Leaders pay tribute to D K Duncan who dies at age 80

Leaders pay tribute to D K Duncan who dies at age 80

Friday, September 18, 2020

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ONE of Jamaica's most radical and influential politicians, Dr Donald Keith Duncan, better known as DK, died yesterday at the age of 80, following a short bout with COVID-19.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, responding to Dr Duncan's death on Instagram, said it was with deep sadness that he learnt of the passing of the former Cabinet minister and Member of Parliament.

“He was known for his commitment and service to his country. I wish his wife, his children, his loved ones, colleagues and friends comfort as they mourn his passing,” said Holness

There was no indication, up to press time, as to whether his coronavirus spell had anything to do with his death. However, a release from Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips confirmed that he was recently released from the University of Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), where he had been admitted arising from COVID-19 complications.

A release from his wife, Beverly Manley Duncan, on behalf of the family, said that they were heartened by the outpouring of love and appreciation from all over Jamaica and the world, that they have been receiving since the announcement of his passing.

Dr Duncan was a close lieutenant of late Prime Minister Michael Manley during the very disruptive 1970s, characterised by a bloody ideological warfare between supporters of socialism and free enterprise. Duncan was appointed minister of national mobilisation and human resource in 1977.

But, his influence was severely reduced after the People's National Party (PNP) lost the decisive general election of 1980 to the Edward Seaga-led Jamaica Labour Party by 51-9 seats.

Fortunately for Dr Duncan, he was among the nine winning candidates for the Opposition PNP, but with much reduced influence within the corridors of political power.

In his statement on Dr Duncan's passing, Dr Phillips said that his passing represents not only a great loss to the PNP, but to Jamaica's progressive movement.

“He was a hard-working, talented political organiser, respected by friends and foes and he was a fearless fighter for his beliefs and a formidable political force wherever he represented,” said Phillips.

The PNP leader expressed condolences to Dr Duncan's wife Beverly, his children, two of whom were PNP candidates in the recent general election and his son, Keith, who is currently president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), as well as other members of his family.

He said the party will find appropriate ways to honour Dr Duncan's memory and perpetuate his lasting contribution to the movement

Two of Duncan's daughters — Patricia Duncan Sutherland and Imani Duncan-Price — both lost their bid to enter Parliament on a PNP ticket, in Clarendon South Eastern and Kingston Central, respectively.

Dr Duncan returned to the political arena in 2007 and won re-election to the House of Representatives, representing the PNP in Hanover Eastern which he held for two terms (2007-2016).

The statement, on behalf of Duncan's family, said: “DK left an indelible mark on the social fabric of the nation. He was not afraid to challenge the status quo, speak his truth and stand for equality or all people. He was fearless in championing issues that affect the majority of Jamaicans that often feel they have no voice. He was a master political organiser, focused on participation and engagement to build the country and a movement from the ground up. He believed that collectively we could build a better Jamaica! He chose the PNP as his vehicle to express this development for his country and was instrumental in the development of the party.

“DK, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle and our bonafide friend was a giant for us. He had a special relationship with his four brothers, as children of Pearly and HH. DK has left in all of us a legacy of commitment to social justice, integrity, passion for people, truth and love. He had a strong commitment to family and lived with a generosity of heart. He was deeply caring and always there for people in times of genuine need,” said the statement.

The PSOJ, in its tribute, said Dr Duncan's patriotism was evident when he opted to return to Jamaica after studying in Canada to practise in his profession as a dental surgeon. This decision, it said, not only resulted in him directly impacting the lives of hundreds of Jamaicans through his practice, but also sparked his desire to become an active participant in the transformation of a newly independent Jamaica.

“His political career started in 1966 and through the next five decades, Dr Duncan has served the country with fervent passion and unwavering patriotism as a Cabinet minister, Member of Parliament as well as through his various capacities in the People's National Party (PNP). He was a pointedly opinionated, deftly strategic, and visionary politician whose fearlessness in shaping a post-colonial Jamaica that would serve all classes will remain as a lesson in patriotism for generations,” said the PSOJ.

Trade unionist Danny Roberts, in his tribute to Duncan, said: “Dr Duncan moulded a whole generation of young persons under the banner of the PNP Youth Organisation(YO) into a better understanding of real world conditions in terms of class, labour and the socio-economic environment. His thoughtful reflection and ability to listen are endearing traits of a coaching leadership style,” said Roberts, a former chairman of the PNPYO .


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