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Dear Editor: It was Panday—not Manning—who coined ‘community leader’ euphemism

“The time has come to correct gross inaccuracies pertaining to the widespread claim that former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago and also former political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Mr Patrick Manning had coined the phrase ‘community leaders’.

“[…] Undisputed facts will clearly demonstrate that it was United National Congress (UNC) under the leadership of Mr Basdeo Panday that coined the phrase ‘community leaders’ when known gang leader, the late Sean Francis, contested the 12 July, 1999 Local Government Elections on a UNC ticket.”

The following Letter to the Editor, which seeks to attribute blame for the paternity of the questionable phrase ‘community leader,’ was submitted to Wired868 by former PNM general secretary and mayor of Arima, Ashton Ford:

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago prime ministers Basdeo Panday (left) and the late Patrick Manning have a chat at a Presentation College (San Fernando) reunion.
(Copyright Taran Rampersad/Flckr)

The time has come to correct gross inaccuracies pertaining to the widespread claim that former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago and also former political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Mr Patrick Manning had coined the phrase “community leaders.”

I also want to condemn those elements in the media who link the phrase “community leaders” and Mr Manning’s meeting with so-called gang leaders as the “PNM harbouring criminals.”

Undisputed facts will clearly demonstrate that it was the United National Congress (UNC) under the leadership of Mr Basdeo Panday that coined the phrase “community leaders” when known gang leader, the late Sean Francis, contested the 12 July, 1999 Local Government Elections on a UNC ticket.

Given Francis’ known background in the criminal world and considering the fact that he was a person of interest to the police, the media queried if his candidacy would have had a negative effect on his party.

Mr Panday was unmoved and indicated to the media that everybody deserves a second chance and he further described Francis as a community leader. Francis contested the San Juan/Caledonia seat for the UNC and lost to the PNM’s Harvey Borris.

Photo: The late Sean Francis, described by the police as a nefarious gangster,, poses with sons Corey Bonadie (left) and Kevon Inniss.
Francis was murdered in April 2009 after being shot at least 50 times. He was 41.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

I was taken aback when radio and television hosts on their morning programmes recently accused the PNM of harbouring criminals because of the meeting between Mr Manning and the so-called gang leaders [in 2002].

I would like to ask these commentators this question: Which approach constitutes harbouring criminals a) trying to make peace among warring gangs or b) giving known gang leaders an opportunity to be part of the governance of the country?

It is to be noted that Mr Manning was not alone in trying to bring peace in the Laventille/Morvant communities. Several efforts were made by NGOs, individuals and even Father Clyde Harvey, who organised peace marches, signing of treaties among gangs and meetings with so-called leaders aimed at curbing the violence in the districts.

So attributing these statements to Mr Manning and the PNM is grossly inaccurate.

It is not the only time when certain elements in the media and other individuals made unjustified claims against the PNM. People actually took the oath to speak the truth before the Commission of Inquiry into the 1990 events and told deliberate lies.

They claimed that Mr Manning, then the Opposition Leader, and the PNM never condemned the attempted coup. In response to that claim, I submitted newspaper clippings to the Commissioners providing proof that Mr Manning and Dr Lenny Saith, then Chairman of the PNM, had condemned the coup on at least three occasions.

Photo: An insurrectionist surrenders to the Defence Force after the attempted coup on 27 July, 1990.

I don’t know why some elements in the media insist on putting a spin, twisting the facts or attempting to rewrite the history of T&T when it comes to the PNM and national issues.

Only recently, the UNC did not support the government in Parliament on the Anti-Gang legislation despite the fact that when they were in government and presented the same legislation the PNM did not hesitate in supporting it.

It therefore becomes imperative for me to protect the legacy of the PNM and also to ensure that the work of the party in developing our beloved country is properly recorded.

In the circumstances, I would like the people who have been misleading the country for the past few days and casting aspersions on Mr Manning and the PNM on the crime problem to apologise to his family and the PNM as a whole.

Photo: The late Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning (centre) waves during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 27 November, 2009.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Luis Acosta)

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133 comments

  1. All we need is someone to fix the problem, who started it doesn’t matter. If the present government cannot do it, elect someone who could.

  2. Ok , we got it , this gang business started flourishing after the 1990 attempted coup and it was encouraged to a greater extent by Pandays UNC , now is the time to eradicate them and Kamla s UNC is blocking every move

  3. I don’t think it’s about who coined the name , it’s about who encouraged that type of behavior and tried to give it respectability

  4. Now the blame game ,it’s amazing how government forces was able to eradicate all the progressive movement of the 60s and 70s and can’t do nothing about the criminals now Serians ,Chineses and the black and Indians peasants that are killing each other for crumbs and spoils, laugable.

  5. I wonder who ashton feel he could fool,who met with so called community leaders in a hotel in closed doors. To be a pnm community leader you most be a gangster,killer,thief,rapist,sell guns& be able to murder peopl, that is why all those youths trying to be community leaders and commiting these crimes to qualify. So ashton who you trying to fool.

