LA phone ban hinders press

| 05/12/2011

_DSC7927-web (241x300).jpg(CNS): An unexplained ban on all forms of digital equipment in the public and press galleries of the Legislative Assembly, from mobile phones to lap tops, is making it increasingly difficult for the local media to keep covering the proceedings of the country’s parliament. The leader of the opposition said Friday that the absence of the media in the gallery was of concern and described it as an affront to democracy, when he rose to give his response to the premier’s Strategic Policy Statement and faced an empty press box. The PPM leader said the Legislative Assembly should not be stuck in the Middle Ages and if it was the digital equipment ban that was the obstacle to them covering the parliament then it should be addressed. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“This is a deplorable state of affairs,” said Alden McLaughlin as he called publicly on the Speaker to address the situation as well as the House committee, adding that he had raised the issue privately with her and the premier and was aware of letters being written by the media to the Speaker. “We must address it as a matter of urgency.”

McLaughlin pointed to the importance of the media to the business of the Legislative Assembly and their role in communicating the proceedings and the contributions of all members of the elected body to the wider public.

Since the ban was introduced several weeks ago, the media has been making attempts to cover the proceedings, with difficulty, in the reception area of the LA or via the broadcasts on Radio Cayman. A letter was also written to the speaker on behalf of CITN, Radio Cayman, the Caymanian Compass and CNS requesting the speaker to at least reconsider the cell phone and BlackBerry ban.

With most news organisations on Cayman having small teams, very few can afford to have their reporters out of contact with their head office, especially given the erratic nature of the Assembly’s sittings. The meetings can start late, finish suddenly, reconvene, only to adjourn again, or sometimes sit till midnight without any warning.

“Like most journalists I need to be able to keep my phone close by in order to follow other news events that may be happening,” said Wendy Ledger, the only news reporter on CNS.

“Our readers expect more than just LA coverage when they log on to CNS. It’s not possible for me to switch off from everything else that is happening when the House is sitting. As much as we want to ensure we give the public some idea of what their elected representatives are doing, the more difficult it is to cover it the less we will cover.”

The letter from the press was sent to Mary Lawrence on the 12 October and two months later she has still not responded. A request to meet with her last month to try and discuss the matter was denied and Lawrence said she was taking advice on the situation.

CNS also wrote to Lawrence upon her appointment to office more than two years ago, requesting permission for Ledger to use her lap top in the chamber, as previous speakers had allowed reporters to use computers in order to assist them with their coverage, but the two letters have never been answered.

Since the ban, the media has been infrequently present at the actual assembly because covering the proceedings from the reception area is difficult as the sound is poor and the reception area often noisy with the comings and goings of people meeting with MLAs and ministers.

The Speaker appeared not to understand the situation on Friday, despite the correspondence and the comments, as she was under the impression that the press had taken to sitting in the reception because of the “comfortable chairs”. In her response to McLaughlin, she said the press were not banned and that they were present in the reception and that is was “their choice” to sit there.

“This is not true,” Ledger added. “There’s no denying that the seats are certainly softer but most of the local press core has sat on far worse things that the press chairs in the LA. The choice, as the speaker puts it, is nothing more than a Hobson’s choice. It’s not possible for reporters from any modern news organisation to function properly without their phones.”

The Legislative Assembly rarely attracts the public to its proceedings, with no more than a handful of people passing through. Although some people do listen to the entire proceedings on the government owned radio station, most keep up to date  with the goings on in the country’s parliament via the various media outlets.

The Legislative Assembly opens at 10am this morning, when the premier will wind up the SPS debate and begin the debates on the latest legislative changes, including the criminal procedure code and the amendments aimed at clamping down on gang violence.

See letter to the Speaker from the press below.

Category: Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    In any other country this would not be tolerated. Only in Cayman.   Instead of marching in front of the LA and demanding our rights, all we do is blog and complain while this country becomes a laughing stock to the rest of the world.   Bush should not even be in office while he is being investigated for financial irregularities much less this foolish dinasour banning the press from the LA.  Caymanians grow some balls!  

