Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin expressed frustration Thursday because the sitting government is often blamed for things that go wrong in the Cayman Islands, even if what went wrong falls under the responsibility and authority of the Governor Stuart Jack.
Mr. McLaughlin also complained that many in the community held ‘undue deference’ to the office of the governor, while the elected members of the government were ‘sitting ducks’ for criticism.
Looking back this year, some of the most glaring instances of things that went wrong in the realm of good governance have indeed been matters that fall under the ultimate authority of the Governor.
Although we don’t believe the elected government is blameless for things like the government’s overdue accounts, we do accept that the governor has to be held accountable, too.
In particular, the situation concerning the police and how it has been handled by the Governor has deteriorated to ridiculousness.
We’ve had three senior members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service placed on administrative leave for reasons that are not clear. All three continue to draw full pay even though they were put on leave in March; even though one of them was formally charged with a crime and the other two are being investigated.
We’ve had another senior member of the RCIPS cleared of committing a crime more than six months after he was secretly investigated for committing it; yet he continued to serve in his senior capacity on the force during the investigation.
We have up to nine Scotland Yard officers investigating crimes we know little of.
We’ve had the police purchase a helicopter last summer for $1.8 million, only to find out a year later it won’t do the job it was supposed to be purchased for and that the price tag is really $2.8 million. And the helicopter is still not here.
Through it all, we’ve had cryptic communications emanating from Governor Jack or his office. Although the governor keeps pleading for the community not to spread rumours about all of the turmoil in the RCIPS, the imaginations of a public left in the dark are bound to become active. And so they have.
At the very least, Governor Jack has some explaining to do, and not in the vague terms of many of his announcements on these matters to date. The public needs to have confidence in its police force and that is very difficult when the RCIPS is shrouded in the disgrace of a mysterious investigation involving many of its top officers.
Good governance is about good policies and good procedures, yes, but it is also about good communications and handling problems in the right way. In this regard, we share Mr. McLaughlin’s frustrations.