Speaker of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly Hon. McKeeva Bush has hailed the territory’s building code for its robust stipulations which he feels contributed to averting what could have been a major disaster from last week’s Tuesday’s 7.7magnitude earthquake.
In an address to the LA that was part homily, part admonition, the Speaker recalled the original doubts about the requirements detailed in the code.
Not only were the regulations put the test of harsh criticism, but the more severe real-world, real-time stress test which they withstood.
“Stresses we had on Tuesday on our building code, we recognise what they are. I do recall how much we were criticised for it, and I say, in all our challenges, we ought not to overly criticise for the sake of our own aggrandisement and political gain,” Speaker Bush admonished.
“Our people ought to take stock for something that was cursed and an administration that was accused, oh so much, of putting into place a system (and you have heard these words a lot) to hinder Caymanians and make foreigners and ourselves (meaning, Elected Members) rich. You heard that. That is what we are being accused of.
“But that has been debunked — debunked, I say — by the 7.7 earthquake that hit us on Tuesday, with rarely any structural damage, that should prevail hard on the minds of us Caymanians, that what was done in implementing our building code was good for our Islands, and especially good for Caymanians.”
Considering the intensity of the earthquake, The Speaker reflected on earthquakes which have resulted in horrific tragedies elsewhere and compared that to the disaster which has been averted in the Cayman Islands.
“Let us think of where we are. Just think how fortunate, how blessed we have been, that we were hit by a 7.7 on the scale and we lost no life. No buildings collapsed. Haiti was hit by a 6 and lost 250,000 lives, so we ought to think. We ought to think about so many things, but we have to be thankful. This did not come perchance because we have cared. We have had the foresight to build right and who was it for? — our own people because that is who we are building for.”
With the Legislative Assembly holding its first session for the year, and at the start of a new decade, Hon. Speaker Bush called for a new approach to political engagement and public discourse.
“As we enter a new decade in this our first meeting for the year, let us call on our good common sense. Let us be thankful for the strides we have made as a country; be mindful that a pack of lies hurt the nation. It is easy to lie, defame and accuse but good, positive results of the challenges we face will only come from hard work, not talk — not talk on Facebook or under the almond tree.
“Yesterday, some Members of this honourable House were out in their constituencies giving assistance. What was the complaint? Photos! This is the mindset of our people and we ought to say so because it is wrong.
“So, while we are accused, the facts are showing differently and rather than our accusers doing nothing to lead to a new dawn, they are busy doing what they accuse the Elected Assembly of; the entrenchment of old practices: accuse, belittle, blackguard and lie.”
Indications of ageism emerging in public debate were frowned on by Speaker Bush, and he appealed to all concerned to refrain from expressions.
“I will further say that our public ought to be more than careful, wary — more than wary — as the many complaints and talk of being young, and us being too old is not the panacea for political governance in our Islands with the challenges we face. Work, work, work, not make-believe, is the order of the day.”
The Hon. Speaker reiterated that he will not seek political leadership again but is committed to continuing his contributions to the development of the territory.
“I say all of this not because I want to seek any higher office, and let me debunk that; I am not. I say all this because of what I see, not that I am seeking to be Premier, God knows — and let me debunk that — not this McKeeva Bush. I turned 65 last Monday; do you think I want to face that as the Premier or as a Member of Cabinet? I say to my people: Not me. Oh, I will strive for the next seat, and I hope they carry that one. I will, God’s willing, but not to be in Cabinet.”
One of the goals Mr Bush says he wished to see achieved is the transition from legislative assembly to a parliament which he considers as a demonstration of political maturity for the Cayman Islands.
“I say all this too because I am the Speaker of this Assembly, for which agreement has been reached for it to be the Parliament of the Cayman Islands, and if we have not or cannot reach this kind of maturity that I am talking about, then when shall we?
In closing his presentation the Hon. Speaker complimented the emergency services for their prompt and coordinated response to avert what could have been a major disaster.
He also called for more tolerance, encouragement and appreciation, across the political directorate, civil service, private sector and the wider community.