Re­mem­ber­ing Arsene James, Ed­u­ca­tor and MP

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By David Venn

Mr. Arsene James, the for­mer min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion and MP for Mi­coud South, un­ex­pect­edly died on Satur­day. Ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter, Mr. Allen Chas­tanet, ear­lier in the week Mr. James had un­der­gone med­i­cal care in Saint Lu­cia be­fore he was re­quired to travel to Mar­tinique to treat a tu­mour in his in­testines and other se­ri­ous ail­ments.

Com­fort­ing prose and warm­ing re­mem­brances flooded the air­waves at the sad an­nounce­ment that Mr. James had passed. The call­ers to the var­i­ous call-in shows in­cluded politi­cians on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide, as well as reg­u­lar folk, for­mer stu­dents of the de­ceased, and oth­ers who knew Mr. James sim­ply as a lov­ing and hum­ble man.

“It is in­deed a sad time for the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia,” said deputy per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion, Michelle Charles. “All those who worked with him re­mem­ber him for his hu­mil­ity, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ded­i­ca­tion. He was a man of ser­vice and com­mited the last 60 years to ser­vice for our na­tion.”

Over the course of Mr. James's ten­ure in ed­u­ca­tion, he worked and taught at sev­eral schools in the south­ern re­gion of the is­land. When the United Work­ers Party was elected in 2006, he was ap­pointed min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion. His im­pact dur­ing his time as min­is­ter has been widely ac­knowl­edged, even by his op­po­si­tion col­leagues, among them Mr. Philip J. Pierre and Mr. Moses Jn Bap­tiste.

“He was a per­son who made a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact in the Mi­coud South con­stituency,” says prime min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, who re­placed Mr. James as con­stituency rep­re­sen­ta­tive upon his re­tire­ment in 2016 “He will be greatly missed.”

Ms Gale Rigob­ert, who took over the ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio fol­low­ing the 2016 gen­eral elec­tions, said on Mon­day that the de­ceased Mr. James will be mostly re­mem­bered for “his peo­ple-cen­tred pol­i­tics”.

She added, “What­ever he em­barked upon, his mo­ti­va­tion was al­ways the bet­ter­ment of the peo­ple of his com­mu­nity and of this coun­try. We all knew that that quiet dis­po­si­tion did not equate with his abil­ity to bring his weight to bear on any given sit­u­a­tion. So it is with a par­tic­u­lar kind of grief that we mourn his loss.”

A re­lease from the St. Lu­cia Labour Party said as much: “Mr James was a long-serv­ing par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive, ed­u­ca­tor, Min­is­ter of Gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity worker who will long be re­mem­bered by the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia, and Mi­coud in par­tic­u­lar, for his com­mit­ment and hard work. We are sure Mr James' con­tri­bu­tion to Saint Lu­cia will be etched in the mem­ory of the peo­ple for a long time. May his soul rest in peace.”

Mr. Arsene James (pic­tured) was the con­sum­mate gen­tle­man! - Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet.

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