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'Put country before party' - Seaga

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga has called for a reversal of what he has characterised as unbridled selfishness wrecking politics in the country.

Seaga, the second leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), last week told The Sunday Gleaner last week, that he has washed his hands of all partisan stain and is disconsolate that the projection of "self" is running roughshod over service in both political parties.

The political warrior who spent nearly 50 years wrestling with the People's National Party (PNP) in the trenches, lamented that since selfishness was unleashed on the political process in the 1970s, it has not retreated.

Expressing disapproval with the state of two major political parties in the country, on the eve of the "Handover of the Edward Seaga Collection", at the University of the West Indies (UWI), said he has shifted his focus to matters of national importance.

"It is well-known that my feelings are that there is not enough people in the political system on both sides who think party rather than self, or country rather than party," said Seaga.

"Having retired from the JLP and representational politics, it has given me the opportunity to have my mind broadened but I don't think anymore about JLP and PNP," said Seaga.

"I really do think about Jamaica ... while I am here, I offer advice to JLP and PNP, so that is why my biography is important because it is written with that frame of mind ... I didn't start my biography until 2010 and that was five years after I was here at the UWI."

Seaga was critical of persons in the JLP and PNP whom he accused of fighting for self above all else "There are times when you have to think of country above your party and there are times when you have to think of your party above yourself," he said.

However, Seaga lamented that all too frequently, self has been projected. "The system wasn't built to take that sort of aspiration and it has to be reversed," he warned.

When pressed specifically about the state of the JLP that he led for 30 years, Seaga said: "The same thing that I just said to you...Members of Parliament must bear in mind that they are there to represent the people, not themselves".

Stressing that there were some good people remaining in both political parties, Seaga suggested that rather than bickering and cutting throats to advance self over party and nation, young politicians would get more satisfaction when they help somebody.

"That's how I feel, when I do somebody to help somebody, I say boy I have done some good work," he declared.

Added Seaga: "It can't feel good when you don't help but come election time and spend a whole heap of money around the place ... you have to go back and entice them to come and vote for you, that is not service because all the time that you did not do anything for them it has punished them."