I came because I miss you - Seaga
Former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader and prime minister, Edward Seaga, who had been absent from the party's annual conference for several years, yesterday told thousands of Labourites that he showed up at this year's conference, held at Kingston's National Arena, because he missed them.
"This is the first time in seven years that I have been to conference. I come because of two reasons. One, because I miss you, and I don't want to miss you because I love you," Seaga told Labourites.
"The second reason I am here is because the prime minister called and invited me, and I can't say no to the prime minister," he said, again to thunderous and sustained applause.
According to Seaga, he discovered Prime Minister Andrew Holness in Fletchers Land while he worked for a social programme called VOUCH and took him to his office and gave him political tutelage that has taken him far.
"It turned out that I was right because the pickney was a good one. A very good one. And he has turned out to be an excellent prime minister," Seaga said.
He also saluted Audley Shaw, calling him a "finance minister that you can be proud of".
Seaga then spoke about what he said was his favourite topic: education.
EDUCATION THE KEY
"If you are not educated, you going to be poor. If you not educated, you going to be illiterate. If you not educated, you can't function in the society anyway. And because of that, you will turn away from the regular jobs and resort to crime," he said.
Crime, he said, was not a new problem, stating that "it start from the time when you who is around today were likkle children and neva get proper education".
A proper education is the key to the future of all Jamaicans, he told the jubilant Labourites.
Also attending the conference was former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who resigned following the Government's handling of the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition request during the JLP administration from 2007-2011.
Golding, accompanied by his wife, Lorna, spoke briefly. He said that Holness, who he designated his successor after his resignation, was the right man for Jamaica at this time.
"My message to you today is quite simple. Our country today is fortunate to have the right man in the right place at the right time."
Seaga urges support for NIDS
As debate continues over the mandatory National Identification System (NIDS) recently passed into law, former prime minister Edward Seaga told Labourites that the opposition People's National Party (PNP) is known for not supporting national fingerprint identification.
According to Seaga, in the 1960s when the Government, led by Sir Alexander Bustamante, sought to introduce a national identification system requiring the fingerprint of all voters, the PNP opposed it.
"The PNP told the people, 'Don't give any fingerprint. Don't register'. And when we pulled up the registration list, it was 30,000 persons short," said Seaga.
Seaga would later, along with the late Ryan Peralto, pilot fingerprint voter registration under the then Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC). This time, however, it had the backing of the opposition PNP as vote fraud reached intolerable levels in the 1990s.
Now used in several constituencies, electoral officials have technology for fingerprint identification to produce ballots.
According to Seaga, fingerprint is the way of the future.
"If you want to go to the bank in the future, is not the voters card they going to ask you for. It is the national identification card. And that is the one you going to have to have to change money, to get money, to the post office, to go to any government establishment," said Seaga.