The Most Hon. Percival Noel James Patterson, ON, QC, PC, OE Former Prime Minister of Jamaica
Percival Noel James Patterson (born 10 April 1935), is a former Jamaican politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1992 to 2006. He was the leader of the People's National Party from 1992 to 2006 and as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Westmoreland South Eastern from 1970 to 1980 when he lost to the Jamaica Labour Party Euphemia Williams, and again from 1989 to 1993. Following a constituency reorganization, he served as the MP for Westmoreland Eastern from 1993 to 2006. He retired from all of these positions in March 2006.
Cabinet positions held during his political career include Minister of Industry and Tourism; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Minister of Development, Planning and Production; Minister of Finance and Planning.
A product of the dialectic sensibility of rural Jamaica, with its tradition of consciousness of its exploited past and a determination to develop for his country a self–respecting future, P.J. Patterson was committed to a socio-economic and psycho-cultural change to transform the majority of the people into creators of their own destiny as first-class citizens in their homeland.
He, like others of his generation, grew up with modern Jamaica from the time of the colonial system, on through self-government to Independence.
Early life and education
Percival Noel James "PJ" Patterson was born on 10 April 1935 on Rousseau Road in St. Andrew, Jamaica to parents Henry Patterson and wife Ina nee James. Patterson received his secondary education at one of Jamaica's most prominent learning institutions, Calabar High School, before moving on to pursue higher studies at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus, and later the London School of Economics.
While pursuing his Bachelors degree at the University of the West Indies, he served as Chairman of the university’s External Affairs Commission, where he gained exposure to world leaders and international political thought through attendance at a number of international student fora. It was also at university that he developed a commitment to Caribbean regionalism as well as to the causes of the countries of the developing world.
His time as a Law student at of the London School of Economics consolidated the foundation in international politics that his university experience in Jamaica had provided. This was also the time of national movements in the former colonies and it was during his enrolment at the Inns of Court (Middle Temple) that Patterson once again came in contact with a number of the future leaders of the countries of the developing world who were fellow students in England.
His political mentor, the late Norman Washington Manley, leader of Jamaica’s self-government movement, early identified him as having all the qualities of a future leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) and the nation.
Although he was later to become a leading barrister with a thriving private practice, he never hesitated to subordinate his legal career to his passionate commitment to political service to his country.
When in 1969 his predecessor as Prime Minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley, launched his campaign for the Presidency of the PNP, it was to P.J. Patterson, the youngest of the highest-ranking segment of the party executive that Manley turned to lead his campaign. This was the beginning of a partnership, which lasted over the next thirty years, and allowed for an exchange of political ideas and perspectives that proved beneficial to both.
Patterson was Campaign Manager for the People’s National Party’s bid for power in the General Elections of 1972. His exceptional skill as a political organizer is credited for the Party’s victory at the polls that year. That made possible his first appointment to the Jamaican Cabinet. Although only in his thirties, he already had a comprehensive grasp of complex and stubborn geopolitical realities.
Over the years, as his political career advanced, P.J. Patterson held diverse portfolio responsibilities for subjects as varied as trade and industry, tourism and foreign affairs.
At the height of his leadership, P.J. Patterson was the doyen of the Caribbean Heads of Government - a status achieved not merely by the seniority derived from time. It derives from the range and depth of the quality of his regional and international service. He played a seminal role in the political process that marked the transition from the first steps in integration – the founding of CARIFTA - to CARICOM, to the realization of the creation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
As Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson consolidated his position as a leading advocate for the causes of the peoples of the developing world and he made his presence felt in the corridors of power. In the early days, during his tenure as Jamaica’s Foreign Minister, he served as President of the ACP/EU Ministerial Council and led negotiations for the ACP group of countries with the European Community, which resulted in the first Lome Convention. He was a passionate opponent of apartheid and an ardent proponent of the liberation struggle.
Whether in the struggle for a New International Economic Order; in the councils of UNCTAD; in the Non-Aligned Movement; in the UN Security Council; as President of the GATT ACP/ EU Ministerial Council; in negotiations with international financial institutions during his tenure as Minister of Finance, Planning and Development, he displayed his considerable intellectual qualities and enlightened internationalism as P.J. Patterson articulated the need for justice and equity for Jamaica and the countries of the developing world.
P.J. Patterson enjoyed the high regard of his peers in the wide variety of international and hemispheric groupings, including the OAS, the United Nations, in the Group of 77 and China - of which he is currently Chairman, the select G15 Group, and in the councils of the Commonwealth. The cordial and mutually respectful relationships which he has developed with a number of world leaders over the years make him a force to be reckoned with in international politics.
As Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson led the transformation from an inherited economy that was based on protectionism, state incentives and export industry encouragement, to a modern democratic state and economy that is open, globally competitive, inclusive and socially cohesive. His massive investments in modernizing Jamaica’s infrastructure development serve as both drivers and complementary forces in the acceleration of economic growth.
These investments, as well as the re-structuring of Jamaica’s financial sector returned huge dividends as Jamaica enjoyed its greatest period of investment in tourism, mining, ICT, and energy since the 1960s. P.J. Patterson enhanced and strengthened the social protection and security system of Jamaica - a critical element of his economic andsocial policy agenda to mitigate, reduce and, in the long run, eliminate poverty and deprivation.
P.J. Patterson’s commitment to education was evident with the introduction of a programme of radical transformation of the island’s entire education system aimed at development of quality human capital, equipped to function and succeed in the competitive global environment.
P.J. Patterson is acknowledged as a brilliant political strategist both at home and in the Jamaican Diaspora, where he enjoyed widespread approval for his considerable accomplishments in creating political, economic and social stability in the island.
He has also achieved a rare feat in politics - an extremely high level of respect and admiration from both supporters and political opponents alike for the courtesy, unfailing civility, non-confrontational attitude and constant search for consensus with which he has approached all national issues throughout his years as leader of his Party and country.
Honours and awards
Upon becoming the Prime Minister of Jamaica in 1992 Patterson was invested with the Order of the Nation, allowing him to be known as "The Most Honourable" and to use the post-nominal letters "ON".
In 2006 he was invested with the Order of Excellence of Guyana, allowing him to use the post-nominal letters "OE".
In July 2009, Mr Patterson was honoured with the Order of the Caricom Community (OCC).
On 24 August 1960 he married Shirley Field-Ridley of Guyana (d.1982). He has two children - Richard and Sharon.
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