It is with great pleasure, and much thanks from the all-mighty God that I bring greetings for the New Year to all our residents and visitors. I wish for you all a blessed, happy and prosperous year.
I also hope that Christmas was pleasant, and peaceful and that it brought with it opportunities to reconnect with family and loved ones, as well as chances to extend the hand of friendship in assisting those in need. It is that spirit of kindness and giving, of love and of sharing that I hope will guide us through the year.
As no day is promised to any of us, it’s definitely a blessing when we can celebrate the coming of a New Year, and for that alone we ought to be thankful. Challenges will undoubtedly arise, and I hope we will all use them to learn, grow and become stronger, more resilient individuals.
This government will have its own share of testing this year, but already we have in place and are implementing policies designed to help us look for opportunities, and take advantage of them as they arise.
Of greatest importance is our human development. This may seem clichéd but it is undeniably true: Our youth are both our most valuable asset and our greatest responsibility.
They represent Cayman’s future and we must ensure that they have the necessary tools and opportunities to realise their potential. Equally, we have our elderly to thank for our economic foundations and even more vitally, for our character. We must recognise where we come from, but not be limited by it, in clarifying where we aspire to go.
We are this year committed to increasing resources for schools and after-school programmes; improving the quality of education and training; offering more vocational and professional training programmes; and creating more employment opportunities.
Of course this is not a task for Government alone. I also encourage the many youth-oriented organisations within our community to continue developing strategies to aid human development; to work with this government in developing your vision; and to continue working with us towards the future of these Islands.
Taking this country from one developmental level to the next must be a collaborative effort involving everyone – from government to business leaders, to service clubs and guest workers – because we all live and work here and are affected by the physical, social and political environments.
The Government has taken a very vigorous lead, with private sector partnerships, in promoting new investments and protecting what we have built up in the Cayman Islands over the years.
Whether it is the status of our successful bond issue; development of cargo and cruise berthing facilities; new private health facilities to enhance medical tourism; or new niches in cultural and sports tourism, we will continue to resolutely pursue opportunities for the benefit of you the people of the Cayman Islands, to keep you informed of our progress and encourage your participation.
I therefore urge you to embrace this cause of true development and do your bit to enhance this community for the benefit of all. Ask yourselves key questions – What can I contribute? What can I do to make Cayman a little better? How can I make a difference?
The issue of crime is a scourge upon our community. And it has grown to a point where it is now threatening national security by threatening residents and national development.
This government is supporting several measures to combat the escalation of crime we have inherited. One such measure will be the installation of closed-circuit cameras, which will assist in the apprehension of criminals.
But I want to make a plea in the name of God. Those of you committing these crimes, consider the damage you are inflicting on these Islands for short-term gain that can only amount to nothing but grief.
Consider how your family will be affected by your activities in the long-term. What you are doing can only bring you hurt in the end – for you will suffer in one shape or another.
And those of you who know the individuals committing these crimes – report it. It is your bound duty to the community and to your family.
I ask the perpetrators – in the name of God – stop the criminal activity.
If you are in need come to me and we will do our best to address your needs. Turn over a new leaf, get a different start in life, make a change for this New Year and you will be more pleased with your own lives.
We are reminded daily that we share this small community of three islands. Whether we reside here permanently or for a season, its health and safety, in their many facets, impact everyone.
So as we make our resolutions and set plans for the coming year, let us bear these things in mind. But let us also seek divine guidance through the challenges ahead.
Before closing it is appropriate – in the beginning of this New Year – to thank all those people who have done so much to make life better here for more than one person.
I want to thank the workers of industry, the civil servants, the service clubs and those who give and continue to give, for all that you do. Our government could not ever afford to pay for the work you do, on your own and sometimes in groups, for the people of these islands.
May I therefore, on behalf of all residents, thank all of you for what you do to make the Cayman Islands a better place.
I’ll leave with you these inspirational words from His Majesty the late King George 6th in his famous1939 New Year’s message:
‘And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And he replied: Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.’
I pray that the Lord will continue to bless and keep us as a country, that fortune will smile upon us all and that 2010 will bring fulfilment and success.
Let us remember that God is our help today as He has been in ages past, and as He is our hope for years to come. May He then bless each and every family that has their being in our lovely Islands.
Thank you, and happy New Year!
Premier McKeeva Bush