“It really is more than time some of us ceased being afraid of Karl and being mired in the memory of a 1970 bogeyman.”
Trinidad Express columnist and former diplomat Reginald Dumas made the comment during his eulogy at yesterday’s funeral service for former attorney general Karl Hudson-Phillips, QC, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain.
Hudson-Phillips, 80, died in his sleep in the United Kingdom on January 15.
Dumas paid kudos to Hudson-Phillips for exercising “intellectual independence”, which he said was sorely lacking in contemporary society.
He said Hudson-Phillips was the first person to seriously hint at “national conversation” at a function at his home in late 2010, after he had received the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Dumas said it would do well for society to emulate a few of the truths Hudson-Phillips stood for since “Trinidad and Tobago is increasingly adrift from its institutional and ethical moorings, and would do well to absorb again and practise”.
Among those attending the funeral service were President Anthony Carmona, acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Justice Minister Emmanuel George and a number politicians past and present.
Since his death international, regional and local tributes have poured in about Hudson-Phillips’ contribution to law and politics.
Hudson-Phillips was also villified for attempting to pass the 1970 Public Order Bill and 1971 Sedition (Amendment) Act which was introduced by the then government.
The controversy inspired veteran calypsonian/historian Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool to pen “Ah Fraid Karl”. Before launching into an analysis of Hudson-Phillips’ political milestones, Dumas invited the congregation to do a bit of introspection.
He said: “What manner of man was Karl Hudson-Phillips? Was there anything in his life and careers and conduct that could be of benefit to us as a society?”
Dumas said: “Hudson-Phillips, it was said and is still being said, was an autocrat and a dictator who wished to turn Trinidad and Tobago into a police state, and jail-or worse — anyone who stepped out of line. Karl Hudson-Phillips was a complex and fearless man who adhered to, and practised, what he was convinced was his duty and was right. That alone, in this feckless society of ours, made him a target of hostility and bile. Disappointingly, I note that in the midst of the accolades after his passing the venom persists.”
Dumas commended him for his commitment to duty which was lacking in society.
He said the trait was honed by his immigrant parents and his schooling at Queen’s Royal College (QRC), Port of Spain.
Dumas said: “It was that commitment to duty that, for me, was one of (his) outstanding characteristics, one which he learned early and which we, too, should learn. These childhood precepts, assimilated at home and at school, were Hudson’s lifelong beacon. He had a good work ethic.”
Dumas offered a word of advice on taking responsibility.
“The sentiments he expressed, and the actions he demonstrated, particularly the commitment to duty and the ability and willingness to hold an independent position and to take responsibility for that position, are ones lacking in this country.”
Hudson-Phillips was cremated later yesterday at the St James Crematorium in a private ceremony.