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Seaga remembered in LA: Condolence books to be opened locally

Members of the Legislative Assembly paid special homage to former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga in Wednesday (5 June) session.
Mr. Seaga died last Tuesday in the United States.
His body was flown to Jamaica this week for a state funeral there.
He was eulogised in the LA.

House Speaker Hon. McKeeva Bush reflected in Mr. Seaga’s contribution.

“Hon Edward Phillip George Seaga was a strong force and will remain enshrined in people’s hearts and memories. He was truly One of a Kind!”

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin joined Mr. Bush “in championing the efforts, the achievements of an incredible Caribbean man.”

Opposition Leader Hon. Arden McLean shared his personal interactions with Mr. Seaga saying, “I was enlightened by his presence and his knowledge.
Mr. Bush said two condolence books will be open for public signing Thursday (6 June) at both the Jamaican consul and the honourary consul office.
The state funeral will take place Sunday 23 June. Cayman 27 is planning to televise it live.

Read Mr. Bush’s statement in the LA below:

Message by the Hon Speaker, Dr. Hon. W. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, Hon MSc, MLA to mark the passing of former Jamaican Prime Minister The Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, PC, ON

The Legislative Assembly, Wednesday, 5th June 2019

Honourable Members,

Since we last met, several matters has taken place, that give cause for me to rise this morning to address at this point and so I move to item 2 and will not take item 6 of the Agenda.

Firstly, the former Jamaican Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, has died. But he will never be forgotten by his people in the island nation of Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora and we as friends here in the Cayman Islands.

The Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga was many things to the island nation of Jamaica. He was a sociologist by education. He was a nation builder- he was a believer in the region- but one where Jamaica should not take a back seat to any other island nation.

He was a friend of Cayman and to me personally. He was a good friend and I sought his advice on issues as needed. We were good enough friends for me to call him Eddie; however, here, I will simply address him as Mr. Seaga.

Mr. Seaga imbued a true indelible national spirit. His love of democracy saw him play a critical role in October 1983 to slow the movement of communism within the region with the USA invasion of Grenada.

Given the strong historical links and relationships between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, we shared common links in the past and continue to maintain our friendship and sustained camaraderie even today. Mr. Seaga has definitely left his indelible mark on history, and his people, serving his constituency for over 40 years, far longer than anyone in Jamaica’s history and in the region. He truly became the father of the House of Representatives and was indeed the last remaining drafter of Jamaica’s Constitution adopted when Jamaica gained independence in 1962.

His links with culture and music also run deep because before entering politics, he was a major record producer with the distribution company the West Indies Record Ltd through which he played a significant role in introducing “Ska” to the world.
One of the things I appreciated about Mr. Seaga – was his appreciation of music; in particular Jamaican Music. He worked to raise the standard of Jamaican music and established a collection of the 1950’s to early 1970’s music. He also helped reggae gain coinage internationally.

Also in the late 60s, as Minister of Development and Welfare, he contributed to the establishment of the International Fund for the promotion of Culture by UNESCO. He also served as Minister of Finance and Planning, all of which guided him to become a dynamic force.

Additionally being the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica, he took office in 1980 and his accomplishments as Prime Minister are many; that established him firmly as one the prime leaders in Jamaica, if not the region. The pro-America, free market economy that he instituted made its mark in the world.

As Prime Minister, he spearheaded the building up of Jamaica with sustained development of financial institutions such as the Jamaica Stock Exchange and the Jamaica Development Bank, urban planning including waterfront development in key areas, urban and township development including housing developments as well as building markets and parks. He is also known for the large number of social programmes and training schemes he set up.

But way before that, at 29 years of age, this Harvard University educated young man was chosen by the Jamaica Labour Party founder and Jamaica’s first Prime Minister, Sir Alexander Bustamante, as the youngest representative to serve on the then Legislative Council, now the Senate. It was there that he created the phrase, “the haves and have not” recognizing the deep imbalances of the poor people and those that had, and those that were wealthy. But not using to build a nation but to take advantage of the poorer people.

His work on investigating the conditions of the poor in Jamaica gave me ideas in my early entrance in politics. But he often cautioned me that our conditions here in Cayman were not the same, advice which I understood very clearly!

And so from those early days he was never blind to the great challenges facing Jamaica as he lived with reality always as his guide.

Personally, I knew Mr. Seaga, and counted him a friend. Following his political life from inception, I knew that his roles as Minister of the Cabinet, Opposition Leader and as Prime Minister were good for Jamaica.

I had cause to counsel with him on several occasions for regional and international matters. I recall that when I served as regional representative of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association on the international executive committee, my friend Mr. Alva Ross, the then Speaker of the Jamaica House of Representatives, got me to meet with Mr. Seaga to get advise on several issues. The biggest was the pressure for the release of Nelson Mandela and the re-admittance of South Africa in the CPA when Mandela was released. Mr. Seaga’s advice was invaluable to me. As I shared it with the CPA Executive. As also he did on the re-admittance of Nigeria to the CPA.

The last time I met him was at dinner here in Cayman. He said to me, “You nearly catch me, 36 years is a long time.” From the early 50’s, he had served for well over 40 years in active public life.

When his dear sister and my good friend Ms. Pam Hart passed away, I was proud to pay tribute. He told me, “I knew if anyone would do justice to the good historical relationship between Cayman and Jamaica, it would be you.”

Yes, I counted him my friend and was pleased to sit and learn from him.

I had often spoken to him of what a tremendously great country Jamaica would be if the PNP and JLP would get together. When he learned of my joining with the Progressives in a coalition to form our Unity Government here, he said, “You know you could win a seat in Jamaica, the people love you – but don’t try coalition in Jamaica, leave that for your Cayman politics!”

He loved Jamaica and was a nation builder. With his passing, Jamaica has closed a capture in its political history, leaving a most worthwhile impact on its political forward march and its economic and cultural development.
We offer our sincere condolences to the Seaga family. He will be missed – for the stellar qualities he brought to bear on Jamaican politics, for the mark he made in the region and the world but most of all on his people, his family and friends, inside and outside of Jamaica.

The Most Hon Edward Phillip George Seaga was a strong force and will remain enshrined in people’s hearts and memories. He was truly One of a Kind!

We take note that two books of condolences for anyone to sign will be open tomorrow; (1) at the office at the Jamaican Counsel at Dorcy Drive and the other at the Hon Jamaican Counsel, Dr. Joe Marzouca on Smith Rd.

May the soul of The Most Hon Edward Phillip George Seaga rest in peace and Gods light perpetual light shine upon him.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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