(Trinidad Guardian) Former prime minister Patrick Manning admitted yesterday that he made mistakes during his 40 years in politics as he apologised to all the people he hurt or disenfranchised during his tenure, saying he was not perfect. At a news conference at his San Fernando East constituency office, the former People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader broke a 15-month silence. “When I was elected Prime Minister, the people of Trinidad and Tobago may very well have thought that in me they would have found perfection,” Manning said. “If that were the case, I could have said from quite early you had the wrong man. “I am not perfect…No human being is perfect and to expect perfection in the conduct of public affairs is perhaps expecting a little too much.
“I was not perfect in the governance of T&T and I am sure that along the way, it is not possible for any leader to conduct the affairs of any country, and for such a long time, without the decisions that he makes, initiates or for which he holds responsibility, not adversely affecting some people. “There would have been some people who would have been hurt or otherwise disenfranchised by actions he may have taken or actions taken by the government that he headed.” Manning said in his case, this was certainly true. In the circumstances, the former PM said: “I think this is an appropriate time to apologise for those who feel, or who have felt, disenfranchised by any action I may have taken over the years as Prime Minister, or in any other capacity.
“I wish to humbly apologise to all of them and to say to all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, I am sorry,” he said to tumultuous applause from constituents. Manning said he would call news conferences from time to time to make, judicious interventions. He demanded answers from the Government on several multimillion drug busts at the Port of Point Lisas, including one which implicated a member of a state board. Manning referred to TT$2 million worth of drugs found among car parts in a container last September; drugs valued at TT$34.6 million hidden among chicken parts in a 40-foot container and the admission by president of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union (SWWTU) Michael Anisette that he knew of at least 13 containers of drugs at Point Lisas.
Anisette also said his members, who were port workers, were offered bribes to clear the containers. “What has become of these investigations?…We would like to know,” Manning said, pointing out that after the drug seizure, officials said they had made a breakthrough in investigations and answers would be given shortly. He said more than a month had passed since the TT$34.6 million bust and he wanted to know the status of that matter. “On behalf of the people of T&T, I demand answers to that question,” Manning declared. He explained that he deliberately kept his silence over the past year and a half and had stayed away from all party fora to give his new political leader Dr Keith Rowley time to chart his own course and set his own policies. He said he did not want to do anything that would appear to undermine the authority of the new leader, or seek to detract from his efforts. “That is what I willingly did in the interest of allowing my new leader to chart his own way and not have to look over his shoulder every five minutes for a past leader whose days had already gone,” Manning said.