Former permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Sandra Marchack says it was "a tremendous honour" to serve the Prime Minister and assist in crafting policy issues for T&T. She said so during a retirement function on Saturday in her honour at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's. Among those present at the function in the "titan's honour" were scores of parliamentarians, permanent secretaries and specially invited guests. Marchack joined the service on August 3–38 years ago. Marchack's watch would have encompassed Prime Ministers Dr Eric Williams and his successor George Chambers, Castara-born ANR Robinson, Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning. Resplendent in red, Marchack said: "I consider it a tremendous honour to serve the PM. It is a constant responsibility that requires understanding, patience and consideration. "On policy issues, I would exercise my judgment. I thank them for the faith and confidence they have placed in me."
Like a good Boy Scout, Marchack said she always had to "be prepared."
Trade unions proved to be an acid test. "I would have to meet with unions... anticipate the responses. My team and I would have to meet well behind midnight. We had to be prepared for them. In 1997, a good strategy was to meet with them on a public holiday," added Marchack.
Marchack thanked her mentors–Murray Kalloo, Osbourne Ashby and Hilton Cupid– for "teaching me about rectitude...and what was right and what was wrong in the Public Service." Outside her working hours, Marchack shared two vignettes–Manning would politely enquire whether she had met the man of her dreams. Recently, Persad-Bissessar gave her an Eid outfit which "did not escape the photographers." Marchack did not forget to thank those who had contributed to her success and her driver, Lennox.
Persad-Bissessar lauds Marchack
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar paid glowing tribute to Marchack for her "invaluable assistance." Reverting to her swearing in May, Persad-Bissessar remembered getting a telephone call from Marchack which reminded her officials from the Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPM) were going to meet with her over the flooding that had affected Central and Diego Martin. Persad-Bissessar said: "It is bitter sweet to say farewell to such a wonderful person. She gave invaluable assistance to me in May. She showed her extensive knowledge of the ODPM." Persad-Bissessar also lauded Marchack for "smoothing the transition" from the former Manning's administration to the People's Partnership.
Persad-Bissessar added: "She helped over turbulent transition periods. She was about getting the job done well. She knew how to do it... when to do it... she was about getting the job done." Persad-Bissessar continued painting a portrait of a patriot, who had proven to be the consummate professional in the execution of her duties. "She led by example. She was devoted to duty. She took pride in her job. She is an example in the service of all those outside." she said. Persad-Bissessar remembered leaving the office around 10 pm and saw a light in Marchack's office. On a lighter note, she encouraged Marchack to "shop till you drop... and travel and discover the world."
Seizing the opportunity, Persad-Bissessar announced a new youth-oriented policy had been introduced to assist youths involved in the hospitality industry with exposure and training. Among those selected will be institutions like the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality Institute at Chaguaramas. Persad-Bissessar said: "Opportunities will now be provided for young people to gain valuable practical experience through participation in selected events. "Students who are currently enrolled in approved courses in event planning, event management and hospitality will be given the opportunity to develop their skills and further their education."
She also said the policy would include talented young performers and artistes from schools and communities throughout T&T. "The learning experience will be further enhanced by occasionally performing alongside leading national cultural icons." she said. She felt exposure to those events would enable students to gain practical experience in event planning, management, catering, protocol and hospitality.
During the formalities, Marchack's colleagues/permanent secretaries, including Sharon Imbert, Reynold Cooper, Cheryl Blackman, Stephanie Lewis, Alison Lewis and Andre Leung Woo-Gabriel, lauded her stellar performance. Entertainment included steelband music from the Chinese Ensemble, a lion dance and a rib-tickling monologue delivered by actor Raymond Choo Kong. Choo Kong said: "They say Chinese people does be selfish/But not this girl from behind the Arima Dial."