Sun | Jun 24, 2018


Published:Monday | October 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM

What they said about Seaga


Jamaica, in Edward Seaga, got an individual that was genuine to the core. That meant a lot to the people of this country. It is very unfortunate that he did not get a full run of things to keep this country on the path that it ought to have been.


It is well known that we have not seen eye to eye or for that matter always walked on the same side of the road, but there is no more fitting a place or occasion to publicly state that my respect for you and gratitude for the part which you have played and continue to play in nation building has never waned or wavered in any way. In fact, I have tried and continue to try, to emulate many of your qualities as one of the most outstanding members of parliament that this country has ever seen.


He is first and foremost for the people and improving their conditions. He is not trapped by any doctrine and will fight against any doctrine that will enslave us or distract us from the ultimate goal of improving the life and conditions of the Jamaican people.


Throughout my political journey, he has been a reliable friend and judicious counsellor. I remember at one stage along my journey, when things got rough - the beating down and the bashing - I went to a function - at Vale Royal to be exact. He pulled me aside, placed his arms around me, and said, 'We represent some of the most important constituencies in Jamaica. We have Newport East, Newport West and the Tinson Pen aerodrome. We have very important development centres in this country. Never ever be daunted, be strong, never, never give up'. I have never forgotten that, Mr Seaga. Thank you so much.


It is a commendable aspect of his personality that he, even though stepping back from participation in active politics, remains an important public figure. There can be no question that Edward Seaga, over a period of nearly 55 years, has played a critical role in the evolution of Jamaica society.


In 2006, I had the opportunity to travel to China with the then minister of water and housing, Donald Buchanan of blessed memory, and I sought to look at affordable housing solutions. The Chinese officials took us to look at some that they had built.... and we went to look at them and when we look we saw total communities .... and I can remember Danny Buck turning and looking at me and saying 'now I understand the fullness of the concept that Edward Seaga had for this country'.


Amendments to reduce the power of the Prime Minister were taken through a parliament in which there was no opposition and certainly without any pressure power from any source for the prime minister to reduce his own power, Edward Seaga did so voluntarily.


This achievement is laudable, not just for the length of time that he served this Parliament, but for the quality of service that he gave this Parliament. ... At a particular time it seems as if the Parliament would not have existed without an Eddie Seaga. In debates he had his moments. When in full flight he was devastating, but there were instances when his wit and dry humour caused stitches in this House. He might not be as energetic now as he used to be, but intellectually, he is still sound and still possesses a pregnant mind.


People treated West Kingston as the worst part of Jamaica, but this man came, he asked nothing of the people. He came to us as a simple individual offering the kind of leadership that the people of West Kingston were longing for ... .The vision of Mr Seaga then was to change the face of Back-o-Wall and to make it into a community that all Jamaicans can be proud that. He did that, he created a community, a modern community that embraced the people and what he did for us in western Kingston was not to take the man out of the slum, but he took the slum out of the man.


Edward Seaga believed that the private sector must be the engine of growth in a market economy and he consistently advanced policies to achieve this objective. He also believed that Government had a role to play in facilitating private-sector investment.


He is one of the finest thinkers. When he thinks and translates it, you may not all agree with it, but he is preoccupied with the notion that through good and consistent thought will come the kind of action that will redound to the benefit of the people.


All of our generation, especially our politicians, are forever indebted to Mr Seaga for the course that he has charted, the contribution that he has made, together with the politicians of his time, to have bequeathed to us a constitutional parliamentary democracy, a bi-cameral House of Parliament and the instruments of governance, which have made Jamaica a very peaceful and stable democracy.


What we do know, those of us who for political reasons learnt not to support him, is that he had a call to make, and he made it. When the people of West Kingston had nothing, they had hope and they had Edward Seaga. Through his strength of character and extreme discipline, he stood tall in the crucible of political battles of that other time, and although encircled, he defended his people with firmness and vigour, and more importantly, he created a community out of a slum and made west Kingston a far better place than he found it.


Mr Seaga may not have achieved or accomplished all the things he wanted to. I know that right now he is hoping he will get that more time to achieve and accomplish, or to see come to fruition some of his dreams and his visions ... . Those of us who love you feel that you will be with us forever.


It is a fact that we have a dynamic relationship, we have had disagreements. I was about to leave the Labour party when he invited me to light a candle, sing a sankey and come back.


What Mr Seaga appreciated is that the engagement and the exercise of power was one of the challenges within the Jamaican society and he sought in all the discussions to emphasise that the structure of government was not a concentration of power, not a strict separation of power, but the balancing of power.

Dr Horace Chang

He will most certainly be remembered for his contribution in the development of institution of governments, designed not only to correct some of the imbalances of the social ills of society but to ensure sustainability in the development process.