JIS News

Members of both Houses of Parliament yesterday (March 28) bade a fond farewell to Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who is retiring after a 30-year political career, 14 of which were spent as Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Prime Minister-designate, Portia Simpson-Miller, in a moving tribute, said it was undeniable that Mr. Patterson had left a remarkable legacy, which could be used as a foundation for further advancement. She said his ability to remain humble despite 14 years in power, was a noteworthy testimony to his calibre.
“I have never detected any disrespect.any put down.and never felt snubbed in the presence of this great and brilliant man,” she told the House.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said Mr. Patterson had not only served Jamaica well but also the international community and the Caribbean.
“He has established himself in the eyes of the international community as a man of unyielding principle and character; he believes in principle over power, character over convenience,” she told colleagues.
Mrs. Simpson-Miller, who will be sworn into office on Thursday (March 30), further pledged to build on the legacy of the man she called her mentor, in achieving political unity and furthering the agenda for sustainable development.
Opposition Leader, Bruce Golding, noted that Mr. Patterson’s contribution was to be measured in the difference he was able to make and the extent to which he shaped the future of the country, while pointing to his involvement in international trade negotiations starting with Lome, the African Caribbean and Pacific/ European Union (ACP/EU) partnership agreements and other bilateral agreements.
He said that Prime Minister Patterson was also to be credited for the many significant projects, structures and programmes instituted under his watch, as well as his role in removing some of the ugly tendencies, which has characterized Jamaican politics over the years.
“Whatever criticisms that have been made of him in the past and whatever may be made in the future, as his legacy is scrutinized and analyzed, no one can question his commitment to his country, his love for the Jamaican people or the sincerity of his intentions,” the Opposition Leader pointed out.
Meanwhile, House leader and National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, hailed Mr. Patterson as one of the architects of the renewal process within the People’s National Party, noting that he had also brought a particular quality to the House, which could not be replaced.
Dr. Phillips said Mr. Patterson’s designation as Prime Minister of Jamaica for 14 consecutive years was an unequalled record in the annals of the Parliament while noting that he would be remembered for the quality of his presentations which, whether prepared or spontaneous, bore the stamp of authority.
In his remarks, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Information Minister Senator Burchell Whiteman, said that Mr. Patterson was to be recognized for his ability to deal with adversity and his urbanity and diplomacy in dealing with potentially divisive matters.
In paying tribute Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator Anthony Johnson praised “Mr. Patterson’s unwavering adherence to the tenets of democracy”, noting that, he stood to hold a signature place in Jamaica’s history. President of the Senate, Syringa Marshall Burnett, remarked that Mr. Patterson was to be honoured not only for his longevity, but also for the excellence, which had characterized his tenure. She said the legislative agenda undertaken by Prime Minister Patterson, had been the most far-reaching in the country’s history, the impact of which could not be downplayed.
In the meantime, Member of Parliament for Clarendon North Central, Pearnel Charles, noted that the exit of Prime Minister Patterson marked the end of an era, noting that the calmness he brought to deliberations in the House would be missed, while Transport and Works Minister, Robert Pickersgill, described the outgoing leader as a political icon, a cornerstone and a seminal figure.
In the over three hours of tributes marked by much laughter and friendly ribbing, Mr. Patterson was acknowledged as a formidable opponent and remembered for his ability to “contest and contend and still remain civil during the cut and thrust of parliamentary debates”, without holding grudges in the aftermath. He was also commended for his leading role in the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), his contribution to regionalism and his first-rate representation of Jamaica locally and internationally.
During his 30-year political career, Mr. Patterson held portfolio responsibility as Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate; Opposition Spokesman for Youth and Community Development; Minister of Industry, Tourism and Foreign Trade; Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Development Planning and Production; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Development and Planning; Prime Minister and Minister of Defence; and was Member of Parliament for the Westmoreland East constituency.
Among the many dignitaries present were former Governor General, Sir Howard Cooke; former leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Edward Seaga; Chief Justice of Jamaica, Lensley Wolfe; Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Derick Latibeaudiere, and Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr. Wesley Hughes.