Prime Minister Mia Mottley pays tribute to Owen Arthur
Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Seymour Arthur
Barbados’ fifth Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been hailed as “the man for the times” by current Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
Having visited Arthur yesterday (July 26), the PM admitted during an address to the nation today (July 27): “I am still taken by the quickness of his passing. Indeed, this is one of the few occasions in public life that I struggle for words.”
As she paid tribute, reflecting on his character, life and contribution PM Mottley described him as an assiduous worker who never lost his thirst for public policy, even after his departure from government.
“The Owen Arthur that I knew was never overwhelmed by the task at hand. ‘Face it and fix it’ that was his mantra. Indeed, his greatest domestic legacy would be considered by many as the wrestling of unemployment from the horrendous highs of the early 1990s to under 7 per cent in 2008. It seems like an archaic economic achievement but it meant real things, to real Bajans in real ways. The promise that many doubted at the outset of his tenure was delivered over the three terms-the creation of 30,000 jobs,” she stated.
During the national address the Prime Minister highlighted Arthur’s love for his country, stating:
“When it came to our country, Owen defended Barbados with a ferocity that reinforced in many that he understood and accepted that those who went before had set a very high standard for the defense of our country and that he was duty-bound to continue in the same vein.”
Continuing, PM Mottley pointed out that his commitment extended beyond the 166 square miles of Barbados. He was also a fervent regionalist who made an invaluable contribution to the Caribbean Community.
“This strong patriotism was anchored by a burning passion for regional integration for the Caribbean civilization. This passion, fortunately coincided with his responsibility as the lead Prime Minister in CARICOM, for the single market and single economy. I was with Owen in Jamaica when he signed, in early 2006, with tremendous pride, the instrument that brought the CARICOM single market into existence. He was brimming with pride,” she said.
PM Mottley stated that Arthur set out to and was successful in mastering the Art of Politics but never compromised his economic training and his steadfast commitment to sound policy which she touted as ‘his hallmark’. She went on to credit him for molding ‘a new class of politician in this country’ in the 1990s, changing how representatives would serve their constituents and fulfil their obligations.
Over the past 18 months, Arthur served in many areas including a Jobs and Investment Advisory Council. In the last year he helped the present government forge a new industrial policy and aided in the review of the international trade options of Small Island Developing States. This was in preparation for the hosting of an UNCTAD Assembly. His final assignment would have been the Chairmanship of LIAT where, with “a heavy heart” he and his board recommended the liquidation of the airline.
The island has suffered a great loss in the passing of Arthur, Mottley believes.
“Barbados, is the poorer for his passing. His intellect was larger than life, believe you, me. His love of country as constant as a northern star. The last title bestowed on him was the most fitting - Professor of Practice. For Owen was first and foremost a teacher. Taking the most complex economic issues and stripping them down to be understood by the average man and average woman in the shop. His keen sense of history and of politics shared daily with an emerging class of politicians that he would claim responsibility for bringing to public life,” she stated, reflecting on his life.
While reiterating that the former PM “discharged his duty as Prime Minister of Barbados and as a Caribbean leader with distinction” she also declared that “he shall remain in that pantheon of Caribbean leaders”.
The PM expressed her thanks for his service to his country and extended condolences to his wife, Julie, his daughters, Sabrina and Leah, his granddaughter and his siblings.
Arrangements for Arthur’s State Funeral will be attended to by Colin Jordan and by the Cabinet Office.