Archive for May 24th, 2013

Election gets top marks

| 24/05/2013 | 26 Comments

election observer.jpg(CNS): The mission of international observers confirmed that the Cayman Islands elections were free, fair, genuine and transparent in their short interim report, which they delivered to the local press on Friday, validating the result. The mission went as far as giving the elections a 9/10 grade and said that while they were here to observe and make recommendations, there were lessons to carry from the Cayman Islands for other jurisdictions, especially the wide participation of women in the election process. However, the observers did raise concerns about the inequality of the multi-member system, which they said did not meet international standards and recommended that Cayman move to one man, one vote (OMOV).

Nevertheless, they had lots of positive things to say and Mario Galea, the head of the mission, congratulated the Cayman people for their significant turnout and the Elections Office for the process.

“In our view the 2013 General Elections in the Cayman Islands met the international standards for democratic, genuine and transparent elections and the results truly reflect the will of the people,” Galea told the press Friday, as he read from the interim report. “We commend the people of the Cayman Islands for the way these elections were conducted. The peaceful election process allowed different opinions to be expressed freely. The high voters turnout is also a very positive sign and it shows commitment of the Caymanian people to the principles of democracy.”

The mission revealed that the police had confirmed that 24 allegations of corruption or vote buying were reported to them but no one was willing to make a formal complaint and no evidence has yet been uncovered, though the police are attempting to investigate.

Galea noted that reports were also made to the mission of vote buying but they did not see any evidence either. When they spoke to candidates and others involved in the process, they all denied any part but pointed to the other side as being the culprits. In addition, the presence of both the observers and the awareness campaign run by the local authorities appears to have kept any irregularities, if there were any at all, to a minimum.

Among their brief interim findings the observers also pointed to a lack of clarity regarding the qualifications for election and said some requirements were too restrictive, which interfered with the rights of people to be elected, including the dual nationality issue, given Cayman’s circumstances.

The observers hadplenty of praise for the Elections Office and their voter registration drive before the election and noted that the increase in registered voters was very impressive. They said the campaign was conducted peacefully and candidates were able to campaign freely.

The media played an important role in the election campaign and most stakeholders said the media provided balanced reporting, though the UDP accused some private media outlets of being openly biased against the party. The mission did not conduct any systematic qualitative and quantitative media monitoring and said they could not confirm or refute the accusations. Allegations were made that one media house had refused to sell the UDP ad space when it called up at the end of the campaign. CNS confirmed that they received no request from the UDP for ad space and it is not known which media house this referred to.

When it came to Election Day, the mission covered all 46 polling stations, and operations were very good or good in all of them, the observers felt and added that the count was transparent.

One other area of concern raised was the limit for candidates’ election expenses.

“Several candidates expressed the views that the limits of CI $30,000 and CI $35,000 for different categories of candidates are unrealistically low given the duration of campaign period and existing price level in the Cayman Islands and alleged that many candidates across the political spectrum will exceed these limits,” the observers noted, adding that although candidates are obliged to submit to the supervisor of elections true election expenses returns, there is no process to verify their accuracy.

The observers spoke to many people in the community and stakeholders, from voters to candidates’ agents and officials, as well as the media and expressed their gratitude for the forthright and open way their questions were answered. Galea said the mission had been warmly welcomed and they would be offering a full and complete report with their various recommendations for the future in less than two months but in the meantime the people of Cayman could be satisfied their elections were free and fair, validating the result.

The mission leader added that the local observer team was a positive move but thought it would be better if the group had been appointed by civil society or NGOs rather than the Elections Office. However, he said the international team was in no way concerned about the integrity of the local team and the great job they did. Meanwhile, those local observers met on Friday to plan their local report for the elections supervisor.

“We have once again witnessed democracy at work, when a free and fair election was held in these Cayman Islands,” the local team’s leader Norman Bodden said. “I was impressed by the high level of organization at the six polling divisions we were observers at, as well as the conduct of the voters themselves,” he said, adding that the Election Day was voter-friendly. With no major incidents anywhere to comment on but with some recommendations for fine tuning that could be done, the team of local observers plan to pass on their report within the next two weeks.

