Former Jamaican Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, has been honoured for his contribution to Jamaica and the regional integration process.
Speaking at a celebratory banquet held at the Round Hill Hotel, in Hanover, on 4th February 2012, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, said that Mr. Patterson was able to journey from the parish of his birth, Hanover, to Jamaica House as the nation’s 6th Prime Minister, through diligence, and that his contribution to the people of Jamaica is distinguished not only by his length of service, but his tenure was of unquestionable integrity, commitment and quality.
“Because of your significant contribution to the development of the country and prosperity of our people, the Jamaican infrastructure landscape is dotted with your finger prints, and you have a lasting legacy as the infrastructure Prime Minister,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
The Prime Minister added that Mr. Patterson began the transformation of education and presided over many of the country’s social reforms. “Your steady hands, non-confrontational style and consultative approach guided the settling down of our once volatile democracy and electoral system,” Mrs. Simpson Miller told the retired Prime Minister.
Mr. Patterson served as Prime Minister from 1992 to 2006, when Mrs. Simpson-Miller succeeded him.
Guest speaker at the event, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, the Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony, described Mr. Patterson as a stalwart of Caribbean affairs for most of his adult life, and that his presence and influence is discernable at virtually every milestone marking the recent evolution of the region.
“His team spirit and his obvious endurance in the marathon of party politics…signals his appreciation of the transience of political power as something that one holds for a while and then passes hopefully to another worthy team member to continue the race,” he said.
“Such dedication to the larger cause, the longer race, ennobles one’s work and life, and provides both a point of departure and a sense of destination. In the case of P.J. Patterson, it has also given him the core of his philosophy, which manifests itself again and again in the articulation of a broad, enlightened political perspective. This in turn grants him the ability and the resolve to grapple successfully with issues at home, within the region, and in the wider world,” Dr. Anthony said.
In his response, Mr. Patterson used the occasion to call for unity in the society. Citing the recent general election, which was won by the People’s National Party (PNP), he said whatever position persons held at the time, they should now “recognise that the time has come when all of us have to work together to take our nation upward and forward.”
“We can build a country of unity, of peace, of justice and afford citizens at every level – the poorest, the most powerful – a sense of self-respect and human dignity. This is a time when we have to embrace people of different religious views, of different orientations, of different backgrounds to make ourselves a nation that can prosper and grow,” he said.
By Garfield L. Angus,