JIS News

Members of the Upper House last Friday (Jan. 28) paid tribute to former opposition leader Edward Seaga, who recently retired from representation politics after more than 40 years in the political arena.
Senator Burchell Whiteman, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, praised Mr. Seaga for his faithful representation in the House as well as to his West Kingston constituency. Senator Whiteman said that the former opposition leader had a proud record of “translating ideas into policy and policies into programmes”.
He hailed Mr. Seaga for his ability to articulate his vision with clarity, confidence and purpose describing him as “a thinker, an implementer, a leader and a human being, a citizen of Jamaica and an individual whose personal qualities have endeared him to many.” Furthermore he noted, despite the challenges to quality political leadership in a developing country Mr. Seaga had proved himself capable.
Opposition Senator Anthony Johnson said Mr. Seaga’s contribution to the development of the physical infrastructure of the country could not be ignored. To his credit are several of the city’s landmarks among them, National Heroes Park, Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica Conference Centre, St. William Grant Park, the beautification of the Palisadoes Strip and the Mandela Highway, the Kingston Waterfront, and the National Gallery.
Meanwhile, Senator Bruce Golding, hailed Mr. Seaga as an institution builder and a transformational leader with a unique leadership style. He said that Mr. Seaga was to be remembered for his efforts to improve conditions for the poor and create opportunities for their empowerment in a manner that was not patronizing. Stating that there was more to the former leader than was apparent, Mr. Golding painted a picture of a man who was “compassionate, warm, witty and caring, while being a consummate leader, and a sharp-witted politician who was strident and combative with a strong sense of conviction. The challenge to all who worked with him was how to integrate the two – the Seaga that people saw in the public and the Seaga that those who worked closely with him knew so well and I don’t think we did a good job of it,” he stated.
Mr. Golding said while Mr. Seaga was deserving of all the accolades heaped on him, the greatest tribute that could be paid to him “was the summoning of all the will and the creative energy we possess, to bring about the transformation he strived so hard to achieve” and create a Jamaica without poverty. He noted that much remained to be done if Mr. Seaga’s visions were to be realized.
In his tribute, Government Senator Trevor Munroe, noted that Mr. Seaga’s contribution to nation building classified him as an extraordinary human being and recalled his propensity to stand up to powerful local and global groups, in the country’s interest.
Senator Munroe said that colleague members of parliament had contributed to the “unfair, one-sided, evaluation” of Mr. Seaga and said that this should be rectified. He however noted that in correcting the demonisation of Mr. Seaga, it was also important that he was not deified.
Meanwhile, Senator Noel Monteith lauded Mr. Seaga’s enviable record of service to Jamaica and his West Kingston constituency. While noting that Mr. Seaga’s leadership style and decisions were not always popular, Senator Monteith said his commitment, loyalty and devotion to his constituency and Jamaica could not be questioned.
“By any measure, 42-odd years as a parliamentarian is not an ordinary achievement, it tells a story, many stories. Over these many years, he has certainly grown in tolerance in understanding and in wisdom,” Senator Monteith stated.
Opposition Senators Shirley Williams and Prudence Kid-Deans portrayed a leader who was concerned with the well being of all with whom he came in close contact, often going beyond the call of duty to ensure their comfort while demanding quality service.
Senator Kid-Deans, noting Mr. Seaga’s contribution to her own development and women in general, said his legacy was one which would forever be seared into Jamaica’s landscape and “his name a benediction, which will not be forgotten”.
Trade Unionist Senator Dwight Nelson in paying homage to Mr. Seaga, said he had made an indelible and inerasable contribution to Jamaica’s history. He said that as a public servant, Mr. Seaga remained the epitome of sacrifice displaying fortitude, resilience and grit and remaining faithful even in the face of ingratitude. “Yours has not been a flickering transient candle, it has been a burning flaming torch, yours has been the stuff heroes are made of,” he stated.
The Senate’s tribute follows on the honour paid to Mr. Seaga by the House of Representatives on January 19. Mr. Seaga, who spent 42 years in the political arena, is reputed to be the only sitting parliamentarian with a career spanning both the colonial and independence periods.
Mr. Seaga is remembered for his historic involvement in the drafting of the Independence Constitution, his service as prime minister for nine consecutive years, his leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party for 30 years, his over four decades of representation of West Kingston and his unrivalled contribution to the construction of the social and economic fabric of the nation.