Premier accepts inevitability of port vote

| 12/09/2019 | 81 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin in the LA

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has confirmed in black and white that his government will not attempt to dodge the call for a people-initiated referendum on the cruise port by trying to suggest it is not a matter of national importance or by manipulating the question.

In a press statement Thursday, the premier continued to attack the activists behind the campaign, who he sees as political adversaries, but accepted the inevitability of the vote and committed to a neutrally phrased question.

Although McLaughlin hit out at the critics of the way government has handled this entire process and refuted allegations about the position he and his government have taken along the way, the premier confirmed that the project was a national issue and the question had to be fair.

“It is central to the government’s support for Cayman’s new port and cargo facilities that they are necessary in the national interest,” he said. “There is no question of us seeking to avoid a referendum. As to the referendum question, we intend that the question should be drawn up in accordance with best practice principles, including that it should, as far as possible, be neutral in its phrasing.”

He claimed that throughout the process, government had maintained the “highest standards of probity and good practice”, despite the numerous concerns that have led to almost 6,000 voters putting their name to a petition for a referendum on this project.

McLaughlin also re-emphasized his desire to get the vote done and dusted, appearing very confident that the result will go government’s way.

“The business of government needs to go on and there is much we need to do in the next few weeks, not least bring forward a two-year budget. However, the country needs certainty and the government therefore intends to get this referendum process completed as quickly as possible,” the premier said. “Cabinet will turn its attention immediately to considering a draft bill, including a proposed formulation of the referendum question and the date on which the referendum will be held.”

Despite the historical achievement and the clear embrace of democracy by the people who signed the petition, he appeared to have no appreciation for its significance, even though he was the architect of this constitutional provision.

McLaughlin did thank the Elections Office for the completion of the verification process, having made the office check every single one of the 5,292 names needed for the petition to succeed.

But it was clear that the premier still sees this as an irritation from political opponents wanting to derail his government’s ambitions at all costs and claimed that the many thousands of Caymanians who have signed the petition did so merely because they have some questions and concerns about the port.

“We are answering those questions as we release more information now the preferred bidder has been appointed,” he said, as he indicated he was keen to get on with the project after the public’s questions have been addressed.

He also accused those opposing the port project of false allegations of impropriety on the part of government and denied them all.

See the premier’s full statement in the CNS Library

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (81)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but we all saw the clip of the lady asking Moses and his panel what are the jobs that will be provided for Caymanians. Neither Moses nor his panel could answer the lady’s question…and Alden wants us to just believe him? This just won’t do…

    • Anonymous says:

      As a start, hundreds will be employed just to build the cruise piers , followed by infrastructure , buildings, etc. then there will be employment to service the facility with security , cleaners , maintenance personnel just to keep the port working.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hundreds employed? Who? From where? For who? At what salary? Where will they live? How will they get to and from work? Where will their kids go to school?

        We already have too much imported labour coupled with too little local participation in it.

        Come up with another reason to offset destroying our most precious asset, our environment.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t see many Caymanians, willing to take on, or able to afford to live on the wages of, jobs in security, cleaners, and maintenance personnel.

        Just look at who is filling those jobs currently on island.

        As for construction, nearly every dock built in Caribbean has been built by workforce imported to do the job.

        • Anonymous says:

          9:43 not many Caymanians,willing to take on jobs in security, cleaners, maintenance personnel, is that a qualification, is that something to brag!

      • Anonymous says:

        And you’ve just highlighted the problem – other jurisdictions like Singapore and UAE seek to promote their citizens to decent jobs…instead what kind of jobs do the supporters of port want for Caymanians in what is now the world’s most expensive country? “Security, cleaners, maintenance personnel” as you’ve just said. SMH. Caymanians are becoming (if they haven’t already become) second class citizens in their own country.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Since the petition seeks to stop any further work on the CBF until certain conditions are met the question is real simple
    ” Do you agree with stopping the CBF project until such time as the requests of the petitioners are met “. Tick yes or No.

