Members of the People’s National Movement Mayaro executive and others lit candles on Saturday night in memory of late Energy Minister Franklin Khan who was the last Ortoire Mayaro MP.
They did so at a site which Khan recently visited in Mafeking, where his mother’s home was once located—and where Khan grew up.
Khan who was a former PNM chairman passed away at his Maraval home at approximately 7 last Saturday morning. He was found dead in his chair at his home. He was 63.
The Government and the ruling PNM, in deep mourning, have described Khan as a tireless servant of the country, a true son of the soil and a patriot.
Tributes have continued to flow for the PNM Minister whose smile had endured through good times and bad.
High tribute to Khan is expected tomorrow in the Senate where he was the Government’s Senate leader. He hadn’t attended last Tuesday’s session where Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat had acted as Senate leader.
Last Saturday and last night (Sunday) constituents of his onetime Ortoire-Mayaro constituency mourned him, PNM constituency executive chairman Clifford Campbell said.
“Frankie was last seen in Mayaro about three weeks ago and people went to the spot and lit candles there last Saturday night in memorial after learning of his passing,” he added.
Campbell who’d known Khan since their boyhood days in Mayaro said residents had seen Khan and his wife visiting the site of Khan’s mother’s former home. Construction was apparently planned there.
“One person was sad and concerned that he looked a little tired and different to the Frankie they remembered. But they were happy that he was around that day. So when we got the news (last Saturday) of his death, everyone was in shock and disbelief, people cried – just shattered at his death.
“Nobody could have known that when he came ‘home’ to Mayaro those three weeks ago, it might have been the last time people would have seen him and death was around the corner. Frankie was born in Mayaro….so to those who knew of the visit, he came home.”
Campbell said constituency members also planned to light candles at PNM’s Mayaro constituency office last night (Sunday) all within COVID regulations.
He said he received permission from National Petroleum—where Khan was once former chairman- to open a condolence book at an unused part of the service station located in the constituency.
As a Mayaro boy, Campbell recalled “Frankie was a regular guy around the village, his nickname was ‘Chin.’ His mother Miss Molly had a shop, he used to play cricket – everyone knew him. In his young days, there was a stint as a checker with Works. He used to visit my home as a teen, he was friends with the family.
“He was always a bright fella, he passed for North Eastern College going on to make his way up.”
Campbell was once also a PNM nominee competing for the Mayaro seat with Khan. But Khan got the nod to contest the seat instead. He said he’d “bounce up” Khan at General Council meetings.
Khan went onto make history as Ortoire Mayaro’s last MP since the boundaries were later changed and the seat was split into Mayaro and Moruga–Tableland. In the next election (2007) Winston Peters, then with the United National Congress won Mayaro. Peters, now with the PNM, was defeated for the Moruga Tableland seat in the August 2020 general election polls.
When Khan was MP and even when he wasn’t, Campbell recalled that he still used to visit the constituency.
“He had a house on Michier Road and he would meet the people, have a beer at the watering holes, talk politics and catch up on activities in the community—nobody could bat a Carib like Frankie”
“Soon after he had his (2017 heart) surgery he told me he hadn’t been able to come to Mayaro at that time unless he had a driver. But he was here later on for the sod turning of the gas station which he wanted to have delivered, perhaps as a form of legacy,” said Campbell.
“It’s sad he wouldn’t be here to cut the ribbon when it’s formally opened,” he added.
That smile will be missed
Also among those paying tribute Independent Senator Paul Richards. He said, “Hearing of Minister Khan’s passing was shocking and traumatic. He was a patriot who served his country to the very end. We interacted very often because of both our portfolios in the Senate. He was an astute politician whose knowledge of the energy sector was always welcomed in his contributions.
“Political life can very daunting but he always kept his dignity and that wonderful smile- he’ll be truly missed,” said Richards.
PNM Tobago Council chairman Standford Callendar who worked with Khan between 2002 and 2007, added, “He was an MP then, we had an excellent relationship when he was party chairman—he was outstanding in his role, operating with a sense of pragmatism.
“Frankie had a vision for the PNM and was full of commitment and passion for the organisation—and his love for Tobago was always apparent. We are all shocked and saddened at his passing,” said Callender.
Yesterday the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries opened a virtual Condolences Book at www.energy.gov.tt website for the public to express their sympathies.