  2. Anonymous says:

    An earlier commenter spoke of approaching Socialism. I believe Facism would be closer to the mark.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Defintely a time to protest in numbers and demand good governance or resignations – plenty of resignations. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    NOW I KNOW WHY BODDENTOWNERS REJECTED YOU AT THE POOLS.    At many elections i supported this woman  with my vote, thinking that she would be a good  leader for the country.   i used to wonder why bodden towners would not give a chance MRS MARY and i thought they were selfish.  But now i know that the elected knew what they were doing, and i was the fool.   you have surely shown your true colours.  knowing that you wasan editor once and this is the way you threat your piers is a shame.   You are surely asisting mack in distroying this country

    • Anonymous says:

      BODDENTOWN HAS A POOL???? I didnt know that. BODDENTOWN HAS A PIER TOO?

      Boy, you learn sumptin every day, bobo.

      • Anonymous says:

        OK Ms. Mary, calm down now, we didn't mean to upset ya like dat. We still luw ya, we jes na crazy bout the company ya bin keepin. Ok?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hear wearing a wig in the tropics is bad for your health.  Is this true? Perhaps we could ask Dr. Oz to visit Cayman and give us his professional opinion on this matter and other matters like amnesia.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How miserably inadequate. 

    What a sad joke, an embarrasment…

    When will the English step in and put an end to the rubbish?  Clearly someone needs to save us from our poor decisions in the last election…

  7. After says:

     

    After having watched Mrs Mary battle through so many elections fighting for a seat in the LA, I am so ashamed and embarassed to say that at one time I thought she would be a great leader. Truth be told, she is simply another UDP yes woman, and is doing their bidding regardless of what is right! Mrs Mary I grew up thinking you were Great, but now It pains me to inform you that when "My" Government takes control of the LA, you will be the first casulty and you will, as Donald Trump would say be "Fired"…..

     

    PS (3rd Party is on its way and all that….)

     

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    The whole wig thing is beyond laughable.

  9. Lord Tellikeitis says:

    Is there anything worse than a control freak that doesnt understand the rules or  what they are paid to do? Madam Speaker is simply hopeless in this highly paid role ceremonial role.

    It is obvious she is unable control the MLA's and their antics; especially her 'employers' on the UDP bench so she focuses on banning items like capri-pants, lap-tops, smart phones, eletronic devices used by every other first world contry being use to educate, record and inform the people. Can you imagine such a ruling in the House of Commons? Why is the Speaker deliberately trying to stifle the press?

    I have never seen anyone allow a position to get to their head so quickly. This has resulted in a complete loss of objectivity, logic, impartiality, common sense, self respect and discretion.

    Please do the honourable thing, show some dignity, do the country  one final favor and resign!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      It is not actually a ceremonial role.  The Speaker exercises ultimate authority within the precincts of the Assembly building on all matters including security, access, procedures, discipline of both staff and members, and communicating with members.  The occupant also has to contend with the civil servants who work there including the Clerk who is basically the Permanent Secretary of the Legislative Department.  Speaker is a full-time job with traditions and a history of best practice going back to the 14th century for the holder of the office to rely upon.

       

      Given the present occupant, I wish that it were a ceremonial role.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The peopleof Bodden Town rejected her so many times! Yet the wise one elevated her to a level not even she could dream of!

  11. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    The Chain of Obedience.

  12. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    "Wake up, Europe [and Cayman], and smell the treachery."

  13. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Most in the Legislative Assembly may believe the ‘good ship Cayman’ is properly illuminated for her New Moon voyage, and while green on the starboard and red on the port may be considered correct, unfortunately it is her bearing directly towards a police state that is most troubling.

    No, they are not July 4th fireworks you see; they are distress aerial flares fired without the captains consent!  Wake up Cayman!

