Constitutional change stirs up controversy

| 03/07/2019 | 39 Comments
Cayman News Service
Governor Martyn Roper at the weekend’s celebrations

(CNS): Talks between the Cayman Islands and UK governments over amendments to Cayman’s Constitution have concluded, but even though they have not yet been disclosed, the changes have already begun to stir up controversy. CNS has learned that the amendments have not been confirmed by officials in London and, contrary to claims that there has been a shift in the balance of power, the key change that the premier had wanted, the removal of section 125, is not part of the proposed package of changes.

However, some members of the opposition raised concerns on social media and local radio this week that significant changes may have been agreed behind closed doors.

Speaking at the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the first constitution over the weekend, Governor Martyn Roper did state that the talks between the Cayman Islands Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over the changes had gone well and that the talks were at the end stage.

He said the details would be revealed in a matter of weeks. But despite describing the final deal, when it is agreed, as being “an evolution in further autonomy” for Cayman, he said it protected “the UK equities” regarding Cayman’s position as an overseas territories.

The governor’s office told CNS on Wednesday that it could not comment on the details at this point, it will be able to explain the changes after they have been formally agreed and released. So far there is no confirmed timeline for the finalisation of the proposals. However, CNS has learned that the proposed changes do not represent a shift in the balance of power, which mean that such fears are unfounded.

Opposition MLA Chris Saunders has stated on social media that “political leaders sat down behind closed doors” to make deals to get more power for themselves without consulting the people. He raised concerns that the Constitution was in danger of becoming “just another piece of paper to be changed at will, like a regular piece of legislation”, adding that he would not support any change without a referendum

“Our Constitution is a document and a contract on how our islands should be governed and it cannot… should not… must not… be changed unilaterally by one side,” he posted.

But FCO sources have indicated that the power held by the premier and the governor have not changed in any significant way. In addition, Section 125 remains. This, the final and most fundamental line of the constitution, states: “There is reserved to Her Majesty full power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Cayman Islands.”

However, when the details of the changes are revealed, the question of a referendum is a legitimate concern. According to documentation agreed after the establishment of the 2009 Constitution, any significant changes to it would require a national vote, but defining what is ‘significant’ will be where the issue and potential future controversy and political wrangling may lie.

Premier Alden McLaughlin could be placed in an awkward position if he paints the changes as ‘significant’ and a win for his administration in developing Cayman’s autonomy without calling a referendum. Suggesting that the changes are not significant enough for a vote, however, would then call into question the success of the talks if Cayman’s ability to control its own affairs in relation to domestic issues have not been advanced in any meaningful way and it remains vulnerable to the UK’s parliamentary whims.

The trigger for the talks was the amended Sanctions and Anti-money Laundering Bill that was passed in the UK Parliament and includes provision for imposing public beneficial ownership registers on the UK’s territories by order-in-council if they do not create them voluntarily.

Cayman has said it will not establish a public register until it becomes the international standard and signalled its intention to fight the issue in the courts. But it also led to the premier’s decision, with the support of the opposition leader at the time, to ask for talks with the UK to address its ability to impose such an order in relation to an area of devolved power and to hopefully prevent future impositions in other areas.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope it has a addition that legalises same sex marriage….. now that’s progressive

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    • Anonymous says:

      Progressively downwards, yes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You know it is evident that xpatriates or shouodi say hexpatriates are becoming guide discomfited about local political happenings and are anonymously voicing their opinion. Well them carry on mateys for that is exactly how you will remain anonymous. Best the heat go back to the cold, if what we do doesn’t suit you or stay and ham up those $$$ that brought you here before you are really hexed out . Just saying.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Independence on the way!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Make Cayman a mecca for only true Caribbeans with the right shade skin. Its the only way our people will survive. We can do it, si se puede and Trump can goto hell.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Just ask Dart what he wants ,and Mac will tell us what we can have.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Referendum.. the new buzz word.. SMH

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank goodness our Premier has gotten this straitened out. Getting the term limit for being Premier changed was very important so our great leader can stay at the helm and keep steering us into further greatness. Get rid of that referendum section as well because it hinders good governance. Thank you Unity Team!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The Constitution is meant to be a document for the people and as such, no changes should EVER be agreed in secret.

    People please WAKE up.

    As for Ezzard I can see why the opposition no longer had confidence in you! Beyond stupid that you agreed to participate in closed door discussion on the People’s Constitution!

