Former Cabinet minister, diplomat Anthony Johnson is dead

A MBASSADOR Anthony Johnson, a former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Cabinet minister, passed away yesterday. He was 82.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in a statement yesterday, hailed Johnson as a selfless individual who made invaluable contributions to private and public sectors, and as lecturer at The University of the West Indies for many years. Johnson’s passing, said Holness, is a “tremendous loss”.

“Ambassador Johnson became a member of the Jamaica Labour Party in 1980 and went on to be appointed to the Senate, after which he took on the role of Member of Parliament for North East St Catherine, where he served his constituents with great distinction. At different times during his political career Ambassador Johnson had various portfolio responsibilities, including technology, education, industry, commerce, agriculture, mining and energy. He was also the first Jamaican council member of Parliamentarians for Global Action,” said Holness.

“Ambassador Johnson is known in many quarters as an exceptional humanitarian and statesman who was of unquestionable integrity and had an intense devotion to his country. His passing has left us heartbroken,” added the prime minister.

Johnson, father of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, was invested with the Order of Jamaica in 2016 for his outstanding contribution to the nation.

An economist, Johnson served as ambassador to the United States, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, non-resident ambassador to the Republic of Finland, the Kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. He also served as permanent representative to the Organization of American States.

The People’s National Party’s K D Knight, in a Twitter post, offered condolence to Minister Johnson Smith and the rest of her family, followed by “RIP my brother”.

After graduating from Kingston College, Johnson went on to further studies and earned a fist degree in economics and a master’s in international trade and finance from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He won the Inter-American Press Scholarship in 1960, due to his work at the Gleaner Company and the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. He was honoured three times for academic excellence at UCLA, and was a senior Fulbright scholar in 1980.

Johnson worked at the Ministry of Finance as a planner for the Central Planning Unit of Jamaica, and from 1970 to 1980 worked in the private sector, running the operations of Jamaica Frozen Foods, Jampro Limited, and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.

He was appointed a senator shortly after he joined the JLP in 1980. He left the Senate in 1983 and and entered representational politics when then Prime Minister Edward Seaga called a snap election, which the People’s National Party did not contest. Johnson won the St Catherine North Eastern seat, which he held for 10 years. He was again appointed to the Senate in 1993, serving for a period of 14 years.

Johnson later lectured in the Department of Management Studies at The University of the West Indies.

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