Tributes for ‘Lion’ Among Statesmen – Panday

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By Prior Beharry

THE Senate of Trinidad and Tobago hails former prime minister Basdeo Panday as a lion among statesmen.

This is how he was described by President of the Senate Nigel de Freitas on Tuesday.

Senate President Nigel De Freitas

Senators paid tribute to Panday, former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chief secretary Hochoy Charles and the late Fazal Karim, an ex-MP for Chaguanas East, whose funeral was also held on Tuesday.

De Freitas noting that Panday left a profound mark, said, “As I said to his family, there’s no story of T&T without mention of stalwarts like Mr Basdeo Panday.

“He stood as a lion among a generation of statesmen, the calibre of which we may never see again. I wish to take this opportunity to express my deepest admiration and respect for Mr Panday’s patriotism and achievements.”

Panday, who was prime minister between 1995 and 2001, passed away in Florida on January 1, at the age of 90.

Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne said Panday had the ability to fight in politics without descending into the gutter.

He said, “He could be incisive without being insulting, he could be memorable without being loud, he could make a point, without making an enemy. 

“One of his favourite sayings was, ‘politics is a civilised substitute for war,’ and he never forgot to be civilised.

“Basdeo Panday had the ability to fight you in the trenches without descending into the gutter. 

“He had of all the politicians I have ever met in my life, the keenest sense of occasion. 

“He was an expert on time and place and had the unswerving ability to recognise the moment and seize the moment.  He did so time and time again.  Worst yet, if there was a microphone or a camera present, oh boy.”

Dr Browne was in charge of the State funeral afforded to Panday on January 9.

He said, “As a founding Member of the National Alliance for Reconstruction, in 1985, and the founder of the United National Congress in 1989 and as a highly influential trade union leader, rooted in the sugar belt of this country, Basdeo Panday was telling this nation all along that he was a force to be reckoned with.

“He was a man on a mission and he would forever change the course of Trinidad and Tobago’s political history and landscape.”

Browne added, “In 1995, as T&T’s first prime minister of East Indian descent, and practitioner of the Hindu faith, he broke barriers and provided a powerful reminder that with determination and the right attitude to education and development, a poor child of Trinidad and Tobago can aspire and rise to lead us all.”

Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal said Panday was a towering the political landscape.

Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal. Photo: T&T Parliament

He said, “His journey from a humble beginning rooted in poverty to the highest office in the land exemplified a life of resilience, determination and unwavering commitment to the people rooted in a fighting spirit for what he believed.”

UNC Senator Wade Mark said Panday served his country with distinction and was the proverbial knight in shining armour who committed to national unity, social justice, equal opportunity and social inclusion


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