Jamaica has lost a political giant, Phillips says of Seaga

Jamaica has lost a political giant, Phillips says of Seaga

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Leader of the People's National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips has described Jamaica's fifth Prime Minister Edward Seaga, as a giant in the cultural, social, economic life of independent Jamaica.

Phillips said that Seaga's passing today represents the end of an era in Jamaica's political and social development.

“For close to sixty years, Mr Seaga was a gigantic and powerful presence, having started out as an anthropologist, he made his commitment to representational politics and became the first Member of Parliament to serve more than one term in Western Kingston, a seat he represented for a record 43 years, from 1962 until his retirement in 2005,” Phillips said in a statement.

Phillips noted that the former prime minister was the last surviving member of the original select committee which drafted the Jamaican Constitution in 1962, “a responsibility that gave an indication of the scope and scale of the subsequent impact of his contribution to Jamaican life.

“Over the years, Mr Seaga never lost his love for, and close attachment to Jamaican music and the religious culture. He was, without doubt, a forerunner in the development of Jamaican music,” Phillips said.

Phillips highlighted that Seaga's role in nation building spans several sectors.

“He was a force behind the building out of a number of key institutions of modern Jamaica, including the Urban Development Corporation, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, the Heart Trust and Metropolitan Parks and Markets. Among his greatest monuments are Tivoli Gardens Housing Development, Tivoli Comprehensive High School, the March Band and Dance Troop and his beloved Tivoli Premier League Football Club. He famously said on his political retirement that these institutions were too important for him to leave”.

“In Tivoli Gardens, he can be credited for establishing an alternative vision of urban lifestyle for Jamaica's poor,” Phillips said.

The opposition leader added that long after his retirement from political life, Seaga devoted his time to research and engaged the public through regular newspaper commentary and a book which will serve generations to come.

“Never afraid of the lime light nor shying away from controversy in the national discourse, he was undaunted in defending his ideas even in the face of strong opposition,” Phillips added.

“He sustained many friendships across political lines and was instrumental in stirring very significant discussions in economics, politics and many other subjects.
We exchanged many views over the years and he was always ready to share his experience as Minister of Finance,” Phillips added.

“On behalf of the People's National Party and on my own personal behalf, I express condolences 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 said.

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