Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has hailed former Prime Minister the Most Hon. Edward Seaga as “one of the granite figures of our time”.
“He is supremely an extraordinary parliamentarian, creative institution builder, and a pragmatic Jamaican visionary,” she said in tribute to Mr. Seaga yesterday (Oct. 9 during a special joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament.
The Prime Minister was one of several members, who paid tribute to Mr. Seaga for his role in shaping Jamaica’s post-Independence parliamentary landscape.
Mrs. Simpson Miller lauded Mr. Seaga’s political experience, which she said, spanned an extensive range in the field of national development, economic planning and change, social programmes, and cultural transformation, parliamentary and constitutional engineering and far-reaching developmental thinking.
The Prime Minister, who said she has never forgotten some personal advice from Mr. Seaga, said he has defined remarkable standards of public service and meaningful lessons about political engagement and political organisation. “So, we thank you sir for your vision for Jamaica and for the force and effectiveness of your social, political and managerial skills,” she said.
“We celebrate you for your inspiring instinct for reality and pragmatism. We thank you for your sensitivity and concern for social justice and good order in public life and office. We thank you for all those lessons about belief in the people that we lead, lessons about respecting the passions and collective reasoning and wisdom of all our people,” she added.
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, credited Mr. Seaga as “one who mentored and I dare say, fathered me politically”.
Mr. Holness, who said has had the privilege of working with Mr. Seaga during his early years in politics, said he was amazed by Mr. Seaga’s capacity for work and his attention to detail.
Thanking him for dedicated and faithful service to Jamaica, Mr. Holness stated that Mr. Seaga’s name is “indelibly etched on almost every facet of Jamaican life”.
Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw, stated that with the exception of the founding fathers, “Edward Seaga has had the most profound and multifaceted impact on Jamaica’s social, cultural and economic life than any other politician in Jamaica.”
Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Omar Davies, also saluted Mr. Seaga pointing out that “there is no question that over a period of nearly 55 years, he has played a critical role in the evolution of Jamaican society”.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Roger Clarke noted that Mr. Seaga has “sacrificed much and gave much for the people of Jamaica”.
He said it is not only laudable the length of time he has served but the quality of service that he has given to parliament, noting that he has “used this Parliament to advance many of his causes, which included his passion for social, cultural and institutional development, leaving monuments in his memory”.
In his response, Seaga thanked the members “for the kind and thoughtful observations proposed in your tributes”.
“I am happy to be cast today in a broader role than I have enjoyed in my parliamentary years and I thank Prime Minister the Hon. Portia Simpson Miller and Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness and the legislators, who are gathered here for making this session possible,” he said.
Mr. Seaga is the only surviving member of the team that drafted the Jamaican Constitution and is also one of three surviving members of the first Parliament of independent Jamaica.
He is Jamaica’s longest serving Member of Parliament, having represented the constituency of West Kingston from 1962 until his retirement from representational politics in 2005.