PRESS RELEASE:- It was Burke who stated that, “the great difference between the real statesman and the pretender is that the one sees into the future while the other regards only the present.” Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning was without doubt a statesman.
His native Trinidad & Tobago may have lost a favored son but the Caribbean as a whole has lost a friend who was an integrationist at heart. During his near decade and one-half as Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, there was never an occasion when a sister Caribbean was in need and he did not immediately respond. Perhaps it was his formative years which taught him to care for the less fortunate for former Prime Minister Manning once related that his family was so poor he often wore garments made from flour sacks.
Always keen to excel Mr. Manning would earn a degree in geology from the University of the West Indies following which he took up employment within the energy sector. Politics would soon prove to be his first love, however, and it was not long before he joined the People’s National Movement. In 1971 he successfully contested a seat and would remain the Parliamentary Representative for forty-four (44) consecutive years, in the process becoming his country’s longest serving Member of Parliament. Thirteen of these years would be as Prime Minister.
During his first term as Prime Minister he was widely credited with stabilizing the nation’s currency and further developing the gas industry, spurring strong growth in the economy. He used that wealth, not only for his country’s benefit but, equally, to assist sister CARICOM nations. There can be denying that during his tenure as prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago was forever a friend indeed.
Former Prime Minister Manning was always about service and it came as no surprise when in 2014 he declined the honour of being awarded the Order of Trinidad & Tobago, his country’s highest national award. He was clearly one who served without regard to fame, fortune or decorations. He was simply about country and region.
I was fortunate to have been a Cabinet Minister in Saint Lucia during Mr. Manning’s second term as Prime Minister and in the course of these four years, his words and actions served only to solidify the view of his passion for regional integration.
Just 69 years old, Mr. Manning certainly had much to still offer the region and his leadership and sometimes ownership of the integration movement will be difficult to replace.
On behalf of the Saint Lucia Labour Party and on behalf of my family and myself, I extend condolences to the family of former Prime Minister Manning and to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. His work is now over and may he rest in eternal and well-deserved peace.