District: Bodden Town West
Current profession: Retired
Interview with Gilbert McLean
Matt Lamers: Hi, this is Matt Lamers with the Cayman Compass. I’m here with Mr. Gilbert McLean, who is running as an independent in the constituency of Bodden Town West. Mr. McLean, thank you for coming out to visit us today.
Gilbert McLean: Thank you very much for inviting me. I appreciate the opportunity that the Compass has given me.
Matt Lamers: Can you please introduce yourself and tell us why you are running in the May 2017 elections?
Gilbert McLean: My name is Gilbert McLean, as has just been said. I am running in the constituency of Bodden Town West. Bodden Town, now of course is divided into four constituencies. I have been a civil servant. I have also been a former member of the Legislative Assembly. I have served on two different occasions in the Legislative Assembly, the last one as minister for health, agriculture, district administration, aviation and works. I’m running in this election because I feel compelled to do so, to offer myself again to speak on behalf of the people. As I look and listen to situations that are happening in my country, it disturbs me to say the very least. Money is being spent crazily, I think, on the dock, for one thing; the latest thing is that another group is being appointed to give consultancy and that $3 million has been already paid out to avoid lawsuits; children are going to school hungry; there is clearly discrimination in certain areas of employment in the Cayman Islands; and generally there is a problem where the young and the old are concerned. The young, about their education and future and the availability of jobs, and the older persons who become ill, they can ill-afford the insurance they must have … to have coverage for their health needs, which grow naturally as a person gets older. So all of these things put together really motivate me once more to step forward, and I trust that the people of Bodden Town West will know of my accomplishments and my terms in the legislature, and will vote for me to once again serve them.
Matt Lamers: Can you tell us what the most important issues are facing your district?
Gilbert McLean: The most important matters facing the Bodden Town district [are] pretty much the same across the island. There is the need for an availability of jobs and fair opportunity to be chosen for the particular jobs. There is clearly the need for healthcare that is lacking in certain areas. The expense of living in the Cayman Islands is crushing everyone. Bodden Town is no different in that regard. The cost of gasoline; the cost of food. There is not enough attention being given to our elderly in Bodden Town. The government is not focused on the right priorities. So for Bodden Town it’s basically the very same: The need, the want for jobs, the opportunity to work beyond 60 years instead of being kicked to the curb, which has been happening in recent times. And thankfully it has changed that the retirement age is now 65. Hopefully that will bring about a change. Bodden Town’s needs and concerns are similar to those countrywide.
Matt Lamers: Would you like to elaborate on the biggest issues facing the Cayman Islands as a whole?
Gilbert McLean: Cayman as a whole needs to find other revenue streams. We need to develop areas other than just financial services and tourism. Tourism of course will be with us a long time after financial services are gone. And I think financial services will be gone in the foreseeable future because the United Kingdom wants the business to come back to the city of London and all of the various industrialized countries do not want their citizens investing money in these islands through the various vehicles that we offer here in Cayman. So we need to develop other revenue streams. I, for one, have recommended that the government capture the illegal lottery that happens every day. It’s happening right now, I’m sure. I understand that the Jamaica lottery alone plays six times a day. And far back as 1990, a former commissioner of police, Commissioner Thursfield, told us in the Legislative Assembly that while he did not have exact figures to what that was worth, they estimated that it was about a million a week. So if you take a million a week for 52 weeks, that is $52 million. And from 1990 until now, you just think that the money that is going into the hands of some people who are operating that when the government could capture that revenue stream and apply those funds to education and health.
Matt Lamers: What’s something you would say Cayman is doing right and how would you help to continue that?
Gilbert McLean: I think tourism is doing well. Tourism has already stood by us. The friendliness of the Caymanian people has paid off, and we need to continue to maximize on that. The fact that the airport here in Grand Cayman is being extended, that makes a whole lot of sense. I do not agree on the design, and I don’t agree, for example, the fact that it’s not going to have any jetways for passengers to offload. I’m also appreciative of the fact that accounting in government has improved. It has not improved to the point that it should, and I think that markers should be set down that within the next year all authorities and departments of government must have accounts that are certifiable by the auditor general. Otherwise, those responsible should find another job. Those are some of the areas that I think we can be proud of. Crime is still there, but it is nothing compared to other places. I think we do have positive things going for us, but it would be a whole lot better with a change of government and people who really care more about people, as I do and some others.
Matt Lamers: Thank you. If elected, what’s your top priority on day one?
Gilbert McLean: On day one in my constituency I would seek to set up a citizens’ community council. I believe in a type of concept of municipalities where each constituency will have its designated people who will decide what is really needed. What are the needs in that section and those needs go on to central government where they can allocate funds for it. And of course one of the things that really perturbs me is the fact that I hear regularly of people losing their homes. I hear of children going to school hungry. These are things which really need to be addressed. The persons in government responsible for these need to delve into these things and we need to allocate funds to help people. If we help people, people help the country. Cayman can be a blessing for all. As my motto goes, “we all must benefit.”
Matt Lamers: Mr. McLean, thank you for coming to visit us and answering our questions.
Gilbert McLean: I thank you for the opportunity, and my motto is “we all must benefit.” I believe we all can be happier and Cayman can be a happier place.
Matt Lamers: Once again, this is Matt Lamers with the Cayman Compass. Thank you for watching.