It was with disappointment, disgust and horror that I listened to the Premier’s message to the Caymanian people on Thursday, August 11, which aired on Radio Cayman’s prime time immediately after the six o’clock local news.
The language used by the Premier in defending his allocation and distribution of the country’s “Nation Building Fund” was certainly not becoming of a premier and his nation building programme. It certainly was not a good example for our young people to follow.
In describing those of us in the Caymanian society who have the ability, courage and temerity to question his actions as “devil worshipers, drunkards and heretics,” the Premier has clearly demonstrated that he sees himself above criticism and accountability to the very country that elected him. This response represents at the very least bad governance, if not the height of arrogance and incompetence.
It is sad when the Premier chooses to resort to this kind of unjustified name calling, simply because his bad governance is being exposed, as it should be.
Good governance requires that all actions done in secret or darkness be brought to light.
I tried to ask questions in the Legislative Assembly about this Nation Building Fund with no success, since the Premier doubles as Minister of Finance and therefore chairs Finance Committee. So I then made an application under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law. I received the information and then published the results.
Using the laws, processes and legal procedures in the Cayman Islands to obtain information, which should have been readily available in Finance Committee, does not make me a devil worshipper, drunkard or heretic, but simply allows me to do my job as an elected representative of the people.
While it is not my practice to use God or his name to certify, authenticate or enforce my contributions to the debate on national issues, I am a struggling Christian who was raised by his parents to respect and fear God. I am quite proud of the values my parents, teachers and other members of the community taught me and I do my best to live and act according to those principles.
Like the Pharisees of old, it is not those who shout God’s name the loudest or use it to justify questionable actions, who are the best Christians.
Good governance and transparency in Government’s action do not need the self-applied certification of God.
I have said publicly that churches accepting donations in the millions of dollars from a Government declared “broke” by the person making the donation while knowing that children are not getting lunch at school or that our senior citizens are suffering and going hungry at $550 per month, because the social services programme has no money, need to reconsider their role in the wider society.
I challenge the churches that received these large gifts to justify to the people what these funds were used for, by publishing their annual accounts demonstrating the use of these funds.
I challenge the Premier not to wait for the auditor general to publish the facts and then ridicule him as he did in his radio broadcast, but to publish all documentation that was submitted by these churches receiving millions of dollars. Tell us what criteria were used to determine the size of the gift. Was it the value of their mortgage at the time, the cost of their edifice to themselves or some other “pharisaical” reason?
While the Premier’s recent broadcast may be vintage McKeeva, as a country we must ask ourselves if this is the kind of representation we signed up for from the premier – the kind where he can circumvent every proper procedure that has been put in place for accountability and then turn around and blast those who question his actions.
We must also reflect that the Premier’s tirade on Radio Cayman says nothing positive for a country that is about to spend millions to erect a monument, the Christian Heritage Park to its Christian values, which include honesty, integrity, ethics, high moral standards and Good Governance.
What we are witnessing now is the kind of moral decay and bad governance that are contributing to many of our problems in society today, not least of which is the increasing crime rate.
Good governance requires that we practice transparency, not translucency so that we all know why things are being done.
There are many more areas in the Nation Building Fund that need explanation and justification, such as what criteria were used to distribute the funds to purchase and install hurricane shutters. I trust this was not only on political patronage and I challenge the senior civil servants involved to publish the criteria.
I would end by reminding the Premier and his rich churches that one of the few times Jesus is recorded in the Bible as losing his temper was with the money changers in the Temple.