Holistically, I am so happy to be living a jurisdiction where its people enjoy the degree of political freedom we have here in the Cayman Islands.
That said, to begin with, there is work to be done on the constitutional front. Whether we as members of society claim those freedoms in the practice of our daily lives, or whether we allow others to intimidate us into not enjoying those freedoms, is a discussion for another day.
The quality of our lives will be determined by what we know, believe and the degree of unity within our society.
Now that the Government has released its revised proposals for constitutional modernisation, it is our duty as permanent members of this society to review the document and make sure that we understand what is being proposed. If you don’t understand something, please listen and call the talk shows with your questions. By asking questions, others may learn something from you.
For anyone who may still not be sure why constitutional modernisation matters to the ordinary person, consider the following:
Our government can be described as a tree with branches. The government has three branches extending from its trunk, (a) The Executive; (b) The Judicial and (c) The Legislative. These three branches together are who we generally refer to as civic government. The primary functions of these three branches are to work for the common benefit of the society.
In the case of the Executive Branch, it is responsible for putting laws into practice, policy making, and providing the public with services we need and take for granted each day, such as education, government health care, and the many regulatory services. This branch consists of the Cabinet members and the Civil Service, which provides the administrative services.
What do I mean by common benefit?
For example, if you and I could not afford to each own a car, we could both buy one and share it.
Likewise, as individuals, we can’t afford to manage the complicated things necessary to properly build and maintain our road networks, so, we the people hired the Government to use the money we put together, called import duties, to build and manage the road networks for us to drive our cars on.
In the case of the Judicial Branch, its judges, magistrates and justices of the peace are responsible for ensuring that justice is carried out and that the laws are read and properly applied. This branch includes the Legal Department, Summary Court, the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal, the police and the prisons. When our cars accidentally bump into each other; this branch is responsible for ensuring justice is done in those and other cases.
In the case of the Legislative Branch, it consists of elected representatives, official members, the Speaker of the House, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the other staff. Its members are responsible for appropriating and reviewing government spending, debating motions and bills and adopting reports. Once the debating in the Legislature is over, bills that receive the consent of MLA’s are reported to the Governor for his approval, where it then becomes the law.
The Elections Office plays a very important role within this system we call government. It is the agency through which the details of a very complex set of processes are carried-out to allow us the people to choose our MLA’s every four years and make our voices heard through the referendum process. Once elected, MLA’s then elect five members from among themselves to serve as members of the Executive Council we now called the Cabinet. The five members serve on the Council as ministers of government and run their ministries, which are responsible for handling the day-to-day management matters.
Without this system we call government, the quality of our lives would be very different.
Ordinary persons of this society would be at greater risk of poverty, poor health, etc. The rich and powerful would do as they please and our ability to protect ourselves would be more uncertain.
The goal of government is to create law and establish order. What the current government’s revised proposals are seeking to do is improve this complex system so that the quality of our lives can be improved.
There are some proposals I agree and disagree with. However, I am asking each one to show up at the polls and vote in the referendum, regardless of whether you are for or against the proposals.
This referendum is more important than a general election; in fact, it’s possible that such an extensive exercise may not happen again in our lifetime.
Next week, we will explore why answer ‘C’ on the referendum ballot paper should be labelled answer ‘D’ instead. Until then, question, read, listen to everything carefully and let your voice be heard. Your future depends on it!