BY CAROL MATROO
FORMER Public Utilities Minister Pennelope Beckles was last night on the verge of declining the post of Deputy Speaker of the House which Prime Minister Patrick Manning on Thursday said he had offered her.
Insiders of the People’s National Movement (PNM) said yesterday that Beckles, who was first elected to represent the Arima constituency in 2000, indicated that she was not prepared to accept the post of Deputy Speaker.
A party source said Beckles hinted at this when she met with the Arima party executive on Thursday night.
The source who attended the meeting said this might be Beckles’ way of defying Manning for passing her over for his Cabinet.
Beckles served as Minister of Tourism and Culture and as the Minister of Public Utilities and the Environment in the 2002-2007 Parliament.
Beckles was bypassed for a ministerial portfolio in favour of PNM candidates in the 2007 general election who had no experience serving in Cabinet. There are 13 ministers in the 23-member Cabinet who have no previous experience at the central government level.
If Beckles declines to accept the post of Deputy Speaker, she would be the second former minister to spurn an offer made by Prime Minister Manning. The Prime Minister admitted that Christine Sahadeo, the former Minister in the Ministry of Finance, had been offered a Cabinet position which she declined. Speaking with the media after the swearing-in ceremony for the Cabinet at President’s House on Thursday, Manning did not reveal what was the portfolio that Sahadeo declined.
Sources speculated that Beckles was so hurt by the prime-ministerial snub that she was contemplating resigning from the PNM.
Manning’s explanation for Beckles being left out of his Cabinet was that the PNM faced an experienced Opposition in Parliament.
In light of that, Manning said, the Government needed an experienced Deputy Speaker of calibre; a void which Beckles was supposed to fill.
Beckles’ victory in the 2007 general election at Monday’s polls earned her her fourth successive term in the House of Representatives.
Concerns about East representation
People in east Trinidad were now concerned that, if Beckles were to resign from the PNM, then that would leave the constituents in the East without PNM representation, the source said.
During the general election, the PNM lost the Mayaro seat to UNC’s Winston “Gypsy” Peters. This seat was previously held by PNM’s Franklin Khan, who is currently before the courts on charges of corruption.
The Cumuto/Manzanilla constituency was won by the UNC’s Harry Partap.
Beckles’ resignation would leave PNM supporters without representation in the House, the source said.
Several attempts to contact Beckles yesterday were unsuccessful.
Her mobile phone was out of service and a female, who answered her home phone, said Beckles was not in.
Look Penny! We Indian people real like yuh. Buh yuh have to understand wa happenin.
Manning lookin for fresh pussy! Yours slack now and is of no use to him. Yuh ent see what he do to Christine Sahadeo. Da oman geh bull all over Trinidad, ask Malcolm Jones.
Is only Christine Kangaloo (Garcia, ah doh know why she fraid to use the Garcia. Everybody know she married ah ole nigga.) geh a lil position because we understand that Brian now start to fock she.
Doh fret yuh self girl... doh worry bout Linda too...she is the blow job expert. Stress relief nah.