PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago, August 22, 2014 (AMG) — Former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Patrick Manning, has declined the honour of Order of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago extended to him by political rival and current Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Following is Manning’s full statement:
“I wish to respectfully decline the publicly announced nomination by the honourable Prime Minister to have me receive the Order of the Republic of T&T, this nation’s highest award.
The primary reason is rooted firmly in my principled stance to not accept any T&T awards while serving as an MP. Additionally, it is important to note what is appropriate and what is not, regarding the announcement of such awards. The award of the Order of the Republic of T&T is given to a national of T&T who “has rendered distinguished and outstanding service to Trinidad and Tobago.”
The Hon Kamla Persad Bissessar was able to win government on May 24th 2010 through a series of sustained and vicious attacks on my character that was led personally by her. These attacks continue. Through this nomination announcement is the Hon Prime Minister retracting those venomous accusations and charges against me?
Additionally, I was made aware of this nomination through persons who saw it reported on the social media, Facebook. Subsequently, a daily newspaper called one of my sons for a comment on the nomination. I was neither consulted, nor advised prior to this announcement. I consider this approach a gross discourtesy.
Under PNM administrations, a committee considers these distinguished national awards, with the Chief Justice as chairman and subject to the imprimatur of the prime minister. Due process for these awards includes informing the potential recipients through the Office of the Prime Minister in a confidential manner.
Only recipients who have agreed to accept an award are then announced publicly, and with dignity. Had I been consulted beforehand, I would have been able to privately decline. The need for a public distancing is unfortunate but necessary in the light of the many and increasingly debauched approaches to these matters used by this UNC administration in its four years in office.
I assure all citizens that I hold our institutions, ceremonies and awards in the highest esteem and I pray for the day when the Hon Kamla Persad Bissessar and the PP government demit office and we can once again ‘take our pride in our liberty’.”[divider style=”thin” title=”UPDATE” text_align=””]
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has responded:
“It is unfortunate that the former Honourable Prime Minister and Political Leader of the People’s National Movement, Patrick Manning, has declined the offer of this nation’s highest award, the Order of Trinidad and Tobago.
Whatever differences we may share politically the award sought to honour Mr Manning for his decades of service as a Parliamentarian. It was meant to be a gesture of magnanimity and a moment to reach beyond the issues that divide us to acknowledge Mr Manning’s many national contributions.
It is regrettable that in rejecting the nomination, Mr Manning should seek to politicise the matter. His comments run against the grain of what was a well intended gesture.
The concept of recognising the long and dedicated service of men and women who committed their lives to the people of Trinidad and Tobago must also been seen differently as we grow and mature as a nation.
The decision to honour Patrick Manning was based on the changing philosophy that has underlined many of the reforms brought by my government inclusive of the need to honour those who have served regardless of their political affiliation, religious or other beliefs.
While we acknowledge Mr Manning’s right to reject the honour it is my hope that the ideal of reaching beyond the divide of politics to honour those who served the nation has not been lost.”