Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 July 2023, 7:39 by Denis Chabrol
Attorney-at-Law Ashton Chase.
Attorney-at-Law Ashton Chase, the last founder-member of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the precursor organisation of Guyana’s first mass-based political organisation- People’s Progressive Party (PPP)- died early Tuesday morning, party officials said.
He was 95 years old.
“General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo expresses sincere condolences on behalf of himself and the party, to the family and friends of Ashton Chase O.E. SC, the last of the party’s founder members, who passed away today,” the PPP said in a brief statement.
Mr Jagdeo said Guyana owes an eternal debt of gratitude to “this outstanding son of the soil. Guyana has lost an amazing human being.”
Mr Chase had served as PPP Chairman and Deputy Opposition Leader from 1964 to 1968. As an anti-colonial fighter Mr Chase had been charged and detained. The PPP was formed in 1950.
President Irfaan Ali said Mr Chase’s death represents an incalculable loss to Guyana.
“His name and contributions will forever be etched in our country’s political, labour and legal history. He made an exceptional contribution to Guyana’s nationalist struggle and political history and was the last surviving member of the Political Affairs Committee established in 1946.
Dr Ali described Mr Chase as on of Guyana’s “finest legal minds and was a pillar of our country’s early trade union activism, authoring the most authoritative work on our trade union history.”
Former President Donald Ramotar, who was active in the PPP around the same time that Mr Chase was still very closely associated with the party, said “it was with profound sadness that I learned of his passing.” Mr Ramotar recalled that Mr Chase was not only a PPP founder-member but also one of the four PAC founder-members alongside Cheddi and Janet Jagan and HJM Hubbard in 1946. “He was a true friend of the Guyanese working class, a real champion throughout his life. He never waivered of being on the aide of the working people of country,” he said.
“He, together with the founders of the PPP and the Political Affairs Committee, had a vision of a Guyana of plenty and equality, removing inequality and putting the working people in positions of authority where they would influence developments in the State and he stayed loyal to those positions right down to the end,” he said.
Mr Chase had worked alongside Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow in the then British Guiana Labour Union for which he had been General Secretary. He later founded the National Association of Agricultural, Clerical and Industrial Employees. In his very active legal life, he was a specialist in labour life.