    • Anonymous says:

      The CPR campaign isn’t about stopping the project until information is released to the public….
      That implies that the government could just release documents then say we have complied with the petition and we are now approving the project

      The campaign was about getting as much relevant information as possible released to the public by a government with a penchant for secrecy and quick shortsighted backroom deals AND THEN letting the voters make the final decision on whether the project should be done at all via a referendum
      With the track record of shortsighted projects with poor results by the Cayman Islands Government the citizenry’s widespread skepticism is entirely justified

      I am including the wording of the petition VERBATIM below, it is all relatively clearly laid out, the last paragraph pertains specifically to the request for the release of as much information as possible for the people to make the final decision:

      “This Petition is a grassroots initiative by concerned citizens who believe that the issue of the proposed Cruise Berthing Facility (CBF) is a matter of national importance and the financial, socio-economic and environmental costs should be examined and weighed carefully by the people of the Cayman Islands.
      The aim of this petition is to satisfy section 70 of the Cayman Islands Constitution (2009) to start a people-initiated referendum, via petition, on whether the country should move forward with the proposed Cruise Berthing Facility in George Town Harbour.
      According to the Cayman Islands Elections Office website, the total number electors for July 1st, 2018 is 21,150. To successfully petition the Government on the issue of a people-initiated referendum, we would have to secure the signatures of 25% of the total number of voters, which would be 5,288 persons.
      We call on our Government to act with transparency: towards its people, in the best interest of our country and all its citizens and residents, and to make full disclosures of all pertinent information relating to the proposed Cruise Berthing Facility to date, including full disclosure of the Final Business Case Study, an updated Environmental Impact Assessment and other studies and reports, which consider the modifications to the original design and proposed cargo facilities, and projected costs and financing model details, to allow us – the citizens of the Cayman Islands – to make an informed decision about our future via referendum.'”

      • alaw says:

        3:47 when will you know the Government is telling you what you want to hear!

      • Josh Marin says:

        @3:47 am. You certainly are up very early. Listen yes more information is necessary, but really can you provide your name and attest and provide full evidence tOf the back clod deals you claim are going on with this and other government projects ?

        Come on now you, CNS and others of the Activist clan are wont to cast aspersions, but where is the beef, the evidence, the payola, the graft. I suggest that if you all are willing to write about these unseen actions that you are willing to provide information to the Anti. Corruption Commission of your country and have the balls( sans CNS your principals are known) to put your name out there, so the world can see your absolute patriotism ey.

        If you can’t do that you have wasted a.uable time whether of sleep, work or whatever.

        Aslam Alekum

  3. Anonymous says:

    The people’s money i.e. Cayman’s tax payers’ money, directly or indirectly, must NOT be used by C.I. Government or its agents and /or its surrogates or its supporters to advertise, promote or support the cruise port in any referendum campaign. C.I Government must remain completely neutral before and during any referendum campaign – remove those biased adverts right now!.

    Alternatively, the people of the Cayman Islands dollars spent on any campaign must be evenly distributed between pro and anti-camps……but we all know we’ll be reading about the misuse of those funds, the “lack of an audit trail”, “incomplete receipts” the non existence governance and oversight of the expended amounts etc. et al at some future Governor Generals Report into the “missing millions”, if we go down that route of giving money to C.I.Government surrogates to spend on a referendum campaign. And……like all the previous AG reports…NOTHING will happen, no one will go to jail…….but the cash will be gone….
    Better to dust down the Schools’ Auditor General’s Report right now and just change the title to “Cruise Port Referendum Expenditure”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, why not? If they believe it is the right thing to do, why shouldn’t they be allowed to advocate for it? It’s absolutely normal for governments to spend money promoting their own policies. You’re also free to spend money to advocate against them.

      • Anonymous says:

        The real question is why does the government have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars talking up their port project to the public trying to convince people to back it while claiming they were elected on it and have a mandate

      • Anonymous says:

        It is not okay to spend the people’s money propagating falsehoods, such as stating that signing the petition was a vote against the port.

      • Anonymous says:

        Compley wrong, I’m afraid. In advanced western democracies referenda are required to be equally supported, financially by governments.
        Again, its the peoples money, not the governments money – so they can’t spend it to suit their egos and back door deals.

        Governments just happen to be extremely poor, profligate, spenders our money

        • Anonymous says:

          Oh no poor Alden ppl getting to wise and pissed off like hornets. Best you stop the port talk and find something that the voters are with you on. I think a monorail or sky cable car to bring tourist out to Eastern districts.

