THE EDITOR, Sir:
I believe it was in August 1977 that I had my one and only meeting with him. I was a young intern working on one of the male medical wards at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
As I entered the ward early that morning, I saw a very frail-looking elderly gentleman lying on the bed immediately in front of the nurses' station. He had been admitted the previous night, and I happened to glimpse the name on the chart which hung at the foot of his bed: St William Grant.
He was not under the care of the 'firm of doctors' to which I was assigned, but I felt compelled to approach his bedside and enquire of him as to whether or not he was the gentleman of whom I had heard so much - the man who had championed the rights of the working class of our country almost a century ago out of genuine concern for the plight of people.
I distinctly remember standing at his bedside in awe of the man as if I had been in the presence of someone truly great. It was the reaction one would have expected from me had I as a young boy been offered the opportunity to meet Pele.
As I stood quietly, almost reverently, I remembered some of those who had fought for the rights of our people over the years. I thought in particular of two politicians who had both worked along with this man and who had subsequently been awarded the status of National Hero: Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley.
compare these champions
As I sit today and reminisce about that day in 1977, I can't help but compare these champions of our past with the motley crew which reigns today [on both sides of the political divide] here in Jamaica. A crew which appears to have its sights set only on power, and which repeatedly flies in the face of the laws of our land knowing that it will never be brought to book for same.
Allow me to state that I am neither orange nor green in my affiliation to any party, and that I took a conscious decision during our last general election not to exercise my right to vote.
I will state, however, that I will exercise that right and will wear the appropriate colour of any political party that enacts legislation to the effect that persons in any public office found guilty of breaking or side-stepping the confines of the law, or who act inappropriately and without authority:
1. Face the full force of the law (including jail time).
2. Are subsequently permanently barred from holding any public office in the future.
As I sit and write, my mind goes back to that morning of 1977 and the feeling of awe that came over me as I stood at the bedside of this great man.
Let me say that while I wish no ill on anyone on either side of the political divide (in fact, I pray for them), I'm sure that no such sentiment would arise in me if that scenario were to recur with one of our contemporary politicians.
JOHN C. ROYES