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It was to resounding applause and standing ovation that Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, yesterday (March 30) took the oath of office, as the seventh and first female Prime Minister of Jamaica.
More than 6,000 guests attended the historic swearing-in ceremony, which was held on the lawns of King’s House.
In her inaugural address, the new Prime Minister gave honour to God, as the source of her strength. “As I assume the Office of Prime Minister of all Jamaica, I do so Lord, truly conscious that the glory is yours, and the office, an affirmation of my devotion to you and all the people of this nation,” she said in prayer.
Mrs. Simpson Miller wasted no time in outlining her intention as new Prime Minister, to advance human rights and individual liberties. “Each individual life is sacred. None is more important than the other. Money should not make one person more important than the other. Learning should not make one person more important than the other, nor should class, colour or gender. We are all equal in the sight of God,” she said to resounding applause.
She pointed out that, “we cannot build the harmony and peace that this society so desperately needs, unless all Jamaicans know that they will be treated with dignity and respect”.
“I pledge to ensure that the interests of all our people are protected and that victimization never rears its ugly head in any way under my administration,” she added.
The Prime Minister further highlighted the need for Jamaicans to “recapture our roots – the courtesy, the decency, the good manners and trust, which were routinely practised. We need to rekindle those tested and proven values. We must practise them ourselves and demand them from others,” she said, adding that she wanted to continue to lead a process for the recovery and promotion of the country’s best values.
She also pledged to do everything in her power to break the power of criminals and noted that she would be working closely with the Minister of National Security, law enforcement, the Opposition and communities, to tackle the problem.
Closely aligned to eliminating criminality and restoring power to communities, Prime Minister Simpson Miller said, was the creation of employment and wealth-earning opportunities for people.
Noting that focus would also be placed on education, she pointed out that Jamaica would only become a first-class, competitive society, “if we are an educated, knowledge-based society. We have to build on the progress already made and intensify our drive to transform Jamaica’s education system,” she stated.
Mrs. Simpson Miller paused to pay tribute to her predecessor, P.J. Patterson, lauding his 14 years of distinguished service as Prime Minister. “His loyalty and commitment to country, his passion for service, his civility and ability to achieve consensus, make him unforgettable,” she said. She also made known her intention to build on his legacy of cooperation.
Also very high on her list of priorities, was the promotion of unity, she said, noting that, “nothing can withstand the force of an energized, confident, united, determined and visionary people”.
“The bible says without vision the people perish. If we embrace one vision- not a PNP (People’s National Party) or JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) vision, not an uptown or a downtown vision, not an urban or rural vision, but one Jamaican vision, then we will deal with our challenges as a nation,” the Prime Minister stated.
She further called for the building of partnerships in restoring: the centrality of family life in Jamaica; responsible fatherhood, motherhood and sexual behaviour; love, honour and protection of women and love, honour and respect for men; as well as partnerships for the protection and nurturing of children.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller ended by calling on all Jamaicans to pray for the prosperity of Jamaica and for peace in the nation.