Friday, August 3 2012
We welcome former Prime Minister Patrick Manning back home. He had left here some months ago in a wheelchair, heading for Walter Reed Army Hospital in the United States for therapy to assist his recovery from the stroke he had suffered. And it was very gratifying to see Mr Manning walking through Piarco to his vehicle on Wednesday night.
Recovery from a stroke is not an easy, nor a “one-time” process, and we believe that Mr Manning will be continuing in therapy locally until he acquires the full use of his limbs. Certainly we wish him all strength and even patience, as he works towards regaining his full physical fitness.
Compared to the man we knew up until January when he suffered the stroke, it was a relatively frail Patrick Manning who walked slowly through a large crowd of well wishers on Wednesday evening. Of course part of his tiredness would have come from the long flight, which was delayed by over two hours. But he did need a cane, and his wife Hazel walked very closely behind him as he came through the crowd.
But the welcoming crowd, and their exuberance upon sighting Mr Manning, was a cause of concern, as Manning’s security, bolstered by Airports Authority security had to protect the arriving party from the crush, and work to force back those at the front of the wave which had swept forward. Cries of “get back” and “let him breathe” were heard coming from the security staff. And while we are confident that no one in that crowd meant any harm to Mr Manning, standard security concerns must always consider this possibility and ensure that opportunity is not provided to anyone with such an agenda.
Too many of us do not like to keep a comfortable and respectful distance from those we claim to support and admire. As flattering and honouring as the idea of getting close to the former prime minister might have been, it clearly caused him some discomfort. Indeed, an unintended push from the back of the ranks could have shoved him over! We therefore call for restraint and consideration when we meet Mr Manning in public in the near future.
And we will not join the debate about who from the PNM was there and who was not. It is unfortunate that the party is bothering itself with that issue. We see no reason why all of the sitting members of parliament, or indeed political leader Dr Keith Rowley needed to be there. We consider that there was circumspection in their decision to leave the occasion as a family and very close friends’ affair. Under the circumstances, given that Mr Manning is still recovering, those whom he and his family wanted to be present should have been invited. The “support crowd” of course was different, and surely Mr Manning must have been heartened by their presence, even if they eventually became a bit oppressive in their exuberance.
Manning was taken to a private location, and we respect that, and ask all citizens to do likewise. We hope that his recovery continues so that he can return to Parliament and eventually step down in his own time, and on his own terms, rather than have the door close quietly behind him because of the stroke he suffered.