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Looking back at Cayman’s political landscape in 2018

On Thursday (20 December) Cayman 27 continued its Year in Review series looking at the political landscape in Cayman, which was quite active in 2018.

Some of the political ripples in Cayman were caused by pebbles tossed across the pond in the UK, like the sudden recall and subsequent removal of Governor Anwar Choudhury just four months into his term.

Mr. Choudhury’s appointment broke tradition. He was the first non-Christian Governor to be posted here.

“I have been described as Cayman’s first Muslim Governor, but I do not see it that way. I am first and foremost, Her Majesty’s Governor and your Governor,” Mr. Choudhury said in his inaugural speech.

In June UK recalled him for an FCO investigation into unspecified allegations.

A petition was started calling for his return.

“I share the concerns of Caymanians about how the investigation of Governor Mr. Anwar Choudhury is being handled, especially management of communication. I support the petition for the return of Mr. Choudhury,” said Opposition Leader Hon. Ezzard Miller.

Mr. Choudhury was formally removed in September.

A month later Martyn Roper was appointed.

Another decision made in the UK, amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Law forcing the imposition of public beneficial ownership registries in Overseas Territories, but not Crown Dependencies by 2020. It triggered calls for Constitutional changes.

“If we allow this particular situation to go unchallenged we know what the outcome is likely to be. Similarly so, with respect to voting rights or the rights to stand for election. They could threaten the very basis of the way the Cayman Islands currently operate,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin.

In May, Premier McLaughlin withdrew from the exchange of notes agreed to between the UK and Cayman to share tax information in direct response to the British Parliament’s decision. He would later reverse his position.

On the heels of the Overseas Territories push back UK FCO Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad would make his first official trip to Cayman.

“So we have to reflect what the will of Parliament was. The decision was that there’s a public registry requirement for the Overseas Territories and an Order in Council to be raised by 2020. We will ensure that we adhere to the spirit and the detail of what’s been taken, but in doing so we will work collaboratively with the Overseas Territories,” said Mr. Ahmad.

In September the Legislative Assembly returned to Cayman Brac.

While there House Speaker McKeeva Bush and Opposition MLAs would butt heads over claims that the West Bay West MLA had a China-Harbour connection- a company believed to be a bidder on the proposed cruise berthing facility.

The Speaker later suspended deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo for one day over the issue, that lead to an Opposition walk-out.

Also on the political landscape, four senior government agency officials would demit their posts in the wake of investigations. Department of Environmental Health boss Roydell Carter opted for early retirement.

The DEH was under investigation for overtime expenditures since late 2017, but National Roads Authority Director Paul Parchment, Port Authority Director Clement Reid and CINICO CEO Lonny Tibbetts were all dismissed this year following probes for various issues.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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