I would like to thank the residents of the Cayman Islands for their overwhelming support of the petition to trigger a referendum on the one man one vote question. Our group has been working very hard to not only gather signatures, but also to, more importantly, educate those who require additional information prior to making a decision to sign, and to demonstrate that this movement was derived from a desire to see these Islands adopt a system that guarantees equality, accountability and fairness.
There are those who will accuse us of being politically motivated, and in truth there are some aspiring and veteran politicians working side by side on this effort, but our underlying motivation is to introduce a modern approach to political organisation and voting systems to the Cayman Islands. We are NOT motivated by self interest, and I would not personally align myself with a group or initiative that I did not believe had the best interests of the Cayman Islands at heart.
Now that the UDP and PPM have agreed that we need to either implement single member constituencies and or hold a referendum, leaving the choice to the voters, it is clear that the Cayman Islands is approaching the point when single member constituencies will become the political system of choice and the electorate will finally adopt a system that guarantees a much higher level of voter satisfaction and interaction with their representatives. One cannot dispute that we need more accountability from our elected officials, and one man one vote when implemented, will guarantee that representatives pay close attention to the needs of the public.
The ‘single member’ debate now centres on when would be the best time to hold a referendum and or implement single member constituencies because a majority of Caymanians voted for a change to the political system when the new constitution was adopted a few years ago.
The individuals who are championing the push to hold a referendum on single member constituencies unanimously agree that the time has passed for the relevant question to be asked and for the country to move forward. We estimate that the cost to hold a referendum, will not be astronomical as is being suggested, and while this is an additional cost to the country, we feel it would be well worth the effort and cost to guarantee a political system based on the principles of equality and fairness. We have spent far more in order to gain much less and this will undoubtedly be a worthwhile investment.
If the UDP’s position is that we should hold the referendum at the next election, resulting in a delayed implementation of some four years, and the PPM suggest that they will by-pass the referendum and simply implement single member constituencies if and when they control the government, both parties are effectively saying that the country must wait four years before the benefits of having single members will be available to the voting public.
The question we should now be asking is can we afford to wait that long?
I would therefore encourage both parties to support our efforts and move to hold the referendum prior to the next general elections. We cannot afford to wait a further four years to introduce a voting system that is modern, fair and democratic. Countries such as the USA and UK adopted the system many years ago, and we are doing our people a disservice by delaying its implementation.
The argument that there is not sufficient time to educate the voters and hold a referendum prior to May 2013 is flawed. One man one vote is less complex than the current system, and it is a poor assessment of the intelligence level of our electorate to suggest that we need in excess of 12 months to fully comprehend what is a more simple and straightforward way to hold elections. I do believe the Caymanian public is more sophisticated and educated than some opponents are suggesting.
There are also those who suggest that implementing single member districts will result in the residents of those districts making unreasonable requests such as wanting stadiums and post offices, but in reality those claims are unfounded. What would motivate a voter to demand a hospital in a district where there in a hospital in the neighbouring district? We are not suggesting that we erect fences and cordon off each districts public services so that other surrounding districts will not be able to make use of them, and I suggest to you that common sense will prevail and the sharing of public services will continue based on feasibility and justified needs. It would be disingenuous to suggest that single member districts will encourage unbridled and unrestrained spending on unnecessary services.
The one man one vote initiative is critical to the future of democracy in the Cayman Islands, each and every resident of this country should ensure that they conduct their own research and attend the planned meetings to discuss the pros and cons of the suggested system. I, unlike others, have great faith in the intelligence of our people to make the right decisions, and I have no doubt that in the end this effort will be successful.
Thank you all for your continued support, and let’s do what is right for the sake of our beloved country and ALL of the people who reside here.
Al Suckoo Jr.