Saluting 'everybody's friend': Seymour 'Foggy' Mullings

Friday, October 11, 2013

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In Jamaica's messy political environment, there are few members of that profession who enjoy the enviable position of being loved, respected and cherished by most, if not by everyone with whom they come in contact.

One of those men took his final breath on Wednesday, October 9, when St Peter sent a reminder to veteran parliamentarian Seymour Mullings for him to honour an inevitable appointment.

Mr Mullings, who preferred to simply be called "Foggy" in character with his whole disposition, represented a dying breed of politicians who could go anywhere in this land and be revered by even those who did not agree with his politics.

He entered politics as a virtual unknown, in 1969, following the resignation from the then Opposition People's National Party (PNP) of its former leader in the House of Representatives, Dr Ivan Lloyd, and proceeded to whip Dr Lloyd's son, Garland, in the subsequent by-election for the St Ann South East seat.

Mr Mullings later made that seat his own, following with clean and clear victories in national elections in 1972, 1976 and 1980.

His was one of the few PNP voices that kept the clock ticking in the House of Representatives, following the Jamaica Labour Party's massive 51-9 seat win in the bloody 1980 General Election.

That election claimed 844 lives, according to police count, and even when fingers were being pointed at politicians, from both sides, for embracing gangsters and gunmen, the name Seymour Mullings was among those not mentioned as having any involvement in such activities.

More wins at the polls in 1989, 1993 and 1997 turned Mr Mullings into a political institution who kept on top of his constituency organisation, while serving in countless areas of governance at the Cabinet level, including the pressuring finance portfolio.

The former deputy prime minister was never one to embrace corruption and was intolerant of partisan discrimination.

Whenever there are heated arguments about the honesty of politicians, Seymour Mullings' name would pop up as a man of integrity who abhorred skulduggery in much the same way as other members of his party, namely Messrs Norman Manley, the late Ben Clare and Burchell Whiteman, among others.

We will no longer hear the soothing music coming from the piano that he played. Nor will we again hear the familiar question "what's the true position?", emerging from his lips, varnished with that familiar broad smile.

But we can be assured that Seymour Mullings made a positive mark on Jamaica's political landscape. He might not have succeeded in his time, in cleaning up some of the mess that his colleagues made in their pursuit of fame and fortune.

However, 'Foggy' Mullings will go down in Jamaica's history as a man who fought the good fight with all his might, not only for the people of St Ann South East, but for Jamaica as a whole.

He was indeed a man of impeccable character and, like a referee in a boxing ring, was always ready to separate combatants.

We will miss Mr Seymour Mullings. We hope, however, that the party whose principles he stood up for as a vice-president at the height of his career, will use his life as an example to repair some of the damage that has been done to some of its younger members who have been overcome by greed.

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