FORMER Special Branch police officer Kenrick Thong, a member of Arthur NR Robinson’s personal security detail who lost his leg as a result of a gunshot wound sustained during the 1990 attempted coup, yesterday described the former prime minister as his “hero”.
Robinson, 87, this country’s former head of state, head of government and chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly, passed away at St Clair Medical Centre around 6 a.m. yesterday.
He had been ailing for several months.
On July 27, 1990, Thong had driven Robinson to the Parliament when Jamaat-al-Muslimeen insurgents stormed the building.
Thong, who lost his right leg during the storming of the Parliament chamber by the Muslimeen insurgents, was standing by the official car when they struck.
Speaking at the commission of enquiry, Thong said he decided to fire because the Muslimeen were shooting at the Red House.
Thong said he hid by a vault close to the rotunda, but got shot by a bullet discharged by a man “who was shooting indiscriminately” as he entered the building through the Prime Minister’s private entrance.
Injured, Thong took off his shirt jack and used it to band his leg, and he dragged himself on his bottom to the southern side of the Red House and hid under the stairs, he told the commission of enquiry.
Eventually, he was rescued by two officers from the Guard and Emergency Branch.
He was handed over to a civilian, who in turn put him into a private car which took him to the Port of Spain General Hospital.
He lost consciousness shortly after reaching the hospital and when he awoke, he realised his leg had been amputated.
Speaking to the Express yesterday, Thong said Robinson was his hero.
“My feeling is the time has come. We don’t last here forever, we only passing through,” Thong said.
“My sympathy goes out to the family and the close relatives,” he said.
Thong said a State funeral was the only type of send-off that would befit Robinson.
“He was a hero, he was my hero. I consider him being a hero in the 1990 coup and he brought back this country that was declining financially how it was. He was a statesman,” Thong said.