          Want to build a port but zero plan for environment zero plan for infrastructure to give jobs that Caymanians shouldn’t even aspire for. Sorry if we want hospitality we want high end. He thinks we don’t know the Internet has brought the door right to us. We no longer need these sorts of bus driver jobs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I dont care…. but do we get a day off for referendum day?

  5. Bertie : B says:

    Every cruise ship that docks , Must tow one barge full of garbage from the dump Back to where they came from . quid pro quo . Problem solved ,

  6. Anonymous says:

    But Aldart will continue to spend peoples money with weak publicity instead of providing transparency and reliable inpact assessments. The weakest and most dangerous leader you have ever had Cayman….he continues to take and give away your childrens futures.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I believe Alden is worse than McKeeva. I hope everyone in this Unity Government are replaced when election comes around.

    The cost of living is the HIGHEST it has ever been! People are struggling to buy food and pay bills. He had turned a blind eye on all of this.

    Hope people remember all of this and NEVER put him back in government again!

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Caymanian people are adversaries? Wow.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Port is a small point of corruption.

    Ask about the hundreds of other billion dollar companies on island what they are doing with there money laundered in and out of Cayman.
    War Crimes, Crimes against humanity and the environment?

    Like wow people are actually waking up in Cayman.
    Now try to actually do something about it……We doomed

  10. Anonymous says:

    “In a press statement Thursday, the premier continued to attack the activists behind the campaign, who he sees as political adversaries, but accepted the inevitability of the vote and committed to a neutrally phrased question.”

    Some politicians get the mistaken belief that anyone with a disagreement is a political adversary. That any disagreement is a threat to their government. This government has closed their collective minds to the possibility that the port is unnecessary and has been handled badly. They have now framed the port as both a cruise ship and cargo facility to give it more meaning.

    If only this government fought with such single mindedness to fix the dump or to get education to work.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Alden, this has nothing to do with politics. This has everything to do with back door deals, secret meetings, obfuscation and the berthing facility being an overall terrible idea. The damage this will do to the environment will be noticeable, and we are giving more power to the cruise ships. They only make up 20% of our tourism revenue but account for 80% of the tourists and the cause of great many problems, damage and pollution.

    This isle of Cayman is too small to be building something so outrageous. If anything, it should be harder for cruise tourists to come here. We need to continue appealing to the high net worth vacationers who will fly in and spend weeks here. Not these low class fat slobs I see lumbering off these awful ships everyday. These type of people don’t care about us and actually cause damage because they are stupid. I saw one gargantuan tourist walking 7 mile holding numerous sea fans in her fat fists. I tell you took all my might not to walk up to that woman and give her a piece of my mind…

    Vote no on this port. I’m not against the idea of upgrading the cargo port alone as that really needs to be done. The cruise ships need to be told to buzz off.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Exactly. Well said Hon. Premier. Straightforward and to the point.

    And: “McLaughlin also re-emphasized his desire to get the vote done and dusted …”

    So now … to all a unna braggadocious loudmouts who slandered the Premier, the Deputy Premier and the rest of government suggesting that they would try to avoid the referendum by insisting it is not a matter of national importance …
    TEK DAT!

    • Anonymous says:

      Um, he’s the one who hinted he might try this argument. He created the expectation. He doesn’t get credit for defying it. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean people who said read or heard the Premier’s own words were somehow malicious or wrong to point out what they meant.

    • Anonymous says:

      He literally got up in parliament and refused to clarify if his government would concede the port vote is an issue of national importance

      The only reason those rumours started is because he was hinting at contesting the wording of that section of the constitution

  13. Anonymous says:

    Does this man just talk out of his ass the whole time?

    • Anonymous says:

      People have said he would shut it down as it isn’t important. See this article.

      People have said CHEC was confirmed under the table. Is that true?

      Who is talking out there ass here truly?

      • Truth Seeker says:

        Alden McLaughlin told the country McKeeva Bush was a bad could not be trusted and unscrupulous for 20 years yet formed the Unity Government with him in 2017 to stay in power.

        In doing so he lost whatever credibility he had and effectively destroyed the soul of both political cults. He lost the moral high ground. He proved will say and do whatever it takes to survive. McLaughlin has been caught in many contradictory positions to suit his political agenda.

        For example was he lying about McKeeva Bush then or is he lying now? How can anything he says be trusted?

  14. Dollars & Sense says:

    The Caymanian people must demand disclosure and full transparency from the Government before the referendum is held.

