects. Narace, Rahael and one-time PNM health minister Colm Imbert were, however, among the guests when Persad-Bissessar opened the Scarborough General Hospital last Wednesday.
All three were invited by the PNM-controlled Tobago House of Assembly (THA), which hosted the function. While the public is well acquainted with the activities of PNM MPs such as Imbert and his 11 colleagues in the House of Representatives, other former PNM ministers—like Narace and Rahael—no longer in Parliament have returned to private life and new work.
Their opinions are less publicised, but with PP infighting, which peaked last week, more than a few former PNM ministers believe their former party leader Patrick Manning has been vindicated in his warning that the coalition’s general election “platform love” would not hold and the PP would be plagued by internal conflict.
Among ex-PNMites now out of the spotlight, former attorneys general John Jeremie and Bridgid Annisette- George are back in private practice, the Opposition office said. Former sport minister Gary Hunt is splitting time between his Radical Design clothing business and ownership of the Relish on the Avenue restaurant.
Former St Joseph MP Kennedy Swaratsingh is living in in Barbados and is employed with a resort hotel, PNM general secretary Ashton Ford said. Ex-agriculture minister Joseph Ross is in accounting at a state agency. Former legal affairs minister Peter Taylor, back in private legal practice, launched his own party recently.
Former finance minister Karen Tesheira was lecturing in law in Barbados. Former housing minister Emily Dick-Forde is also lecturing. Ex-information minister Neil Parsanlal says he’s involved in human-resource consultancy. Rahael, in retirement, is still active in family business. One of his concerns, towering twin complexes at Shorelands, is almost complete.
Former finance minister Mariano Browne, a consultant between the region and the US, is also PNM treasurer. Browne was offered a PNM senatorship but declined full-time status, since he needed to re-establish his business, he said. Browne felt Manning should feel vindicated at this stage of the PP administration’s tenure.
“The points he raised about the PP’s survivability remain valid...It’s clear they don’t have solutions down pat,” he said. “Manning made some mistakes...Maybe there’s a lesson to learn and the country learned it—I’m not certain who is worse off.” Former Tobago East MP Rennie Dumas, consultant in a public policy formulation group, said the THA had hired him for certain initiatives.
Dumas said the PNM naturally felt vindicated on Manning’s warning. “Of course Mr Manning was proven right...I think that was expected,” he said. “We’ve seen another government in power and we can compare their practices. “The rebuilding of Tobago infrastructure, the Cove industrial park, the gas pipeline, Scarborough hospital—all of it was under Manning’s administration.”
Of the PNM Dumas said: “We have to get to the roots of the party and rebuild it.” Dumas believes if the PP disintegrates, the population will see the PNM as an alternative. “Whatever differences there are in PNM are negligible, we have one party and one leader,” he said.
“People have different approaches...The situation in PNM where some people are for Manning and some for Rowley is temporary. “It has to be overcome...the party must see itself as a unit.”
Enill may return to politics
Former minister and PNM chairman Conrad Enill, a consultant, also voices PNM views on national issues. Enill said if the PNM had won the last election, it would have had to confront the same national issues the PP is now confronting, save that the PNM had a plan.
Enill doesn’t rule out returning to politics, but his predecessor as PNM chairman Dr Lenny Saith, who presides over family businesses, has no further interest in politics. Saith recalled: “When the PNM lost in 1986 and I became chairman and we tried to rebuild, sometimes we hardly had anybody to talk to, and some people said we should change the PNM’s name because they felt it would never win again.
“But we managed and yes, we made mistakes later on, but we pulled it together.” On the current Government’s issues, Saith added: “People are beginning to see more than they saw two years ago. “T&T will learn from the current situation...There’s a limit to how much PR you can do,” he said.
“Some people will come to their own conclusions and T&T will have to demand more.” Former minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid said he was a full-time politician. His target remains the People’s Partnership. “If after two years, an Uff Commission report, $100 million in probe fees and the Attorney General’s A-team of attorneys, they cannot file charges against Calder Hart, what charges was the PNM supposed to have brought against Hart?” Hamid asked.
“I’m 100 per cent confident about Patrick Manning and I’m sure in time he will be proven right on several things. “The PNM has new leadership and they might have new thoughts, we have to respect that.” Ex-minister Arnold Piggott, a consultant, says Manning’s warning was correct. “Yes, the question is self-answering,” he said.
“For good governance a homogenous party would be best prepared to manage T&T’s affairs, and in terms of diversity, no other party but the PNM can manage this. “The PP Government is not managing diversity well and it shows greatly.” Narace, now chairing a holding company which included Trinre and other business, still helps the PNM.
After the election defeat, Narace said, he visited relatives and did charity work. “I’m not a politician, I was always a private-sector man,” he said. “Politics is hard, hard work...I went to bed at midnight and got up 3 am, 4 am. “Many do it at the expense of health but I was always conscious of my diet...It worked for me.
“But no private-practice job can ever give the satisfaction of serving.” On the current political landscape, Narace said he hoped the “right leadership would emerge on both sides, all sides, that will see us maturing. “We have to change value systems and have honesty, integrity and co-operation,” he said.
“I’m happy Health Minister Fuad Khan is implementing all my policies...That’s the kind of leadership I’d like to see.” Narace said the election left the PNM in a serious state of disrepair: “It’s challenging but some work is being done,” he said.
“Dr Rowley, who took over in challenging times, has his work cut out...It has to be done.
“But I’m confident PNM will go through repair and renewal and possibly resurgence.”
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