Alden won’t say port project of national importance

| 05/06/2019 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin in the LA, 5 June 2019

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin refused to say whether or not he believes the government’s proposed cruise and cargo port project is a matter of national importance when questioned in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday. Although Opposition Leader Arden McLean pressed him on what is a critical point now that the campaign for a people’s referendum has reached the required signatures to trigger a vote, McLaughlin said Cabinet had no petition so there was no need to speculate, as he appeared to dismiss the possibility of a referendum.

“Government is taking the necessary legal advice but until we have a properly verified petition, it is not speculating about those issues,” he said in response to McLean. “If a petition is submitted, that issue will then be considered, but I can say no more.”

McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly that ten months after the petition campaign was launched, there was still no list submitted to the Elections Office for verification. But he added that government was “taking the best possible legal advice” on the steps forward if and when a petition with the requisite numbers of signatures has been verified and presented to Cabinet.

“Until then, the legal advice is clear: government need not have any regard for what is a year-long process of signature collection as it has not risen above that yet,” he stated.

McLean’s question on whether or not the premier considers this project to be a matter of national importance is crucial because that is what underpins the concept of a people’s referendum, as set out in section 70 of the Constitution.

If it goes ahead, the port will be the biggest, most complex and costly capital works project ever undertaken in the Cayman Islands and will hugely impact the Cayman Islands, but there are concerns that government is finding legal ways to derail the vote. Deciding that the project is not a matter of national importance, as absurd as that may be, is one option of many the government is understood to be considering to prevent the people’s vote, should the petition be verified.

At this point, the premier is refusing to acknowledge that the campaign has been a success. He dismissed the petition and derided how long the volunteers of the grassroots campaign on a shoestring-budget took to get 5,500 signatures and was persistent in his position that the government had nothing to consider until Cabinet has a verified petition.

But regardless of the premier’s refusal to face what has happened, the petition is expected to be submitted in full to the Elections Office on Friday, when Wesley Howell, currently the premier’s chief officer, will put that job on hold to take up his role as elections supervisor.

While the premier refused to say that the project is of national importance, in a short statement about the final stage of the bidding process, the premier described the submissions of the final bids on Friday as an “historic milestone”.

He said it had “been a very long haul over many years, over three administrations and millions of dollars spent on expert reports, advice and time to get to this point”, highlighting the magnitude of this proposed development.

Outlining how government was progressing with the project, he said evaluation groups had been tasked to review, evaluate and score the bids received.

“This evaluation will be comprehensive and will involve the Major Projects Office, Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, the ministry, and financial and technical consultants,” he said.

“The next steps will include the preparation of an Evaluation Summary and Tender Assessment Report, which will be submitted to the Public Procurement Committee/Central Tenders Committee. Once that committee has considered and provided their recommendation, a presentation and paper will be sent to Cabinet.”

McLaughlin gave no indication of how many bids came in but for sometime now sources close to the project have indicated that the local consortium known as the Verdant Isle Group led by McAlpine and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) were the only two bidders left in the running.

There are fears that the Chinese firm is government’s preferred bidder because of the additional projects that the Beijing-based company, understood to have very close ties to the Chinese government, is willing to offer as part of the package.

Once again, the premier claimed government had been transparent, despite significant public opinion to the contrary.

“At every point along the way we have advised the public where we are,” he said, adding that government needed to get to this final stage to have the final designs in hand, and he said he looked “forward to publicly unveiling the plans, including costs, as soon as the successful bidder has been identified”.

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Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am surprised compass has posted an intelligent comment ( Kattina Anglin) on the issue. I recommend you read it.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    What an incredibly arrogant man.

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  3. Ron Ebanks says:

    @ 4:49 pm , it is only Alden that see the pier as an national issue, but he wants it regardless of what it causes .

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    • Anonymous says:

      Honorable Premier wants the port to keep our country relevant in the cruise business. Stop bashing him and the other members of the Unity Team; if you are so unhappy catch one of the flights leaving daily. Praise to our great leaders!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Referendum or no referendum, the new cruise port will go ahead. It has taken nearly a year to obtain signatures from 25% of the electorate. How on earth are the campaigners going to persuade over 50% of the electorate to vote against it – in a referendum?

