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Tributes pour in for Ramnath
Tributes poured in yesterday for 65-year-old Kelvin Ramnath, who represented the constituency of Couva South as its Member of Parliament (MP) for more than 20 years. Known for his sharp tongue and parliamentary repartee, Ramnath died of a suspected heart attack on Saturday after he collapsed at the Augustus Long Hospital, Pointe-a-Pierre, while visiting relatives of his wife.
Ramnath was a petroleum engineer by profession and held several executive positions in the oil and gas industry. He was also a former Minister of Energy. He was the manager of Health and Safety at state-owned Petrotrin until his retirement in 2008. His entrance into politics began in1976 as the Member of Parliament for Couva South. He then served as a minister from 1987-1988 under the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR).
He sat on the Opposition benches from 1988-1991 as the MP for Couva South. He left the House of Representatives from 1991-2000 and served as the MP for Couva South between 2002 and 2007. He was appointed EMA chairman July 2011.
Minister of Health Fuad Khan promised to look into Ramnath’s death. Khan said he was his friend from 1995 and was always there to support him.
“I have always known Kelvin to be a very good speaker. I would discuss his speeches with him after. It is a sad time for the United National Congress (UNC),” Khan said. The Minister of Health said he would be missed especially among UNC people. Similarly, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley expressed shock at the death of the seasoned politician. He said even though he and Ramnath were on different sides of the political fence, he always enjoyed their conversations and debates.
“Well, I am shocked at receiving news of his passing. Although I knew of his operation before the elections, I was not aware he was ailing. I extend my deepest condolences to his wife. He was one of the voices of the national debate,” Rowley said. He described Ramnath as an astute politician and said they always respected each other and got along very well.
Rowley said he has not heard about the funeral arrangements as yet but will certainly be attending the funeral. Dr Roodal Moonilal, Minister of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs also expressed his sadness and shock at Ramnath’s passing. In an email sent to the T&T Guardian, he said: “I have lost a dear friend of several decades and the country is now without what was still a potent and relevant political voice, recognised and respected on all sides of the political divide.”
Moonilal was instrumental in the appointment of Ramnath as EMA’s chairman. “Mr Ramnath discussed several initiatives with me as minister how the EMA could be vitalised into becoming an even more vibrant and relevant institution as it fulfilled a critical mandate in the protection and preservation of the environment,” he said.
Moonilal said the passion and commitment that was evident throughout Ramnath’s career as a politician was brought to the chair of the EMA. He said, as he expressed condolences to Ramnath’s wife and family, “He will be missed by me and many other persons to whom he gave freely of his time and advice.”
EMA’s managing director and CEO, Dr Joth Singh, said, “We are all in a state of shock. It was very sudden. We knew of no illness. I spoke with him on Friday evening.” Singh extended condolences to Ramnath’s family and friends. He described Ramnath as a very good figure, saying his full career as a politician and his experience as a seasoned public figure brought a lot of experience to the environmental authority.
When asked what will happen to the chairmanship of the EMA, Singh said deputy chairman Shyam Dyal will assume the role of acting chairman of the authority until President George Maxwell Richards appoints a new chairman. Singh said the EMA would look into ways to honour its past chairman but he also said he hoped Ramnath’s contribution to the country would also be recognised.
“We are still in a state of shock and grief. As we look forward, we hope his contributions to T&T will certainly be recognised. He has left us with a memory of a good leader,” Singh said.
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