Ousted Premier Wayne Panton has decided not to take on the House Speaker position as was offered him by the newly formed United People’s Movement. Instead, he will focus his efforts as a back-bench MP for Newlands, he said in a press release.
“I would like to thank the UPM government for offering me the position of Speaker of Parliament. After serious consideration, I have decided to decline the offer,” he stated. “This conclusion is based on what I believe is in the best interest of the people of my community of Newlands, my country and my family.”
Mr Panton said the Speaker of Parliament was an important and prestigious position.
“It is also a position that requires the holder to remain neutral. At this time, it is clear that where I can best be of service to the people of Newlands and to our three islands is from my MP position,” he said. “Being a member of Cabinet and heading a ministry certainly has its place and comes with a great degree of responsibility and privileges. I am humbled to have been able to serve as a Minister in Cabinet. However, we must always remember the people that elected us and the importance of ensuring they have full representation in Parliament.”
Mr Panton issued a message of thanks on Facebook on Monday, calling the recent reshuffling of Government a “watershed moment in the history of our three islands”. Still intending on acting as an MP, Mr Panton said of his ousting: “In times like these, sometimes the bravest thing you can do for your country and for your people is to pass the mantle of leadership to someone else”, in this case to the new Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly and Deputy Premier Andre Ebanks.
Mr Panton said he believed his colleagues would be able to offer the kind of leadership needed to complete the work they had started and said that pride must never be more important than the interests of the people, and personalities and egos should never be allowed to halt the progress of Caymanians.
“Our people need our help,” he continued. “In the midst of greed and ambition threatening to drown our islands, Caymanians look to the government to chart a safe and sensible way forward – a way that puts Caymanians in the front line of our national policy agenda.”
He talked about the need to preserve Caymanian heritage, history, culture and traditions and where Caymanians could enjoy the fruit of steady, healthy, managed economic growth.
“I want all our people to have a country where all our leaders and all our institutions are built on a solid foundation of morals and ethics rooted in the very best Caymanian ideals,” he stated.
Mr Panton said he was eternally grateful to his colleagues in the PACT, admitting that, although they may have disagreed on what path to take, they had aways agreed on the destination: tending to the best interests of the Cayman Islands. He also thanked the hard work of the Civil Service and to the families and people of the Cayman Islands and, in particular, to the people of Newlands, where he lived.
His renewed focus would be tackling issues such as expanding the community programming for seniors that had been ably led by MP Heather Bodden, as well as enhancing existing and creating new youth enrichment programmes including leadership, public speaking, community service and life skills. He also intended to continue his mission to create spaces for children and families.
“I am in the midst of improving three existing parks with new playground equipment and basketball facilities, as well as creating a new park at Newlands Dock,” he advised, adding he also intended to deliver a community transport service to help seniors and children get around more easily.