Opposition Leader Hon. V. Arden McLean J.P. on Wednesday offered congratulations to the members of Cruise Port Referendum Cayman and the many thousands who signed the petition calling for a People-Initiated Referendum and were then subjected to a signature verification process that the Opposition criticized as excessive and bordering on political interference. The Opposition advocated for a verification process based on a sampling of the signatories, however the Government decided to verify 100% of the required signatures.
The members of the Opposition also want to congratulate Elections Supervisor Mr. Wesley Howell and his team for conducting an efficient and timely verification, and for maintaining a high level of integrity and transparency.
In recognising this important democratic milestone Mr. McLean stated, “I am pleased to see that the verification process has been completed and we can now turn our attention to conducting the Referendum. There are a number of questions regarding how this process will be organized, how observers will be appointed, and of course what the actual question will be and when will the Referendum be held.
Mr. McLean added, “The triggering of the Cayman Islands’ first People-Initiated Referendum is an event that we cannot take lightly. It shows that the Cayman Islands has a Democratic framework, in the Constitution, which encourages and allows Participatory Democracy by our people. The Government needs to take heed of the lesson this experience is teaching us, which is, to never ignore the wishes of the people. Indeed, we must respect and revere the people’s wishes if we wish to remain in the positions of trust that they have given us.”
Mr. McLean went on to say that, “I am deeply concerned with the Unity Government’s lack of regard for various provisions contained within the Constitution, and their abject failure to implement some of the basic laws and institutions mandated by the Constitution such as the Advisory District Council Law, the Standards in Public Life Law and the Referendum Law. These failures make this Referendum much more than a disagreement with the Government over the Cruise Berthing Project. It has now become a fight for Democracy.”
Mr. McLean stated that he is calling on the public to now get involved in the process, participate in any forthcoming consultations, pay attention to the meetings of the Legislative Assembly and to avail themselves of as much information as possible prior to the Referendum.
“This is where the public needs to become more involved and ensure that they keep a watchful eye on how the Government proceeds with the Referendum. We have already seen questionable behaviour, and we certainly should expect much more. I will ensure that the Opposition does its part in helping to educate and engage with the public during this process and to provide any necessary assistance.”
Long serving public servant and Savannah MLA, Mr. Anthony Eden, added that he was very pleased with the outcome, as never before have so few people done so much for democracy despite the obstacles placed by the Government.
Mr. Eden went on to say, “This goes to show that the Caymanian spirit to persevere lives on and is able to overcome all challenges and challengers.”
The Opposition plans to meet with H.E. The Governor in the coming days and will remain involved in the process moving forward.