“I believe in Jamaica,” Dr. Patrick Linton Allen declared yesterday (Feb. 26), as he was sworn in as the sixth Governor General of Jamaica, at a ceremony full of the usual pomp and pageantry on the lawns of his new ceremonial home, King’s House, Kingston.
“I believe in Jamaica. I believe in the people of Jamaica. I am committed to doing my best as I carry out my responsibilities,” said the new Governor General, who will wear the title, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen, until his likely knighthood by the Queen.
A native of Fruitful Vale, Portland who celebrated his 58th birthday just 19 days before his swearing- in, and only demitted office as head of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica less than a month ago, he has now succeeded fellow academician, Sir Kenneth Hall, who resigned because of poor health, as “Her Majesty’s representative in Jamaica.
He will exercise on Her Majesty’s behalf the executive authority of Jamaica. His duties will include appointment of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, custodes and members of public commissions, including the Public Service Commission.
Speaking in his inaugural address, Dr. Allen noted that he was keenly aware of the responsibilities that come with the job,and assured that it was his intention to “wholeheartedly discharge the duties that accompany this office.”
“As Governor General, I will carry out the functions of the Office as dictated by the Constitution of Jamaica and in the process, ensure that within the constraints of those duties, my engagement in our national life will be relevant and timely,” he said.
“My appointment to this office has demonstrated that we are indeed one people, and that anyone Jamaica, despite race, colour, creed, religion or economic station can rise to the highest position. This is a Jamaica dream that has again been realised today. Marcus Garvey was indeed right when he said, we can accomplish what we will,” he stated.
Dr. Allen who assumes office at one of the most crucial periods in Jamaica’s history, acknowledged that the country needed “the service of all its citizens” to address the problems it has been faced with. However, he suggested that, rather than experiencing the “night of our deepest despair”, the nation was approaching “the morning of hope with everything before us.”
“This may also be the opportunity for us to feed ourselves, rely less on imported goods, promote a healthier lifestyle, and improve the quality of our diet by eating more of what we grow from the soil,” he said.
Dr. Allen also expressed concern about the moral turpitude “that threatens to destroy the tangible principles on which our nation was founded.”
“We should not sacrifice honesty, integrity, responsibility and trustworthiness for the sake of making money, quickly. We must embrace the values that will develop a just society and define us as a people, respect, fairness, punctuality, forgiveness, sharing, caring and lending a helping hand. These values must remain an indestructible part of the fabric of our nation,” he said.
He added that the country must return to a value system which ensures that no one is deprived of their God-given rights.
“Where the measure of a real man is not the number of guns he slings, the number of persons he kills, nor the number of children he sires, but the extent to which he cares for and supports his family,” he arugued.
“We must engage the youth and adapt to a changing world and the maturing consciousness of our young people. We must believe in them, train them, and have the faith that they will not betray the values of fairness, morality and justice that we have instilled in them,” he said.
“I believe that despite our challenges, our setbacks and our despair, we are a nation which has been blessed with a rich heritage, abundant resources and the prospect of a bright future. I believe that each day, each of us is placed here by our creator to enhance the quality of life of those around us,” he added.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding expressed confidence in Dr. Allen, as the new Governor General.
He noted that he had risen from humble beginnings in rural Fruitful Vale, through the schoolrooms of St. Mary, to work as a Pastor in St. Catherine and Clarendon and, eventually, to the leadership of the West Indies Union of Seventh-day Adventists.
“His record of service, inspiring leadership and compassion are an example to all of us,” Mr Golding said.
He said that Dr. Allen brings to office a lifetime of service to the people of Jamaica, as well as a reputation for integrity and impartiality and a moral authority which will guide him in making the decisions he will be called upon to make.
The Prime Minister also praised the former Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall as a “good choice.”
“He has carried out his duties with dignity, aplomb and a profound understanding of the important role that the office of the Governor General plays in national life,” Mr. Golding said.
Sir Kenneth, in his remarks, extended sincere congratulations to Dr. Allen on his appointment.
“I would encourage you to draw inspiration from the past achievements of our country and the considerable the hope of our future. The position provides the scope to exercise the leadership qualities for which you are well known,” Sir Kenneth said.
Sir Kenneth said that he felt indebted to the nation for the kindness, generosity of spirit, encouragement and assistance given to him and Lady Hall during his tenure.
“We feel a particular sense of gratitude for the opportunity that has been afforded us to work with Jamaicans in so many sectors and institutions,” Sir Kenneth said.
Dr. Allen’s appointment continues the line of educators, who have served as Head of State, dating back to Jamaica’s first native post-independent Governor-General, Sir Clifford Campbell, 1962-1973; Sir Florizel Glasspole, 1973-1991; Sir Howard Cooke, 1991-2006; and Sir Kenneth Hall, 2006-2009.