Three months after he reached 63, Kenneth Valley, the man who called his leader Patrick Manning a dictator, has died. Valley, a former Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, died at 3.30 am at his home in Glencoe, Pt Cumana yesterday morning, according to his son Sean, a former banker. Valley's wife Carol Anne was at his bedside at the time of his death. He died from colon cancer, his son said. Sean said Valley was loved by 30,000 people in his former constituency. "My dad served them well and I am proud of him," Sean said in a telephone interview yesterday. "We will all miss him very much," he added.
Valley was appointed an Opposition senator in 1987, after the 33-3 defeat of the People's National Movement in 1986. He later served as Local Government and Trade and Industry minister and Minister in the Ministry of Finance in PNM administrations. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in his tribute yesterday, said Valley's passing was "a personal loss to me as he was always a trusted friend and reliable colleague." Rowley said Valley was "a distinguished citizen who exemplified the qualities of loyalty and dedication." He said Valley "contributed significantly to the rebuilding of the PNM and made significant contributions to the establishment of policies and programmes which were effected by the party and the Government." Valley was born in Couva on February 8, 1948, and was educated at the University of the West Indies (1968-1971), and McMaster University, Canada (1972-1973). He was a primary school teacher from 1963 to 1968.
He was elected MP for Diego Martin Central in the by-election of 1990, after the death of then MP Leo Des Vignes, during the 1990 attempted coup by the Jamaat al Muslimeen. Valley made headlines in July 1995 when he openly clashed with House Speaker Occah Seapaul over a motion to have the deputy speaker preside over a matter. Seapaul never allowed the motion to debate a Constitutional (Amendment) Bill. Valley told legislators during the sitting that "there is a cloud hanging over the Parliament." Seapaul said: "I don't see any cloud hanging over the Parliament." The debate was heated as then attorney general Keith Sobion was forced to switch off Valley's microphone as he got up to respond to the Speaker again.
Speaker Seapaul said if there was no agreement, the House would have to be adjourned to Friday. Valley got up quickly and said: "I am adjourning the House to Thursday at 1.30 pm." But Seapaul objected to that date.
"No, no, no, you can't do that," she said. At the end of the sitting as Seapaul left the Chamber-before the mace was removed-Valley shouted: "You could run but you can't hide." She subsequently suspended Valley from Parliament. Those incidents led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the country and Seapaul was put under house arrest at her Mary Street, St Clair, residence. And Seapaul said yesterday that his death was indeed a sad loss for the country.
She added, however, that "the spirit and soul of Valley will never die, it will live on a a higher place." Seapaul said she and Valley might have had differences in the past because that was part of life. She said, however, that she never held him in bondage for that. She said they chatted subsequent to the heated exchanges in 1995 and they were good friends. She said life was a continuous cycle. Several years later, Valley had differences with PNM leader Patrick Manning and was not selected to contest the 2007 general elections.
He later described PNM leader Patrick Manning as man with dictatorial tendencies. PNM deputy political leader Joan Yuille-Williams said Valley was "a truly precious person." Yuille-Williams said Valley was loved by many for his courage and competence. She said Valley assisted her even when she acted as Prime Minister.
Former PNM chairman Dr Lenny Saith said Valley was a "true patriot."
United National Congress chairman Jack Warner said Valley never lost touch with the common man and woman in the society. He said Valley, who walked among "kings, princes and commoners (and) who was respected by all and loved by many." Warner said Valley was "a true son of the soil." More tributes are expected to be paid to the late Ken Valley during Wednesday's siting of the House of Representatives. Valley served as MP for Diego Martin Central from December 1990 to November 2007.