Premier interviewed by Compass a day prior to arrest
In what could have been his last interview as Cayman Islands Premier, William McKeeva Bush sat down for a discussion with the Caymanian Compass over breakfast on Monday, 10 December.
The meeting took place at the Westin Resort just a day before his arrest on Tuesday, 11 December, on suspicion of theft, breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest. It was an opportunity for Mr. Bush to discuss his time in office, the recent announcement of a Doctorate degree to be conferred on him for Public Service from the University College of the Caribbean and some of the motions he had piloted over his 28 year run in public office.
There was no indication whatsoever of any knowledge or concern by Mr. Bush over the course of the hour-and-a-half meeting regarding the circumstances he would be facing only a day later. He spoke of what inspired him to get into politics and explained how his life in public office evolved.
“I never set out with great ambition to become this or that or to be in a certain position. I got into office because I saw a need for social development. At that time there were no social amenities and being a social thinker, I thought social development should be in running with finance.”
To this end, Mr. Bush managed to pass over 90 motions from the back bench over a period of roughly four years during his early career.
These included and related to the development of the national history of the Cayman Islands by making it mandatory that Caymanian history be taught in the schools. His efforts also saw the enshrinement of our National Song, “Beloved Isle Cayman” and the declaration that it should be sung at all national events.
The time spent with Mr. Bush revealed a man deeply concerned with legacy and some acknowledgement of the good he had done.
“I believe we should honour people when they are alive and I always tell my mother that it is my intention to give her flowers while she is here with me. Having said that though, I am not big on things being named after me. I am however appreciative of those kinds of gestures. My family and my supporters, they recognise the good I have done in Cayman and throughout the Caribbean. That is why we have named the Truman Bodden Law School and the Airport on the Brac to reflect these kind of values,” he said.
He pointed out that he was there at some of the most pivotal times in the evolution and growth of the Cayman Islands and listed some of the things he had seen come to fruition, voted for, motioned or had something to do with. It was as though the premier was trying to put his career in perspective as he noted developments he was particularly proud of.
“I was there when Tony Travers brought the Mutual Funds Law. Also, the new Insurance Law and agreements signed with the Italian Ambassador are developments I feel will continue to move this country forward. I also take pride in what I did in the eighties to move our three mile fishing boundary to 12 miles. The tree, the flower and the bird, which are now our national symbols were all as a result of my motions. The creation of national heroes, Cayfest, modern labour legislation, the Children’s Law and protection of the Nassau Grouper were all as a result of my time in office,” he said.
The present Immigration Law was also piloted by Mr. Bush, as well as the Barkers development, in addition to the development of sports and cruise facilities in the Cayman Islands.
With regard to Mr. Bush being honoured with a Doctorate degree for public service by the University College of the Caribbean and the status grants that positively affected many Jamaicans, which were sited by the university as one of the reasons for the gesture being extended to the premier, Mr. Bush explained: “Many more than just Jamaicans have benefitted but I have a close relationship with Jamaicans. We come from there whether or not Caymanians want to admit that. Many of us have close connections and family ties there and they have given to us of their expertise and assistance and helped to build our country. I have a great affinity for the Jamaican people and Jamaica is a lovely, lovely land.”
Mr. Bush was scheduled to speak at UCC on the topic of integrity upon accepting his Doctorate degree in keeping with the school’s tradition.
However, the school issued the following statement on Tuesday, 11 December: “The University College of the Caribbean has advised that its Chancellor Dr. Herbert Thompson will deliver the commencement address at the institution’s Fall Commencement Ceremony scheduled for this Thursday, December 13, 2012, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston. This decision follows recent developments in the Cayman Islands involving Premier McKeeva Bush who had been scheduled to give the address to the approximately 100 graduates.”
A subsequent statement regarding the status of the Doctorate degree and whether it would still be conferred read, “Like the rest of the region and indeed the international community, The University College of the Caribbean notes the development in the Cayman Islands and hopes for a swift resolution in the interest of justice. The advisory board has made no further decision beyond the adjustments to our Commencement Ceremony for this Thursday.”
Other academic honours received by Mr. Bush include a Masters degree in Humanities from the International [*] College of the Cayman Islands for which Mr. Bush said he was extremely grateful, adding that he wanted to pay homage to the Cummins family who had started the school “for what they have done to develop the people of this country”.
When asked whether he planned to write any memoirs or publish and works of literature after his time in office, Mr. Bush noted, “My book is already written and it chronicles my life in public office and generally up to 2006. I am planning on publishing it by March of 2013.”
He revealed that the name of the book would be “Purposed to do Good”, which he said came from the book of Daniel in the Holy Bible.
Most recently Mr. Bush had been piloting the Legal Practitioner’s Bill. He noted that it was something he was working diligently on and excited about for young Caymanian attorneys.
“We have to careful not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. It is a real balancing act and I am piloting this myself as a result,” he said.
[*] Editor’s note: Story changed to reflect that Mr. Bush’s Masters degree was awarded by the International College of the Cayman Islands.