WE at the Express pay tribute today on the passing from this life of a Trinidad and Tobago national, who was an original from a number of standpoints.
Michael Harris was a former columnist in this newspaper, offering highly regarded, pointed and clinical analyses on the issues of the day.
A corporate executive for parts of his working life, he worked in such related arena as the then-Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago—Petrotrin. In the prime of his life, he had also been an influential figure in the Tapia House Movement, led by one of this country’s most original thinkers, the late Lloyd Best. He also was a prominent figure among the long list of shining lights who enjoyed pride of place, as columnists and contributors to this newspaper.
Many of them, who represented a group of intellectuals seeking sometimes radical but nonetheless different paths towards the great society they envisioned for our country, are no longer with us. Besides the incomparable Mr Best himself, Michael’s brother, the late Allan Harris, was among them. The names Angela Cropper and Lincoln Myers also come easily to mind. Just as an aside, we well remember the position to which the late Ms Cropper upheld, after her mother, her husband and her sister were killed during a raid on their home in Cascade while she herself was out of the country.
As a member of the Independent bench in the Senate, she stood resolutely on her position against retention of the death penalty.
The list of persons who came out of the school of thought which formulated that kind of thinking continues to be depleted. Ivan Laughlin and Hamlet “Yaxie” Joseph are two of the more easily recognisable names among that group of survivors.
A kidney ailment forced Michael Harris to terminate his active relationship with this newspaper, and following what was the historic success of a transplant operation, he went further into retirement. This was two months short of two years ago, in December 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 menace in our midst.
Refusing to concede on his father’s objection of the offer of a kidney, Mr Harris’ son remained steadfast. Following the highly successful transplant procedure, the head of the medical team which carried out the exercise hailed it as historic.
Mr Harris had, in the process, become the oldest person in the English-speaking Caribbean to undergo such a procedure. He was 72 years old at the time. The oldest person to have had such a procedure before this was 66 years old at the time.
Head of the medical team which carried out this task was specialist surgeon Dr Malcolm Samuel. He paid tribute to Mr Harris’ son, saying in part that the donation and the success of the exercise itself constituted cause for great celebration.
“I was not pleased, but there was nothing I could do,” a thankful Mr Harris said post-surgery in an interview in the Express. He had described how he would spend three days a week hooked up to a machine, and the rest of the week waiting to go back over these routines.
We mourn his passing now, but also express our profound thanks for his contributions to the country at large, as well as to this newspaper.
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