By Hon. Ezzard Miller
As we count down to the new year, we once again have an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to re-commit ourselves to goodwill, harmony and personal and shared responsibilities for the year ahead.
For us in the Opposition, 2018 has been a year of enormous pride, as we sought to strengthen the democratic process in the Cayman Islands.
We have especially striven to give voice to those who may for various reasons feel inhibited. We will continue to be your ambassadors in 2019.
This is the role of the Opposition and my colleagues and I make no apology for it.
Admittedly, sometimes the road blocks are insurmountable. Nevertheless, we will remain faithful to our responsibility to raise concerns and speak for all the people.
We continue to see the benefits of doing so.
For example, in 2018 we championed the concern about the lack of a mandate for a cruise port, and pushed for a referendum. We are still awaiting the outcome, but the initiative did compel government to debate the issues for the first time—even if only to a limited degree.
The Opposition also raised the issue of the failure of Government to implement and conform to its own good governance laws. Much of this is still outstanding, but we did succeed in prompting government to appoint its nominees to the very critical Procurement Committee. That is a start.
In the meantime, we will maintain our vigilance in promoting good governance and preventing and exposing corruption.
Also in the area of promoting good governance, we were especially pleased to be a part of the delegation that met with the UK Government in early December to discuss changes to the Islands’ Constitution.
The overall aim was the safeguarding of the internal governance of the Cayman Islands by and for the people of the Cayman Islands.
We share in the Government’s pride in what we have carved out so far and look forward to ratification by the UK Government and to debate in our Legislature.
We will continue to join with Government when we can, because collaboration, when appropriate, is the hallmark of effective governance.
Nevertheless, as we look ahead to 2019, the Opposition assures you that we will remain fearlessly committed to easing burdens, ensuring good governance, and increasing opportunities.
In that regard, I am pleased to announce the Opposition’s plans to launch early in 2019 the Cayman Islands People’s Alliance. The movement’s aim is to sustain and promote the traditions for the harmony on which the success and prosperity of the Cayman Islands have been built, while seeking to address the needs of all sectors and increasing participatory democracy.
In particular, we are committed to facilitating opportunities for those who are being increasingly left behind or neglected.
To enable wider access to opportunities and to stem the increasing tide of economic disparity, we will continue to call for greater focus on our families.
We must invest boldly in our children’s future. Our youth must be equipped to embrace opportunities and conquer the challenges ahead for them.
This is what it takes to build a strong, harmonious, vibrant and productive people, anchored in a maturing sense of national identity.
In this vein, as we celebrate in 2019 the 60th anniversary of the very first Constitution of the Cayman Islands, my hope is that all who call our beloved Cayman Islands home will join hands and hearts to make life better for all of us.
This spirit of harmony and goodwill is possible. Indeed, we have discovered time and again that we have more in common than the often-highlighted differences.
My wish, therefore, is that we become aware again of that which holds us together at heart.
As we strive to renew and rekindle this spirit of unity and harmony, let us also celebrate diversity of talent, skills and abilities, across all sectors of society.
And for all of us, with the new slate that 2019 presents, my wish is for greater engagement, greater involvement, and greater participation.
For, indeed, if we are to move forward productively and meaningfully in 2019—if we are to take all concerns and needs into consideration—we must lend all our voices to the debates and conversations.
It is only through the active and constructive involvement of all residents that we can hope to achieve the best for all sectors of our population and the best for the Cayman Islands.
As we do so, I call on all of us to listen—to sincerely listen—to each other, and to thoughtfully and with open minds consider points of view that may differ to our own.
With these goals in mind, on behalf of my colleagues in the Opposition, I wish for you all a safe, happy, healthy, harmonious and prosperous New Year.