Leaders hail Seaga for peerless service

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TRIBUTES poured in yesterday for former Prime Minister and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Leader Edward Seaga, beloved by many Jamaicans across the country and in the Diaspora for his peerless service and contribution to nation-building.

Seaga, who marked his 89th birthday yesterday, died at a hospital in Miami, Florida where he was undergoing treatment.

Opposition Leader and People’s National Party President Dr Peter Phillips hailed him as a giant in the cultural, social and economic life of independent Jamaica.

Phillips said the former prime minister’s passing represents the end of an era in Jamaica’s political and social development, noting that for close to 60 years he was a gigantic and powerful presence in society.

“Long after his retirement from political life, Mr Seaga devoted his time to research and engaged the public through regular newspaper commentary and a book which will serve generations to come. [He was] never afraid of the limelight nor shed away from controversy in the national discourse. He was undaunted in defending his ideas even in the face of strong opposition,” Phillips said of the country’s fifth prime minister.

“On behalf of the People’s National Party and on my own personal behalf, I express condolence to his wife Carla, his children and other family members, his colleagues in politics, sports, music, research, and education and his many friends across the length and breadth of Jamaica. We did not always agree on issues, but his contribution to Jamaica and his love for the people and the culture of Jamaica cannot be questioned,” Phillips added.

Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding described Seaga as one of the country’s most accomplished nation-builders.

“His trailblazing achievements as minister of development and welfare, minister of finance and planning and prime minister have left an indelible mark on Jamaica’s institutional development and constitute a huge legacy from which the Jamaican people continue to benefit,” he stated.

Golding, who succeeded Seaga as JLP leader in 2005, praised him as a strong leader who was firm in his convictions and fearless in his approach. He said he was never daunted by criticism or controversy once he was convinced that the path he was pursuing was the right one, and in so many respects history has vindicated him.

“Edward Seaga has earned his prominence in the annals of Jamaica’s journey as a nation, and his contributions will be one of the pillars on which the greatness that we achieve will rest.

“My sincere condolence go out to his wife, Carla, his children Christopher, Anabella, Andrew, and Gabrielle, as well as the other members of his family. I share with the Jamaica Labour Party that he led for 31 years and the people of West Kingston that he represented for 43 years their deep sadness at the loss of a giant who meant so much to them,” said Golding.

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen described Seaga as one of the principal architects of Jamaica’s post-Independence governmental structure.

He said Seaga’s long list of achievements in national and political leadership, enlightened policy development, and efficient implementation marked him as a strategic thinker and man of action. He said Seaga evoked a brand of loyalty which was a combination of deep respect and unquestioned love.

“Mr Seaga leaves us a legacy of visionary leadership, sustainable institutional development, and a wealth of ideas and information. His formidable record of service will ensure the perpetuation of his contribution to the ongoing political maturing of our nation,” he said.

The University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica expressed regret at the passing of Seaga, who had been serving as a distinguished chancellor of the university since 2010.

UTech said, since that time, Seaga served as a major source of inspiration and a guide to the leadership of the university.

“He was instrumental in annual meetings of the university and lent his wealth of experience and expertise to all aspects of the university’s work. He was also Pro-Chancellor at UTech, Jamaica between 2008 and 2010.

“As Jamaica mourns the passing of Mr Seaga, so does the University of Technology, Jamaica. We offer condolence to all members of the Seaga family, his large universe of friends and colleagues, and the many who have been touched by his practicality, sound judgement and commitment to Jamaica,” the statement said.

Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles hailed Seaga as one of the “principal architects of the dignified nation and wider region”.

He said already, his passing is being profoundly felt in many ways.

“In his later years, he constituted a bridge between community and campus in his role as a distinguished fellow of the university. We shall surely miss his presence and fellowship. On behalf of The UWI family, I extend condolence to Mr Seaga’s family, his valued friends and associates.

“To Prime Minister [Andrew] Holness, who carries our collective sorrow on behalf of the nation, I send blessings and empowerment at this time of personal loss. May his soul rest in peace.”

Head of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell, in reacting to the news stated: “Mr Seaga’s long and distinguished political career and his contribution to Jamaica’s cultural, economic and human capital development have left an indelible legacy to the country. The PSOJ extends sincere condolence to his family and loved ones in this time of bereavement. A nation mourns with you.”

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