Cruise campaigners need miracle, says premier

| 08/10/2019 | 166 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that those campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the cruise port referendum will need a miracle to stop the project, as he made it very clear he is expecting a low turnout for the national poll. But the premier said he would consider his position as the country’s leader if the campaigners did succeed in stopping the project. However, confident that he will not have to resign, he predicted that no more than 60% of registered voters will vote in the historic national people’s poll.

In his first interview with the media for a long time, the premier spoke to the Cayman Compass, just days after his office announced that the newspaper was collaborating with government on TV news content. In the edited piece, McLaughlin implied that he was hoping for a low turnout because that would ensure that government prevailed.

The premier did not admit that the date set for the poll was likely to help in securing the low turnout he wanted. Instead, McLaughlin justified holding the referendum just six days before Christmas, saying it was the earliest possible date to hold it, that the issue had “dragged on” for more than a year and because the country needed closure.

He said those who are going to be overseas can take advantage of early mobile or postal voting and students would be home for the holidays.

While it is clear that having the poll in the second week of January — less than three weeks later — would have had little bearing on the timeline for a project that has been talked about for more than two decades, it would allow many more new voters to take part. Their disenfranchisement clouds the claim that the referendum should be held as soon as possible.

The premier said government had already spent some $4 million on preparing and planning this project over the last few years and it would be spending another $1.5 million on the referendum. While he accepted that the vote was a constitutional right, he was also clear that he expected the referendum to favour the project, as he does not believe more than 50% of the electorate will turn out to vote ‘no’ to the port.

However, the country’s leader said that if there was a strong turnout and a definitive ‘no’ vote, it would be a significant political blow to him and his Unity Government.

“I would certainly have to consider my position as premier and decide whether or not I should continue, but it is early days,” he told the news organisation, but said he believed that was a very remote possibility. “It would be a small miracle, I think, if they were able to get 50% plus one.”

The premier also warned that the project will go ahead even if the vote falls only marginally short of the 50% plus one target, or the 10,609 votes needed to stop the proposed port development. In other words, the premier is willing to put his and his government’s future political position on the line even if 10,608 people voted against it.

He reminded voters that those who stay home will be counted in the ‘yes’ column, even if those voters are against it but for whatever reason don’t make it to the polling booth — a strong reminder of the need for a good turnout to ensure that voters’ democratic rights are not misused.

“We would proceed with the project because, essentially, people not turning out to vote is a clear indication they are not opposed to the project,” he stated.

McLaughlin also noted that voters are unlikely to get much more information about the proposed port project before Referendum Day, as he said much of the detail would not be able to be shared until a contract is signed and that will not happen until after the referendum.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (166)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He wants a miracle let’s give him a miracle vote no on December 19th so we stop the dock and force Alden to resign (we know he won’t do it even though he said it he is not a man of his word).

  2. Anonymous says:

    it seems as though he is very religious …divine intervention….miracles…..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Alden- you better start believing in miracles because lord knows you’ll need one on Election Day! You just keep digging away at your own political grave!

    • Anonymous says:

      He needs a rude awakening. What will he say on Election Day? He is too pompous and believes he is Chief, until the wind is cut from under his wings.

  4. Anonymous says:

    On Judgement Day, the only one who will need a miracle is the Premier.
    I sincerely hope he gets it. We are all in this together.
    Come on Alden, wake up. Money and power is not everything.

