Dr Ken Baugh — A true patriot and statesman

Dr Ken Baugh — A true patriot and statesman

Monday, September 02, 2019

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Although we all knew that Dr Kenneth Baugh was ailing for quite some time, news of his passing yesterday hit us hard, because he was easily one of the most decent human beings to have walked this earth.

The tributes paid to him by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, and former Prime Minister Bruce Golding speak volumes about the nature of the man, his unquestioned integrity, and the fact that he commanded respect across the political aisle.

“He exemplified dignity and integrity throughout his public life,” said Prime Minister Holness. “He was respected and held in high esteem by both sides of the political divide and could always be relied on to be a balanced and reasoned voice. His manner was always conciliatory and solution-oriented.”

Dr Phillips, who was Dr Baugh's political rival, noted that Dr Baugh “established a high reputation for decency and goodwill among all colleagues”. Added Dr Phillips: “The nation has lost a true and dedicated son, who was always willing to cooperate at every opportunity for the public good.”

Former Prime Minister Golding, who appointed Dr Baugh his deputy, described him as “a person of impeccable character and unquestionable integrity”, adding that Dr Baugh steadfastly maintained these qualities “even in the tumult of political life”.

Mr Golding also noted that Dr Baugh was “passionate about giving public service, whether as a gifted surgeon at Cornwall Regional Hospital or as a Member of Parliament and minister of government”.

We recall that in October 2016 when Dr Baugh attended the annual Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards at King's House to be conferred with the well-deserved Order of Jamaica for his contribution to Parliament and work in medicine, he was in a wheelchair. The sustained applause that greeted the announcement of his name was indicative of the high esteem in which he was held by Jamaicans from all walks of life.

Dr Baugh, a consultant surgeon, was born in Montego Bay, St James, on February 24, 1941 and was educated at Cornwall College and The University of the West Indies.

He served as Member of Parliament for St James North Western between 1980 and 1987 and as minister of health from 1980 to 1989 in the Government led by late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga. He also served as an Opposition senator from 1989 to 1993.

He was selected by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to contest the St Catherine West Central seat in 1997 and held it until he retired from active politics in 2016.

Throughout his distinguished career in public service, Dr Baugh also served as Opposition leader, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, and deputy prime minister, as well as general secretary and chairman of the JLP.

Dr Baugh was one of the few Jamaican politicians to have emerged from the highly politically polarised years of the 1970s through to the 1980s basically unsullied. But anyone who knew him well was not surprised because he had a knack for diplomacy and, as Prime Minister Holness said, was known and respected for his balanced and reasoned voice.

These are the inherent qualities of a true statesmen and Dr Baugh was one such.

Jamaica has indeed lost a patriot. We extend our condolence to his family and friends. May God now grant him comfort.

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