Former Hanover constituents remember DK as a friend

Former Hanover constituents remember DK as a friend

Senior staff reporter

Friday, September 18, 2020

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COMRADES in Hanover Eastern are mourning the death of veteran People's National Party (PNP) politician and former Cabinet minister Dr D K Duncan, who served as Member of Parliament for the constituency between 2007 and 2016.

Duncan, 80, was also the Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Central between 1976 and 1983.

He died at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) yesterday, weeks after being diagnosed with the dreaded COVID-19.

“It's a great personal loss,” an emotional Garth Grant told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. Duncan, he said, was his close friend.

The two had worked closely during the PNP stalwart's time in the western end of the island and were inseparable in the run-up to the 2011 General Election.

Grant was his campaign manager in what turned out to be his final stint in representational politics. Duncan did not seek re-election in the 2016 General Election.

“He was someone who was always fighting... you know. He was always fighting for social justice; fighting for the people. I remember the last major project that we worked on was the water project for the Jericho/Cascade Water Supply system, which, unfortunately since he left not much has happened.

“It's [an] extremely sad time for the constituency because a lot of people held him in high regard. He was someone who worked very hard for their upliftment. In terms of the wider People's National Party, he was always at the forefront of the struggle. I come from that period in the 70s where the political thing was far from being quiet. Everyone knew he was a socialist fighting and struggling for some cause,” Grant, who this time managed to let out a chuckle, said.

Duncan, he said, made others feel safe during troubling periods in the country's political history.

His friend, he recalled, who was the party's general secretary, would lead from the front in what many remember as a trying time in politics.

“He gave us to the opportunity to learn, to work through the rigours of a campaign; not just being on the battlefield but going through the statistics and how you look at data and how it informs you in terms of how you move. It was a very special time for many of us and we learnt so much from him,” the man stated.

His last interaction with Duncan occurred a few weeks ago, he shared, when the former dentist visited the Jericho community to commission a water pump.

“We had a good time then, but so it is now. We have lost him. He was well on in years but it didn't show because he was very active and up and around. There's so much more to say but it is really an emotional time for us right now,” he ended.

PNP caretaker for Hanover Eastern and former West Indies Cricketer Wavel Hinds, who has worked closely with Duncan following his recent baptism into representational politics, referred to Duncan as a “man of the people”.

“DK Duncan was a true Comrade who gave yeoman service to the People's National Party (PNP) and Jamaica. We can take great strength from his contribution and legacy. May his soul rest in peace and light perpetually shine upon,” Hinds said in a statement to the Observer.

Caroline Pyne, a former cluster manager for Duncan, said the constituency has been left to mourn a “giant of a person”.

Saddened by the politician's passing and expressing deep regret, she told the Observer that it was difficult to put into words what he meant to Comrades across communities in the constituency.

“He was truly a wonderful person. We love him. I'm one of his cluster managers in eastern Hanover and he was just the best. He was very kind and genuine. He was hard-working and you could call on him at any time and he was always ready to assist us. This man spent a lot of his own money in this constituency even after he left. That is the type of person he was,” Pyne said.

Moncrieffe Leslie, another one of Duncan's close friends in the constituency, blamed the Government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic for the PNP man's death.

He told the Observer, that he was struggling to deal with the Comrade's passing.

Duncan, he said, was one of the most genuine people one could encounter and that his love for people had no end.

He said he was instrumental in Duncan's return to western Jamaica.

“DK didn't have to die. The JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) caused his death. If Andrew [Holness] did do what him supposed to do COVID-19 wouldn't get out suh in the country. A lot more people are going to die. I hold him personally responsible for the death of my friend,” he argued.

“During his time in Eastern Hanover when the Jamaica Labour Party [was] in Government they gave him no assistance to help the people of Eastern Hanover. Him spend him own money fi mek sure know seh wi alright. That is the man that is DK,” Leslie said.

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