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Controversy in Antigua/Barbuda over recent national honours

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Tue Aug 19, 2014

Editor: Strange things happen in today’s world and it is not different in the Caribbean.

Last week, the outgoing Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, Dame Louis Lake Tack, bestowed nine knighthoods and dames awards which prompted the new Prime Minister, Gaston Brown, to issue a statement that he will revoke the appointments since the awards were made contrary to the National Honours Act 1998.{{more}}

The Prime Minister said that Lake Tack’s action was “lawless” and advised the new Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams, to take swift action to rescind them. Some of the other awardees (not necessarily knights and dames) do not merit national honours and it is reported that some of the recipients were closely connected to the former Governor General, including her gardener, secretary and two outriders. One of the knights is her son, who is hardly known in the country.

This brings me to the question of the awards of knighthood by the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados. Some of those who were given such high honour do not merit such prestigious awards and it is said that “Sirs” and “Knights” are being “watered down” in those two Caribbean countries. Recently three cricketers, Andy Roberts, Curtley Ambrose, and Richie Richardson were honoured and several cricketers in Barbados, including Wes Hall, Conrad Hunte, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott and a few others were also in that elite club. Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Garfield Sobers were knighted by the Queen of England. Several other Barbadians, including trade unionists, university professors, lawyers and doctors were also knighted by the Government.

St Vincent and the Grenadines still retains British titles of knighthood, CBE, OBE and MBE titles, as well as awards in the disciplinary forces and Queen’s Counsels in the legal field. Despite the fact that Her Majesty the Queen bestows these honours, a few are criticized because she acts on the advice of the Prime Minister, via her representative, the Governor General. Three politicians, Sir James Mitchell, Sir Vincent Beache and Sir Louis Straker, were knighted. There was discussion that the multi-island state was contemplating of getting rid of British awards and introducing local awards like Guyana, which is a Republic State, but it seems as if the idea was shelved.

Oscar Ramjeet

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