Delivered by H.E. Henry L. Mac Donald, Permanent Representative of Suriname to the United Nations
On behalf of the CARICOM Permanent Representatives to the United Nations
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”
It is an honour for me to participate today in this ceremony to pay tribute to the life and achievement of the late Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Right Honourable Sir John George Melvin Compton.
On behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Permanent Representatives Caucus in New York I would like to convey our deepest sympathy with the bereaved family and all Saint Lucians as well as to the wider Caribbean family.
In this time of sorrow our hearts are filled with a void of which we think can never be overcome, but at the same time we are grateful for the life of Sir Compton and for the mercy to have had such a person of high astute in our midst, for the time granted to him by his Savior.
In the wake of his demise many tributes spoke eloquently of the many characteristics of the late Prime Minister. He was memorized as a “great person, politician and visionary leader”. Others referred to him as a “legend”. He was also referred to as “a dedicated, sincere and loyal son of the Caribbean and a genuine integrationist”.
All these heartfelt words bear testimony that the Caribbean region and in particular the Saint Lucians have indeed lost a remarkable person and formidable leader.
John George Melvin Compton played an instrumental role in the path to independence of Saint Lucia from Britain in 1979, having previously led the island to associated statehood. Chief Minister from 1964 to 1967, Premier from 1967 to 1979 and the First Prime Minister of the independent St. Lucia, Compton again became Prime Minister from 1982 to 1996, before returning to the helm of government after last December’s elections.
He presided over the economic and social transformation of St. Lucia for a period of over three decades, laying the basis for the country’s long term development.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Prime Minister Compton, throughout his tenure, was a strong advocate of Caribbean integration and was very active in the affairs of the Caribbean Community. He also played a significant role in the establishment of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as a mechanism for integration for most of the smaller island countries of the Eastern Caribbean following their independence.
He was the recipient of many honours, among them the St. Lucia Cross, awarded in 1966, the Order of the CARICOM Community for his sterling contribution towards the integration of the Caribbean and a knighthood of the Order of St. Michael and St. George were bestowed on him by the Queen of England in 1997.
Sir Compton’s personality is being described as reserved and shy filled with great humility, but his determination and resoluteness in battle were legendary.
As he leaves these virtues as a legacy for future generations of leaders, let us remember him for all the great deeds in his life time.
Please allow me to quote one of his favourite poems from the Longfellow’s Psalm of Life which reads:
Indeed Sir John George Melvin Compton leaves behind footprints in the hearts of his family, friends, St. Lucians, all in the Caribbean region and beyond.