IT is time to allow “old wounds to heal” because the past is best honoured by “learning and letting go”.
So said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, one of the country’s Cabinet members who lost her job following former president Arthur NR Robinson’s decision in 2001 to appoint Patrick Manning prime minister following an 18-18 general election deadlock.
Persad-Bissessar made the statements as the Parliament yesterday delivered tributes to Robinson who passed away on Wednesday.
Persad-Bissessar recounted Robinson’s “life that was lived with tremendous purpose and achievement”.
She said during Robinson’s tenure as president he faced a “defining moment” in this country’s “social and political history”.
“In 2001, just one year after the UNC (United National Congress) was elected to a second term, a general election was forced and the result delivered a deadlock with both major parties receiving 18 seats,” she said.”
“It was then left to president Robinson to decide who would assume the prime ministership and the choice made was for Patrick Manning to assume leadership of government. The Member for San Fernando East,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Robinson’s decision to by-pass Basdeo Panday for the post of prime minister sparked controversy.
“This electoral tie and unprecedented constitutional crisis and the decision made by the then president caused intense debate, a great part of which was bitterly played out in the public,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“We all know what the arguments were at that time. We all know how we felt at that time and how we were prepared to fight his decision,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said many were hurt by Robinson’s decision.
“Many were hurting, one side did not lose and the other side did not win,” she said.
“But today, almost 14 years later, that decision has written itself into history as a moment when our nation was forced to re-examine its supreme law and reconsider the arrangements by which we govern ourselves,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Persad-Bissessar said at no time in history everyone agreed when faced with a turning point.
“All throughout human history, where nations around the world came to turning points where the future was to be transformed and a new path was to be chosen, there was never a time when everyone agreed,” she said.
“Yes there was pain, there was anguish and indeed there was even bitterness,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Persad-Bissessar called on those still hurting to let the wounds heal.
“If we as a nation are to truly continue walking forward we are the ones who will hurt ourselves if we remain locked in the past,” she said.
“And for anyone who still holds to the pain of the past, I ask respectfully that we allow our old wounds to heal, consider what we have been able to learn and then allow ourselves to grow,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Persad-Bissessar said it is “our duty to rise above that which pains is personally and do what is best for our country”.
In it now time to let go, she said.
“And this is why, Mr Speaker, notwithstanding arguments in the past and our conviction that maybe something wrong was done. The past is best honoured by learning and letting go,” she said.
She said Robinson was only human.
“Was Mr Robinson the perfect human being? No, he wasn’t, as none of us here,” Persad-Bissessar said.