  5. M says:

    While I sympathize with the campaigner/complainers what seems to go missed in most of these chats is that the government was elected on a mandate that Mondays including infrastructure projects that were known at the very beginning of this administration. The exercising of today new constitutional right for a referendum has its basis and place but as the Premier implies The only thing that should stop this project is 50% +1 of the electorate saying “no” to the project. The Premier has put all his political capital on the line and clearly this must stand for something. sometimes leaders have to take the road less traveled for the betterment of the country. Let’s all quit the whining move on with Cayman‘s development an usher in the 21st-century. As I recall the airport expansion drew the same criticism when it was re-developed and we lived though that one and now having to face the reality expanding again. Please also remember that this project includes the upgrading of our much-needed cargo facility which can barely support our current level of population and shipping requirements. Let’s face it, development is a must and if we don’t modernize our infrastructure we will all be on this island starving literally and figuratively.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps what you need to see is the impact that all of this good development is actually having on us. Overall we have more access to more things but our quality of life is going down. We need a different approach. As for the cargo facility it is quite easy to expand it if that is needed (and there are reports that it is not needed – including a government drawing of the port design that seems to actually reduce the cargo facility footprint) without tying it to the cruise berthing proposal.

    • no suh says:

      The Premier is on his last rodeo – retiring out of politics in 2021. What does he care if his head is on the chopping block. It’s all a distraction for the total effup he has made bendin over backwards for EU and smoochin in Monaco. Persons need to #WakeUp and #VoteNo. SAY NO TO DEBT!

      • M says:

        ”Heavy is the crown” as they say but Regardless of whether he is on his way out or not, Alden Mclaughlin has taken bold steps this time around for the advancement of the country. unemployment is the lowest it has ever been for Caymanians. Any caymanian not employed today is likely to be unemployable or Does not want to be employed.. He has kept many of the initiatives started by the previous administration and rose above the politics to ensure that the country continues on a prosperous path. It is very easy and is often the practice for politicians coming in and tearing down the policies of the previous administration and restarting their own agenda which only serves to set the country back. History will prove that he was good for Cayman.. Easy to criticize decisions that are taken while not understanding the gravity or complexity of these decisions. What is for sure is they are always made in the spirit of being in the best interest of the country.

        • Anonymous says:

          M obviously you are not taking into consideration that he has still not fixed the DUMP and we still do not have regular garbage pick up. Sometimes it can be weeks before garbage is picked up.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “I would certainly have to consider my position as premier and decide whether or not I should continue”


  7. Anonymous says:

    Imagine we can get rid of the Premier and the dock in one fell swoop!

    • Anonymous says:

      And he’ll happily retire to his farm with not a worry about paying bills. How exactly do you think it’ll hurt him? A bad legacy? Pfft.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Build the Port

  9. Anonymous says:

    Demand Better from your Government

    Section 70(3) of the Constitution, states that the results shall be binding if more than 50 percent of registered voters “assent” to the question. This means those who vote “YES”.

    Section 4(4) of the Proposed Referendum Law, however, states that the referendum results will be binding only if more than fifty percent of registered voters vote in favor or more than fifty percent vote against the question.

    The section attempts to add a new requirement that is not provided for in the Cayman Islands Constitution and therefore it is not a requirement for those who wish to vote against the question to meet the fifty percent or greater threshold.

    This means, according to the Premier, that if the Yes votes are not greater than 50% of the total registered voters and the No votes are also not greater than 50% of the total registered voters there is no binding result and the port project will proceed.

    This is not what the Cayman Islands Constitution requires and is a clear indication that the Government is stacking the deck against a fair, open and free referendum vote.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Premier XXXX has done all he could to prevent the public their democrite right now how dare he remind voters to go out and “ensure their democratic rights are not misused”

    • Constitutional Questioner says:

      You aren’t understanding the issue. The wording of Section 4(4) actually gives more clarity and availability of the campaigners (voting NO) to have a voice. It does not take away from Section 70(3) of the Constitution.

      Section 70(3) simply says the results are not binding unless >50% of the electorate votes YES. The same thing comes from 4(4), but adds clarity that if NO votes are greater than 50% of the electorate, that is also binding. This wording is something the campaigners should be thankful for.

  10. JJ says:

    It’s funny to see how the campaigners are getting all fussy just because Alden is simply stating the obvious. Getting 50% + 1 of the electorate to actually vote NO is a huge task, regardless of when this vote is done. Might as well just get it over with a soon as possible.

