Members of both houses of Parliament on Wednesday lauded the life and work of former Prime Minister Edward Phillip George Seaga, during a joint sitting of the House.
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.
In his tribute, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Charles Sr., noted that Seaga was a remarkable man, who was consumed with one mission – the development of Jamaica for the well-being of the people.
He believed firmly that strong institutions were the foundation for national development. Undoubtedly, he would be remembered as a social engineer, responsible for creating many institutions, associations and organisations, and I dare say many of us,” Charles said.
“I am very proud to acknowledge that many of my political achievements have been due to him. He has also contributed to my personal development. I know what I am today is because I met him. I do not know what I would be if I never met him,” he added.
President of the Senate, Tom Tavares-Finson, highlighted the role that Seaga played in the electoral reform process.
He pointed out that Seaga helped move the system from one open to governmental and political manipulation to the Electoral Advisory Committee in 1979, and, eventually, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), which manages the electoral system, which is recognised regionally and internationally as one of the finest in the world.
Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, said he had the privilege of working with Seaga as part of an action team in 1976.
“I learned first-hand of his sincere commitment and respect for not only the Jamaican character but for every Jamaican, especially the poor. His life’s commitment was not only to show respect but to take them out of poverty into prosperity, which would destroy the lines between the haves and the have nots,” Chang said.
“That is the charge he has left for this great Party and the mission for those of us who have the privilege to succeed this great man. Indeed, he was a giant of his time. It was a privilege to have served at his feet,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, called for Seaga to be named the nation’s eighth National Hero.
“The people of west Kingston believe that Edward Seaga fits the bill, based on his performance in this country, to be considered Jamaica’s eighth National Hero. This is the time as a people, that we need to not just pay lip service but we need to step up to the plate and take decisions to recognise the work of this man, this great outstanding Jamaican,” he said.
The State funeral for Seaga will be held on Sunday, at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in the Corporate Area, after which he will be buried in National Heroes Park.