Raymond Arthur Chung, OE Former President of the Cooperative Republic Guyana
Arthur Chung (January 10, 1918 – June 23, 2008) was the first President of Guyana from 1970 to 1980. He was the first ethnic Chinese (Hakka) head of state in a non-Asian country. During his time as President of Guyana, the office was that of a ceremonial head of state, with real power in the hands of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. He was awarded Guyana's highest national award, the Order of Excellence (OE).
Early life and education
Raymond Arthur Chung was born on 10 January 1918 in Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara in Guyana; he was the youngest of Joseph and Lucy Chung's eight children.
Chung attended Windsor Forest and Blankenburg Primary Schools before he went to Mr J. I. Ramphal's (the Attorney General's father) Modern High School. In 1938, Mr Chung graduated from Modern High School and joined the staff of the Lands and Mines Department as an apprentice surveyor.
In 1940 he qualified as Sworn Land Surveyor, after which he joined the staff of the Public Works Department where he stayed for six months. He was then recalled by the Lands and Mines Department to work as an Assistant Hydrographic surveyor with the Demerara River Navigation Development Project which was at the time involved in dredging the Demerara River. In May, 1945, he left British Guiana after the Second World War to enter the Middle Temple of London.
In 1947 he qualified as a barrister He then worked as Assistant Legal examiner with the British Civil Service, later joining the chambers of British lawyer Maurice Shear. In October, 1948 Arthur Chung returned to British Guiana when he joined the local bar and practised as a lawyer.
In 1953 Arthur Chung he was appointed acting magistrate to serve in the West Demerara and Essequibo Judicial Districts. In 1954 his appointment was confirmed and he now had to serve in the Georgetown and Berbice Judicial districts. In 1954 Mr Chung got married to Miss Doreen Pamela Auan also from Windsor Forest. In 1961, Mr Chung left the Magistrate's Court and went to work as Registrar at the Supreme Court. In 1962 Arthur Chung was called to act as a judge in the Supreme Court.
In 1963 Arthur Chung position as a judge was confirmed. He once created history when he broke a 78-year-old practice by ruling that the Director of Public Prosecutions had no jurisdiction to compel a magistrate to convict a person.
He was also involved in a case when he ruled in favour of the Attorney General against Mrs Cecile Nobrega, but the Full Court of Appeal reversed the decision when it was taken there by Mrs Nobrega. The Attorney General finally took the case to the Privy Council which upheld Mr Chung's original decision.
His last case was the Rupununi murder trial which arose from the attempted secession in January 1969. In this case, three of the accused persons were ordered to stand trial for murder, while seven others were set free.
Honour and awards
Guyana’s highest Honour at that time, The Order of Excellence, was conferred on President Chung, as he then was, in 1980.
Chung died on 23 June 2008 at his home, aged 90. In the two months prior to his death he had been hospitalized a number of times, and he was last released from the hospital on June 20.
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