    It has been a valiant attempt and at least the campaigners have tried to make a difference as opposed to sitting at home, and venting their anger at the incompetent members of the Legislative Assembly (the Speaker is an embarrassment), from a computer. Nonetheless, a deal will be done and the Chinese will be contracted to do the construction.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do they need over 50% of electorate or over 50% of those actually voting in the referendum?

      CNS: In a people-initiated referendum they need 50% plus one of the electorate. In a government-initiated referendum, they only need a majority of people who turn out to vote. This will be the former.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nov 2018
    “I am grateful for an incredibly proud of the government that I lead, every member of which has been in support of the critical decisions we have taken with regard to these crucial projects.”
    “the new port facilities that this country needs to secure its economic future”
    Sept 2018
    The premier added that his government believed it was in the “vital national interest” of the Cayman Islands to proceed with the project

    Aldart is slime

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  6. Anonymous says:

    That rusty ass Carnival Glory ship looks like the bottom is about to fall out of it. Don’t want her tied up at our shiny new dock.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that the Premier can get legal advice from a non-Caymanian, non-voting lawyer, but the signatures on the Petition HAVE to be from Caymanian Voters?

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  8. Las Tortugan says:

    Hey can someone just tell me when can I vote for no motion confidence and no to the dock?

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  9. If thousands of signatures don't matter why should hundreds of votes? says:

    In a country where most politicians are elected by a couple hundred votes it is laughable to even suggest that a petition signed by thousands of caymanians isn’t an issue of national interest
    These lawyers and their legal advice are probably not much better than the ones that went to court to fight the gay marriage by admitting the system was discriminatory and likely unconstitutional but also arguing some obscure section of the law justified it
    I don’t even like the membership of these government benches but from experience…. your lawyers suck

    Yall are going to waste money on these projects hire lawyers worth the fees you pay them for christsake

    If the voices of thousands of Caymanians can be ignored why should anyone listen to the 350 people who voted for these clowns
    At that point we might as well throw away the concept and the guise Republicanism and adopt the authoritarian theocratic system that we pretend we don’t already live in

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    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks the poorly drafted Elections Law directed and edited by career politicians to ensure their own longevity, there is no sign of a minimum threshold of voters required to elect anyone.

      Essentially, if all public rrgistered voters stayed home and declined to vote (dur to lack of choices)but the delegates running went out and cast their OWN single vote for themselves, it would allow them to win. How sad is that?!?

  10. Bobo says:

    You will be out
    Your a poor example for us
    Driven by greed
    Disgusting

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Really shocked nothing on CNS, Cayman 27 or the Compass about the US ban on tourism to Cuba. This is a major story that directly impacts Cayman tourism, yet nothing from our media. Wow.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    The decision to give a private party 100% of the passenger fees (and perhaps a cargo stipend we haven’t seen) for 25-50 years is definitely of National importance. FCO should be involved as well, and there should be full transparency.

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  13. 3 cheers for the school kids who stood up to ‘negative press against activist students’ today! The future is speaking and they are well versed and have their own voice., proud and reasonable., step aside old guard.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Most of those kids had no idea anything about the port. Most were there to protest using plastics.

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      • Anonymous says:

        @10:02 – you would be foolish to underestimate these young people. They are our future leaders and are already taking an interest in their future and the future of these islands, which is more than I can say for our current government. Within 1-2 generations we we will have a more educated, well rounded, open minded and less religious, young population. Spirituality has its place. But not within government.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Spirituality has its place when you decide where you want to spend eternity, but while you are seeking the temporal blessings, it is just a big nuisance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why so scared Alden?

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  15. Patricia Bryan says:

    The Honorable Premier is after all an Attorney by trade. Very careful of chosen words.
    I would be too on this issue.
    Cayman is so often coming against many precedent settings changes to our islands.

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    • Anonymous says:

      An attorney by trade, but a freemason by conviction. The two seem to go hand in hand these days. Let the attorneys in Cayman take this opportunity to deny this observation.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know if the port is of national importance or not, but this petition and referendum absolutely is NOT!

