Marilee Parsons
 

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Marilee Parsons

I would like to make some comments on the proposed changes to the C.I. Constitution, as follows:

I have read your papers entitled “The Cayman Islands Constitution:  A Reflection of Who We are – Summary of Proposals” and “…A Reflection of Who We Are – Explanatory Notes.”  I am sorry that I have not made it to any of the Constitutional discussion meetings so far, but I do hope that I will be able to attend the next one which is scheduled to take place in West Bay.  I agree with a lot of the proposals in those papers.  Since it has been decided that there will only be a “yes/no” referendum, I am wondering if any votes at your meetings, or polls, are being conducted to really decide whether there is a majority agreeing with such issues as the “one man one vote” issue and other important matters that are being proposed.  Some people are shy about actually getting up and speaking out on an issue but if they are asked to vote by show of hands or secret ballot regarding such issues then they would vote; therefore, to try to determine how many persons agree/disagree by those who speak out, maybe giving a false impression of the amount of persons who disagree/agree with such issues. 

It does not matter to me what titles our Government leaders are given, i.e. M.L.A.s or Ministers, but if Minister is the more advanced term then I have no problem with that.  It also does not matter if the Leader of Government Business is called a Premier or Chief Minister.

I would not want, the Premier (I’ll use that term) to have a lot of power by himself, any more than I would like to see the Governor with too much power by himself.  I would like them to be guided by a vote by the entire Cabinet on important matters, and when there is an emergency then the Governor would have to use his power, if he cannot immediately get in touch with, at least, the Premier.  I would also not want to see the Premier in a position that he can choose the other Ministers from among the MPs; I would like that kept to majority votes by the entire Parliament.

Regarding “One Person, One Vote,” I definitely do not agree with this proposition and I have yet to be convinced that there is widespread support for this principle.  The single-member constituencies at the moment know why they only have one person who can be voted in as a Member of Parliament and that is because of their small population; should their population grow, then they will have another candidate added, and if it continues growing they may soon be entitled to 4 or more members as well.  If you go to multiple constituencies for districts as big as West Bay (I’m using that as an example since that is my constituency), the persons who are running will probably not be living in the area that they are actually representing, and some of the voters may not know them very well and may decide rather than to vote for someone they don’t know very well, they will vote for no one – so there is a lost vote.  If districts are kept as they are (and Cayman is too small to be sub-dividing it any more), voters will probably know 4 persons running for office from the entire slate, than if they are offered only 2 candidates, for example, from a new single-member constituency.  Then there will be further expense in defining proper boundaries for these new voting districts (by the way, the last proposal I heard about the new boundaries for the Sister Islands really is absurd!), and the biggest expense of all will be the fact that 2 more MPs are proposed, which means 2 more salaries for us, the voting public, to pay for (most people think that the M.L.A.s salaries are already too high).  Sorry, I totally disagree with this concept and hope it will be discontinued.

Re Upgrading the Role of Representatives.  I would like to see the Premier, in consultation with the Governor, set the Cabinet’s agenda, and I would have no problem with him being the chair of the Cabinet.  As I said before, I would not like to see too much power in the hands of either of these leaders, but would prefer to see more of a sharing of their respective responsibilities.

I believe the Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary and the Attorney General are vital members of Parliament, although I agree that they should have more advisory/ex officio roles, and no voting rights.  I think the Governor should also be ex officio and only have a casting vote.

I definitely agree that the Premier should not serve more than two successive terms (a term would remain as 4 years, I assume), in fact I think that all MPs (not just the Premier) should only serve two consecutive terms, and then sit out a term, and if they are still young enough after that to run again, then I think they should be allowed to run for election for another two terms.

I agree that the Speaker of the House should not be a Member of Parliament, but a Government employee trained to take over this job, who could serve for many years (and serve many elected Governments).  In fact I think this should have been implemented already, although I think the present Speaker is doing an excellent job.  (I am under the impression that some of the North Side people feel that they are not properly represented at the moment, because their elected member happens to be the Speaker.)

I think that the Cabinet Secretary should be a Caymanian appointed by the entire cabinet, not just the Governor, or just the Premier.

The right to stand for election should be given to persons born in the Cayman Islands who hold Caymanian status, who have lived here for at least 5 years before nomination (i.e. they may have lived abroad but returned and lived here for the last 5 years); other persons who have lived here for at least 20 years who have Caymanian status through Caymanian heritage, e.g. parents or grandparents were Caymanian.

These are my humble submissions.

Marilee Parsons
P.O. Box 327
Grand Cayman  KY1-1301
CAYMAN ISLANDS
Ph: 345-949-3149 (hm) or 345-926-2562 (cell)
Fax #345-949-3149
E-mail: lemar@candw.ky