    I can understand why the unity govt wants to get the side show over with so they can get back on track with their agenda. Yes, their agenda will be in focus next election. But the complainers/campaigners need to just move on.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a huge task, by his contemptuous design.

    • Anonymous says:

      The petition has more support than the PPM had in 2017 when they ran 15 Candidates, so it is really hilarious to see PPM supporters dismissing it as some tiny fraction of the electorate

      Total number of PPM votes in 2017: 4,909 votes

      Confirmed Petition signature totals: 5,305 out of a total of 5,862 signatures submitted

      More people signed this petition than voted for the PPM’s agenda
      Keep that in mind when you are pushing your nonsense,
      Go against the people and you will be voted out

      • Anonymous says:

        Most of West bay is in support of the port. Everyone has an uncle, brother, father or cousin who has a tour bus or runs sting ray city tours. That’s brass tax people. Real voting Caymanians who see a tangible benefit to cruise tourism.

        Most of West Bay is anti PPM or not pro PPM.

        They will be easily convinced to proceed or in Mac-language- stay home and go fishin’ on referendum day.

      • Anonymous says:

        4.09pm Just because 5305 voters supported the referendum there is no guarantee that all of them will support stopping the CBF.

  11. Anom says:

    Back in 2009, Alden had this same arrogance and was just as adamant about building the 3 high schools. He seems to have forgotten where that got him.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Despite what happens in other countries I don’t get why the Premier and his people don’t see that it is entirely possible for the public to disagree with this project without demanding that the Government be changed. If the Government wants to do something that I disagree with then I have disagreed with that one thing. It doesn’t mean I want to throw them out. Why must everything be so dramatic?! So if there is a no vote the Premier is going to do something that he knows is disruptive and creates political instability?!!!! Just take the no vote as what it is. A mandate from the people on this particular project.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Thank you. I have been trying to say this in ways far more verbose than yours.

      The Referendum is about this singular project, and shouldn’t be construed as a reflection on the CIG, regardless of the outcome.

      Now, go VOTE everyone! Vote for what you believe in; this is a moment in our history which should not be met with boredom or apathy.

      • alaw says:

        4:37 you are thinking wrong or missing the point, this is not all about a singular project, its more about Alden and Government
        keep reading the comments and you will soon get it!

        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          If you believe that the Referendum vote outcome will cause a change in government rather than decide whether the port will be built, then you are mistaken.

          One of us is not paying attention.

      • Anonymous says:

        Big Beau, you just are not getting it again. Read carefully what the Premier said and think about it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Actually Premier… the constitution says that to have a clear mandate 50% plus 1 of the registered voters must say EITHER yes or no. You cannot assume that the people who don’t show up to vote in an election stayed home because they agree to leave the incumbent government in place. In the same vain, to assume that people who don’t show up for a referendum agree with the Port project is ignorant and unconstitutional. Some people just don’t show up regardless of their stance. That is why we don’t have 100% voter turnout in any country. We might want to assume that it’s because they don’t care either way but assumptions are for fools. There are a myriad of reasons why people don’t show up. If there is no clear mandate in a referendum then a government for the people is supposed to, and would, consider the result as indicative. So if the no votes are significantly greater than the yes votes you would then factor in the no-shows, then you would look at the result with no bias in order to determine the indicative view of the majority.

    Despite all of our rhetoric, at our hearts Caymanians want to see other Caymanians succeed. But we also want to move this country forward as one people, looking at all of the facts and picking the best path for our people, not just for today but for tomorrow as well. What we have with the port project is a government that has boxed us in with a series of unanswered legitimate questions, changing rationale, and tactics designed to win an argument. To be clear I want what is best for Cayman. At this point I can’t say that I am clear on what that is because my government, who is supposed to be working for me, is too busy trying to win that argument. We aren’t in an argument with you or your government Sir. We just want to have all of the correct information upon which to make a decision. That has nothing to do with the people behind the petition. I have no place in that fight. Rather, I am concerned for my children’s place in this country and this project is one of the things that has significant ability to impact that, either way.