  14. Legal Chicken says:

    Sue them to injunctive relief. There’s got to be a freedom of the press/free speech/we’re not a third world dictatorship quite yet argument to be made.

  15. Voices1 says:

    Bush doesn't exactly qualify as a dictator "YET", but he is going in some of the same direction as one. Day by day these new laws that are made "WILL" take the voice of the people " our freedom of speech" and much more.

  16. James says:

    big mac is pulling her strings, you know he does not like the media and nothing is done without his consent, he is the puppet master, she is just his clown.

  17. Anonymous says:

    She'd never have tried this c**p if Desmond was still around.

  18. what's happen'n says:

    I wonder if the OFFSHORE ALERT can tell us what's the latest in the Stan Thomas case.

    I wonder what's happening with the RCIPS offical investigation of the Premier ?

    I wonder if there's any possibility of an Extradiction Order by the US authorities???

     

     

  19. ubelievedat says:

    The evidence of SOCIALISM approcahing at great speed…………..significant erosion of freedom of press.

    What is Madam Speaker going to do when the Bill of Rights comes into effect in the very very near future??

    Obviously she fails to understand that, once the Bill of Rights become effective, that any infrigement of civil rights will lead to lawsuits……. or maybe she believes that laws will over-ride those civil rights………..hmmm, I guess she also believes the Govt's bank account has trillions of dollars, too.

    It appears thatl she is following the wishes and desires of the Premier……….

    I hope that when the day shortly arrives for her removal, that she will be able to live with herself…………the mind is a powerful thing – no matter what you do or try, you'll always remember the good, bad and the ugly……oh, and the shame that comes with it too.

    We and our Counry deserves so much better!!   Madam Speaker, you have proven yourself to be less than fit for this job, to serve our Country with dignity and integrity – – it is now time for you to go.

    One's actions are the reflection of one's moral values – one's  fundamental ways of thinking – almost nearly impossible to change.

    A man (and woman) is known by their actions!!!!

     

     

    • Castor says:

      What in the name of heavens does SOCIALISM have to do with the freedom or lack of freedom of the press?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Aside from the lack of transparency in not having the media present for whatever the reasons, it is unacceptable that a letter was sent to the Speaker two months ago and she has not responded.  It is unprofessional, disrespectful and unacceptable. It is also becoming an unfortunate trend amongst professionals within the Government Departments too that should be nipped in the bud to avoid Cayman truly becoming a banana republic

  21. Anonymous says:

    Son: "So, the Speaker takes or seeks advice AFTER making a decision?"

     

    Father: "Yeah, seems so son."

     

    Son: "That seems fool fool."

     

    Father: (Hidden smile)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Cayman, please remove this intellectual dinosaur from the House. It's OUR House, not her House.

     

    Obviously it is not a matter of electronic interference or static, coz the MLAs can have theirs in the House. The mental belly-flops of this woman are truly embarassing to me as a Caymanian.

     

    What if a Journalist has a pace-maker?? Would they be banned from entering too? Next she'll want to ban pens and pencils of journalists thinking they can be used to injure, and the journalists will only be allowed to enter the House armed with a photographic memory!

    • Anonymous says:

      One is not allowed to take an umbrella into a Courtroom as it could be used as a weapon, or so I was told last week when attending court as a witness for the Crown.

      So why should anyone think that they can carry in a sharpened pencil or god forbid a pen?

      This country's whole judicial system and legislative system is just one big joke, day after day, year after year.  But go ahead  West Bayers, you keep on electing your 800 pound gorilla. XXXX

  23. McCarron McLaughlin says:

    The Speaker of the House has got to go! This office needs to be an elected one.

  24. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    This speaker has shown absolutely no objectivity or personal strength and conviction since her appointment.

