Today’s Editorial February 19: A civic duty

At long last, the process to get a modernised constitution for the Cayman Islands has recommenced.

Specific details of the process will be announced over the coming weeks. The People’s Progressive Movement Government has said it expects that process to ultimately result in a national referendum on the constitution before the end of their current term in office.

The PPM Government has ideas of what it would like to see in the new constitution, and it stated some of those ideas in its 2005 campaign manifesto.

However, the PPM wants to learn what the majority of the citizens of this country think should be included in the new constitution. And so an intensive campaign to educate and consult with the public on the issue of the constitution is about to begin.

Getting the best and most preferred constitution possible out of this process is of vital importance to the country.

Years, even decades, from now, people of the Cayman Islands will feel the effects of the decisions made over the coming months. Perhaps nothing this administration does, except for possibly the on-going education reform, will have so many far-reaching and long-lasting effects. The result of the process we are about to embark on will shape the legacy of this government, for good or for bad.

To its credit, the PPM seems to understand this concept perfectly. It knows that this issue transcends politics and party lines. It is admirable that the PPM does not want to discuss what it wants in the constitution right now, instead wanting the public to take the lead.

Nineteenth Century British Prime Minister and author Benjamin Disraeli once said ‘I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?’

In the same vein, we commend the PPM government for leading by following when it comes to the crafting of this country’s new constitution.

The PPM has put the ball squarely in the people’s court. It’s up to the public to now return that ball with a consensus of what it wants for a constitution for this country going forward.

Every single person who will be eligible to cast a vote in the national referendum on the constitution should see it as their civic duty to attend the public meetings, read the literature and consider every side of the debate that will be proffered on the subject.

Only then will people be in a position to make an informed decision as to what elements they think Cayman’s new constitution should contain.

With democracy comes public responsibility. It is critical that Cayman’s voting public hold sacred its responsibilities in the process of modernising the constitution.

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