Robert Herman Orlando Corbin3787 12 Jul, 2012
Prime Minister and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs [Mr. Hinds]: I rise to join in recognising the contribution of our former colleague and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin, to our National Assembly and to the political life of our country for over forty years. I do so on behalf of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the Government and, thus, express our support for the motion moved by Hon. Member Mrs. Volda Lawrence.
Mr. Corbin has truly been a career politician, having joined the YSM in 1967, not yet twenty years old and, soon thereafter, and steadily, becoming an Executive Member and, in time, General Secretary and Chairman of it and simultaneously, in 1970, being elected to the Central Executive of the People’s National Congress, now the People’s National Congress Reform. We recognise his steady progress within his party and, in parallel, his service in this House, beginning in 1973 and ending with his retirement from Parliament in 2012. We recall the various portfolios that Mr. Corbin carried from the time, soon after, he entered Parliament with the PNC in Government on to 1992.
Having endeavoured, myself, on to about 1990, to stay a safe distance from politics and politicians, and even though I had read about Mr. Corbin in the newspapers, I did not become engaged with him until I came into this House in 1992. I have found him, since, to be a capable opponent on the Opposition benches, quickly putting together cogent arguments on a wide range of subjects, no doubt calling on his many years in politics and in Government.
We must commend Mr. Corbin. Whilst being full-time in politics, from an early age, but pursuing degrees at University of Guyana, on the side, as it were, and then taking leave from the National Assembly, from 1997 to 2001, to pursue formal training and attaining qualification as a lawyer, which must have been a longstanding personal aspiration…In this we can recognise and commend him for delaying personal growth for service to party and country.
Today is not for us a usual day. This is, indeed, not our usual meeting, pursuing our usual business in our usual contending ways. Today we are together in consensus. Today is an important, significant day. But today is not a day when we should be seen or think of ourselves as hypocrites, saying good things of leading opponents on the other side. Today could be seen as a day of truce, a period in gool, as we used to say when we were young and playing games; a day when we could see each other as individual citizens and allow ourselves the freedom to recognise the capabilities, the exploits and achievements of each other, even though many would be able opponents, such as Mr. Robert Corbin.
In the heat of our competition for votes and in our usual contentions, at times even acrimonious debates in the National Assembly, we could hardly be expected to recognise anything good in each other. Today is a day that we could recognise good in each other. We need days of truce, as today, when ordinary business is put aside and the usual rules of engagement do not apply.
A day, as today, allows us all, each in his own way, each in his own political party, to recognise that we are all in a common venture, pursuing a common yearning to bring better to our people, indeed all of the people of Guyana, and our country as we see it. Often, these yearnings to serve and to make things better have a common spring. I think that it is worthy of notice that both our legislators who we are honouring today had grounding in a religious organisation, an organisation, no doubt, of their parents which they received and accepted - the honourable Reepu Daman Persaud as a Hindu and Hon. Robert Corbin as a Christian, particularly of the Scots church, Presbyterian faith. Indeed, the first time I heard of a young Robert Corbin, probably in 1965-1966, was from some other young people in the Scots church’s youth organisation. At times I have been tempted to tease him and say that maybe it might have been a better path to pursue in the church, so at least we would not have had him on the other side to compete.
I refer to this to make the point that we know that at the level of rituals, practices and beliefs, Christians and Hindus are quite different and may be judged to be…, and even at times could be antagonistic. There could be antagonisms. But below that surface one can see much that is common in seeking to provide answers to the fundamental questions of life and living and extolling much the same virtues. For example, I have been struck from my early Christian upbringings and, more recently, maybe, listening at times to the Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud, that in both religions love and charity are extolled and can hold the place of being the primary virtue and what should be the primary pursuit of us is that we should love each other and extend charity to each other.
As we honour Mr. Corbin today, and as I was preparing, I recall two of his speeches. One was on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s entering into this House, that would have been in 2007, and the other occasion, which was a special meeting, and not recorded, as I found out, in the Hansard, or any of our recordings, on the occasion of the unveiling of the portrait of Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Those two speeches I found very noble, and gracious, and worthy of greater notice, and still so worthy.
I would like to join in extending to Mr. Corbin our appreciation for the long years of service that he gave to this Assembly and to wish him well in other achievements in the future as he has retired from Parliament and, as the many newspaper articles seem to suggest, he may be retiring also from active leadership of his party. But he is still a relatively young person and, no doubt, can take a role now as a national elder, not for either of the parties which continue to rival each other for votes and for seats in this Parliament, but, maybe, as a national elder above the fray.
I would like to admonish him, though, that that place, where I heard a lot of them congregate, at the old colonial Georgetown Club, may not be the place. We need a new club. Maybe, he can found a new club for this new era in his remaining years.
I thank you. [Applause]
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