The debate on whether the government should consider suing the UK over investigations revealed a major rift between previous Cabinet members and the Governor.
Members of the People’s Progressive Movement party who had been members of Cabinet in last administration described during Thursday’s debate Governor Stuart Jack’s attitude towards them as one of mistrust and condescension.
PPM member of the Legislative Assembly and former Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly: ‘One of my greatest disappointments I had in my tenure as a minister was the day, about six months after this Governor took office, when I came to understand that this man had no trust in anyone sitting around the table – absolutely no trust.
‘That this was not a partnership at all. I will never get over that,’ he said, adding that the Governor disregarded what the Cabinet ministers had to say.
He said the relationship between the UK and the Cayman Islands had led to a situation where the British representative on island was ‘without blemish, without flaw, but the mere fact that you’ve been elected has somehow tarnished you in a way that he can’t trust you to impart vital information relating to affairs of the country.’
Mr. McLaughlin said the new constitution, which comes into effect on 6 November, may help with the relationship between the UK and Cayman.
Fellow PPM member, Arden McLean, and former minister of communications, works and infrastructure, used stronger language to describe the relationship between the Governor and Cabinet, saying he had suffered in silence for four years, but could not speak up at the time because he was in government.
‘I am in opposition now. They [the government] have to keep their mouths closed. I have nothing much to lose,’ he said.
He said the Governor seemed to think ‘everybody is a crook in this country’
‘All of a sudden, as we hit Cabinet, we were the biggest thieves God had ever put breath in. More importantly, we didn’t know what was good for the country. That was the problem. That is the abuse that I had to put myself through to ensure that my country continued,’ Mr. McLean said.
Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said he had challenged governors in the past and would continue to stand up for Cayman with the UK.
‘In regards to any governor ignoring Cabinet, under the constitution, he can only do that by getting the Secretary of State for those Overseas Territorities’ permission to agree with him, of course, but he is not going to push us around,’ he said.
To emphasise his opposition to the continued grasp a UK-appointed governor would have over the Cayman Islands, Mr. McLean said: ‘We need to understand that these people, many of them, mean us no good…. You think I wouldn’t prefer to see McKeeva run the country than an Englishman?’
The legislators queried the quality of governors being sent to Cayman from the UK, saying they had no experience in running internal or external security or in police matters.
At the heart of the debate was the lack of control the elected government had over the unilateral decision by the Governor to initiate Operations Tempura and Cealt and other investigations, which have cost an estimated $6.8 million as of June this year, but are expected to cost millions more as people who were charged and subsequently cleared of various offences take legal action against the government.
‘So much has happened in my country, it makes me wonder about those who come here under this disguise of good governance. Somehow, something tells me that many of those come here and think we are still running around in grass skirts and living in mud huts,’ Mr. McLean said.
Government members did not join the chorus of disapproval over the attitude of the Governor to Cabinet ministers. Cabinet usually meets with the Governor every Tuesday.
Independent MLA for North Side, Ezzard Miller, who brought the motion, said the Cayman Islands had seen a ‘seismic shift’ in the role of governors, who instead of looking out for the interests of the overseas territory to which they were appointed, now look out only for the interests of the UK.
Former governors also came in for condemnation from the Opposition and Mr. Miller.
‘I too have been privileged by the people to encounter the arrogance, disdain and condescension from Her Majesty’s representative in Cayman,’ said Mr. Miller and he went on to describe an encounter with a former governor who he said ‘came to Cabinet in a drunken stupor, drooling on the papers’.
During the debate, legislators also addressed the possibility of independence for Cayman, with Mr. Miller saying it was time to begin the discussion on independence and to debunk the myths surrounding it, and Mr. McLaughlin saying he expected to see independence of the Cayman Islands during his lifetime.