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Outgoing premier signs-off on Ritz price

| 24/05/2013 | 0 Comments

ritz-grand_cayman.jpg(CNS Business): Despite comments by the former minority government that it was still investigating the value of the Ritz-Carlton sale before it was prepared to register the transfer, it appears that the last act of the interim PNA Cabinet was to accept the price and complete the transfer. Officials from Five Mile Capital Partners LLC announced Friday that some seven months after the sale the Cayman Islands Land Registry registered the transfers of Ritz-Carlton properties to the subsidiaries of RC Cayman Holdings LLC, RC Cayman Hotel Holdings Ltd and RC Cayman Property Holdings Ltd, new owners of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Read more on CNS Business

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Hope for Chagos Islanders

| 24/05/2013 | 2 Comments

chagos islanders.jpg(West Sussex Gazette): Exiled Chagos Islanders have been told the Government will look into the feasbility of them returning to their homeland, according to Crawley MP Henry Smith. The Islanders have been fighting to return home for 40 years after being evicted to make way for a US airbase, though a European Court ruling found they forfeited that right when they accepted compensation in the 1980s. The lastest development was revealed following a meeting between Chagos Refugees Group UK, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) minister Mark Simmonds, and Crawley MP and vice-chair of the Chagos Islands All Party Parliamentary Group Henry Smith on May 9.

Chagos Refugees Group UK chair Marie Sabrina Jean, who was born in Mauritius and now lives in Southgate, said: “We made all our points, especially our right of return. All Chagossians are fighting for that right, the main point is what will happen now?
“We will have to wait for the answers. We’ve given them our argument for resettlement. Our fundamental right is a big thing, our human rights need to be respected. I’m very confident about our struggle.”

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UWC scholarship recipients off to Italy and Canada

| 24/05/2013 | 9 Comments

Tyleisha Galbraith.pngSimon Watson sm.png(CNS): A student from Cayman Prep and one from the Brac have been chosen as this year’s scholarship recipients by the UWC Cayman Islands National Committee. Tyleisha Galbraith (left), who is graduating from Cayman Prep and High School this summer, will be attending the United World College of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia. Simon Watson (right), who is graduating from the Layman Scott High School, will attend UWC Adriatic in Duino, Italy. Both students will undertake the rigorous two-year International Baccalaureate programme, a well-recognised and highly sought after pre-university qualification.

The pair was chosen after an extensive interview process featuring many outstanding candidates. Remarking on their selection, UWC Cayman Islands Vice-Chairperson Aubrey Bodden said of the process, “Each year we are so impressed with the achievements and passion of the students that apply to UWC through our National Committee. We are honoured to select Simon and Tyleisha as our 2013 scholars and know they will be exemplary representatives of the Cayman Islands. We believe that they will not only benefit from this experience but also contribute so much to their colleges and to the local and global community. A UWC education goes far beyond the two-year programme, as alumni remain committed to the UWC mission and values and become life-long agents of change.”

Commenting on his selection, Watson said, “I am thrilled to be selected by the CIUWC Committee for one of this year's scholarships and being given the opportunity to live and study in Italy, where I can learn a new language, perhaps even learn to ski, is more than I ever expected. I'd really like to thank the UWC sponsors for making this possible and I can assure them and the Committee that I will take advantage of every opportunity the school has to offer, learn as much as I can and have fun for the next two years. I can't wait to go.”

Speaking on her selection, Galbraith remarked, “I think that all candidates would have made an excellent contribution to the UWC community; therefore I am honoured to have been chosen as a scholar this year. Words cannot describe the emotions which I felt when I received the news, as I think this is a once in a life time opportunity.  I look forward to sharing my culture with my peers, but more importantly being part of this multicultural community which extends values that will hopefully be universal in the near future. I would like to thank my sponsors and the CIUWC selection committee for giving me such an amazing opportunity. I’d also like to thank my family and friends for their continued support. I will definitely take advantage of every opportunity that I am offered during my UWC experience.”

UWC, formerly United World Colleges, is an educational network in 146 countries with 13 schools and colleges located in the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Swaziland, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, Norway, and The Netherlands. The schools and colleges deliver a challenging and transformative educational experience to inspire students to create a peaceful and sustainable future.

UWC depends on volunteer-run national committees in 146 countries. UWC Cayman Islands has been selecting students since 1984 and has over 60 local students and alumni and is committed to providing full scholarships to promising Caymanian students to attend one of the UWC campuses across the world.

UWC Cayman Islands relies upon fundraising as well as private and corporate donations to meet that goal. Bodden expressed her gratitude for the continued support for the foundation,”We are fortunate to have many corporate and individual sponsors, like Maples and Calder, Deutsche Bank, the AALL Foundation and Linburgh Martin (UWC Atlantic '86), whose generosity allows us to select scholars based entirely on merit and provide full scholarships to each Caymanian student.”

Companies and individuals interested in making a donation to UWC Cayman Islands are invited to email uwccaymanislands@gmail.com

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UDP down but not yet out

| 24/05/2013 | 92 Comments

mac downstairs2.jpg(CNS): Despite the fact that the leader of the United Democratic Party is going back to the Legislative Assembly with only two of his team, the results reveal that the trouncing was not as emphatic as one may first perceive as Bush still managed to collect more than 31% of the national vote compared to the approximate 43% taken by the PPM and the 25% picked up by the collection of various independents, PNA and C4C candidates. The UDP’s Teresa Pitcairn missed getting a seat by a mere 41 votes, securing 36% of the district vote, and her running mate Chris Saunders also attracted 30.5% of the vote.

