Today is the anniversary of the sixth week since Governor Anwar Choudhury was summarily suspended without explanation from his Cayman posting. The Governor’s Office at that time indicated that a thorough investigation was ongoing and more information would be forthcoming within four to six weeks.
And yet, as a story on Page One of today’s newspaper indicates, Head of the Governor’s Office Matthew Forbes has told the Compass, “I have no further updates at this time.”
This is unfortunate because while the U.K. has been silent on this matter of such importance to the people of these islands, our own chattering classes have been doing what chattering classes do: They chatter.
Rumors are rampant, the marl road is at rush-hour capacity, and online blogs are clogged with speculation. As anyone with communications skills – or even common sense – knows, if you do not fill an informational vacuum with facts, the people will create their own. We would note there is a fine line between official silence and autocratic arrogance.
In this absence of any “official statements” whatsoever by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, some scenarios are beginning to gain attention.
The latest whispers have understandably focused on former governor Helen Kilpatrick, who has returned to Grand Cayman. She has reportedly told friends and acquaintances that her visit is totally unrelated to Governor Choudhury’s absence.
And yet, the question on the minds (if not the lips) of many is whether Ms. Kilpatrick is about to settle back into her old seat on the fifth floor of the Government Administration Building and her former bed at Government House.
To be sure, many in the highest echelons of government here, including Premier Alden McLaughlin and Acting Governor Franz Manderson, were enthusiastic supporters of Ms. Kilpatrick. Indeed, at her going-away party at Government House, each proclaimed she was the finest governor they had ever known.
Whether Ms. Kilpatrick would be interested in reprising her former role – or whether it would be proffered should Governor Choudhury’s suspension become permanent – is, of course, unknown.
What we do know is that preceding his suspension, a number of employees, both in his office and at his Government House residence, had registered unspecified “complaints” about his performance and his behavior, none of which has been made public, subjected to cross-examination or in any way substantiated.
We also know that Governor Choudhury had interjected himself boldly into what heretofore had been a “no-trespassing zone,” namely the inner workings of the civil service.
Governor Choudhury, in scheduled meetings with chief officers – and in casual meetings with private sector leaders – was highly critical of civil service red tape, bureaucratic delays and lack of transparency. He made little attempt, if any, to disguise his displeasure as he demanded increased accountability from those on the government payroll.
For the record, officials deny that the governor’s announced intention to disrupt the status quo of the civil service played any role in his suspension.
It’s only anecdotal – street-talk really – but more and more, in the absence of a credible explanation from the FCO, we are hearing the refrain, “We want our governor back.”
If this sentiment grows, now that officials have missed their own self-imposed deadline to share information on what led to their removing Governor Choudhury, they will have only themselves to blame.