Many tributes have been paid in recent days to Sir Paul Scoon, the best known of our Governor-Generals since Grenada attained its independence from Great Britain on February 7, 1974.
Several of those who have paid glowing tributes to Sir Paul choose to focus on his exploits in the field of Education as a teacher at the Grenada Boys Secondary School and his service to the profession over the years.
THE NEW TODAY would best remember the late Governor-General for the role that he played in the political life of this country especially from October 1983 until he retired from public service in 1992.
Sir Paul helped to restore our democratic system and way of life after it was snatched away from us by a group of Marxist leaders who tried without success to implement a foreign ideology on our soil between 1979 and 1983.
The then Governor-General of Grenada was forced to act decisively in the political life of the country by helping to facilitate U.S and Caribbean troops to stage a military intervention into his own homeland following the blood-letting that resulted in the executions of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and some of his ministerial colleagues on October 19, 1983.
Sir Paul became the defacto authority in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique between October 1983 and December 4, 1984 when he created the conditions for General Elections to be held and for the island to officially return to Constitutional government.
His critics would claim that in the one-year period leading up to the elections that the so-called “American Invaders” or The Yankees were in charge of Grenada and not our Head of State
This is not an issue for debate at the moment since THE NEW TODAY would like to remember Sir Paul as the sole figure who stood out in our mind in the most trying of times and did not abandon for one moment his commitment to seeing the island of his birth restore the institutions that were provided for under the Westminster system of government – a far superior model than any that had been tried and tested in our part of the world.
Some of the far-reaching political decisions taken by Sir Paul as Governor-General was to expel from the island all diplomats from communist countries like Cuba, the then Soviet Union and Libya, and to disband the feared People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) which helped to keep the country under “Heavy, Heavy Manners”.
Under Sir Paul’s authority, steps were also taken to ensure that the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) was restored to its rightful place as the organisation responsible for law and order in the country.
The role of Sir Paul in the restoration of our democratic way of life and traditions should not be diminished by anyone.
The unfolding of events during the past 30 years since the bloody events in the Spice Isle is a testimony to the role played by Sir Paul in our democratic way of life.
Recall the road that Grenada was travelling with the so-called revolutionary path to development.
When the Bernard Coard majority on the NJM Central Committee moved for Joint Leadership against Maurice Bishop who was then in a minority position, the end result was a blood bath on Fort Rupert now back to its original name Fort George.
This foreign ideological system that was implanted on Grenada between 1979 and 1983 did not have the kinds of in-built checks and balances like the democratic system.
The NJM self-destruction of the Grenada Revolutionary experiment must be contrasted with the peaceful manner in which current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell made his bold move to topple the ailing and aging Herbert Blaize in 1989 from the leadership of the New National Party (NNP). There was no bloody carnage.
An angry and disappointed Blaize resorted to the tools available to him within the democratic system to hit back at Mitchell – dismissal from the Cabinet.
The Security forces had minimal role to play in the early NNP political fall-out like in the 1979-83 period when those in charge of the army turned the guns of the Revo on the people.
Our democracy could have only allowed Blaize in his capacity as Minister of National Security to ask the Commissioner of Police to get the Special Branch to keep a close eye on the activities of Mitchell.
Even in recent times, the Rebels within the former ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas were uprooted peacefully and not violently by delegates at a Party Convention held in St. Andrew’s.
It was a bloodless parting of ways between certain remnants of the ill-fated 1979-1983 period like Comrades Peter David, Chester Humphrey and even former leftists like Nazim Burke and Glen Noel who choose to walk along a more moderate path to development with the Political Leader and then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
These two peaceful political developments is a testimony to the democracy that Sir Paul helped to restore to Grenada from 1983 and onwards.
The leftists haters will continue to pour venom in the direction of Sir Paul for the role he played in helping to bring an end to their revolution but so be it. Like some right-thinking people in our midst will say, “A man has to do what he has to do”.
And Sir Paul did what he did for the betterment of the majority of the people of the three islands that make up the State of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
THE NEW TODAY would want to believe that if Sir Paul faced the same set of circumstances as existed in October 1983 he would choose the democratic way of life for our people without hesitation as opposed to allowing a foreign ideology like communism to get a foothold on our shores.
This newspaper invites the democrats in our midst to purchase a copy of Sir Paul’s book, “Survival For Service” to get a better understanding and thinking about the man who served as our Governor-General from 1978 -1992.
We would like to end with two important excerpts taken from Sir Paul’s book. The first is: “Service to one’s fellowmen is the highest human attribute in quest of peace and justice. It is through service that we meaningfully experience the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. In serving others we bring comfort to the distressed, joy to the downtrodden and hope to many who are struggling against the tide of despair and frustration By serving we embolden our own spirituality, and smooth away our troubles as we seek to find true fulfillment in life. For me, to serve is to love”.
Sir Paul, may your soul find its final place of rest in peace out of the knowledge that you did serve in one of the most trying times in modern Grenada and did pass the test.