Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 4), paid tribute to the late Ambassador, Hon. Anthony Johnson.
Ambassador Johnson was a former Jamaica Labour Party Member of Parliament, Senator, diplomat, economist, lecturer and Ambassador to the United States.
He was also High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of Finland, the Kingdoms of Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Ireland, and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS).
Ambassador Johnson was awarded the Order of Jamaica for his service to the nation in 2016.
In his tribute, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, described Mr. Johnson as an outstanding individual.
“I am sure everyone who knew him… would agree that he was a gentleman, an incredibly friendly personality. But above all of that, he was a man of great intellect, and great integrity and he has left a legacy; he has made a significant contribution, for which Jamaica is a grateful beneficiary,” Mr. Holness said.
The Prime Minister noted that Ambassador Johnson began his career in the public sector as an economist in the Ministry of Finance and as a planner for the Central Planning Unit of Jamaica.
“After working in the private sector from 1970 to 1980, running operations of Jamaica Frozen Foods, JAMPRO Limited, and as the Executive Director of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, he then ventured into politics and made the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) the political party of his choice and he joined in 1980,” Mr. Holness said.
He was appointed a Senator shortly after by then Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, after which he took over the role of Member of Parliament for North East St. Catherine in 1983, where he served his constituents with great distinction.
“At different times during his political career he would speak on several portfolios – Technology, Education, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, Mining and Energy. And, indeed, he could do this because aside from his sharp intellect, he was well read,” Mr. Holness noted.
For her part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Marissa Dalrymple- Philibert, said Ambassador Johnson was a man of many talents.
“He was a diplomat, economist, author and educator, husband, father, and friend. He was also a six term-Parliamentarian committed to improving the lives of the Jamaican people,” Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert said.
“He was an extraordinary Parliamentarian; he was always prepared, passionate and ready to stand up for his beliefs. He shared his knowledge with a conviction and humility that made it a joy to listen whenever he rose to speak,” she added.
The Speaker noted that Ambassador Johnson began his Parliamentary career in 1980 as a Senator and over the next 27 years served the people of Jamaica in both Houses of Parliament.
“He was elected by the people of North East St. Catherine in 1983 and served them with distinction as a Member of Parliament for two terms before returning to serve in the Senate for almost a decade and a half,” Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert noted.
During his political career he served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, and Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate.
“We will miss Ambassador Johnson and extend our most sincere condolences to his family, and in particular to remember our colleague, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, his daughter, of whom he was so very proud,” Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert said.
For his part, Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding, said Ambassador Johnson was a man of “many parts and he had an outstanding career starting in the public sector, then moved to the private sector where he acquired considerable experience in different companies and then went into politics in 1980”.
“He served in this Parliament in both Houses, and from what I understand, he served with distinction,” Mr. Golding said.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that Ambassador Johnson was a decent man.
“He was a genuine soul, kind friend, honest and enterprising human being who gave his all to every endeavour. He never limited himself and he never allowed anyone to place a limit on him. He radiated a gentle manly deportment, a sense of purpose and calm, and yet he had a steely resolve,” Ms. Grange said.
She noted that the late Ambassador embraced the most difficult challenges with sincerity, dedication and determination to achieve results.
“I was always greeted with outstretched arms, and he had long arms, and a smile which was reassuring during difficult times. His humility and loyalty were unmatched. During his postings as Ambassador to the United States and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, he demonstrated unrivalled passion for our country, and Anthony Johnson was truly a passionate human being,” Ms. Grange said.
She added that the Ambassador had a remarkable way of connecting with people and “just one meeting was all it took for people to find themselves in awe of this outstanding Jamaican who was so admired everywhere he went”.
Meanwhile, East Kingston and Port Royal Member of Parliament, Phillip Paulwell, said Mr. Johnson was a knowledgeable person.
“His knowledge was really quite broad on a range of subjects, but even after our debates here [in the Parliament] we would [go] downstairs and that’s when you really got a chance to know the individual – friendly, jovial, and willing to embrace younger people, and we had a very good and successful relationship,” Mr. Paulwell said.
For his part, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, said Mr. Johnson was an outstanding citizen of Jamaica.
“He was a well-educated all-rounder, who served not only in the private sector but also in the public service. In all of this he walked with Kings and kept the common touch. He had a great sense of humour and was loved by many,” Mr. Shaw said.
He added that the late Ambassador has bequeathed his example of excellence to his children, including Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.
“May God bless his soul and surround his family with the precious memories of a truly outstanding and inspirational Jamaican,” Mr. Shaw said.