People who have attained Caymanian status and who have lived on island for 20 of the last 25 years after getting that status would be allowed to run for political office, according to a proposal in the government’s constitutional modernisation document.
People’s Progressive Movement officials said last week that neither Caymanian parentage nor birth on the island would be required to seek public office if the status and residency requirements were met.
For those with a Caymanian parent, the residence requirement would be only five out of the last seven years before being nominated to run in an election.
In such a scenario, a foreigner who was 25 years old when they first moved to Cayman would be able to run for elected office when they were 65 assuming they were allowed to stay, granted Caymanian status after 15 years, and then lived on island for 20 of the next 25 years.
Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said the proposal was suggested in the then-opposition party’s constitutional position paper back in 2002, and has stayed essentially the same since the PPM took over the government in the last election.
‘We could see no basis to change it,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘It gives first generation Caymanians the right to stand for election, otherwise you exclude that whole generation.’
Mr. McLaughlin said the PPM’s proposal was not set in stone and that the party was open to debate on the topic, which he expected to be somewhat controversial.
He expected right.
At their first public debate on the issue held on 21 January, members of the opposition United Democratic Party slammed the proposal.
‘At the end of the day, they were willing to open the doors of the Legislative Assembly, the highest office in our land, to persons who are not of Caymanian descent,’ West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin said to a crowd of about 150 people at the meeting. ‘We say no, we cannot accept that.’
Mr. Anglin said he considered Members of the Legislative Assembly the highest office-holders since ministers are nominated after election from within their own parties.
‘Every country in this world jealously protects their highest office, and yet we see this nonsense coming forward,’ he said. ‘I would’ve thought in five years (since its 2002 constitutional position paper was released) the PPM would realise that simply putting forward a position that would allow the likes of their chairman Anton Duckworth to run and be elected to the house of assembly is not a position that Caymanians want.’
Mr. McLaughlin said Mr. Duckworth, who’s originally from England, would not be eligible to run in a Cayman Islands election anytime soon under the proposal because he’s only had Caymanian status for the last six years.
He also noted the scenario of the 25-year-old expatriate worker who chooses to, and is able to; remain here long enough to get status after 15 years and then stay resident for 20 of the next 25 years would be the exceptional case and not the rule.
‘It is theoretically possible, I suppose,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.
Discussions on the government’s constitutional reform plans will begin Thursday at George Town’s Mary Miller hall at 7.30pm.