Former prime minister and political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) Patrick Manning served 44 years of uninterrupted political life.
Vision 2020–which was formed while the political party was in Opposition–was the brainchild of Manning. It was under his leadership that the University of T&T, Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate), Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP), the International Waterfront Complex and the Government Campus Plaza were created.
In 2014 he was honoured with this country's highest award–The Order of the Republic of T&T, but declined saying he did not want to accept awards while an MP. While Manning made significant strides locally, regionally and internationally to develop T&T's economy, landscape and foreign ties, he was also dogged by many controversies during his political career.
The Sunday Guardian revisits some controversies in which Manning had been embroiled. One that stood out is allegations of corruption involving former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) Calder Hart. Hart was considered Manning's "blue-eyed boy."
It was the allegation of $820 million in contracts awarded to a company linked to Hart's relatives that many felt led to the defeat of the PNM in the May 2010 general election.
Hart resigned in March 2010 when documents surfaced linking him to Sunway Construction Caribbean Ltd–a Malaysian firm that once listed his in-laws as directors.
The firm worked on Udecott's $820 million Ministry of Legal Affairs Towers, which was part of the Government Campus Plaza. Only last week, a portion of the building was opened by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to be used by the Ministry of Education.
Almost 20 years ago, Manning called a state of emergency after he placed then House Speaker Occah Seepaul under house arrest.
From August 5-8, 1995, Seepaul was under house arrest by the Manning adminstration for allegedly attempting to usurp his Government's authority in the Parliament.
In 2004, the former PM, at a post-Cabinet news briefing spoke of the importance of an executive jet.
He said as T&T moved into developed country status, and began to exert greater influence in the region, the Caribbean and western hemisphere, there would be a need for more travel by the political directorate of the country. Two years later, he and his wife, Hazel enjoyed a joyride on a Bombardier jet. The purchase never happened.
Once more at the centre of attention, Manning referred to himself as the "father of the nation" during a political speech, and subsequently received harsh criticism.
In 2010, after leading the PNM to defeat, party supporters booed and taunted Manning out of Balisier House.
Days later, he resigned as political leader saying via letter: "May I also indicate that if it is the party's wish I am prepared to stay on as political leader until a new political leader is elected at which time it would be my pleasure to gracefully demit office.
He also accepted responsibility for the party's loss at the polls.
Suspended from Parliament
In May 2011, Manning was found guilty by the Privileges Committee on contempt charges.
The charges against him stemmed from allegations he made about Kamla Persad-Bissessar's house in Phillipine and its cost. But she refuted the allegations immediately after supplying proof. Manning was referred to the committee shortly after. Moonilal said Parliament's nine-member Privileges Committee held ten meetings. He indicated Manning was often uncooperative and refused to attend. He said the committee found Manning guilty of contempt of Parliament on all three charges against him.
In November 2010, Manning questioned the source of her funding for "Kamla's palace."
He presented a large photograph to the Parliament of the residence.
Manning said: "This picture, Mr Speaker, is a photograph of a house under construction on the San Fernando, Siparia Erin Road just past Bryan's Gate, Phillipine, and on the road to Debe on the right-hand side. It is a house owned by the Member for Siparia and the Prime Minister, the honourable Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and in San Fernando we call it "Kamla's palace."
Manning storms radio station
In October 2008, while at a barbershop in San Fernando, Manning heard radio announcers bash his policies and make displeasing comments. He hurriedly left the barbershop and stormed into 94.1 FM's offices on Pembroke Street in Port-of-Spain. The announcers were subsequently suspended.
Manning received heavy criticism for his actions which were described by former prime minister Basdeo Panday as "absolutely out of line and overboard."
Days after the incident, Manning said he had had enough of the media.
He then said, "If the spirit moves me," he will not hesitate to visit media houses to complain if he disapproved of the content they produced.
Manning said: "I have taken a personal decision and that decision is that if ever I am aggrieved by anything the media do in the future, I am going to the courts."
Rowley "raging bull"
The relationship between Manning and current Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley over the years has been contentious. But it became even more strained around 2009 over Rowley's allegations of corruption made in the Parliament regarding the operations of Udecott. It was in the Parliament that Manning likened Rowley to "a raging bull" whenever opposed and "a wajang."
Manning said he had suffered 12 years of bullying silence from Rowley and that his government believed in freedom of speech.
"But the minute you oppose my good friend, he gets very, very angry. And if you oppose him strongly, he becomes a raging bull. And that is what it was, Mr Speaker. You don't know the trouble I have seen. I have had to live with that for 12 years. I took it in silence...I didn't complain to anybody," Manning said.
Rowley was fired from the Cabinet in April of 2008. Manning made it clear he was fired as trade and industry minister because of his behaviour and not because of