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  17. Anonymous says:

    The economic benefits from a port will benefit Caymanians and their businesses. What exactly is the benefit of an Eiffel Tower to the people?

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Why should the government down tools on the port just because a group of people claim that they have 5,500 signatures on their petition.

    I could claim tomorrow that I have enough signatories to my petition against the airport runway extension. Should the government stop all work on this just because I have made my claim?

    Or should an independent elections office check first…?

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Does the best legal advice government is seeking have a practicing certificate entitling them to practice Cayman Islands Law?

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians has such a short memory, they say this year after year and then vote the same ones back in. Is it short memory or is it short of sense

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  21. Al Catraz says:

    The sooner you realize there is not going to be a port referendum, the sooner you can move on to a more productive use of your time.

    It’s not going to happen and the government will not allow it to happen.

    These folks are not going to be voted out either. They are crucial to stop the gayness from spreading to everyone on the island.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    How come the petition hasnt been submitted to the elections office? what is the hold up?

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  23. Anonymous says:

    VOTE THEM ALL OUT!
    Cayman deserves better in 2021

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  24. SMH says:

    The Premier Alden McLaughlin is a disgrace and has become the ppm’s version of McKeeva Bush in how he leads and lack of respect for people. SMH

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  25. Ron Ebanks says:

    Well if it is not of national importance to him Alden , why is he pushing so hard to get the pier started ????

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right with that question………………Interesting!

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    • X says:

      That’s obviously because he knows it’s only of importance to a few select greedy ppm string holders to line their pockets. It’s not of national importance to Alden, just his and his cronies.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Money in the pocket. Watch, when August comes around. That’s when the port will start being built. Ask anyone who has a shop at the terminal when their leases are up and why.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Vital to our industries, most important project in your history…not for voting upon. You sir are going to court

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  27. Abyss says:

    A wise man once said nothing.. the port will be built while you all cry.

    Enter the future with us.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    You have no advised the public of anything! Please stop with this holier than thou crap. It is exceedingly clear that this government and previous administrations have been acting on less than substantial laws of good governance and standards of public life. This petition and referendum will bring it all up.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    The Premier is absolutely correct. Whether you are for the port or not, it is clear in the law, as was described by Mr. Howell at the public meeting last week, that there is no petition until it has been presented. At this point the list has not yet even been submitted to the Elections Office.

    The Premier should be saying: okay – if you want a referendum, meet me halfway, supply us with the list of names”.

    All the rest of this is scaremongering – creating the idea that there might be wrongdoing on behalf of the Government, but not ever proving any of it. It is shameful.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Government *literally* has an ongoing media campaign that aims to convince the public that this cruise port is essential to securing the economic future of our islands and how we will fall to ruin without it.

    So yea, I’d say the question of whether they feel this issue is of “national importance” answers itself.

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Arrogant as he may be. This is precisely why he is Premier and Arden et al never will be.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    We need to start a petition for fresh elections, these “leader’s” have shown nothing but contempt for the democratic process our government is founded upon.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Sounds fine to me.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    “Until then, the legal advice is clear: government need not have any regard for what is a year-long process of signature collection as it has not risen above that yet,” he stated.”

    Alden Mclaughlin is such a snake

    This is the same man who has authorized tens thousands of dollars in advertisements and public campaign expenditures against even signing the petition

    These Opposition MLAs are asleep at the wheel, put his feet to the fire, how hard is it to rebut his mealy mouthed response
    All you would have to say is:
    If the government really is taking that position then why have they spent months running wall to wall ads on the radio, buying up ad space on facebook and setting up social media accounts and websites solely to campaign against the petition

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  35. Anonymous says:

    What a Premiere AssH***. No wonder they won’t do anything about the Standards Bill. Can’t wait for election to come around!!!! He better stock up on that creme he uses.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can insult Alden, but don’t you dare insult my Brylcreem.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Things could be better in Cayman , but things could be a hell of lot worse, Cayman Islands are still one of the best places to work and live in the World, that’s why we have 130 different nationalitys here.

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