Former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons has advised today’s graduating class of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies that individuals can make a meaningful contribution to their country’s development and achieve personal satisfaction at the same time.
Sir David was addressing the graduates shortly after receiving an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws at the ceremony held at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
“Government service is a calling that is worthy of the brightest and best of all students. There was a time, not so long ago, when many of our best university graduates pursued careers in the civil service to the distinct advantage of Barbados. By giving public service you can make a meaningful contribution to your country.
“You will not earn the same level of remuneration as some persons in the private sector, but remuneration must not be the motivation for public service. Virtues such as altruism, patriotism and a desire to contribute to the growth and development of one’s own country ought to be a motivating consideration,” Simmons said.
He recalled that public service, and especially political service, afforded him an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives and to make a difference to Barbados.
“In my public service career, I was often able to use the law as an instrument in the process of social and economic engineering. A lot of the legislation for which I had responsibility as the Attorney General bore directly on social and economic development.
“For example, the legislation creating the Rural Development Commission and the Urban Development Commission, the various legal vehicles to develop the offshore sector and the suite of Intellectual Property legislation were all products of my legal training,” he said.
Sir David also addressed the controversy which arose following his elevation to the position of Chief Justice in 2002.
Describing the issue as “petty and partisan” he pointed to several cases in the region and beyond where persons have held the position of Chief Judicial Officer on the completion of a political career.
In fact, he cited sources which showed that a career in politics or Government could enhance the quality of rulings made by judicial officers, and contended that integrity is critical to the independence of the judicial system.
“The pre-eminent quality required of a judicial officer to ensure the independence and impartiality is not a constitutional guarantee of security of tenure, but rather, personal integrity. Personal integrity and probity are the sine qua non for public service.”
Offering further advice to the graduates, Sir David said: “I implore you the graduands, always to ensure that in your careers and in your private lives, you are guided by and observe the highest standards of probity. Never put yourselves in a position where your integrity can be justifiably called into question.”
St Lucian attorney-at -law, Stephen Mc Namara, was also awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the Cave Hill Campus during the two-hour ceremony at which at total of 1,792 students graduated. (NC)