Kamla: Panday was Trinidad and Tobago’s conscience
OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said former prime minister Basdeo Panday was the conscience of the nation. She expressed this view in a statement on Tuesday. Panday, 90, died in the US on Monday. He went there for medical treatment in mid-December. Persad-Bissessar said, “Former PM Panday was the conscience of our nation and an undisputed post-colonial Caribbean visionary leader.” She added that Panday’s “lifelong contribution to public service stemmed from his unswerving and clear-sighted view that our society must be remodelled with equal and fair opportunities for all and a progressive, sustainable economy.” Persad-Bissessar recalled Panday’s public life being one of struggle for a better quality of life for all citizens.
“In and out of office, Mr Panday fought for a level economic playing field, a nation of common beliefs and faith in our collective selves in the vast global society.” She said Panday remained optimistic even as he occasionally voiced his public frustrations. “He was unique for his strong-willed nature, the clarity of his often radical views, and his valour in promoting principles and standards.
Persad-Bissessar said TT and the Caribbean will be hard pressed to find another leader like Panday. “He served and led us like no one else.” She added that Panday’s comprehensive perspectives led him to create the UNC in 1989.
Persad-Bissessar served as attorney general, legal affairs minister and education minister in Panday’s cabinet from 1995-2001.
She replaced him as UNC political leader in the party’s internal elections on January 24, 2010.
On February 25, 2010, Persad-Bissessar replaced Panday as opposition leader after a majority of UNC MPs signed a petition pledging their support to her instead of him.