Prime Minister Patrick Manning last night challenged the Trinidad Guardian's editorial about the success of coalition governments throughout the world. Manning dismissed suggestions Trinidad and Tobago could enjoy the success of coalition governments, such as in Singapore, Israel and Switzerland, since the latter three countries were developed countries and Trinidad and Tobago was not.
He added that the lone developing country depicted in the editorial, Malaysia, did not have a free press although it had a coalition government. He said: "I held a newspaper editorial in which they said there were a number of coalition governments across the world that worked. They talked about Singapore, Israel, Switzerland.
"All the countries they talked about are developed societies. And the one country that they called that was not a developed society was Malaysia." He added that the difference between Malaysia and Trinidad and Tobago "was that in Trinidad and Tobago you have freedom of the press, in Malaysia you don't." Manning said: "What we are trying to do in Trinidad and Tobago is to make this country a developed country, in circumstances that are very unique, with a free press, which is something that is absent in Malaysia." He added: "I want to ask the media a question: Is the media in this country suggesting, a particular country, which the newspaper trumpeted as a successful coalition, and as they say, with a population similar to Trinidad and Tobago... are they suggesting that what the Government of Trinidad and Tobago should now do is embrace the Malaysian model?" Manning said he had "been watching the newspapers trying to defend the indefensible"
He added: "Let us return to the question of coalition governments... for a coalition government to work, it must have a strong leadership... sincerity of purpose on all sides... the government must have the people at heart... the leader must have political skill and political acumen. "Without those things...coalition governments in Trinidad and Tobago will fall, the way coalition governments have fallen all over the world." Manning was speaking at the People's National Movement (PNM) public political meeting at the Carry Road recreation ground, Tabaquite. He said the police estimated the crowd to be around 6,000 persons. In the 2007 general election, Ramesh Maharaj won the Tabaquite seat for the United National Congress (UNC). Culture Minister Marlene McDonald and Science, Technology and Tertiary Education Minister Christine Kangaloo were also featured at the event.