Editorial for 10 May: False impression of open government

The Cayman Islands is absolutely great at putting on
appearances.

For instance, the government is at pains to show that it is
“open and transparent”. We have a Freedom of Information Law, we have a number
of governor-appointed commissions and boards charged with ensuring good
governance, and – since the advent of the interim government – we have weekly
press briefings with the Cabinet ministers.

Yes indeed, we here in the Cayman Islands have all the
appearances of a fully open, democratic 21st century society.

And now, as venerable American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey
might have said, comes the rest of the story.

Thursday’s Caymanian Compass carried an article about FOI
Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert not being able to enforce compliance with the
country’s open records law because of severe budget cuts. So we have open records
laws, but not the resources to police them.

All this week, the Commissions Secretariat has been hosting
forums for civil servants in the government administration building that might
be of keen interest to the general public, particularly just before an
election. Speakers at those forums included Police Commissioner David Baines,
Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick and Governor Duncan Taylor. Only one
reporter was allowed to observe and report on the issues covered in those
lunchtime meetings; the representative of government-owned and controlled Radio
Cayman. 

And Wednesday afternoon, we had the revelation that Dart
Realty Cayman called off further negotiations on the NRA agreement with
government, apparently with the sole purpose of “encouraging” government to
release a value-for-money evaluation done on the agreement. The local press had
been seeking that report for months with no luck.

The local government, and the UK-appointed governor, need to
stop with the window dressing and actually move toward fully open and
transparent governance.

 

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent editorial. The legislation we have in place to facilitate open and transparent government is not perfect but if actually implemented it would go a long way to improving democracy in this country. At present resources are put into things like luxury travel for politicians rather than funding for the Information Commissioner’s Office or funding for sufficient staff for the Anti-Corruption Commission. If we are to have good governance that has to be changed.

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  2. Excellent and courageous editorial, Caycompass.

    But can you really, in all seriousness, call this motley lot of UDP rebels a true ‘government’?

    Governor Duncan Taylor chose the best of three bad options by allowing the ‘breakaways’ to form a government, rather than dissolve the government altogether and call ‘snap’ elections or revert to direct British rule, through his own office, temporarily.

    That the UDP government, under McKeeva Bush’s premiereship was nothing more than a one-man dictatorship is coming more evident now, as this UDA lot attempt to distance themselves from all the horrendous cock-ups that have taken place since the 2009 election that brought them to power.

    The opposition PPM is as much to blame because any type of parliamentary ‘opposition’ from them has been non-existent…all they have done is sit on the sidelines and wait for the mistakes that they can take advantage of politically.

    The only true opposition parliamentarian has been Ezzard Miller, the independent MLA from Northside.

    Anyone who wishes to see how a proper parliamentary opposition should operate need look no further than him; he has done his, and the PPM’s job, all in one.

    Does anyone think that Dart would now be stupid enough to not take advantage of this power vacuum to either re-negotiate a better deal for himself with a new government, or renege on any agreements that was not to his advantage in what was essentially a secret deal between McKeeva Bush and Dart ?

    So what is Cayman now left with ?

    A half-closed WB road and an unfinished ET highway…

    After all the warnings, opposition from the anti-road closure alliance.

    Who could blame them for saying a very loud and clear, ‘I told you so’ to anyone who chooses to listen ?

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  3. @firery, I can only assume that you don’t live in Cayman to make a statement like this:

    ‘The opposition PPM is as much to blame because any type of parliamentary ‘opposition’ from them has been non-existent…all they have done is sit on the sidelines and wait for the mistakes that they can take advantage of politically’.

    That’s just not true. It was the PPM together with Ezzard who brought the police investigation in the Stan Thomas affair to the public’s attention. It was the PPM which sponsored public demonstrations against McKeeva’s hare-brained ideas like North Sound dredging, EE mega quarry, oil refinery etc. It was the PPM called into question the Nation Bldg fund. It was the PPM who initiated 3 no -confidence motions against McKeeva’s govt., the last of which was successful. Although without the support of the now PNA the first two were destined to fail because they were in the minority it gave them an opportunity to catalogue the areas of misgovernance so that the public could understand what as at stake. It was the PPM who called for his resignation.

    The PPM did not sit on the sidelines. You should know better.

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  4. I agree with the Editorial.
    The Colonial system of governance does not help as well. The report on corruption is a shining example of leading from behind by the Colonial system. The window dressing, photo opportunities and public relations has run its course. The relentless chasing of money has driven our government leaders, private and regular citizens absolutely mad. Everyone seems to have capital, cash and currency as the number one priority. When Christ ran the money changers from the Temple, they all rushed to these Islands when Transportation and climate coincided it seems. It is time to change the cash culture and come into the twenty-first century with reasonable expectations. It seems lawyers and accountants aren’t the only Oysters in the stew, but we need scientists as well as astrophysicist to truly have a great society. Please don’t take it personal I’m only thinking out loud and saying what needs to be said.

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