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‘A true gentleman’ - Politicians salute Ken Baugh as former deputy PM passes

Published:Monday | September 2, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Then Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Kenneth Baugh greets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this 2011 photo.
Then Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Kenneth Baugh greets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this 2011 photo.

Colleagues across the political divide yesterday saluted Dr Kenneth Baugh as a man whose stature transcended politics and who dedicated his life to uplifting his countrymen.

The 78-year-old former deputy prime minister, member of parliament (MP) and medical doctor passed away at 10:05 a.m. yesterday following a period of illness. He represented the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) for 35 years before retiring from representational politics in 2016 because of ill-health.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness hailed his former Cabinet colleague as a “true gentleman of Jamaican politics” who contributed tremendously to the development of Jamaica.

“Anyone who knew him, whether as a patient or a constituent or even a colleague, would agree that he was a kind and caring person,” Holness said.

Baugh served as MP for North West St James between 1980 and 1987 and for West Central St Catherine from 1997 until retirement in 2016. He was also a senator between 1989 and 1993.

Holness described Baugh as the consummate professional, pointing out that he gave the better part of his life in service of the people he represented and his country.

“He exemplified dignity and integrity throughout his public life. ... His manner was always conciliatory and solution-oriented. He was an honest man, a sincere man, a decent man. His conduct gave him a stature that was elevated above politics,” said Holness.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said Baugh established himself as a decent man among political colleagues, and as one who proved to be helpful in the mission to forge a better Jamaica.

“He established a high reputation of decency and goodwill among colleagues. While I was health minister, I appreciated his willingness to offer help and advice,” Phillips said. “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 Bruce Golding, who made the Cornwall College old boy his deputy in his 2007-2012 administration, said he was deeply saddened by his passing.

“Ken was a person of impeccable character and unquestionable integrity – qualities which he steadfastly maintained even in the tumult of political life,” Golding said.

“He was passionate about giving public service, whether as a gifted surgeon at the Cornwall Regional Hospital or as a member of parliament and minister of government. As our foreign minister and chief diplomat, he was knowledgeable, suave, persuasive and effective. As my deputy prime minister, he was absolutely trustworthy and I benefited from his sound judgement and advice,” said Golding.

JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, Baugh’s brother-in-law, said that he will be remembered for his persona, epitomised by his cool and calm demeanour when under pressure.

“There is really no debate. His style and his contribution to the development of the people of the constituencies he served and to Jamaica are well documented and highly acclaimed,” said Chang.

Baugh, a surgeon by profession, is survived by his wife, Vilma; three children; and several grandchildren.