Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Seaga’s apology and Jamaica’s history

Published:Thursday | June 13, 2019 | 12:12 AM


The passing of Edward Seaga marks the end of a colourful era of one whose political career has impacted Jamaica.

It is said that Mr Seaga was a man who never apologies for any wrong he may have committed; however, the role of the media, especially the newspapers of Jamaica, as guardian of events, often unearth and preserve historical facts.

Nestled in The Sunday Observer of July 20, 1997, the late John Maxwell wrote:

It was not until he [Edward Seaga] became prime minister in 1980 that he was forced to apologise for his labelling of the PNP as ‘communist’ – having to tell the World Bank, the Rockefeller Committee and various other foreigners that the PNP was never communist, and that it was just as committed to the peaceful economic development of Jamaica as his party claimed to be.”

In a September 2002 publication of The Weekly Gleaner, Seaga expressed regret at removing free tertiary education from the people: “Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga said ... that his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government in 1986 ‘made the wrong move’ when it imposed a cess on tertiary education.

“He said given the opportunity to run the country again, the JLP would be committed to removing the cess.

Speaking at The Gleaner’s Editors’ Forum at the company’s North Street offices, downtown Kingston, “Mr Seaga said the decision to charge fees to students attending t he University of the West Indies and the then College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the University of Technology, was done out of sheer necessity and at a time when the country was experiencing a major economic crisis” ( The Weekly Gleaner September 25, 2002).

As historians reflect on the era of the ’70s and ’80s, may the apologies of Mr Seaga guide in the interpretation of the facts of what occurred when two charismatic leaders (Manley and Seaga) with opposing political paths for the social and economic development of Jamaica, resulted in “contradictory pressures and tendencies” (Bennett, 1986) arising from competing interests of different groups within our society that has left this nation with a seismic economic price for the generations that followed.

Dudley C McLean II