- Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, was remembered at a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, June 19, for his unyielding and sterling contribution to nation-building.
- Mr. Seaga was Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister, serving from 1980 to 1989. He represented the constituency of West Kingston from 1962 until his retirement from active politics in 2005. He died on May 28 on his 89th birthday.
- Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who led the tributes, noted that Mr. Seaga always had an enquiring mind.
Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, was remembered at a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, June 19, for his unyielding and sterling contribution to nation-building.
Mr. Seaga was Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister, serving from 1980 to 1989. He represented the constituency of West Kingston from 1962 until his retirement from active politics in 2005. He died on May 28 on his 89th birthday.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who led the tributes, noted that Mr. Seaga always had an enquiring mind.
“His parents were not sure what to make of his interest in book learning. Nevertheless, they gathered the funds needed for him to study overseas at the renowned Harvard College, followed by enrolment in the University College of the West Indies to study medicine, which he would later abandon to pursue his true passion in the social and anthropological sciences,” he said.
“This led him to Buxton Town, where he lived with the people and studied their culture. That time spent among the people is what he always valued beyond measure, as it enabled him to see what he had read about take shape, and it in turn shaped the many contributions he would go on to make to Jamaican life as we know it,” the Prime Minister added.
He said Mr. Seaga had a deeper understanding of the culture of the people and thinking, and understood their dreams and aspirations.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Mr. Seaga’s experience in Buxton Town would influence his life’s passion to properly document and curate Jamaican culture, artefacts, art and music.
“In many ways, he introduced Jamaicans to their culture. He brought Jamaican culture out of the dark and obscure into the light of the mainstream to stand side by side with colonial culture, thereby giving definition to who we are as a people and getting us to accept what we create as being valuable,” Mr. Holness said.
He emphasised that Edward Seaga is without question one of the fathers of the nation, noting that he was central to the campaign to leave the Federation.
“He was a framer of our Constitution and he did tremendous work in advancing legislation to create the Charter of Rights. He shaped our banking and financial sector, our urban development, our training and education system, our tourism and agriculture,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Holness noted that he had the opportunity to work with Mr. Seaga in his private business and in politics.
“He was a thorough man and he took the nation’s business seriously. Every parliamentary presentation was fully researched. Oftentimes, I was the researcher,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that while Mr. Seaga’s body will crumble, his work and his upright living will be indelibly marked on the history of Jamaica.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, described Mr. Seaga as a diligent marshal of resources from both the public purse and the private sector.
“He mobilised the residents to become engaged in the upliftment of their community and self, by the care and order he maintained, which earned their love and loyalty in return,” Mr. Patterson said.
“Edward Seaga spared nothing in giving himself entirely to the people he represented. He never shirked the task of building Jamaica, the land where he belonged and to which de devoted his whole life,” he added.
Mr. Patterson said that each and every institution, corporation, commission or public company Mr. Seaga created, whether in the immediate aftermath of Jamaica’s Independence, or during his subsequent tenure as Prime Minister, required legislative action, passage and specific approval by the Parliament.
“I would be surprised if a thorough examination of all our existing Bills, Acts, Rules and enabling Regulations fail to disclose that Edward Seaga has introduced numerically and passed more statutory legislation than any other single Minister in our history,” Mr. Patterson said.
For his part, former Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, noted that Mr. Seaga ranks high in the profound impact he had on Jamaica’s national and political landscape.
“We cannot know if he was born to serve; what we certainly know is that from a very early age he made a conscious decision to serve. He did so when at an early stage in his life, he immersed himself in the way of life of the rural people of Buxton Town and among the slum dwellers in Kingston,” he said.
Mr. Golding noted that this was Mr. Seaga’s chosen way of understanding the people that he wanted to serve.
“He saw in them a people whose lives were desperately in need of transformation. But he saw in them also a genuineness, an inherent goodness, a creative instinct and a boundless capacity that would enable them to lift themselves out of the mire of poverty, if the opportunities were provided for them to do so,” he stated.
Mr. Golding said that the passion with which Mr. Seaga served his constituents and the spectacular way he built the institutions that stand as milestones have made him a “legend of our time”.
The State funeral for Mr. Seaga will be held on Sunday, June 23 at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, after which he will be buried in National Heroes Park.