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Former minister remembers his boss

by Emmanuel Joseph
4 min read

The man who served as a Minister of State in the Cabinet of the late Prime Minister Owen Arthur, remembers him for his goodwill, generosity and caring spirit.

Glyne Murray, who recalled being Arthur’s Minister for nine years, is also impressed by his mantra that “everybody must live”.

Murray, a former High Commissioner to Canada under Arthur, said when decisions had to be taken regarding the social well-being of Barbadians, the late Prime Minister was never interested in a person’s political affiliation.

“I think that one of his overriding factors in his behavior and performance would have been his humaneness, despite some of the political persona he would have portrayed in the debates against his political adversaries, he was at heart a humane, generous and caring person,” Murray told Barbados TODAY.

“He believed, as he said, everybody should live. I have never yet once known him to ask whether a person is a ‘B’ or a ‘D’.  I have known him since 1981/82 and later as his Minister of State and his High Commissioner in Canada…he has never once enquired about a person’s political affiliation,” Murray recalled.

He said that principle by which Arthur lived came home forcibly to him during the early stages of his administration when the former Prime Minister had to make a decision about the future of the staff he found at Illaro Court.

Murray said the decision related to a tradition where the staff at the Prime Minister’s official residence was usually changed when a new government came to office.

“He told me that those people should not lose their jobs through no fault of their own…a Government was changed as a matter of democracy and they therefore should not in any way be victimized or penalized,” the former minister reflected.

“I was given instructions…there were about 18 to 20 people. There were some persons who were observed over a period of time and it was decided who would be selected, who would be asked to stay; and those who wanted to go could go. At the end of it all, those who went for one reason or another, were placed in jobs by me. I had that responsibility,” he revealed.

Murray told Barbados TODAY nobody suffered as far as their career development was concerned.

“I also remembered that he was a very unpretentious man. He wanted things done in a particular way, in a proper way. He never tried to ‘lord over’ you. I had a similar experience with Tom Adams, whose personal assistant I was…

“….Despite both of them being regarded as great intellectuals, bright, sharp; men with great memories and quick thinkers, they never talked down to you even though you might think or they might think or they might be seen as being superior to you intellectually. You never got the impression they were treating you as a lesser intellectual,” Murray declared.

In this regard, he said Arthur had respect for people.

Murray also identified hard work and dedication as two other qualities attributable to the former Government leader.

“Certainly from my experience working almost nine years with him as a minister, I had vacation once. I don’t ever remember him taking a full vacation…a real, real vacation,” he pointed out.

Murray also noted that Arthur was “very” meticulous in his record-keeping.

“Anybody sent him anything on paper he never threw away. He always filed it and saved it as a subject for future reference,” the former BLP minister recalled.

“He would have had a tremendous resource base for his memoirs which I know he had begun to write. And we shall again suffer from the fact that a prime minister has not produced memoirs. Tom Adams had started his, but died before he could complete them,” Murray disclosed.

The former diplomat also remembered Arthur as a man of integrity, who was big on promoting the creative identity of Barbadians such as National Heroes, Emancipation Day and the Pan African Commission.

Murray believes that as time passes, Barbados would be able to more fully evaluate Arthur’s contribution to his homeland and the region.

“He also recognized the value of the OECS to Barbados. He was not only a regionalist philosophically, but he realized the importance of the OECS to Barbados as a market for Barbados’ goods and services and encouraged it actively in many ways,” Murray added. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

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