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Rowley: Robinson a politician guided by morality

By JULIEN NEAVES Sunday, May 4 2014

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday that Tobago will feel the loss of the late President and Prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson deeper as he had been a “bastion of hope” for many young men and women.

The Prime Minister described the late Robinson as a true Caribbean man, a caring father, a resolute leader, a loving son and a loyal friend.

Saying they were gathered to pay tribute to one of the country’s most celebrated sons, Persad-Bissessar added:

“His passing at the age of 87 quietly and peacefully brought to a close a life of tremendous purpose, a life of tremendous vision and a life of tremendous achievement.”

She noted “as a leader he faced his challenges head on and courageously and was never intimidated by the criticisms he faced when he tried to change our nation’s future.”

She also noted he was never shy of speaking of his love and adoration for his late wife Patricia.

She also spoke of Robinson’s other love and recalled, as he pursued his life’s work through different stages of achievement, “it is clear to all that Tobago was his first love”.

She recalled that when they both served in the Parliament together, any legislation that was brought forward Robinson would ask about the impact on Tobago.

“You in Tobago must feel most proud,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She also said as the “grandfather” of the International Criminal Court, Robinson also provided a welcome advance in achieving justice for those who had suffered unimaginable crimes. She said as his soul was committed to God, Tobago will never forget the son who became the island’s pride.

Persad-Bissessar expressed heartfelt condolences to Robinson’s family and friends and noted, while his passing was a terrible loss for this country, his legacy was a lasting gift for all to share.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley praised Robinson as a politician brave enough to be guided by morality and in his political career he never fell short of that goal.

“Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson lived his life with many opportunities to fall short, but never was a finger pointed at him (accusing him),” said Rowley in his tribute to Robinson. Rowley said what stood out for him the most was Robinson’s bravery and noted he “stood head and shoulders above all of us”. He explained that it took a brave politician to identify morality as the guiding force in his political life and said there is a place for morality in public affairs.

He recalled for the Rwanda genocide it was Robinson who spoke up when others remained silent.

“Without morality and spirituality human life is worth nothing,” he commented.

He said Robinson never fell short of morality in politics and Tobagonians should feel proud. He noted, his legacy would be for all citizens to be a better people by subscribing to the standards that he did, especially those who hold office. Rowley also said he was committed to having Robinson’s dream fulfilled in Trinidad and Tobago.

Tobago East MP and Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, in her tribute, noted that every citizen must carry Robinson’s baton for full internal self-government for Tobago.

She said he was a man whose deeds will never die or be forgotten and described him as a Caribbean man and citizen of the world who struggled to bring justice to the oppressed. She said he was also a victim of “political thuggery” and quoted from his autobiography, In the Midst of It when he recounted, while as a prisoner of the Jamaat al Muslimeen in the 1990 attempted coup, a rag was placed in his mouth almost suffocating him. He was also hog tied and “pantsed”. She said this likely strengthened his resolve for the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

“Today we say farewell to a great leader, one of the greatest leaders of the 21st century,” she said to much applause. She ended her speech by quoting various scriptures and the audience roared in response.

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