KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 28, 2017 (CMC) – Former prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, told legislators, in her last speech as a legislator, that they owe it to themselves to do what is best for Jamaica, as Prime Minister Andrew Holness led the praises for her long tenure in Parliament.
“We have a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the Jamaican people,” Simpson Miller, 71, said, yesterday.
“This parliament is the bedrock of our stable democracy and our free society. It must celebrate the best of Jamaica. It must project what makes us a great people,” she told legislators, as the parliament paid tribute to the seventh woman to be elected as a legislator and the first woman to head a government here.
Simpson Miller, who lost the last general election to the Holness’ Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in February last year, was expected to hand in her letter of resignation as a Member of Parliament, today.
The former leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) has since been named as Honorary Distinguished Fellow of The University of the West Indies (UWI).
In her speech, she thanked the colleagues, with whom she had served over her 35 years in Parliament, for their support. Simpson Miller said the people of St. Andrew South Western helped to make her what she is, and her life would always be intertwined with theirs.
“It has been quite a journey. I have endured it all – the ridicule, the victories and defeats. But I have stood tall and remained focused,” she said, adding “I have consistently been able to do so, out of the fundamental belief that good will always overcome evil.”
She also paid tribute to the late leader of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Hopeton Caven, who lost the St. Andrew South Western seat twice to the JLP candidates, before she won it in 1976 at her first attempt.
Simpson Miller also credited former Prime Minister Michael Manley’s “belief and confidence” in her, which led to him assigning her to several portfolios, and she also thanked former prime ministers, Hugh Lawson Shearer and Edward Seaga, for giving her support in her early years in politics.
Prime Minister Holness said she had indeed a “truly phenomenal career” and that she was not only the seventh woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, but was Jamaica’s first, and to date, only, female prime minister.
“This was no ordinary feat, and you are no ordinary woman,” Holness said, adding that the former prime minister had also been a voice for the poor in society.
“I have studied you in that regard. I have observed how you have operated, and I am saying to you, on your retirement, that you don’t have to worry, there is a new defender of the poor people of Jamaica,” Holness said.
Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, said that Simpson Miller’s presence in Parliament embodied all that was good about Jamaica, while others focused on what is wrong with Jamaica.
“We, the members of this honourable House and Senate, have a responsibility to place, on record, our appreciation of her outstanding contribution, so that future generations may become aware of her tremendous contribution to the building of the nation,” he added.