  6. I hate to see this blame game on either side of the fence in a cosmopolitan country where every creed and race should find an equal place in the land of the humming bird.
    This country is a very difficulty nation to rule because of the two races that have the majority of people in our country namely africans and indians and the two party system in our country is not working due to discrimination ,racism and trival voting.
    We will have to change this system of government and look to forge ahead with constitutional reform for the masses to have more say in running our country like a patriot front without any political party were the people would have to put country first before self and not any political party.
    We are living in a different era and this system of government by the our first prime minister is outdated and old fashionioned and cannot life to stand up to scrutiny for the twenty-first century . As one people and one nation regardless of the colour of your skin, hair ,ethnicity or race we should all find an equal place in our country as one people under god and as mature individuals put a stop to this blame games on either side of the fence that is happening right now in our parliament and put country foremost before self.

    • That is one of the most sensible suggestions I’ve seen yet about our political future. If you can put more meat on that, you should send that idea to us as a Letter to the Editor.
      If you’d like to, you can send mail to editor@wired868.com.

    • Thank you for your words of incouragement and support but i am a bit reluctant to add more because i have learnt a lesson from after i made the pivitol role for our country to achieve heritage of freedom from monarchy tô Republican status and up to this day i am not recognised for my invaluable contribution tô nation building benefitting the whole populace.
      Nowadays the politicans steals your words of wisdom and philosophy for their own glorification and fame and up to this day i am not recognised and is treated worst than a convicted killers who lost all their appeals before the privy council and heard their death warrant read out and is saved by an injunction in the High court for a stay of execution and who you can still hear and read about but no body knows about me.

    • Rasheed I’m sorry that you were not publicly acknowledged. I’m sure the people who matter most to you know though.
      If you do want to share your ideas, Wired868 is ready.

    • I have done a lot of community work for this country as a non politican without any Monetary rewards compered to other people as aldermen and senators who are only raping the economy of this country for doing absolutely nothing and that is not fair to me.

    • Rasheed in politics there are a lot of victims because of the party system and you must do as they want to survive
      I have been suggesting for quite a while for each constituency to have independent candidates who reside in the constituency
      5 – 10 independent in parliament today can upset the their behavior positively
      Our constitution works in favor of the party in power so they will only talk about constitution reform

    • I think you have the Idea i am speaking about where you can select two candidates in a electorial constituency so the people who resides in that constituency will choose a candidate in an election to represent them and through a party system in parliament were you will have more effective representation for the people than a through a party system which is partisian politics and obligated to a leader or a party but for politics by the people and for the people which will be democracy and a goverment for all the people.

  7. Facts… The big Editor suppressing Facts… Believe what you say Rite… You waist.. I can think for myself.. Annalise/decipher/conclude for my self…. So F– No you do not speak for me and many like me… Jus give me the Facks keep you F–ing opinion to yourself..

    • Fellah, this is a letter to the editor. You are aware of that format right? It is one in which ANYBODY can give their view on a topic. I would think people could understand what that means.

    • Top man that is the gray area you and other dwell. Giving you personal opinion. Facts is undisputable.. The Truth… Personal opinion always invites preference…

    • Would you speak the Truth even if shall cost you your life… Those who love preference will never

    • Rasta Man, who gave their opinion? It states that the letter was sent by the former PNM general secretary which tries to offer clarification something he thinks is important.
      You could ignore. You could criticise it.
      But attack the publisher for allowing someone a voice?
      Big man, anything that one person says about politics, crime or the economy will make some people happy and some unhappy. You’d rather we publish nothing at all?
      You can join in the conversation or you like or leave it alone. But let us have perspective and be mature.

    • Think for a second about what you read. Then respond. In that second it takes to think, you would appreciate who the author is and what point he was trying to make.
      And THAT is what you should be commenting on.

  8. Totally wrong. It was Manning who called a meeting with these honourable gentlemen at his office and then referred to them as Community Leaders. As for gangs this has its genesis in the URP prog. Started under Eric…. and that was the beginning of the end.

  9. Who cares, let’s get on with the people’s business.

  10. Semantics!! But tell me who invited all those crooks to the holiday inn for a nice breakfast

  11. Hey just now it won’t be indo ….Afro..Syrian…alyuh keep fighting nah!!!!! be …..”Mixture”

  12. Narry Singh Mark Guerra was patrick manning’s friend,

  13. I remember cocaine was found in a water tank of mr Sadiq Baksh what ever happen to that matter.

  14. oaky,,, synopsis << Somehow ,, it is Panday's fault that the PNM negotiated with gang leaders and paid them moneys to be URP and CEPEP contractors in exchange for election ground work in their communities ... Panday's crime of letting ONE gang leader run for a local government post , is the REAL cause of the PNM's actions ... Good to Know ... Anything the PNM does BAD on a Massive scale is still the DLP's, ULF's, NAR's , UNC's or PP's fault ...

