Premier: Cruise opposition political

| 10/10/2018 | 124 Comments
Cayman News Service

Public protest against the proposed cruise ship dock facility, August 2016

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that while there may be a few people genuinely concerned about the environment, the majority of those opposing his government’s proposed cruise berthing project and calling for a referendum are politically motivated — a claim that may soon be tested if there is a referendum. Speaking on Radio Cayman on Monday, he attacked some of the people leading the referendum campaign as well as members of the opposition, whom he accused of being disingenuous about their position. At least three members on the opposition benches were in favour when they were members of his party and are now opposing it purely because the government is proposing it, he said.

But as the referendum continues to gain momentum, with an estimated 4,000 signatures already collected, the opposition appears to be reflecting a much wider public sentiment, which is that the people should make this decision, whether that is for or against the proposed cruise berthing facility and expanded cargo operation.

“I know that there are some people who have legitimate concerns and feel strongly and sincerely about the environmental impact that such a project will have, and those people have every right to feel that way and I would in no way trivialise their views about that,” McLaughlin said.

He said that three members of the opposition, Arden McLean, Anthony Eden and Alva Suckoo, are opposed to this project “only because they are in the opposition”, and suggested they previously held strong views that it was needed.

McLaughlin singled out McLean and said that throughout their time in political office together the East End member had always supported the dock, and as recently as the last LA meeting had still offered support for the project. The premier said McLean was now insincere and misleading the public into thinking he was against it to make political capital.

“It is just a good political platform to kick off an opposition campaign to try to achieve government next time around,” the premier said, accusing McLean of putting his political interest above the national interest.

However, McLean told CNS that, yes, he does believe that the Cayman Islands may need to develop a pier, but that there is no need to develop more than one and the only way it can work is to be much further out to sea, well away from the harbour front. More importantly, the long time East End representative added, he was wholeheartedly in support of a referendum to let the people make this decision, not politicians.

Speaking at the opposition public meeting in West Bay about the dock on Monday evening, McLean re-emphasised that point and raised his concerns about the misinformation being delivered by government, the weakness of their numbers and justifications, as well as their reluctance to let Caymanians vote on it.

On the radio talk show McLaughlin argued that the project was in the best interest of the country, and he compared the resistance now to the resistance when the current cargo facility was being developed. He said the public had to now bear in mind whether they wanted a strong cruise sector in future or to see it decline.

The premier claimed that cruise passengers spend more than $200 million per year — though that figure contrasts with the figures in the government’s own draft National Tourism Plan, which has the spend for last year at less than $150 million.

He further claimed that the people who are opposing the project have cosy lives and they don’t understand the dependency of many Caymanians on cruise tourism for their livelihood. He said he believed he had a mandate and it was too late for a referendum.

Criticising the key spokespeople opposing the project and leading the referendum campaign, he said the largest percentage of the opposition came from the government’s political opponents or those with an economic interest and not because of genuine public concerns.

However, since Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell held his own public meeting last month, the public has continued to demand answers about the bidders involved, the process, the costs, as well as who and how it is being paid for.

During their appearance on For the Record on Monday, both McLaughlin and Kirkconnell refused to answer the question posed by Johann Moxam, one of those supporting the referendum campaign, about how much is too much when it comes to a price tag for this project. It is understood that, whatever the model, it will ultimately be paid for from fees collected from cruise passengers and the cruise line, which currently go into port coffers and, indirectly, the public purse.

Again, as was the case at his own meeting, Kirkconnell failed to explain how the project, which he repeatedly has described as a ‘design, build and finance model’, would be financed. Instead, the minister said it would be down to the successful bidder to decide how the cruise and expanded cargo project would be paid for.

The opposition is continuing its district public meetings tonight, Wednesday, at the Seafarers’ centre.

Then on Thursday evening Kenneth Bryan, the independent member for George Town Central, within whose constituency the entire project will be developed, will be hosting the opposition at the George Town Town Hall. Bryan has also invited the tourism minister to attend in order to assist with the many questions that remain outstanding, especially given the specific impact the project will have for his constituents.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism

Comments (124)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    8:28 you could have used a lot less words like
    its not the dock,its the government

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is no such thing as “free speech” without invoking legal consequences in todays society. This is why majority of commenters perfer to remain anonymous.

  3. Anonymous says:

    you are 100% right

  4. Anonymous says:

    when you travel like most caymanians do, what about those crowded streets?

  5. Anonymous says:

    everybody is asking for guarantees
    name 3 things in this world that is guarantee

  6. alaw says:

    what do you know about a proper dock, and who’s back yard is the right place for a dock?
    the field of engineering that deals with bridges and docks and such is call civil, not steam engineering license

  7. alaw says:

    9:33 you keep reminding us that you are not against the dock, we already knows that.
    Ray Charles can see then, its a political movement

  8. Anonymous says:

    if china is chosen what will you do about it
    the Great wall of China is still standing

  9. Anonymous says:

    This video is 2 years old of the Balboa. Where are the fish? look at this shipwreck, its an artificial reef. All the areas that are white is dead. Michelle Lockwood said that coral takes 1000 years to grow. Total nonsense, you can see coral that has been on the ship by its propeller. This ship was blown up sometime after 1932 hurricane.
    This video is Eden Rock in 2012 you can see that the reef has fish and that the coral is in better shape, less white color throughout .
    This video is Eden Rock 2016 you can see the reef has less coral and more white portions of the reef which is dying or dead. You see tarpons running through the tunnels look at the walls no life.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Or a referendum to remove their lifetime “Honorable” titles and to outlaw pension double-dipping.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has always gotten easy/free money from expats. It’s why they have never learned fiscal responsibility. There really nothing at stake for them.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe you are asking that question after Clifton Hunter high school was 110 million CI dollars. Thay want to build another school JGHS for another 100 million CI dollars and they haven’t even asked if they can afford it? Where are we going to get that money? Is that a loan are we taking it from pensions, where is it coming from? Why aren’t people upset about that? Is any public school producing children ready to work beside Burger king? How many going to university? So sad so very sad. Oh, plus the teachers are going to get a raise to CI$60,000 a year . We need to go around the world and let all the teachers in the world know that piece of infomation don’t you think?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The opposition to this dock is nothing short of pathetic. Grow up for Christ sakes.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That was already opposed

  15. Anonymous says:


  16. Anonymous says:

    Ask the FCO why they stopped the last Chinese effort to be awarded the contract. Also ask why the govt. of the day were so willing to settle with the fired Dutch consortium in excess of 2million. !

  17. Anonymous says:

    Say it like it is 9.18 , that EXACTLY is the fear surrounding one bidder in particular.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The FCO got involved when they caught wind of CHEC’s business style , and those who would win the lottery . Perhaps the FCO should be reminded of those days.

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