Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has lauded the work of former Prime Minister, the Most Hon Edward Phillip George Seaga, who passed away today, on his 89th birthday.
Minister Bartlett who has spent most of his 35 years in politics under the leadership of Mr. Seaga, described him as “an icon and a champion of the people of Jamaica” and “perhaps the greatest social engineer and builder of political institutions as well as economic structures that Jamaica has seen since independence.”
Minister Bartlett also highlighted that Mr. Seaga was the man that “Jamaica is indebted to for the creation of so many important social constructs that have helped to redefine the nation and build a consciousness in terms of our own self-worth as well as our cultural identity.”
Mr. Seaga was instrumental in raising Jamaica’s independence festival to being a major national event, exposing the country’s cultural heritage in music, cuisine, literary arts and the talents of the people in various areas of life and Minister Bartlett said that “His work in the field of cultural development is simply phenomenal and unmatched.”
Mr. Seaga became Prime Minister in 1980 after leading the JLP to a resounding victory at the polls over his arch political rival and leader of the People’s National Party, Michael Manley.
“His leadership in government during the most difficult period in our history is certainly a landmark which all responded to with great satisfaction; that he came at a time when Jamaica needed to be delivered and made a path for reconstruction and redevelopment which today the country has benefitted from in terms of the growth that we are experiencing,” said Minister Bartlett.
The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is among the many agencies established by Mr. Seaga.
On a personal note, Minister Bartlett said, “He has made an indelible mark on the lives of thousands of us and I number among those who, because of his own stamp and mark, has been made to contribute a little to the development of Jamaica over the last 30-odd years.”
Minister Bartlett added that he regarded his own encounter with Mr. Seaga as “A game-changing and life-changing experience” and that “I am indebted to him for so much that he has taught me in terms of respect for people, honouring traditions and making sure that my contribution is worthy at all times.”
While mourning Mr. Seaga’s passing, Minister Bartlett said he also celebrated his life even as he remembered that, “His point always to me was, ‘Son, it’s not about you, it’s about the cause that you serve and so serve it well with diligence and with pride’.”