A TRIBUTE TO RYAN GEORGE PERALTO SENIOR

Mercurial yet amenable to logic and reason, a stickler for detail but very aware of the big picture, a loyal supporter and fierce defender of his beloved Jamaica Labour Party but not without his personal opinion and the courage to express it, conservative on many issues yet possessed of an inventive imagination which saw possibilities and opportunities where others saw none.

 “His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, this was a man!

These words borrowed from William Shakespeare as spoken in Marc Anthony’s eulogy at the funeral of Julius Caesar express, in elegant prose, sentiments that apply today as we remember Ryan George Peralto senior. So too does Marc Anthony’s statement that

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once.

Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me the most strange that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end will come when it will come.”

Ryan was a member of the Electoral Advisory Committee, EAC, from 1990 to 2005, that is for 15 of the 27 years of the existence of the EAC. He was its longest-serving member. What is remarkable about his longevity of service is that Nominated Members of the EAC were appointed for eighteen months and could be removed at any time during that period if they committed, what is jokingly referred to as, a removable offense. He was repeatedly charged by one colleague or another of having committed a removable offense. Ryan defended each charge on two grounds. First, he had faithfully and forcefully presented the position of his party to the EAC. Second, the final decision made was in the best interest of the country. The success of this defense is reflected in the fact that he was appointed 10 times as a Nominated Member, that is, more times than any other Nominated Member.

Nowhere is Ryan Peralto’s love of country better demonstrated that with respect to his actions in the invention, acceptance, and implementation of the Electronic Voter Identification and Ballot Issuing System, EVIBIS. He came up with the idea of using fingerprints in the electoral process. He persuaded his party to adopt this idea. He eloquently and vigorously presented this idea to the EAC as his party’s position. When the EAC approved the EVIBIS and started to implement it he had the perspicacity to suggest that the idea be patented. When the EAC was advised that as Committee it could not own property or patent, he wrote for permission to patent the idea and hold it trust for the country. He applied for and was granted the US patent for the idea. After being granted the US Patient he readily agreed and acted in concert with the Selected Members to establish the Education and Electoral Foundation of Jamaica to own all rights and receive all benefits for the use of the EVIBIS in the electoral system in Jamaica and in any and all countries of the world. This has to rank among the celebrated instances of great integrity demonstrated by a Jamaican politician and indeed by a politician anywhere in the world. Today, Jamaica is the world leader in the use of biometric features to identify electors and more and more countries of the world are exploring moving in this direction.

The Commission notes the fact that the Education and Electoral Foundation of Jamaica had it Annual General Meeting on January 8, 2009. The Commission was represented by the Selected Members. Mr. Peralto was present and very pleased with the decisions taken.

Ryan like all of us was not without feet of clay. Neither was he without detractors. Nor did he escape nicknames that Jamaicans are wont to append to each other. Indeed, the nicknames that we know of were appended by his political colleagues and not his political opponents, although this made no difference to their usage. Judging from the fact that he made the worst dress list on several occasion, sartorial elegance was not numbered among his strengths. But it is not clothes that maketh the man. Ryan George Peralto Sn was a man of character and integrity that loved and served his country with distinction. Nowhere better that the service given to the development of its electoral system and to democratic governance.

Errol Miller.