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    • Anonymous says:

      “The Constitution is meant to be a document for the people”

      Cayman is not about people. Cayman is about one thing only and that is money. Look at the vaunted “financial sector”. Do you think for one moment that the scum of the world do their banking here because of the people? Is it the weather or the last bits of dying coral that brings their money to these tiny rocks?

      Do you think there is something innate about Caymanian people or these islands which somehow makes it a natural place for wealthy people to do business?

      No. They do their banking here because they can get away with dealings here that they cannot do elsewhere. The money comes here to do things it can’t do at home.

      The sooner you realize that neither Cayman nor our Constitution has anything to do with people, then the sooner you begin to understand what’s what in these islands.

      The Constitution and the CIG are for show. Honestly, the population of a small village anywhere else, strutting around as if they are God’s chosen nation, is a sad little spectacle, but fortunately one of which the world takes no notice.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “The money comes here to do things it can’t do at home” – incorrect. the level on taxation on said money is lower here, that’s all, but they can do it at “home” too.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Evidently we are a chosen nation as many believe praying that a hurricane won’t affect us is a super effective deterrent to natural weather.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, such mainstream reading and so credible. You don’t get out much, do you? Never mind, don’t forget your tablets and you will be fine.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What did Her Majesty say about Kamloops? Where are the children, your Highness?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Will not make much difference after BREXIT as all the colonies are going to be let loose and Scotland and Northern Ireland will throw their lot in with the EU next year.

    Politically it will no longer make economic sense to hold onto the final drops of the British Empire.

    Let the chaos and corruption begin next year.

    Time for this Bobo to immigrate.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Bye. Don’t let the door hitya…….

      You were never meant for here. You give up too easily, and apparently won’t stand for your beliefs.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Hilarious! Your comment implies its difficult to live here…if you find it so then you really need to see a doctor quickly.

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        • Anonymous says:

          The cost of living now makes it difficult to live here. Astronomical health insurance costs and energy costs. However, great if you are a billionaire.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Alden is a boot licking slave to his masters at the fco

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Alden McLaughlin and his Cabinet members including the real Premier and co-Leader of the Unity government McKeeva Bush cannot be trusted.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There should have been a drum roll for that all embracing dramatic statement! Now once you get over the generalisations, the unproved allegations and complete lack of evidence that you supply to support your statement, its actually quite amusing.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard Miller was a fool to have agreed to back these talks in the first place without solid commitments as to what would be discussed and not demanding a member of the opposition be included in all discussions

    The types of changes that could have been made could be devastating, and then brought back to the LA and pushed through with a slim majority of votes making the constitution essentially useless

    The CIG should have never undertaken these changes behind closed doors, every word uttered should have been recorded and part of the public record, these are not state secrets or matters of national security there is absolutely no justification from MLAs who go on and on about transparency and accountability for something this important to be treated so privately

    FOIs should be flying from the media houses to the various offices and departments involved and every refused request should be challenged by any means necessary

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    • Ezzard Miller says:

      Anon 7:58 the value of your contributed is reflected by the fact that you can call my name but don’t have the courage or confidence to sign your own.
      All the matters for discussion that I agreed with the Premier to conduct with the FCO is a mater of public record. I stated them all quite clearly on several talk shows and had discussion with my constituents at three District Council meetings.
      Nothing was agreed behind closed doors that was not discussed in the public.
      D. Ezzard Miller

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well said. Short and to the point (and point well made).
        Why can’t those bags of hot air be as short and to the point. So many of them, so full of hot air.
        Thank you E.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We don’t all make our hundreds of thousands being public windbags D. Ezzard Miller; most of has have learned to keep our mouths shut or risk our livelihoods. We definitely don’t all listen to those stupid talk shows where the ignorant debate the ignorant about important topics. And we sure as hell don’t all live in North Side, pop. 200, of whom an even smaller number attend your meetings! So don’t give us that crap!

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        • Chris Johnson says:

          I am wondering if you have ever made a positive comment in your life. Attacking Mr Miller does not help. He speaks his mind and is constructive. Moreover he does not hide behind anonymous as 95% of people do.

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      • Anonymous says:

        As a representative of the people, at least try and spell correctly when you post on a public forum. It’s embarrassing that you’re unable to write coherently, perhaps all MLA’s should focus their attention on improving the education standards in Cayman first and foremost.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh stop it. It is a game. Ezzard is Lodge. Alden is Lodge.
      Whatever plays out in public is just Punch & Judy for the mentally challenged. Hopefully our press will create a platform for truth?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Referendi for everyone!

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