Chamber Council urges government to repeal ban on Compass advertising

Citing a concern about local and global implications of the ongoing dispute between the Cayman Compass and the ruling Progressives administration, the Chamber of Commerce has called on government to reverse its decision to pull advertising from the country’s oldest newspaper.  

“We support the right to freedom of expression as exercised by the Cayman Compass and all local media and as guaranteed and protected under the Cayman Islands Constitution,” a statement from the Chamber Council released late Thursday read. “We also support freedom of expression exercised by those within our community that disagree with the editorial or other content in the newspaper. While we may not agree with what is said or written, we believe it is important for everyone to be able to state his or her views, whether that be the premier, the editor of the Cayman Compass or anyone else. 

“We do not support, however, the financial sanction proposed and passed hastily during proceedings in [the Legislative Assembly’s] Finance Committee on Monday, June 8 as this sets a dangerous precedent and would negatively impact the important role that a free press plays in our democracy,” the council statement continued. “The council calls on the government to repeal the advertising ban immediately.” 

The Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly voted Monday to ban all government advertising, both for jobs and for public notices, from the pages of the Cayman Compass following a motion made by East End MLA Arden McLean. Premier Alden McLaughlin and his government members supported the motion largely due to an editorial that the Compass published on June 3 that Mr. McLaughlin denounced as “treasonous.” Opposition party members McKeeva Bush and Bernie Bush abstained from voting on Mr. McLean’s motion due to Mr. McKeeva Bush’s objection about the propriety of the matter being brought before the Finance Committee rather than the full House. 

Repeated attempts to seek clarification from Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson this week about the legality, scope and specifics of the proposed government advertising ban have not been met with a response. Mr. Manderson said only that it was his understanding the motion “speaks to all advertising for central government and the statutory authorities and government companies.” 

“We are concerned that, as a result of the actions of both parties, this matter continues to unnecessarily escalate with the effect that it is creating negative international media coverage,” the Chamber Council statement noted. “This is reflecting poorly on the Cayman Islands and the wider business community and we encourage both parties to act responsibly to resolve this matter urgently. 

The statement continued, “Doing so is in the best interest of the Cayman Islands’ reputation which is being unfairly damaged as a result of this matter. It would also be in the best interest of the continued right to freedom of expression by all local media as well as our wider community.” 

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  1. If the Compass is a member so what, I think that this should be the concern of the Chamber Council to protect the members from this kind of behavior by Government . Saying words in the LA that they don’t even know meaning of, Google the words TREASON and TREASONOUS and see if the premier definition is correct. Mr Legge didn’t try to bring the Government down in any way, but the Government is trying to shut down the Compass .

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  2. All the PPM did here was prove that their position is to only spread tax payers money to those who support them, say what they want them to say, run their business the way they want and in the case of the media, only report or print what they want them to..

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  3. The Chamber of Commerce is very sensibly concerned about the effects this brouhaha is going to have on international opinion. The sooner the Premier and his Cabinet reverse this oppressive restriction, which is a clear violation of a basic democratic freedom, the better it will be for all. The implied threat against Mr. Legge’s safety issued by a government official is astounding and provides very clear evidence that the situation is completely out of hand.

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  4. And now, on advice from the Hon Premier, the Ministry of Finance is canvassing all government departments and authorities asking them to detail the total amount spent on advertising with the Compass and Pinnacle Media during 2013/14 and how much they forecasted to spend during 2014/15. What a waste of government resources to have so many civil servants working on this, instead of doing their real jobs of providing public services…..all over a petty political (or is it personal) vendetta.

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  5. It seems that the voting public of the Cayman Islands need to look closely at whom they are electing as leaders. Its distasteful to read some of the comments made by members of the legislators do they really think before they act. You all need to do better if you are all representing your people.

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  6. Canvassing all government departments and authorities asking them to detail the total amount spent on advertising with the Compass. It would be nice to see them show as much diligence when auditing each department overall spending. This is clear a personal vendetta and it’s darn shame that it has taken so much attention away from more pressing issues and needs.

    I would love how these same politicians would react if the Compass decided not to accept any of their elections advertisements next year. I am sure there would be screams of political interference.

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  7. All I know, the vast majority of the cabinet members lost my vote long ago.

    None of the current members are worth my vote.

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  8. IF SOMEONE IS TRYING TO SINK YOUR SHIP, ARE YOU OBLIGED TO PAY FOR THE TORPEDOES? If one of a large company’s suppliers by deliberate action engages with third parties to jeopardize the success and future prospects of that company, are we to believe that the company’s leaders should sit on their hands and bite their tongues and not attempt to defend the company by insisting that the company’s managers stop using that supplier and stop supporting that particularly offensive supplier with contracts, payments or other forms of funding?

    If it were their company at risk I seriously doubt any of the Chamber Council members would sit still and quiet in such circumstances. So why do they oppose the representatives of the people of the Cayman Islands for attempting in a practical, commercial manner to defend the Cayman Islands, its economy and its people? Why would the Chamber Council oppose our government leaders responding to an offensive attack in similar manner as what any sensible business leader would do to defend the shareholder value with which he or she is entrusted? Should the representatives of the people of the Cayman Islands not exercise decisive leadership and take practical administrative steps to diminish the firepower of a clear and present offensive threat to the brand equity of the Cayman Islands and the collective reputation of the people of the country?

