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Manning: Nobody called me about ORTT

Gross disrespect
Published: 
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, left, will not take the nation’s highest award—the Order of the Republic of T&T as nominated by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Former prime minister Patrick Manning will not take the nation’s highest award—the Order of the Republic of T&T. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had announced on Thursday that she recommended to President Anthony Carmona that Manning and his predecessor, Basdeo Panday, be awarded the ORTT, which would have been bestowed on him during the national awards ceremony on Independence Day (August 31).

But in a statement yesterday, Manning, who has served T&T for 43 years within the People’s National Movement hierarchy, said apart from the fact that he was not consulted, on principle he could not accept it as the sitting MP for San Fernando East. Furthermore, he said he could not accept such an award from Persad-Bissessar unless the award was coming with a retraction of the venomous attacks against his character from her, which, he said, continue to this day. 

“I wish to respectfully decline the publicly announced nomination by the Honourable Prime Minister to have me receive The Order of the Republic of T&T, this nation’s highest award. The primary reason is rooted firmly in my principled stance to not accept any T&T awards while serving as an MP,” Manning said in the release.

Focussing on Persad-Bissessar’s attacks on him while she was in Opposition and now as PM, he said, “Kamla Persad-Bissessar was able to win government on May 24, 2010, through a series of sustained and vicious attacks on my character that was led personally by her. These attacks continue. Through this nomination announcement is the Prime Minister retracting those venomous accusations and charges against me?”

He said he was only made aware of his nomination through Facebook and a call from a newspaper to his son for a comment. “I was neither consulted, nor advised prior to this announcement. I consider this approach a gross discourtesy. 

“Under PNM administrations, a committee considers these distinguished national awards, with the Chief Justice as chairman and subject to the imprimatur of the Prime Minister. Due process for these awards includes informing the potential recipients through the Office of the Prime Minister in a confidential manner.” Nevertheless, he said he would have declined anyway. “Had I been consulted beforehand, I would have been able to privately decline. 

“The need for a public distancing is unfortunate but necessary in the light of the many and increasingly debauched approaches to these matters used by this UNC administration in its four years in office.” Manning said although he was turning down the award, he held T&T’s institutions, ceremonies and awards in the highest esteem. “I pray for the day when the Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the PP Government demit office and we can once again take our pride in our liberty.” 

Efforts to contact Panday for comment failed as he is currently out of the country. He did not respond to e-mails or text messages. 

‘I learned of award via FB, media calls’

Former prime minister Patrick Manning Manning yesterday announced that he was turning down the Order of the Republic of T&T award. Following is Manning’s full statement:

I wish to respectfully decline the publicly announced nomination by the Honourable Prime Minister to have me receive The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, this nation’s highest award. The primary reason is rooted firmly in my principled stance to not accept any Trinidad and Tobago awards while serving as an MP. Additionally, it is important to note what is appropriate and what is not, regarding the announcement of such awards. 

The award of the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is given to a national of Trinidad and Tobago who “has rendered distinguished and outstanding service to Trinidad and Tobago.” The Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar was able to win government on May 24, 2010, through a series of sustained and vicious attacks on my character that was led personally by her. These attacks continue. Through this nomination announcement is the Hon Prime Minister retracting those venomous accusations and charges against me?

Additionally, I was made aware of this nomination through persons who saw it reported on the social media, Facebook. Subsequently, a daily newspaper called one of my sons for a comment on the nomination. I was neither consulted, nor advised prior to this announcement. I consider this approach a gross discourtesy. 

Under PNM administrations, a committee considers these distinguished national awards, with the Chief Justice as chairman and subject to the imprimatur of the Prime Minister. Due process for these awards includes informing the potential recipients through the Office of the Prime Minister in a confidential manner. Only recipients who have agreed to accept an award are then announced publicly, and with dignity. 

Had I been consulted beforehand, I would have been able to privately decline. The need for a public distancing is unfortunate but necessary in the light of the many and increasingly debauched approaches to these matters used by this UNC administration in its four years in office. I assure all citizens that I hold our institutions, ceremonies and awards in the highest esteem and I pray for the day when the Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the PP government demit office and we can once again “take our pride in our liberty.” 

PM responds
In an immediate response yesterday, PM Persad-Bissessar said it was unfortunate Manning had declined. “Whatever differences we may share politically, the award sought to honour Mr Manning for his decades of service as a parliamentarian. It was meant to be a gesture of magnanimity and a moment to reach beyond the issues that divide us to acknowledge Mr Manning’s many national contributions,” the PM said in a statement.

“It is regrettable that in rejecting the nomination, Mr Manning should seek to politicise the matter. His comments run against the grain of what was a well intended gesture. “The concept of recognising the long and dedicated service of men and women who committed their lives to the people of Trinidad and Tobago must also been seen differently as we grow and mature as a nation.” 

She said the decision to honour Manning was based on the changing philosophy that had underlined the reforms brought by the PP in Government. “While we acknowledge Mr Manning’s right to reject the honour, it is my hope that the ideal of reaching beyond the divide of politics to honour those who served the nation has not been lost,” she said.