Premier Alden McLaughlin has issued an apology to Governor Martyn Roper following what he termed “disgusting behaviour” in an audio note which was circulated on social media over the weekend.
“I didn’t say anything yesterday about that vile voice note because I was just so embarrassed and so angry. But it’s not often that I am ashamed to be Caymanian, but I have to tell you that voice note made me ashamed to be a Caymanian,” McLaughlin said Monday as he addressed the daily COVID-19 briefing.
The note, which was raised in Sunday’s COVID-19 briefing, is currently under investigation. It claimed the British Airways flight, which arrived Monday afternoon, was facilitated because the governor wanted to bring his wife Lissie from the UK.
Roper has denied the claim.
He said his wife was not returning to Cayman in the foreseeable future. The flight was bringing medical supplies, as well as Bermudians to drop off in Bermuda and Caymanians returning home.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said, on Monday, that police were analysing the voice note and officers have identified a suspect.
“I believe there are other posts that are being distributed just during the conference as I understand it. We will progress the investigation and interview the person this week who is primarily the suspect in the case,” Byrne said.
McLaughlin, in his closing remarks at the briefing, expressed displeasure over the note, saying that the governor had worked “so incredibly hard”.
“It’s just the most disgusting behaviour that you could possibly conceive of and I have already apologised to the governor on behalf of our people, and I know many of our people have as well,” he said.
Addressing Roper directly at the briefing, the premier told him, “But, Governor, that’s not Caymanian at all and I apologise again on behalf of all of us. I know that there is condemnation, general condemnation, of that kind of note and that kind of behaviour toward you.”
He told the governor that Cayman has incredible regard and respect for him and his help in “steering us through what is already a major challenge and is likely to be a much greater challenge until we come out the other side of this crisis. Thank you, Sir.”
Local businessman Mario Rankin, appearing on Star 92.7FM with Ruthanna Young on Monday afternoon, admitted he had made the voice note and he apologised, saying it had been leaked and was not meant to be circulated in a public forum.
Premier ‘frustrated’ by demands
Meanwhile, McLaughlin said he continues to be “frustrated” by the demands being made from the public while the government tries to manage the spread of COVID-19.
Responding to queries from the public about opening office- and stationery- supply stores, the premier said it is under discussion.
“We are being besieged by requests from every quarter,” he said. “I think just about everybody wants things to go back to business as usual. Sometimes I get so frustrated … I wonder if it makes sense to continue the curfew because the pressure we are under to allow more and more people out onto the road, and create more and more opportunities for the virus to spread, just frustrates the life out of all of us.”
McLaughlin said, for Cayman, it is not going to be “business as usual” and “we can’t open back every store that people need something from”.
He said the current situation was likely to carry on for quite some time, so government is looking at how to make some supplies available to the general public with minimal risk.
“We see what’s happening at the banks. The situation at the banks is most unsatisfactory, despite our best efforts – over 100 people stretching in a line outside; it’s just a recipe for absolute disaster,” he said.
“I use that as an example of, with the best will in the world, when we try to put in place limits on the number of people who can be in a place … [there is] a knock-on effect because of the demand for whatever the service or the product is,” the premier said.
He said government is looking at delivery service or some sort of kerb-side service, but government cannot accede to every request it was getting to allow every business to open.
McLaughlin said people must be prepared to put up with some inconveniences and hardships for a “another few weeks”, adding, “We are really under immense pressure from all corners to relax this and relax that, so people can get on with their ordinary lives. Getting on with life the way you are used to is likely to kill you or someone around you; that’s what we are trying to get people to understand.”