    In the Premier’s rather lengthy statement, why does the Premier not mention anything about the disclosure of crucial information the public deserves to be able to make an informed decision in the referendum:

    1) revised CBF design
    2) updated EIA
    3) updated final Business Case
    4) financing arrangements details

    Why is this information not being made public?

    It has been more than 6 weeks since the preferred bidder announcement. Why has the revised cruise port design STILL not been made public?

    The Business Case.
    At the preferred bidder press conference, the Minister of Tourism said:
    1) the piers will not result in higher cruise numbers, rather the current numbers (1.9m) will be maintained but more evenly spread out
    2) 450 permanent jobs to be created – more of the same types of the jobs we have now

    So, how are 450 more permanent jobs (forget whether Caymanians will get them or not) going to be created if our cruise numbers will stay the same??

    We also know from the Baird Report & Outline Business Case that piers would give cruise passengers, at a maximum, on average only 40 more minutes ashore. They will not be able to take a second tour and likely to only spend a very small amount extra, if any at all, in those extra 40 minutes.

    Demand disclosure of the final Business Case!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you!

    • Anonymous says:

      Besides ALL of that.. I am completely against anything to do with destruction of the GT diving/snorkeling spots in any way shape or form.

      Get the cargo facility OUT of GT. Those trucks hauling the containers completely shut the town down at night from the noise. Breezes and Margaritaville could have been nice to sit out in the evening except that you can’t hear yourself think over that noise.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christ. Thats why its the capitol. Where would you suggest moving it? East End?! Then complain about the distance when you are going to clear goods?? People always find the stupidest things to moan about its 2019 for goodness sake.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “Do You Support the Proposed Cruise Berthing Facility in George Town, Grand Cayman?

    Yes or No

    If “No”, what is your primary concern?

    Cost – Location – Stayovers – Size – Environment – Jobs – Congestion”

    Dear Cayman Islands Government,

    Re: Ask more than a QUESTION, please.

    Throughout the petition and verification process, what has been proven is the port debate is far from a simple one.
    The exercise has been very expensive in terms of; costs, time, and human resources, more of which will be necessary as we advance to the next stage.

    Ultimately, the decision will go one of two ways, therefore all “expenses” should be optimised for either direction.

    (Some object to the port entirely.
    Others object only to certain aspects of the proposal, e.g. location, size.
    However, it is difficult to argue that improvements to current facilities are not needed.)

    A responsible and fair Cabinet would use this Rederendum as a sincere endeavor to gather as much information / feedback on this issue of national importance.

    To undertake the cost, planning, and interruption of this particular Referendum and limit to one simple question would be a disservice to the Cayman Islands.

    A supplementary addendum / mini-survey would go a long way to reading the pulse of the people and makes perfect sense to execute at the same time.

    Hopefully we will see a brave and earnest attempt by our elected officials to resolve the long-standing and contentious issue of cruise tourism in Cayman.

    We deserve nothing less.

    (Responsible Referendum question example posted at the top.)

  16. Anonymous says:

    What a princess! Acts like Big Mac more every day

  17. Anonymous says:

    Now gonna talk about cargo facility…

  18. Anonymous says:

    ALden should be ashamed of himself..He was the one that fought for a referendum for the people and know that he has one facing him his total attitude changes..

    If he had any shame, he would stand up and say that he is happy to see democracy at work not accuse the few people that lead the drive for the petition. This referendum is the first to happen in any of the British Overseas Territories and instead of congratulating the people of this country and celebrating this momentous occasion that he fought to get, he decides to railroad it..

    If he is so sure it is going to go his way, why has he gone on the offensive and trying to ruin peoples lives..just be civil and let things play out..Nearly 6000 people spoke, he should listen..

  19. Islander says:

    What the elected officials should be doing is spending their time on how to make the Cayman Islands environmentally friendly like Norway and sorting out the issue with Mount trashmore. Decades later and numerous change of government and the GT dump is still an issue but they want to shove the cruise port down our throats.

    As for Alden thinking it is only his political adversaries that object tells you how far removed he is from knowing HOW MANY of the people (Caymanian & expatriates) are against the cruise port.

  20. Anonymous says:

    resign. you have proven your inepitude beyond question.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am lucky not to have a caymanian passport. What an embarrassment.