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  9. Finally, an intelligent advice is offered.

    The Chamber Council is absolutely correct in every word of its statement.

    If this vendetta is allowed against the Compass today, sooner or later ordinary citizens will probably be thrown into prison for publicly voicing their opinions. This is setting a dangerous precedent and Caymanians need to get up and stand up against this.

    I have heard ordinary Caymanians supporting this decision. I can only say that it is out of ignorance, because they cannot see the bigger implications nor picture.

    I bet Mr. McKeeva would have handled this situation in a more diplomatic way, resolved it and prevented the unnecessary negative perception being created of the Cayman Islands and its leaders. Currently, Alden and the Gang look like dictators or mafias to the world, which I know they have no idea/ clue what this entails. Plain stupidity! Someone needs to put a stop to this madness before they drag this lovely country further down into the pits.

    I bet you this will attract further scrutiny from the mother land (U.K.) and world power (U.S.A.). Just wait and see…

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  10. A jovial friend of mine who is not a native Caribbean person either, introduced me to a very pertinent song in the Caribbean Calypso style. It has hilariously entertaining lyrics that, in classic Calypso fashion, have a clever double meaning:
    http://bit.ly/1G1nXIU

    This song which apparently was written and sung by a Guyanese musician Mr. Dave Martins listed as leader of a band named the Tradewinds, conjures up a parody of what has gone on in Cayman this past week and a half. It is especially poignant in light of the published statements of the leaders of Cayman Finance and the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.

    In the song, the story line is attributed to another Guyanese gentleman, master storyteller Mr. Ken Corsbie. I hope neither Mr. Martins nor Mr. Corsbie will mind if I borrow from their very colorful and engaging word pictures to help illustrate my comments on the goings-on between the Cayman Compass, the Premier and Members of the Legislative Assembly, the Cayman people at large, and the leaders of Cayman Finance and the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce respectively.

    In the song, the jungle animals engage in a Sunday game of cricket, watched by a "big big crowd." There are many different participants identified in this game, but for the purpose of the parody I will focus on only some of them.

    The opening bowler is the intimidating "Elephant" who is subsequently revealed to be very dangerous with the ball. The opening batsman is "Donkey" who expresses his love for cricket and his bold eagerness to take on the challenge of defending the wicket. The umpire "Parrot", who spouts forth about the progress of the game and the players, observes the game and comments from his safe perch "up in de tree".

    The opening batsman comes to the crease, taking up the ready posture to defend the wicket. The large assembled crowd cheers on the opening batsman from the surrounding stands: "Hit de ball Donkey, hit de ball. Cover drive him and make him bawl. Hook de man like Brian Lara and put him out de pasture."

    The opening bowler takes a vigorous run-up "comin down like a horse", jumps up high and delivers a very dangerous fastball that comes "like a thunderbolt." It shatters the bat, and hits hard the opening batsman, the wicket keeper "Crapo" (the frog), the fielders "Snake," "Giraffe," and "Kangaroo," then continues whistling on down far beyond "to de boundary." Seeing all this grave danger and injury, "Red Ants" lie down on the ground and exclaim "Lawd dat Elephant crazy." In the aftermath, "scatteration" out on the field: "every man jack was hidin." "Crapo" plays dead. "Giraffe" and "Kangaroo" are limping.

    "Parrot" mouths off about what should happen next.

    The opening batsman retorts: "Parrot shut yu mout. Your behind safe up inside de tree …" The opening batsman then turns to the crowd and says "All you talkin” ”bout hit de man, but all your backside inside de stand. Send some other jackass to bat, dis jackass finish wid dat!"

    In response to the publicity onslaught of the Cayman Compass and its "Editorial Board", if all that the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and Cayman Finance have done so far is what they have said in the Cayman Compass or on their website, they are playing it very comfortable and safe on the perch of political correctness. All that they have done is of no more effect on the outcome of this game than a tail-ender batsman safe on the sidelines cutting a pretty pose with a practice swing at the air.

    It is high time for the Chamber and Cayman Finance get off their "backsides" from their safe perches of political correctness (and in the case of the Chamber, pontification about freedom of expression), and say what they should say directly about the audacious derogatory statements and actions of a high profile member of the press in Cayman. Step up and swing your bat directly at the fastball pitched from a very dangerous bowler. Step up and unambiguously address that fastball and defend the wicket that is Cayman, its people, its reputation and the credibility of its governance and its financial services industry especially.

    Otherwise don’t be surprised if next time you complain that our country’s political leaders are not doing enough to defend Cayman’s reputation and our financial services industry, their response or lack thereof may imply "dis jackass finish wid dat …" You will get the government you deserve.

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  11. I support the CC in urging the Cayman government to lift the ban on Compass. I live in the Bahamas and in this morning Tribune a Politician gave a talk show hosts the article about the ban. . . this is seen as a warning to tell that there should not be any criticism about what it does! I think the politician here in the Bahamas is so out of touch with his nation. . .dare say the world!!

    The Cayman government must remember that the world is watching them act like fools. . .free speech hating fools at that!!!

    I hope that the government can appreciate the fact that we look at their actions in view of the wider FIFA scandal. . .it looks as if they have something to hide. . .shutting down the press to hide whatever it is!!!

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