January 16, 2017
Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, has received the inaugural Consular Corps of Jamaica Global Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to national development.
The award was presented during a special banquet to honour Mr. Seaga, which was jointly hosted by the Consular and Diplomatic Corps of Jamaica at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Friday, January 13.
The event was attended by a wide cross section of Government officials, diplomats and dignitaries, headed by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.
Senator Johnson Smith, who delivered remarks, praised Mr. Seaga’s 45 years of public service which she said contributed significantly to Jamaica’s development.
She described him as “a nation builder who saw the need for a newly independent Jamaica to establish its own institutions and symbols (in order) to create a national identity for its people.”
The Minister further noted that Mr. Seaga was pivotal in building Jamaica’s financial system and guiding the development of the country’s urban and rural infrastructure and cultural heritage, as well as piloting notable parliamentary and constitutional reforms.
Among his achievements highlighted were the extensive economic and social programmes initiated; and conceptualisation of entities such as the HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) and Urban Development Corporation (UDC).
“It is indisputable that Edward Seaga has been the principal engineer and developer of independent Jamaica. His programmes and vision for Jamaica are written in an extensive range of projects and institutions which span the entire field of national development,” Senator Johnson Smith added.
Dean of the Consular Corps, Michael Subratie, also hailed Mr. Seaga’s years of unstinting public service.
“You have dedicated your entire life as a nation builder. The Consular Corps of Jamaica recognises your achievements and pledges to encourage further development of our nation through the countries each of us represents,” he said.
In response, Mr. Seaga, who served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989, recounted several defining moments during his tenure, particularly in relation to Jamaica’s foreign affairs policy, which he noted were aimed at safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty.
Mr. Seaga’s political career began in 1959 at age 29, when he was nominated to the Legislative Council, later renamed the Senate, by National Hero and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) founder, the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, to become the youngest appointee.
He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Western Kingston in 1962 and represented that constituency for over 40 years. He holds the distinction of being the longest-serving MP in Jamaica’s history.
Mr. Seaga is also credited with being one of the principal drafters of Jamaica’s Constitution which was formulated in 1961, and remains the sole surviving member.
In 1981, Mr. Seaga was appointed to the membership of the United Kingdom Privy Council by Her Majesty, The Queen. He was also bestowed with Jamaica’s second highest national award, the Order of the Nation (ON), in 2002.
The former Prime Minister’s work is recognised locally and internationally, which has seen him receiving a number of prestigious awards.
These include: the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award in 1984; the Pan American Development Foundation Inter-American Man of the Year Development Award in1983; and the Gleaner Honour Awards: Man of the Year for 1980 and 1981.
Mr. Seaga was also conferred with several honorary degrees by the University of Technology (UTech); and the University of Miami and Boston University in the United States, among others.
Part proceeds from the fundraising banquet will go towards acquiring paediatric beds for the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston.
A plaque will also be mounted at the hospital in Mr. Seaga’s honour.