    It is time to put down pride, arrogance and ignorance. This isn’t about the government vs the petitioners. Its not about you all. It’s about us. It’s about all of us moving our country where it needs to be, or quite frankly, it’s about making a collective decision as a people and being willing to accept the consequences if that decision turns out to be wrong, regardless of whether that decision is yes or no on the port. That’s what good governance is Sir.

    You are the leader of all of the leaders in this country. It’s time for you to act like it.

    I so wish you would. And I so wish you would stop pushing your chest out at God Almighty by challenging Him to stop you. He doesn’t work that way Sir. He lets us use our free will to make decisions. And it’s up to us to recognize how many lives are impacted by those decisions. Use your free will to seek wisdom and then proceed as you are led. But these things that you have said are vanity and saddening.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great comment.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hence the wording of the question.

        The Government has clearly stated for months and years that it is their policy to build a port. The port process was well in progress with all preliminary studies, business cases, environmental impact assessment, and selection of bidders wrapped paid for.

        That’s real money spent on this project. Multiple budgets have contained money tied to this project. Government’s intention and policy are clear.

        It has only stopped because of the triggering of the referendum.

        Therefore they can easily stand before a court and argue they do not require a yes vote to continue. The question is simply should it continue. If you answer no, it is clear.

        If enough voters do not turn up, it means the silent majority support the Government policy. This why you cannot govern by referendum. If you were allowed to do that you would get NOTHING done in a country. People would simply pose questions then not show up to vote.

        It’s all for the No’s to do at this point folks. Sorry to say.

        And to have a functioning parliamentary democracy, that is the way it should be.

        Just maybe it might be a different story if Government was deadlocked and couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do or which direction to go and a referendum is held to give them a clear direction. But in this case their direction is clear and that policy has been backed by budgetary allocations, spending, procurement etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do people keep saying we are a country?

      • Anonymous says:

        Because we are. Our country is a territory of the UK but that doesn’t stop it from being a country. It has its own government, it’s own geographical area, it’s own people. That is a country. Here is one definition: A country may be an independent sovereign state or part of a larger state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated people with distinct political characteristics.

        Stop the foolishness.

        • Anonymous says:

          A territory is NOT / NOT a country. For example, the Yukon Territory is a territory in Canada but it is certainly not a country. The same for the North-West Territories also in Canada. Both places have their own governments.

          Need to study harder 7:43 and stop your foolishness which only shows how ignorant you are.

        • Anonymous says:

          As an Australian, I can assure you that the Northern Territory in Australia is not a country. You are very confused 7:43.

    • Anonymous says:

      12:01 next time at the polls, remember who will be Government, will be making make the decisions!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Once the port is built and people see that all this over hyped campaigning was baloney it will be huge pie for most to eat who were preaching the doom of the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, and those who preached doom if we don’t build, whilst ignoring the will of the electorate and using underhand means (including not allowing the CS employees to sign the petition for fear of retribution), that’s OK? What the hell is going on with democracy everywhere right now?

  15. Anonymous says:

    So the Premier chose that date in December with the intention of sabotaging the process because there will be eligible voters that may possibly be off island? He shouldn’t be in office or representing our island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having it in December gives all the young college voters a chance so you probably end up with higher on island voters than you would another time of year.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure, but also a deliberate attempt to prevent New Caymanians from voting!

      • Anonymous says:

        Not really, the amount of people registered between the ages of 18-22 traditional college age is minuscule probably less than 200 people

        Not exactly a huge portion of the population

    • Anonymous says:

      10:34 can you name one day of the year when Cayman Air Ways and other Air Lines
      fly out empty (think that would mean no one left the Island)

  16. Anonymous says:

    “In his first interview with the media in a long time…”


    Doesn’t that speak volumes?!!! Are you kidding me?!!

