The launch of government’s constitutional public discussion paper - The Cayman Islands’ Constitution: A Reflection of Who We Are – Summary of Proposals on Saturday,12 January 2008, signalled the start of the public consultation phase (Phase Two) of the Constitutional Modernization Initiative (CMI).
More than 600 people attended the colourful ceremony that celebrated all things Caymanian: Conch blowing, a Catboat sail by, music by local kitchen band Swanky, story telling and freshly made fish and fritters formed the backdrop for this important CMI milestone.
“After months of research and careful weighing of options, our contribution to responsible constitutional change is now collated in one document – the one you see here today,” said the Leader of Government Business the Hon D. Kurt Tibbetts.
“It has been a long road, and whilst some in the community have been anxious for the modernisation programme to speed up, we felt it was important to release Government’s constitutional proposals in a condensed, holistic manner and not piecemeal,” he added.
Government is now inviting the people’s input before finalising the proposals for constitutional change that will be negotiated with the United Kingdom.
Mr. Tibbetts reiterated the importance of the process at hand, saying: “It is not often that citizens get the opportunity to directly chart the future of their country. Today is the start of one of those rare instances. For many of us, this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a contributing author to our country’s Constitution and I hope each and every one of you will grasp this with both hands. “
He further told the crowd that the Constitution sets the stage for how Cayman functions as a country: “The Constitutional Modernization Initiative is more important than any election or national event we have ever had, because, it determines how our country is run from the bottom up. It tells us who we are as a country and a people, how we interact with each other and how we exercise democracy. Nothing is more important to the welfare of the Cayman Islands than getting this right.”
The Leader of Government Business concluded with a strong call to action: “Please study the proposals; come to the neighborhood meetings; register to vote before the 29th of February 2008; and make your mark in the May referendum.”
The 12-page booklet handed out at the Pedro St James ceremony, will serve as the basis for the months of public discussion ahead. However, it will not be the document people will vote on in the referendum for constitutional modernisation in May, Constitutional Review Secretariat Director, Suzanne Bothwell, reiterated.
She urged all to get involved in the process starting with getting a copy of the Summary of Proposals, and its supporting document to the Explanatory Notes. The Secretariat also has available limited copies of their 1972 Constitution and Companion Guide for persons interested in learning about what the current constitution contains.
People can pick up a copy of the Summary of Proposals at all major supermarkets. The booklet will also be inserted into the Caymanian Compass and Cayman Net News on Wednesday, 16 January 2008. The other documents will be available from the Secretariat’s office in Elizabethan Square, Phase 3, 2nd floor. All three publications are available online at www.gov.ky and www.constitution.gov.ky
“A final document, which will be a Referendum Issue Document is planned to be released in April, which will pool citizens’ recommendations and that is what people will vote on in the May 2008 Referendum,” Mrs Bothwell said.
Meanwhile she urges everyone to “get involved, to talk about our Constitution, form opinions and speak out on what they want the future of Cayman to look like. So come out to public meetings which will take place between January and April and visit our website and the public libraries for more information.”
The dates and venues for the island wide public meetings will also be broadcasting on radio as well as advertised in newspapers. You can also log on to our website at www.constitution.gov.ky for a full schedule of the meetings.
Mrs. Bothwell will meet with radio show hosts and journalists to discuss their role and also invites private stakeholder groups and organizations to contact the Secretariat “so that we can meet and discuss the constitutional proposals with them and hear their views.”
Another important issue promoted by the Secretariat is the May 2008 Referendum. “We remind all persons eligible to vote, to register before 29 February 2008,” Mrs. Bothwell said.