  22. Supreme Leader Alden says:

    This man does well with his facade acting coy and modest but everything is a personal slight

    In his mind every critique or skeptical opinion in his government or his government’s plans are personal attacks from political opponents instead of honest looks at the issues in his policies and beliefs
    The PPM lost 3 sitting ministers in 2017 and instead of taking those losses at face value and adjusting his platform and policies to reflect the changes that voters wanted he has continued with mealy mouthed leadership and half cocked policies that benefit very few people in Cayman
    Even now as nearly 6,000 Caymanians have been verified as signing a petition against one of his flagship policies he refuses to see past his nose on the issue, its all personal attacks, and secret plots by political opponents despite widespread opposition from Caymanians of all walks of life

    The issue with a man like Alden Mclaughlin is he got farther in life than he ever expected and is terrified of losing it all by admitting he doesn’t have all the answers
    He proves more and more every day with every sarcastic remark and dismissive response he has no interest in representing the people he believes its his way or the highway
    even when he is wrong

  23. Caveat Emptor says:

    We need to accept there is no difference amongst the current Premier and his predecessors McKeeva Bush and Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

    How can anyone come to expect any better from Alden McLaughlin who plays the role of a perfect leader in his own mind yet has a track record of expensive failures. Look at the facts starting with:

    1. His most expensive failure the clifton hunter high school that costs double the original budget.

    2. Look at the john gray that sits almost derelict for over a decade. Such a waste of time and money.

    3. The new leaking airport where everyone gets soaked whenever it rains.

    4. Next up is white elephant cruise dock and the inevitable cost overruns

    5. His partnership with McKeeva Bush to guarantee his position as premier in 2017. This decision cost him his integrity and the moral high ground while destroying both the PPM and UDP as political parties.

    The above are all monuments to his ego, leadership and political legacy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sums up alden’s political career perfectly

    • Anonymous says:

      EMPTY..”The new leaking airport where everyone gets soaked whenever it rains.” THat statement is an outright lie and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      8.03pm #5 His partnership with McKeeva brought relief to a majority of Caymanians who were scared that they were getting a Government made up of novices with no common agenda.Their fears were confirmed when the members of the opposition who would have formed that Government were unable to agree on who should be leader; imagine if half way through their termas Government they overthrew their Premier? What a bad message that would have been for Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        McKeeva did it to Kurt in 2000 and the country survived. Alden still joined forces with him in 2017 because it secured his power. These sort of things happen in politics when there is ineffective leadership all over the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      it seems like this whole set up is about Alden and not about coral or 7MB!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Mr premier ,the Good governance you all needs to get on with is to finish the johngray school,built the mental facility and deal with the dump.make sure education is up to A.I standard,get your priorities straight,,the A&E ran out of beds to put the sick with these important issues and i don’t care if you all put ten piers in each of you front yard.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait to see the look on Alden and Moses faces when their dock gets shut down!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Does Alden and ppm not see that the public are getting fed up with their shenanigans? This vote while on the port has larger implications this is the no confidence vote in this government just like how the OMOV referendum was the vote of no confidence in the UDP.

    It’s time for the PPM and the rest of the Unity government to pack their bags and go we have had enough.

  27. Anonymous says:

    That’s right Alden, let’s get a building!!!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Is the Premier calling former speaker Mary Lawerence and all others who feel the same way liars?

    Why does it feel like you cannot have a different view from your leaders?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Alden’s arrogance and blind faith in Moses K contributed to Cayman’s first people’s Initiated referendum.

  30. Anonymous says:

    If the premier truly believes the referendum would go his way, then why has he not supported it from the beginning? Why has so much public money been spent to oppose it? Why so much secrecy? There are too many non transparent issues hiding behind ‘sensitivity’. Yes the people are concerned and have every right to be

  31. Anonymous says:

    Poor lil Alden he can’t seem to get his way. Bless his little heart

  32. Anonymous says:


    Your people have spoken: loud, and clear, and persistently. You to start listening to them CIG!!

    I am beyond proud of the CPR Team that continued, even when people in the community and CIG railed against them at every opportunity. Thank you!

    Thank you to the people who were brave enough to sign the petition to push a referendum.

    You have all made history and shown the people of the Cayman Islands that anything is possible and everybody deserves a say in a democracy.

    Best wishes. I hope the monstrosity that this port will be does not get out of the planning phase.


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