Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said the People’s Progressive Movement government’s recent criticisms toward Governor Stuart Jack and Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan were calculated to show the need for the Cayman government to have more power over the police.
Speaking about their recent statement that Mr. Kernohan had misled them about details of purchasing a helicopter for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Mr. Bush said he believes Mr. Kernohan’s contention that the Cabinet knew all the details all along.
‘I have no doubt that [Mr. Kernohan] briefed them and that they were in the know,’ Mr. Bush said, adding that he believes the PPM had ulterior motives for making the statement.
‘They wanted an issue to get the people riled up so that they can continue their drive to say we need power over the police.’
Mr. Bush said Mr. Kernohan made an easy target for the Cabinet because he was already on required leave pending the outcome of an investigation into his possible misuse of public office concerning another unrelated matter.
Mr. Kernohan issued a statement of his own Friday, saying Cabinet was often and extensively briefed about the helicopter purchase and that the delay in delivery was caused by Cabinet’s decisions.
In addition to stating Mr. Kernohan had misled them, Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin blamed Governor Jack for the ‘helicopter fiasco’ and said the problem was largely a result of Cayman’s current constitutional arrangement with the UK. He also said that if Cayman was to move forward without serious governance problems, the constitutional arrangement had to change.
Mr. Bush said the timing of the statements by Cabinet – just weeks before the talks with the UK are to begin – was not coincidental.
‘This was just to prove a point to further their power struggle,’ he said. ‘This is power grabbing. But woe unto this country if you give Alden McLaughlin, Charles Clifford and Kurt Tibbetts control to direct police affairs. At the end of the road, we’ll be a banana republic with them at the head of the police.’
Mr. Bush also accused the PPM government of refusing to accept responsibility for a number of other issues besides the helicopter purchase.
‘What I find most disturbing is not only are we witnessing a range of serious mishaps within government, but we are consistently hearing from elected members of the PPM government that they have no control or authority to deal with or to prevent these things from occurring,’ he said.
Among the other issues he said the government was trying to disavow responsibility was the hiring of former University College of the Cayman Islands President Hassan Syed and the subsequent failure to discover he had apparently misappropriated university funds; the failure to have several years of government’s accounts submitted to the Legislative Assembly on a timely basis as required by law; and the failure to conduct the due diligence on Matrix International Ltd. before giving the company a contract to remove scrap metal from the island.
‘This is simply not acceptable,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘Holding your hands up and saying how disappointed you are is not leadership. Deflecting blame on the governor and UK whenever possible… is not leadership.
‘It’s time for the government to stop blaming others and accept full responsibility for not paying attention to the country’s affairs.’