  15. With all that stupid talk where are those community leaders today

  16. Sean Bill Francis, Teddy Mice , Jazzy ( I know his given name) and Padmore( who was the mole in the PNM) were the right hand men of the UNC on the E/W corridor. They had the ear of certain ministers including Panday, and was the go between for the polling divs. Dozens of “activists” some who became candidates were financed by UNC. Mortages were paid off in cash, gov’t vehicles were received as gifts etc. The jealousy then stepped in and the killing began.

    • what killing began ? murder rates under the UNC were at an all time low …

      The facts don’t corroborate your story ..

      The timeline you describe has sub 100 murder rates in T&T ..

    • Evidence and stats please.Do you remember when Vegas, Caledonia , Morvant etc were the killing fields. Even Bill Francis became a stat, shot to death by his nephew , allegedly for a golden gun given to Bill by Danraj (ALLEGEDLY).

  17. I agree but clarity is necessary for wrong accusations.

  18. We say we intelligent , full of degrees, yet in 2018, we still falling for the political games being played? Is best we all had just SEA level education.

  19. Wired868 u clearly have too much time on your hands ….so much t hat you don’t mind wasting it.

  20. community leaders are of great use to the country. Every county should have some accordingly. They should receive a salary every month.Their job should be to report on the activities in their community good or bad, to their minister or representative for their area. And the authorities can take it from there.

  21. these are visionaries—these are true leaders –what we have now is fools –manning said he want to build 3 smelter plants years ago we laugh and say we children will grow up with 4000 hands —any one check the price of aluminum right now –we would have money to buy other countries –panday said desal is the key to water problems we laugh –having 10 desal plants right now would be wonderful -u never have to worry about water –forget about them let we fight –who is nigger and who is coolie –u all have to admit these fellers always had great ideas

  22. Y we always going back and looking back. Who said what or who did what has already been done. Let’s look forward, let’s try and deal with the now and the future people.

  23. Joan Yuille Williams hosted a grand luncheon for every single gang leader and their entourage in Cascade…….I was present……..the only one not in attendance, Barry Alphonse, is the only one still alive, albeit in Prison on a murder charge.

  24. Mark Guerra, the biggest of them all, walked side by side with Manning, .

  25. What is wrong with the term? That is what they are. Bad ones. Community Leaders leading their community into damnation. We need some good ones.

  26. Grow up People.!! How is ”who coined the phrase” more important than who did what?? Who is still doing what they want? ?

  27. UNC and PNM ppl, Indo and Afro trinis, continue to fight nah, I love it….I’m Syrian, I will colonise you all

  28. That’s wat big intelligent ppl fighting over who coined a word? Hahhahahha, I want to be a Syrian yes

  29. Thank you Mr Wired. I was “advised “by Danraj Singh to “talk” to my “community leader” when I asked the ministry for help in repairing the school where I taught at the time.

  30. A pig by any other name is still a pig, so let’s deal with the ‘ now’ and not with the trivial! But then again, this who we are, as we ‘chook’ our heads ‘neath the sand in our daily demise, which began decades ago. Be real, do the calculation!

  31. Steupses! It’s all political. Waste of time on an issue which will in no way improve our current predicament in T&T.

  32. Really? Murders taking place like that and we bothered by who coined a name for gang leaders.
    No wonder as a nation we failing badly…people we have to stop fiddling and solve the problems.

  33. Time to forget who was, who now in authority have all options to deal with anything correctly as they could.

  34. Manning made the term his own though when he sat down and joined forces with them to the tune of million dollar contracts… Followed by the famous quote “collateral damage” to describe the exploding murder rate that followed the deals.

  35. Hmm amazing what’s important in this country. Who said what and who did this , steeeupppssss

  36. What a waste of print matter and posting space. Wasn’t this expression coined long before these two leaders anyway? Geeeeeze

  37. Many persons that commenting on the thread & still choose to blame Manning clearly didn’t read the article or just too bias. Btw gang activities flourished under the Panday administration when Sadiq Baksh was the Min in charge of the URP programme and that’s a FACT

  38. So what difference it make who coined the phrase….today in this country we have a gang problem and it’s the major reason we have such a high murder rate ..yet we do not have the political will to do the right thing for the country….if we fail to do what is right by mandating our politicians to pass laws to protect us the we have no one to blame when our beautiful country goes to a point of no return…..

  39. All you realize the criminals are the politicians

  40. It was manning who called community leaders at the CROWN PLAZA HOTEL and banned the media from attending. And after that meeting the country went on a killing spree up to this day. Check the records.

  41. On behalf of the people of Trinidad and and Tobago, I take it upon myself to personally apologize to the PNM for all that has been said about them and their member in the past. I would personally like to apologize to everyone: from Johnny O, to someone called a heart. Everything that is wrong with this nation has been really the fault of the other governing parties, over the past 55 years, who have skillfully managed to mismanage the nation’s resources; oil booms and all.

  42. I dont think anyone is interested in who coined the phrase but who invited the community leaders to a meeting to sit down and pow wow with them.

  43. Lard! The PR machine hitting on all sides

  44. Thanks Time has come to correct misinformation