Hundreds turned out yesterday to say goodbye to former Trade Minister and Parliamentarian, Winston Murray, as a collective call was issued to use his life as a stepping stone to take Guyana another step forward.
House Speaker, Ralph Ramkarran, told a packed gathering of mourners at the St. George’s Cathedral that Murray’s style and delivery in the National Assembly was among the best he had seen and heard.
The Parliamentarian, who battled for life for 11 days after collapsing at an East Bank Demerara business on November 11, last, is to be interred today at his birthplace on Leguan, Essequibo River.
Yesterday, the body of the politician was first taken to the Public Buildings where several dignitaries and Government officials, including President Bharrat Jagdeo, paid their respects.
Murray, a former Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform, had recently announced his bid for the Presidency in next year’s General Elections. His remains were taken to the Parliament shortly after 10:00hrs where his wife Marva and other family members had gathered.
Ralph Ramkarran reminded that Winston Murray initially served in the National Assembly as Minister of Trade. During his tenure, the Speaker reminisced, Murray’s work was characterised by a vast knowledge and wide experience, assets he had acquired doing considerable work in the civil service.
In 1970, Winston Murray joined the public service as an economist in the Ministry of Trade, His next official posting saw him serving as Second Secretary, Guyana Embassy, Brussels, Belgium. He returned to Guyana in 1974 to assume the post of Senior Economist/ Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance.
In 1985, he became Head of the Presidential Secretariat and in that same year he became Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry.
Ramkarran articulated that Murray’s expertise had sharp administrative, economic, trade and finance components. It was posited that as Minister of Trade, Murray’s tenure had a distinct authoritative character.
The Speaker said that the appeal of Murray as a Parliamentarian had two components: mastery of his brief and the manner of his presentation which could be described as a “ creative and unique oratorical blend of solid facts and sober analysis.”
Whenever Murray rose to speak, a respective silence descended upon the chamber, testimony to the credence that was accorded to his pronouncements by his fellow Parliamentarians, he added.
Ramkarran said that Murray’s approach to politics and parliament is worthy of study and emulation.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds, who addressed a somber audience at the Cathedral, said that Members of Parliament are entrusted with a mandate to craft a better society, one in which there are better laws towards a better superintendence of society’s affairs.
Hinds said that the imposed adversarial roles could be mitigated by a non partisan personal input and approach. Murray represented this input and approach and thus could be deemed a model parliamentarian, he said.
Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, said, “In Winston Murray a light shone in this country’s Parliament that was a great light; that light illuminated this country for many years in such a way that his passing will not put it out for years to come.
“Let this give us solace beyond his death. To think that he came from Leguan must make that Island proud, and must inspire young people everywhere to believe that one day they too may become Winston Murrays and move from the obscurity of smallness to light and significance if they, like Winston, would apply themselves with commitment and energy, single-mindedness of purpose, and intensity in focus on the job at hand to be done.”
Minister Rohee added, “His academic and intellectual prowess may have been of greater personal and economic benefit to him, had he chosen to immigrate; Not Winston!
“He was committed to the development of his birth place, serving Guyana with determination, distinction and dignity, carving a niche in the political arena which could be used as a benchmark for those who aspire for public office.”
The official eulogy was however delivered by close friend and former Parliamentarian Kads Khan. Khan began his discourse quoting Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, “A light has gone out”.
Nehru was at the time commenting on the death of India’s independence architect, Mohandas Gandhi.
Khan said that honesty, integrity, dignity and the non partisan approach were the cornerstones of the life and career of Winston Murray.
It was the conviction of Murray that the PNCR had to pursue a path and policy of change if it is to regain its credence. He said that Murray worked unapologetically for this change, he added.
Khan recounted how that principled position of Winston Murray saw him being pressured by his own party.
In September 2008, Mr. Murray, as Chairman of the PNC, supported President Jagdeo’s stance in opposing the EPA with the EU. Upon the repudiation of Mr. Murray’s decision by Robert Corbin, Murray resigned as chairman of the party.
Khan opined that Winston Murray as President of Guyana would have worked to unite the people in the utilisation of the resources of the land for economic betterment.
Former Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge, recounted his experience, working with Murray during critical phases, such as the implementation of the ERP. Greenidge said that given Guyana’s paucity of skills, the recent passing of Clarence Ellis, Rawle Farley and now Winston Murray is indeed costly.
Murray had gained acceptance to the prestigious London School of Economics from which he graduated with a BSC ( Hons ) in 1970.
Leader of the Alliance for Change, Raphael Trotman, said that Murray fits into the celebrated pantheon of Guyanese statesmen: Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte and Cheddi Jagan.
It was posited that it is important that we do not entomb the lofty tributes being paid to Murray but pursue their object and import.
Trotman said that Murray’s life was one in service not of self nor ethnicity but to country.
According to Trotman, Murray’s life embodied love, integrity and respect.
According to the AFC leader, all those engaged in the fight for justice and equity should remain strong amidst this irreversible loss.
Everall Franklin of GAP/ ROAR said that people sometimes and even the State adopt the folly of honouring its people, in death, and not in life. He said that Winston Murray served Guyana “leaving her somewhat better than he met her.”
He said that the personal attributes of Murray saw him being approachable, humble and friendly.
Eric Phillips of ACDA, in his tribute to Winston Murray, implored the PNCR to, in tribute to Winston Murray, get its house in order. He urged the party to be part of a grand coalition offering new and vitalised leadership.
It has been divulged that Murray also served as Guyana’s alternate Governor to the IMF, IBRD, IDB and CDB, chairman of Guyson’s Engineering Limited and performed the functions of President of Guyana on two separate occasions.
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