Former PM Panday was the conscience of our nation and an undisputed post-colonial Caribbean visionary leader.
T&T is fortunate that this exceptionally gifted son of our soil devoted his entire adult life to campaigning for a country of economic equity, social justice, and ethnic and class unity.
The genesis of Mr. Panday’s lifelong contribution to public service stemmed from his unswerving and clear-sighted view that our society must be remodeled with equal and fair opportunities for all and a progressive, sustainable economy.
He first committed to formal education and then complemented his learning and worldview with courageous advocacy for oppressed sugar workers and a crusade for harmony in our plural society.
He felt that people forced together through colonial times could not build a united nation with a common purpose. His tenacious struggle for lowly paid workers is essential to his proud and enduring legacy.
He was unafraid to confront then-Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams, and his unwavering campaign for sugar workers earned improved wages and working conditions, scrapping of child labour, and decent housing.
He canvassed with George Weekes and others for togetherness among the working masses since he was resolved that national unity could be best achieved by bonding people on the shop floor.
His comprehensive perspectives led to the launch of the United National Congress, the vehicle through which he crusaded his deep-felt people movement.
When he ascended into the office of Prime Minister, Mr. Panday implemented those ideals, making him an innovative national leader, whose policies helped to create the society to which he had aspired and campaigned.
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.
He 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 his principles and standards.
Trinidad and Tobago – and, indeed, the Caribbean – would be hard-pressed to identify another leader with such an insightful and sincere outlook and the determination to work toward its fulfillment.
He has served and led us like no one else.
The UNC expresses its profound sorrow at his passing. Condolences to his family. May he rest in peace.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP Leader of the Opposition
2nd January 2024