    He is the Premier of the Cayman Islands and is REFUSES to speak to his people!

    He is the Premier of the Cayman Islands and is REFUSES to go on the Rooster with Woody!

    He is the Premiere of the Cayman Islands and is REFUSES to implement true democracy!

    C’mon people! You can replace REFUSES with AFRAID. Go ahead. Equally as reprehensible.

    Perhaps the port is the main focus right now but the big picture should be how self serving the Premier is, along with all of his cronies!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      He is the Premier of A third world country complete with third world voters. What is he going to do?

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s a harsh comment but until I see a nation of people standing up for their rights and their children’s rights, who aren’t afraid to be intimidated, I agree.

        Educated people know what’s going on is undeniably wrong. Sadly, the public education system in Cayman is sorely lacking. There are a lot of sheep.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pray tell which country are you from? Maybe you are jealous that the Cayman Islands is not adrift.

        • Anonymous says:

          As a Caymanian I have to agree with the original poster. Stop being offended and recognize that we are all up shit’s creek without a paddle.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It was the information about the sand shelf in GT that got me changing my mind about building these docks. When Courtney described the sand that came off the shelf and actually pushing the sub downwards…
    Once that sand drops to 800+ feet, it ain’t coming back.

    I think it is very scary to mess with nature especially when you have folks that have been down there and are trying to tell you about science…

    Seems like the knock on effects of building this are way out of our league.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It’s really so sad that our govt “leader” is actually encouraging people to NOT vote. It’s pathetic! Where on Earth would you promote such irresponsibility, laziness and complacency? The registered voters need to rise to the occasion and make your voices heard! Think about all the unknowns of this project, all the things the gov’t has yet to make public… why? Because they’re full of crap! They don’t know what jobs will be created from this project, nor do they have any facts about the success of it (tourism wise). Just because you vote NO, doesn’t mean something can’t be modified to the cruise ship piers, it just means this particular TERRIBLE project will be tossed! Save your precious resource for tourism… that beautiful Caribbean Sea and all the marine life. That’s why people come here to vacation, and also the beaches. Our children deserve it, and so do generations to come.
    Vote No and then go back again and get RID of this TERRIBLE Administration!! They are worthless and need to go!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am rarely wrong. My crystal ball tells me that the project will never be completed, if started. However it would create such a mess affecting every single person in Grand Cayman, that proverbial “be careful what you wish for” would be on everyone’s lips.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Remember this?

    Excerpt from above article:

    Many protesters wore shirts that read: “Some things, and people, are simply not for sale.” This slogan was repeated by Mr. McLaughlin during his speech to the protesters. “We cannot allow ourselves to be bought so cheaply,” Mr. McLaughlin said. The main concerns to those who attended the protest revolved around the uncertainty of the socio-economic and environmental impacts that the development would have on the district and the country. “The people of East End have made it quite clear that they do not want a project of this magnitude, with all of the implications and, indeed, unknown ramifications, to happen in their district,” said Mr. McLaughlin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yea, I was there! That was surely a day that will remain itched in everyone’s memory!! Shall we do again at the George Town dock? I am ready!!

    • Anonymous says:

      The fact of the matter is this and please don’t censor me for telling the truth.
      When you do that, you hurt yourselves.
      In 2011, McLaughlin was not a member of the Lodge. Fact.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Power of few with money is not a democracy.

    If you haven’t watched “Ethos”, a powerful documentary hosted by Woody Harrelson, find time for it. The documentary offers a solution whereby you – the viewer – can regain control using the one thing they do care about – your cash.

  22. Port-shmort says:

    Now there’s an incentive for anyone to go out and vote “No”. the port will not be built, and Alden will reconsider his position as leader of the country. That’s enough for me to vote No.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can anyone update us on the hiring of a New Port Director ? Qualified Caymanian right? They can’t even seem to do that and such a push for this port.

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