Kamla, UNC members mourn Karim’s passing

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and the late Fazal Karim. – File photo

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in a post on Facebook, said it was with deep sorrow that she learned of the death of her former minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, Fazal Karim.

“Fazal will be remembered for the great strides he made in several critical spheres of national development, particularly in tertiary education,” she said.

“He was well loved, and TT is indeed poorer to have lost a patriotic son. I extend my condolences on behalf of our great party to his dear family and loved ones during this most difficult time.”

Several other UNC MPs offered condolences. A statement from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said the loss saddened him.

He described Karim, affectionately called Faz, as a patriot, a dedicated and committed public servant who had worked strenuously in the education sector. He added that Karim had pioneered several important initiatives in tertiary education. Moonilal also referred to Karim as a dedicated member and officer of the UNC.

“He has left a legacy. I can never forget his hard work in Parliament and the Cabinet. I had the honour of being leader of government business while he also served as a minister. He was always dependable and available to represent the views of the PP adminstration at a moment’s notice. His research and policy focus were admired by all colleagues,” Moonilal said.

“His vision for a better TT was epitomised by his slogan that we must take our youth and our children from ‘cutting cane to flying plane.’ I think that defines the extent and clarity of his vision.

A statement from Mayaro MP Rushton Paray said, “Serving alongside Mr Karim during the 11th Parliament was a privilege, and his role as minister in the Persad-Bissessar administration showcased his unwavering commitment to advancing education.

“Beyond the parliamentary chambers, Mr Karim’s impact was far-reaching. A true scholar, he devoted himself to expanding both academic and skills training, leaving an indelible mark on the educational landscape. His prowess in parliamentary debates was matched only by his role as a mentor to young parliamentarians, imparting wisdom and guidance with grace.”

Paray added that Karim’s eloquence in expressing the journey of those of East Indian origins in Trinidad and Tobago, encapsulated in the phrase “from cutting cane to flying planes,” served as a poignant reminder of the remarkable strides made by the community.

“As we reflect on his legacy, I join all who mourn the loss of this exceptional individual. Mr Fazal Karim’s absence will be keenly felt, but his contributions will resonate in the hearts and minds of those he touched,” Paray said.

UNC deputy political leader and Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee said he too was deeply saddened to hear of the death of his former parliamentary colleague.

He described Karim as an innovator who was driven to make a difference in the national landscape and committed to progressing society.

Apart from serving together in Parliament, Karim was his line minister while Lee served as chairman of the MIC Institute of Technology.

Lee said as minister, Karim instituted some of the most dynamic reforms to technical training in the nation, which benefited hundreds of young people.

Lee said another of Karim’s revolutionary projects was the launch of the National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) Drilling Academy with a rig for training.

“This was geared not only to creating a more skilled labour force for our energy sector but also aimed at training our youth to be a direct part of this nation’s backbone industry, the energy sector. Fazal understood that the greatest resource of this nation was our youth, and he was determined to nurture, grow and develop our youth,” Lee said.

“He made an invaluable contribution serving our party as general secretary and will always be remembered for his dedication to TT.”