Today’s Editorial September 15: Open discussions to public

Members of the Opposition are spending their nights this week taking constitutional modernisation talks to the public.

It’s a follow-up to the talks Government held in each district earlier this year.

Those who attended the first meetings now get a chance to learn what the Opposition has to say about this process.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts has already told us that 29 September has been set aside as the date for talks between the Cayman delegation and the Foreign Commonwealth Office.

To that end Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has proposed the week of 22 September for discussions between Government and Non-Government Organisations.

That’s a good idea.

But his suggestion that the talks be held in the Legislative Assembly with the public in the gallery is an excellent idea.

The constitution, after all, is about all of us, not just Government.

It is incumbent that we, the people, know what is being suggested to the UK as far as our constitution is concerned.

We think Mr. Billy Adam said it best in his commentary on 14 February: (We paraphrase)

‘We, the electorate, must answer the call to arm ourselves with unwavering determination, ensuring the result of the administrative document revision process, this time around, will for the first must time be truly a constitution by, for and of the people; a participative democratic constitution.

‘The fall of the Berlin Wall only occurred when the people answered the call for freedom. So too the extent of the new move in the Cayman Islands toward participative democracy will occur in direct proportion of the electorate’s ‘will’ to struggle for their democratic rights ensuring, Her Majesty’s Government, the civil service and the politicians follow our wishes. If we really want this new form of participative governance then we will struggle to ensure these new principles are included in the constitution.

‘New thinking is required to achieve this democratic objective – new that is to the colonies – not new in an ever growing number of countries worldwide.

‘Included in the new form of participative democratic governance must be true access to information, openness, transparency, accountability, public participation, electors influencing government decisions and freedom of expression in the development of our first ‘peoples’ Constitution. This is also entirely compatible with the constitutional modernization checklist and the Cayman Islands Government’s submission to the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the Overseas Territories on 16 October, 2007.

‘The constitution affects our daily lives – even when we do not see it – therefore it must be a document that is approved by the electorate, is taught in our schools, is written in language the average person can understand, wherein ALL changes must only occur with the overwhelming approval of the electorate. Should this not be the case then it will always be ‘their’ document, HMG and the politicians, to rule us, their subjects.

‘Now is the time to understand the proposed changes, do our own research on constitutions worldwide, make suggestions, think outside of the “standard Colonial constitution box”, ask questions, debate the issues with vigour, then be determined to only accept a truly Caymanian “peoples” constitution.’

We applaud Mr. Bush for his suggestion and hope Government takes up the idea and lets it happen.

This is our constitution and we should all take it upon ourselves to be fully educated and aware of what exactly is being discussed and suggested. If we don’t participate, we can’t complain about the final product.