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House pays tribute to former MP Sam Lawrence

Published:Wednesday | January 30, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Sam Lawrence

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

FORMER EAST Portland Member of Parliament (MP) Sam Lawrence was yesterday remembered by the House of Representatives for his contribution to Jamaica's legislative process.

Opposition MP Karl Samuda, who served with Lawrence as MP between 1989 and 1997, and Government member Fitz Jackson, who entered the House in 1994, recalled that Lawrence was instrumental in getting the Cabinet to consider the wishes of the House.

Jackson, MP for South St Catherine, said by moving a resolution which was passed by the House, issues from Parliament found their way to Cabinet.

Jackson said thanks to Lawrence's intervention, resolutions from motions by members seeking action were placed before Cabinet for consideration and a response required to be provided within 21 days thereafter. Before, resolutions would just be passed and the matter would end there.

Samuda also noted that Lawrence gave power to backbenchers by ensuring their concerns found their way to Cabinet.

Lawrence died suddenly at his home in Portland the morning after he returned from a meeting of the National Executive Council of the People's National Party in Trelawny.


Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said Lawrence's death reflected the frailty of life.

"You saw someone hugging, laughing … . And Monday, gone. No more," the prime minister lamented.

Yesterday, several MPs, including Simpson Miller, recalled Lawrence as an honest, non-contentious person.

"He was a hard-working, decent person … . He was never offensive," Samuda said.

"Sam was a farmer at heart. He always spoke about the need to expand agriculture and all that is necessary to make agriculture a pillar of our economic development," Samuda said.

Government MP Dr Peter Phillips said Lawrence's passing came as a shock to the Cabinet.

"It really is a reminder to all of us of the 'temporariness' of our sojourn on this Earth," Phillips said.

He added: "He represents our best offerings of our political system and practice … . He was loyal to his constituents, he was never contentious, had a great belief in the capacity of the ordinary people and was devoted to agriculture."

Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke recalled that Lawrence headed an enterprise team divesting assets in the cocoa industry and was supposed to report to him next week.

Clarke noted that Lawrence was appointed chairman of the Banana Board two weeks ago. He bemoaned the fact that Lawrence did not get the chance to attend a meeting.

Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, the MP for East Portland, said he met Lawrence 24 years ago, and found him to be a man with broad vision.

"A very quiet man who was given to great humour and joviality," Bloomfield said.


He said Lawrence was a man of the people.

"Everywhere you go, Sam would turn up, put his hands on your shoulder and ask how it was going."

He added: "He was a man whose qualities are superalive. A man who came to be known as a father to all of us in East Portland," Bloomfield said.

Daryl Vaz, the MP for West Portland, said the parish had lost a good soul and a warrior.

The PNP, which Lawrence served, said he was of the view that the expansion of water supply to rural communities would have significant benefits for Jamaica's economic and social development, including the attraction of new businesses, increased employment, and reducing the health risk associated with the consumption of untreated water.