Retroactive rollover policy a sin

I have stayed silent on the seven year rollover policy, but listened and read the articles and statements from our Government and letters in this newspaper and other media outlets.

I have seen with my own eyes the effects it is already having.

What has prompted me to speak out is the ignorant letter from Harris A. McCoy III (Caymanian Compass, 11 August), this newspaper’s tasteless cartoon ‘How to get rid of expats’ and Alden McLaughlin’s statement that this ill-conceived ‘rollover policy is here to stay.’

Before anyone accuses me of not being a native Caymanian my birth-line takes me back to the very first settlers on the island of Grand Cayman – the Boddens (my mother’s side) and the Watlers (my father’s side) – my father being the late, great Major Roddy Watler who was chief of police here for 33 years among many other civil posts.

I state this as Mr. McCoy makes the point ‘native Caymanians like me…’ In fact he uses the word Caymanians with and without native or fellow no less than seven times. He has the arrogance to suggest that after Ivan a group of Caymanians showed the world our strength.

Perhaps he does include the paper Caymanians – the term the status holders are tarnished with.

However, judging by the tone of his letter I think not. It was a joint effort by all residents on our islands and outside help too. It was not just native Caymanians!

I do understand some of the reasons Minister McLaughlin gave for implementing this policy.

However, it was ill-conceived and pushed in place with such speed it had no thought.

This country is a Christian country. We pride ourselves in our Christianity.

What was this Government doing putting in place a piece of retroactive legislation?

I am astonished the Ministers Association has not spoken out and condemned it. Retroactive legislation is a sin!

The people it affects had no idea their lives were no going to be torn apart. The very people this island needs and where there is a world-wide shortage – nurses, doctors, clergy, teachers, qualified builders – and I named only a few – are affected by this law; people who moved from their homes and jobs at the peek of their careers to come out here and make this island their home, people who have lived here for over seven years; people who have settled here with their families and bought homes, now given just months to leave.

And when they came out here they knew nothing of a seven year rollover policy.

I ask all those who implemented this law and all those of you who support it, how would you fell if this happened to you?

And I ask all of you, is this Christian? What an example we show the world. Actions speak louder than words. And then our Government says that these people can apply for residency or right to work. What are the statistics, please, for how many of these people who have applied for the right to work have been given it, have been turned down or no decision has been taken?

I mention clergy because I know of a highly qualified priest who has been given his last work permit. Of course, there are so many of us Caymanians qualified and/or wanting his job! No! And even if there were, in a fully recognized worldwide church organization it is a bishop that makes that decision and there is a big shortage of qualified priests!

What really top person is going to come here for seven years tops and have to leave? It takes time to reach the top of a ladder and if you leap off it, you have to start at the bottom again.

Yes, it would be wonderful to have all these positions filled by Caymanians. The opportunities are out there, so much more than when I started work 50 years ago, but even I rose to become a trust and corporate officer in our financial industry. I was given the same rights, privileges and salary as my expat workers; no boogie man making me inferior and trying to take away my job. Why would any employer want to have to pay all the fees and expenses to bring out an expat worker, usually with his family, when he can fill it with a Caymanian without these fees and expenses? An employer is in business to make money, not throw it away unnecessarily.

Finally, to answer Mr. McLaughlin; we must not be outnumbered in our own land? How is the rollover policy going to stop that? You say we replace the very person we are sending off with someone else. We send someone home who is now familiar with that job, who his employer wants to keep because he is good with someone unknown? If we were replacing an expat with a suitably qualified Caymanian I would agree with you.

I beg our Government, and I did vote for you in the last election, to throw this rollover nonsense out now. It will ruin our country and you will all go down in history as the start of our demise. If you want to spend a few months rethinking it, please do but get rid of retroactive legislation immediately.

Our country has grown prosperous through our own endeavours and by many others from outside. Ivan was a great equalizer. For a while we were all one. We hugged and kissed each other. We were all brothers and sisters. Now look what you have done. The hateful letter of ‘them’ and ‘us’ are plentiful in the press.

Mr. McKeeva Bush’s government was wrong in the indiscriminate granting of statuses. That, however, can be forgiven.

What you are doing is wrong. Its ramifications affect every single one of us. I cannot be silent on this. Dear Caymanians, this legislation is so wrong.

Joan (Watler) Wilson

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