Opposition members rubbish claims
A “campaign of destabilization” is under way against the current Progressives-led government, according to some government backbench members who said this week that their political inexperience is being used against them to try and pick apart the 12-member legislative coalition.
Opposition and independent lawmakers contacted by the Caymanian Compass have denied those claims and suggested that newer members of the Legislative Assembly learn the rules of parliament.
“[I know] there are no dummies on [the government] side,” said independent East End MLA Arden McLean Tuesday. “But sometimes there appear to be.”
The latest political conflagration erupted last week when North Side MLA Ezzard Miller moved a motion – at the direction of a House subcommittee – seeking the swift approval of several recommendations from the Cayman Islands complaints commissioner, including the enacting of stand-alone whistleblower legislation. The government, even though it supports such a law, voted 11 members against the motion, with Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo abstaining.
Mr. Suckoo lashed out late last week, stating the government had voted the motion down simply because it had no chance to discuss the issue.
“I am now aware that certain individuals, knowing my relationship with my friends from East End and North Side [Messrs. McLean and Miller], are attempting to use my relationship with these two gentlemen to take shots at the government and to ‘pick me off.’
“I encourage the members from East End and North Side to reject the current campaign of destabilization perpetrated by those selfish individuals who do not want to take the same approach that I have.”
Mr. Suckoo clarified Tuesday that he was not focusing his comments so much on the East End and North Side elected members as he was on the opposition party, led by West Bay MLA McKeeva Bush.
“It’s a non-stop barrage of negativity aimed at the government right now,” Mr. Suckoo said Tuesday. “The entire country is sick of the old way of doing politics, under which, in my mind, you don’t accomplish 50 percent of what you could have.”
Opposition Leader Bush said the newer members of parliament hadn’t seen him at even close to full tilt yet.
“I have given those new members [of the legislature] a wide berth as possible over the several months,” Mr. Bush said. “Al [referring to Mr. Suckoo] has tried to show his independence, but I think he’s gone a bit too far.
“Al has gone out way on a limb to accuse people of destabilizing the government. If they think that, what about what they did to me [during the previous administration]?“
Mr. McLean admitted he was “a little disappointed in Al” for saying what he said last week, but denied that the independent members of parliament were embarking on any agenda of destabilization. “I don’t see anything that was out in left field [with the complaints commissioner motion],” he said.
A private members motion filed earlier by Mr. McLean first showed some division in Cayman’s coalition government over the issue of “one man, one vote” single-member constituent districts. The motion, which sought government adoption of such a voting system within three months, ended in a rare tie vote with Mr. Suckoo and fellow Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden jumping ship and voting for Mr. McLean’s proposal against the government.
Mr. McLean said much has been made about a veteran lawmaker “taking advantage” of the first-timers during the vote on that motion, but he said he had no idea things were going to turn out as they did.
“According to the debate [on the motion], there were still 11 people against [it],” he said. “I didn’t know Al was going to vote with us, and I didn’t know that three of the [government] ministers were going to be away from [their seats]. This is not about me taking advantage of them as rookies.”
George Town MLA Joey Hew disagreed.
“There’s no doubt that a lot of these motions are being mischievous,” Mr. Hew said. “I think it is the opposition’s desire to break down the government rather than work with the government. I think we do see a situation where some of the more experienced members are taking advantage of our inexperience or naivety.”
His colleague Winston Connolly viewed the situation as the opposition party doing what opposition parties do in politics.
“As opposition, unfortunately, what’s happening is opposing for opposition’s sake, rather than working collegially to get results to benefit everyone,” Mr. Connolly said. “To say that there’s some sort of plan to destabilize the government is going a bit far.“
George Town MLA Roy McTaggart chalked up some of the results on the recent motions to rookie mistakes.
“Sometimes, our lack of experience in the world of politics and parliament may hinder things,” he said.