‘Sabga put his money where his mouth was’

Dr Anthony Norman Sabga.jpg

A tribute by Joel Julien from Trinidad’s Guardian.

Dr Anthony Norman Sabga believed that a lot of the social ills facing this country would not have occurred if people were more committed to their families, Dr Kim Johnson has said. Johnson, a journalist, author and researcher, was a laureate of the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence in the field of Arts and Letters in 2011. Speaking to the Sunday Guardian following the passing of the chairman emeritus of the ANSA McAL Group on May 3, Johnson said the death of the 94-year-old was the “passing of a generation”.

“It is the passing of a generation. This would include people like Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), Beryl McBurnie, people who made modern Trinidad and from the business point of view, Anthony Sabga was with all of them,” Johnson said. Johnson said in his interaction with Sabga he discover the businessman was committed to his family “He lived for his family. One of the few conversations that I had with him he told me that he thought a lot of Trinidad’s problems, social and otherwise, crime and so on, would not have occurred if people had been more committed to their families.

“He said ‘look, I married my wife and I am still with her and I am always there’. So I think everything he has done he has done it out of a duty to his family,” he said. Johnson likened Sabga to being a general in the business sector.

“In the field of business he was the general, he was a leader in business. Now being a leader in business is like being a leader in war,” he said. Johnson said Sabga was a visionary and this country needed a businessman like him.

“Even though he was a complete businessman it was never just for the money. I always got the sense that he felt Trinidadians could do better. “He was willing to invest in the possibilities of Trinidad and Tobago, to create something of an international standard. I think he also showed that concern by having his companies—the ANSA McAL group sponsor the The ANSA McAL Psychological Research Centre.”

The Psychological Research Centre is a research unit of the Department of Behavioural Sciences in the Faculty of Social Sciences, St Augustine Campus, University of the West Indies Johnson said Sabga was an example of how other privileged people should behave.

“I thought that his actions showed how other wealthy Trinidadians could and should behave, which is being willing to give back to the country that gave them their wealth. And he did it in a vitally important way, it was his desire to raise the standards in the country,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he was grateful for being a laureate of the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence.

“It is a Caribbean award and what that did is it meant it is not simply Trinis pushing we thing because sometimes we take a lot of mediocre things,” Johnson said. “By making it a Caribbean thing and taking it out of his hands and having a distinguished panel from all fields, he tried to make these awards set the bar for excellence in different fields,” he said.

Johnson said Sabga was more than a businessman. “Yes he was a businessman, and a businessman’s job is to be successful in business and make money but for him, it was not just about making money but having faith that if the best came out we would be a world-class country. He put his money where his mouth was,” Johnson said.

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