    • yG7 says:

      The answer to all is simply this, "SHE WAS APPOINTED BY WHOM??? NONE OTHER THAN the "GREAT LEADER" whose puppet strings are firmly attached to all those who are beholding to him for his generosity in providing them with a cushy job.  I heard tell that soon  he may be requiring that all school children on the Island learn to "SPEAK CHINESE"!!  

      • Anonymous says:

        it absolutely amazes me that so many people I once respected have lost all respect (not only mine) due to their absolute devotion to McKeeva Bush.

        Rasputin!

         

  25. Anonymous says:

    Could the PPM members just broadcast via their cell phones to the media? If so, I highly suggest they do, as it appears they aren't banned.  This is one way around this stupidness and hopefully would allow FULL coverage (audio) of the LA.

  26. Bushwacker says:

    This recent head scratching, numbskull, lack-of-forethought act clearly and utterly demonstrates that the Speaker is not in full control of the house nor is she neutral. Considering her background as an Editor and Co-Publisher of her own local Newspaper(s), one would have thought this type of unjustified, autocratic regime would not have been allowed to occur under her “watch” so-to-speak, especially in this era of instant digital information.

     

    Madam Speaker appears to be drowning in ignorance, consequently, the Cayman Islands have become a laughing stock. A jurisdiction that with each passing day loses any semblance of credibility.   

     

    Considering this recent befuddling act by our current Government, I pose this question once again; do we really have to wonder why the Cayman Islands have fallen off the charts in the rankings of the Financial World?

     

    McKeeva, please note, Sophisticated Investors do not like undisclosed and knee-jerk reactions or so-called “adhoc Plans” without a clear, and measureable end result! Hurry and get a clue before we all lose whatever we think we have left.

     

     

  27. Anonymous says:

    Like the UDP government, Madam Speaker will be replaced after the next election.

  28. Anonymous says:

    just another day in wonderland……

  29. Anonymous says:

    any comment mr governor?

    lawrence is as much of disgrace as mckeeva….

    • Anonymous says:

      Blimey you are bloody wrong about that you bloke. Nobody outdoos the one Mac. Not on HIS blooming turf. Not even ME. Bloody hell, man.

  30. Dred says:

    1 year 6 months people. Just make sure we get this a@@ out of office. He seems hell bent on ruining this country.

    I believe Mrs Lawrence needs to be removed also. She has shown herself to be Pro UDP. If she can not maintain objectivity she needs to go.  

  31. Anonymous says:

    If I were a Caymanian, I would be so ashamed. . . . .

     

  32. SJC says:

    This Government is a complete and utter disgrace to the Cayman Islands and its people. They are singlehandling destroying this island one step at a time.  

    Cayman, is it going to take the utter destruction before you wake up and save YOUR country? 

  33. Anonymous says:

    Old style dictatorship coming into force here – if you can't control the media shut it out.

    That's what happens when you get into bed with countries like China.

  34. Raffaelle says:

    Its called tyranny in other countries "Aldon" what an idiot! sadly political power attracts those who should be denied it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your outrage appears to be misdirected.

    • Anonymous says:

      What an idiot! Are you sure you spelled 'Raffaelle' right? By the way, the UDP is ultimate proof of your extremely insightful comment regarding political power.

      • Raffaelle says:

        This comment is meant for all members of both parties who have sat back and are complicit in passing laws and imposing their wishes which have eroded and stripped away our rights as a society.  I stand behind and fully support the media or the press right to exercise their rights in the LA. It would appear now this power to inflict totalarium rules and measures is contagious to both party's followers and their appointees. Just for you party loyalist i use to vote in a certain district where the speaker of the house was a candidate 7 times and  i exercise my right all  7 times and she is still an unsucessful candidate.Yet those who have installed her in the legislative Assembly have come to see that very wisdom of my decisions and the error of theirs

    • Anonymous says:

      What an idiot! Are you suggesting it is "Aldon" who has a phone ban in the LA??? There we go, Cayman Public, it's the PPM's fault again. Lord have mercy on us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Definitely a case of the pot calling hte kettle!!