There will never be another Patrick Manning and no-one can take his place or do what he did, acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert said yesterday.
"Today we mourn the passing, not only of a man but the end of an era in T&T's political history. Indeed, he was the embodiment of the term 'statesman,' someone who comes along once every few decades to make an indelible mark on society and the world at large. We've lost a mentor and a hero of the PNM," Imbert added, paying glowing tribute to Manning in Parliament .
Imbert is acting for Prime Minister Keith Rowley who is attending the 36th Caricom summit in Guyana.
Marking Manning's death last Saturday, PNM MPs yesterday donned the balisier tie. Female MPs wore balisier pins.
Under Manning's tenure PNM MPs always wore balisier ties but Rowley had changed the tradition to ties of the national colours. Parliamentarians observed a minute's silence on Manning's passing. Describing Manning as one of T&T's finest sons, Imbert said,Manning was unique.
"His record of 44 unbroken years of parliamentary service is likely to remain untouched for a long time. He was a statesman, a visionary and perhaps the best demonstration of a career public servant. "He has been described by many as the quintessential statesman, always elegantly clad, smiling with the public and very affable in interactions with others.
"Those brave enough to meet him on the domino table though, knew the danger that lurked behind his smile, for he was calculating, strategic and simply brilliant at the game. His passion for it, matched only by his passion for classical music."
Outlining some of Manning's many pioneering achievements, Imbert said: "Such was the breadth of his vision and this is why he was always deeply hurt by the critics of his vision. "I am equally certain it must have been a source of concern for him to return to his beloved San Fernando to see the disassembling of his vision for the Chancery Lane Complex.
"Many of his initiatives were not obvious in his time. Mr Manning's foresight, meticulous attention to detail and ability to see farther than most, marks him as a leader way ahead of his time." Imbert recalled Manning's penchant for working from 5 am or 6 am.
He said:"His appetite for new ideas and concepts that would transform T&T was almost insatiable. He was a prodigious taskmaster but always full of advice.
"He would always advise us to be open, attentive and firm but above all, polite. It was this respect for the other which saw him treat the people of the Caribbean a particular way.
He was the epitome of the Caribbean man." Imbert credited Manning's determination with "rescuing" the PNM after the sound thrashing in 1991. It was his willingness to subject himself to criticism that allowed PNM to claw its way back to power in 2001."
"He made great demands, first of himself, then of others. He refused to accept failures and remained undaunted by the prospect that something hadn't been done before. When he spoke, he did so with authority.....he knew every detail of projects and often took charge of the overall picture."
Imbert thanked Hazel Manning and sons–David and Brian–for sharing Manning "with us for the past 44 years."
Imbert called for "prayers of unity and spiritual uplifting. We must let him know he was admired and loved in the east, in the west, in the north, in the South and in Tobago."