(CMR) The Opposition and Newlands MLA, Alva Suckoo has issued a warning about the negative implications of a petition circulating to select Franz Manderson as the next governor.
In a press release released this afternoon, he states that such a move would have far-reaching implications far beyond what the petitioners may have intended.
The release in full states:
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Alva Suckoo today (Wednesday, August 1, 2018) warned that advancing the notion of a Caymanian appointee as Governor of the Cayman Islands was incompatible with the Islands’ Constitution.
As a result, he warned that it may be
“a round-about attempt at establishing a mandate for constitutional changes on par with seeking Independence.”
Mr. Suckoo was speaking to the constitutional implications of the petition currently circulating calling for the appointment of the Acting Governor His Excellency Franz Manderson to the substantive position as Governor.
Mr. Suckoo issued this press release today on behalf of the Opposition, Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Ezzard Miller being currently off-island.
“This politically motivated attempt to drive support for constitutional changes that would forever change the course of these Cayman Islands does a disservice to the people of these Islands,” Mr. Suckoo said, adding, “The Caymanian people deserve better,” as what was most pressing for the people at this time was “‘economic independence’ and not ‘political independence,” two goals that may not necessarily be compatible at this time.
At the same time, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition hastened to assure that he did not wish in any way “to convey the impression that Mr. Manderson is not a capable and competent leader.”
However, he said, the petition’s launch was a disservice to His Excellency Franz Manderson’s “achievements and commitment to this country.”
Certainly, under the current constitutional arrangements, he said, appointing Mr. Manderson as Governor “would be tantamount to paralyzing his efforts to serve his country as a loyal Caymanian.”
This was because, he said, quoting section 31.3, the Islands’ Constitution “clearly establishes that the Office of Governor must promote the Interests of the United Kingdom.”
In addition, Mr. Suckoo said, section 33 (2) of the Constitution states that the Governor may act against the advice of Cabinet, clearly establishing that this is not a role designed for a Caymanian under the terms of the current Constitution.
These provisions would place a local appointee in a position of serious conflict of interest, he said, referencing the possibility of the future implementation of the public register of beneficial owners: “Make no mistake, if and when that possible ‘Order in Council’ is issued, and the United Kingdom demands that the Cayman Islands implement a public registry of Beneficial Ownership, the Governor would be expected to facilitate the implementation forthwith without criticism or resistance.”
These inevitable conflicts for a Caymanian appointee, Mr. Suckoo said, “would compel Mr. Manderson, or any other Caymanian chosen for the role, to abandon his loyalty to this country, and instead assume a role that would require him to put the interests of the United Kingdom ahead of the Cayman Islands.”
As a result, he said, “Common sense would lead to the conclusion that these powers were written into the Constitution for a very specific purpose that is not aligned with the stated objectives of the petition in question.”
Given that dissonance between the stated objectives of the petition and the Cayman Islands Constitution, Mr. Suckoo said, he was compelled to conclude that the petition was a surreptitious attempt “to legitimize changes to the Islands’ Constitution while by-passing the need for legislative debate and or a referendum. As such, it seems to be a round-about attempt of establishing a mandate for constitutional changes on par with seeking Independence.”
If that intention is the tacit objective behind the petition—to seek Independence from the United Kingdom, Mr. Suckoo said, then those driving the petition, including he said, the Speaker of the Legislature, should “let the country know exactly what the motive is behind this petition.”
“I must sound the warning that this is not a matter than can be taken lightly, and I am very concerned that those who should know better are promoting this impossible idea as a plausible solution for replacing Governor Choudhury,” Mr. Suckoo said.