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‘Good going Kid’

By Clint Chan Tack Saturday, August 23 2014

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Once upon a time: Former Prime Minister and UNC leader Basdeo Panday with Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar in December 2009 at a meeting in Orange Va...
Once upon a time: Former Prime Minister and UNC leader Basdeo Panday with Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar in December 2009 at a meeting in Orange Va...

FORMER Prime Minister Basdeo Panday yesterday appeared to support his fellow former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who declined Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s recommendation that they both receive this country’s highest honour, the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at this year’s National Awards Ceremony at Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain on Independence Day (August 31).

In a posting on one of two Facebook pages assigned to him, Panday said, “I always knew the kid had it in him.” Panday referred to Manning as “The Kid” during the negotiations between the UNC and the People’s National Movement (PNM) at the then Crowne Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain in December 2001 to break the 18-18 tie which took place in that year’s general election.

Persad-Bissessar was one of the UNC MPs who stayed at the hotel while those talks were taking place. Then President Arthur NR Robinson (now deceased) subsequently appointed Manning as Prime Minister on December 24, 2001 on the basis of “moral and spiritual values.”

Panday is currently in Singapore visiting relatives. While several attempts to contact him for a response to Persad-Bissessar’s recommendation were unsuccessful, the former United National Congress (UNC) political leader and member of Parliament for Couva North seemed to express solidarity with Manning through social media.

Speaking at an Independence Day cocktail reception that she hosted at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on Thursday night, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced she had recommended to President Anthony Carmona that her predecessors Manning and Panday receive the Order of the Republic for their years of service as prime ministers of this country.

Panday’s brother Subhas, a former government minister and UNC Member of Parliament for Princes Town, yesterday declined to comment about Persad-Bissessar recommending his older brother for the Order of the Republic.“I think the best person to answer that question is him,” he said.

However Subhas, an attorney, wondered why the Government now seemed to be in a rush “to curry favour” with his brother, after they had treated the Panday clan with gross disrespect.

Persad-Bissessar served as Attorney General and Education Minister in Panday’s UNC government from November 10, 1995 to December 24, 2001.

She defeated Panday as UNC political leader in a landslide victory in the party’s internal elections in January 2010. She then replaced him as Opposition Leader in February of the same year. Subhas and Panday’s daughter Mickela, who was Oropouche West MP at that time, did not sign the letter to then President George Maxwell Richards supporting Persad-Bissessar as Opposition Leader.

Recalling that Mickela and himself were all blanked by Persad-Bissessar to stand for re-election in their former constituencies of Oropouche West and Princes Town respectively, Subhas said he remains angry to this day about the way Mickela was treated by those who assumed leadership of the party founded by his brother.

Saying the performances of current Oropouche West MP Stacy Roopnarine and Princes Town MP Nela Khan over the last four years have been poor, Subhas said the entire country knows why the decision was taken four years ago “to lick up two Pandays in one go.”

Subhas served a short stint as Government Chief Whip in the Senate and a Minister in the Ministry of National Security until he was replaced in Persad-Bissessar’s first Cabinet reshuffle in June 2011. Shortly after his senatorial and ministerial appointments were revoked, Subhas disclosed that he declined an offer made to him by Persad-Bissessar to serve as this country’s Consul General in Toronto, Canada.

Noting that the People’s Partnership Government continues to face a series of allegations of corruption against it, Subhas declared, “Today, I can lift my head up high. I was never corrupted.”

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