Younis remembered as selfless; had concern about absent fathers

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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SAMEER Younis, the Jamaican descendant of Lebanese immigrants and merchant extraordinaire , was yesterday remembered as a selfless human being who readily assisted those in need.

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, in his tribute at the funeral service for the former president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and Jamaica Manufacturers' Association at St Andrew Parish Church, described Younis as a social advocate. He said that Younis unapologetically stood up for the voiceless and the disenfranchised by empowering them with knowledge.

“He did what he had to do and much more. Sameer Younis is the only individual in our history to have been elected president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and then the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA),” Patterson said, adding that he won the twin double with staggering votes.

Patterson said he was always prepared to resolve issues through meaningful dialogue, and was not afraid to speak his mind.

At the same time, Younis's long-time friend and minister without portfolio with oversight for education, youth and information Karl Samuda told the congregation that Younis was preoccupied with the need to give of himself in the social and economic development of Jamaica.

He said that testimonials from the youths who have benefited from Younis's Inner-city Youth Training Programme show that the initiative helped participants to develop better attitudes towards each other.

“...With the intensity of differences in political views so heightened [at the time] he felt it was necessary to not simply train youngsters but to draw on communities that did not share the same political views. So within his groupings were always persons who were very strong members of the two [major] political parties, but who worked together and left refreshed with the view that this has been worthwhile and we must continue it, no matter what,” Samuda stated.

He, too, praised praised Younis for his leadership qualities.

“He did exceptionally well at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, expanding its membership and involvement, and also did the same for the JMA. But Sammy failed to achieve what I think would have been his signature accomplishment, because he was passionately involved in seeking to bring about a triangle leadership in the private sector, that is the amalgamation into one organisation having a council of presidents involving the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Jamaica Manufacturers' Association and the president of the PSOJ (Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica),” Samuda said, adding that it was now time to revisit and address that proposal.

Samuda said, too, there were things about Younis that were obvious, while some were not so obvious.

For example, his love for his wife Leila and his children, his devotion to family and the concept of family, his dedication to the creation of personal wealth and wealth for others, his unwavering service to many organisations, chief among them the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the then Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, were all obvious.

What was not obvious, he said, was Younis's love for Jamaica and its people, and his hatred for the violence that affected the country.

“He wanted to see, and agitated for, the restoration of family life and family values as the sure-fire method of rescuing children, empowering women, and battling crime,” Samuda said.

Former Jamaica Manufacturers' and Exporters Association President Metry Seaga said Younis put his heart and soul into the private sector organisations during his tenure.

“He paved the way for people like myself, and created a legacy that will live on for generations to come,” Seaga said, adding that Younis was his father's best friend.

Noting that Younis was with his father when he took his last breath, Seaga said he had been a tower of strength for his family.

Former Jamaica Chamber of Commerce President Milton Samuda, recallied how Younis became his friend during his tenure at the chamber and described the late entrepreneur as complex man who loved his family.

Officiating Minister Rev Canon Sirrano Kitson, during his sermon, noted that, while Younis was keen on building families, he was concerned that absent fathers created a void that help to nurture criminal enterprises now affecting the country negatively.


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