Constitution called power grab

Independence will only be one referendum away if the public accepts the political parties’ new constitution.

We were surprised to see that the PPM’s constitutional changes are similar to the UDP’s and are one great constitutional leap with no phases or stages, which is more usual.

Bermuda has had two referenda on whether to go independent and the last failed by about 7 per cent of the vote. The proposed constitution is a Bermuda type constitution.

The premier (the parties jumped over the (chief minister stage) has near absolute power. The premier normally appoints himself minister of finance. Can you imagine a leader of government business becoming premier who has no qualifications in finance and no relevant experience as finance minister? Income tax will be around the corner.

We feel the time given to educate the public and get their views on the new complex constitution issues of just five months is too short.

The Freedom of Information Law to educate and train a small number of civil servants on what information to release will take about 15 months (longer than it took to introduce the Marshall Plan or Europe Recovery Plan after World War II).

Say what you wish about the UK, but it has kept politicians in dependent territories honest compared to independent countries. The chief secretary, attorney general and financial secretary are the checks and balances in the Cabinet and they will be removed under constitutional ‘advancement’ to give near absolute power to one politician. This is removing three independent Cabinet members who are not party members and can do what is right for the Cayman Islands without fear of the party whips.

Further, the premier has excessive power near to a dictator’s and this reduces democracy in the Cabinet. The premier can dominate because he can fire any or all ministers without any reason and in private. This is not in the public’s interest and reduces democracy.

The proposed draft ‘constitutional advancements’ may be better called political parties’ ‘power advancement’.

Constitutions do not get old. Political parties lust for power increases and they fool the public into believing a constitution is old.

The Constitution of the USA is over 200 years old (1787). Ours is 35 years old. The USA’s has never been replaced but occasionally amended, last in 1992 and 1971 and the United Kingdom for over 1000 years had and still has no written constitution at all.

The president’s cabinet in the USA is comprised of the heads of 15 departments chosen by the president and approved by the Senate. They are not elected politicians and the USA is democratic. Only three of eight Cayman Cabinet members are not politicians.

The PPM had better be careful if it follows the UDP for full internal self government and a premier. See what problems the PPM government is in with implementing the UDP’s rollover policy (which UDP brought in after giving 3,000 people and about 7,000 of their dependents subsequently getting or qualifying for Caymanian Status, which we call the UDP ‘Roll in Policy’).

Look at the other Caribbean islands and African nations that were once crown colonies and see the suffering their people now go through since getting their ‘advanced constitutions’.

The Cayman Islands has the second highest per capita income in the world of US$48,704.00 per annum (FCO report on managing risk in OTs 2007) and that says a lot about being a dependent territory of the UK. Former UK Colonies Guyana is 142nd (US$1,010) in the world, Jamaica 94th (US$3,400), Dominica 89th (US$3,790), Grenada 83rd (US$3,920) (World Bank) and these were probably in the top 20 before independence.

This new constitution is about power advancement for political parties. It reduces democracy and puts near absolute power in the premier.

Honest, competent politicians who are not power hungry are what Cayman needs to continue to provide a good life for its people. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Caymanians, beware. Changes must be in several stages, which we will set out in later letters. There is no going back if a new constitution does not work. You the people are still stuck with it long after the politicians are voted out. Your children will suffer for generations.

If you accept this new constitution, independence, destruction and less democracy are only one step away.

Truman Bodden John McLean