Premier ‘scared’ of ‘irresponsible’ MLAs
Electioneering claims by members of Cayman’s opposition political party have led to a full-fledged call for an investigation into activities of Premier McKeeva Bush in supporting an independent candidate for office in East End.
Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said Thursday that he would write the governor and auditor general asking them to look into Mr. Bush’s support for candidate John McLean, who is expected to run for office in the May 2013 elections.
“This must be official corruption,” Mr. McLaughlin said of the matter.
Mr. Bush told supporters in East End during a Tuesday public meeting that he had essentially by-passed elected East End MLA Arden McLean in favour of independent candidate John McLean in working to secure funding for several public projects for that area of Grand Cayman.
“With John McLean, we put [these projects] in place for this district,” Mr. Bush said, admitting that John McLean was his “preferred candidate” for East End. John McLean ran against Arden McLean in 2009 and lost.
The money for the various projects will come from funds provided to government by the Dart group of companies, according to Mr. Bush. The total amount for the works is expected to be between $200,000 and $250,000.
The premier said John McLean had come to him seeking funding for the projects and deserved praise for his efforts.
On Thursday, the Premier clarified that neither the government, nor Dart was giving John McLean any money. He also added that several people had approached him about projects in East End district, not John McLean alone
“There is no official corruption anywhere and we can stand before the world and say so,” Mr. Bush said. “The only official corruption in this country has been with [former UCCI President Hassan] Syed.” The Premier’s last comment refers to an ongoing police investigation that involved allegations Mr. Syed had absconded after improperly spending $350,000 on his university issued credit card. Some of that cash was later paid back out of Mr. Syed’s salary.
Arden McLean said Wednesday that he had presented a number of recommended projects for East End district to Cabinet members in 2010. Those included improvements to East End Primary School, support for after school programmes and the extension of John McLean Drive.
“It’s a sad day in this country when the premier announces that the richest man in this country is financing the candidates’ election,” Mr. McLean said. “How can we have fair elections in this country?”
Mr. McLean said only the primary school issues had been addressed since he gave the Cabinet presentation.
Other ‘non-priority projects’ listed by Mr. McLean in 2010 included: A new retirement home facility, storm shutters for local residents, road paving projects, and bathroom facilities for the Rankine playing field.
Mr. Bush told supporters Tuesday that he simply couldn’t work with Arden McLean in East End because the elected member had made it too difficult.
“Even Alden is finding that out,” the premier said, in reference to the opposition leader.
Bush slams Miller
Mr. Bush lashed out Tuesday at North Side’s MLA, who he accused of making ‘irresponsible’ statements, while admitting he snubbed East End’s legislative representative over funding for some community projects.
Mr. Bush’s comments regarding independent North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and some of his supporters came shortly after a George Town rally last month in which Mr. Miller told those attending a political rally not to trust the ruling United Democratic Party or the “Dart conglomerate”.
“You cannot believe anything they tell you,” Mr. Miller said. “Beware of strangers bearing gifts.”
Premier Bush said Tuesday to a group of supporters in East End, the home district of opposition MLA Arden McLean, that he was ‘scared’ of the two representatives and some of their followers.
“I am scared, not of what they say about me,” Mr. Bush said. “What I am scared of is the height of irresponsibility Arden, Ezzard, and their cohorts are promoting and calling it love of Cayman.
“What really worries me is the latest recklessness from the likes of Ezzard, Arden and Paul Rivers. I am old enough to understand and to know how a country can be destabilised. You hear what they’re calling for. That can’t be the leadership that you want; a path to violence, burning down things, hatred of foreigners, rejecting the law of the land and destruction of public property.”
Mr. Bush’s comments refer in part to a statement made by Mr. Miller at the earlier rally in George Town.
That evening, Mr. Miller, the event’s final speaker, said the following: “If I hear Mr. Dart or his people remind me one more time about the little park they gave me in North Side, the people of North Side … I’m going to burn it down in North Side.”
“This is not the time to tear down or burn down things,” Mr. Bush said. “Destabilisation doesn’t come … from investors who are putting millions of dollars into the country and creating jobs. People cannot afford to forget that public order, economic and social progress and prosperity are, at times, not the natural order of things.”
Mr. Miller was contacted by the Compass for comment on Mr. Bush’s statements. The newspaper received no response by press time.