Meanwhile, in George Town the vote was widely split across all 21 candidates, and had the C4C not managed to  function as a party, despite the group’s constant denial, and attract a block vote, the UDP’s strongest contender in George Town, Mike Adam, would easily have secured a seat, after polling some 36% of the vote.

In addition, while the UDP team fared badly in the capital, the party did not completely collapse in the way that the former members and newly established PNA group did in Bodden Town and West Bay. Ellio Solomon still managed to attract well over a quarter of the voters in the capital, and the other four candidates on the party ticket also all picked up more than 22% of the vote.

Over in West Bay, McKeeva Bush’s vote was slashed down to a mere 47% of the vote compared to the whopping 71.5% he secured in 2009, as a result of an incredible performance by Tara Rivers. However, the UDP's Velma Powery-Hewitt, who missed out on a seat, still polled 32% of the vote, well over the 23% pulled in by Rolston Anglin of the PNA and streets ahead of the 18% which was all his running mate Cline Glidden could muster.

Although the votes polled by the UDP in George Town were way off the size of the pre-election crowds Bush had managed to attract in the capital, the fears that the split vote  could have enabled the UDP to seize the day were not necessarily unfounded. Adam was in the top six throughout most of the count, and with well over 1,528 and 1,439 votes respectively, both Ellio Solomon and Jonathan Piercy lost only around 200 votes from their 2009 performance.

The strength that the C4C had, which carried them through, was in the end ironic as it was their decision to run collectively and encourage each other’s supports to vote ‘straight’ for all of the C4C candidates thatprotected the country from a UDP victory rather than causing one.

With the exception of Bo Miller, who beat most of the UDP as he very likely picked up the 6th C4C vote, other independent candidates faded from the race early on and lagged well behind the UDP. The C4C used the strength of unity to get two of their members through and Sharon Roulston very near the top six. Jackee Haines ended up being the only C4C candidate that could not surpass the UDP. 

Pitcairn and Saunders were both relatively near misses in Bodden Town, and despite the sterling performance of Rivers, she was still unable to carry her running mate, Mervin Smith, through the UDP support. Johnnie McLean Jnr, the ‘non-confessed’ UDP supporter, also managed to improve on his percentage of the vote by some 2%, despite the popularity of Arden McLean and the personal problems plaguing the younger McLean.

There is no doubt that the UDP is somewhat battered and bruised, especially given the incredible and emphatic breakthrough by Tara Rivers in Bush’s stronghold, but the party is by no means out in terms of national as well as West Bay support. 

However, despite the party leader’s ability to rise like a phoenix, no matter the depth of his fall, the 11 charges of corruption and theft that will see Bush on trial in around 18 months time will be a serious test for the party. An acquittal will probably ensure the UDP’s survival but a conviction of the party leader is likely to see its final decline.

While 30% of voters across Grand Cayman still supported the UDP, when it comes down to it the vast majority of that vote was a direct vote for Bush and not a political party. As such, that might be when the UDP really will be out for the count.

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Webb competes first year of reform

| 24/05/2013 | 0 Comments

0,,12813~11960063,00.jpg(CNS): It is now 12 months ago since Jeffrey Webb took up the CONCACAF Presidency at a time of multiple challenges and officials from the football federation said that the leader’s year-long journey was about advancing, developing, promoting and managing football with integrity, transparency and passion in order to inspire participation in the game. The Confederation has spent this year focusing on reform of governance after the scandals that had plague the body before Webb to office. Speaking about his first twelve months Webb said his efforts had been centred on establishing solid foundations to grow the sport and succeed from the grassroots level to worldwide competitions.

“Over the past year, we have seen the first steps towards reforming CONCACAF,” he stated Thursday.

“By redefining our destiny, we have set the course that will write a new chapter in our region’s future. Our goal is to bring back the trust and confidence by establishing a process of accountability,” added Webb. “It’s ultimately about the passion to play this beautiful game.”

Alongside CONCACAF’s General Secretary, Enrique Sanz, and the Executive Committee, the Confederation is creating opportunities for its members to be involved in all initiatives by increasing participation at a committee level. The aim is to ultimately assist all Member Associations in fulfilling their business goals, while regaining trust and confidence with local partners, sponsors and stakeholders.

“The real challenge of uniting nations that are in such different places, not only in the development of their game but also in their society grid, is defining an integral regional vision of the future,” explained Webb.

The FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President said he was thrilled with the region’s on-the-field successes over the past year. The gold medals won by the Mexican men and American women, plus the bronze medal captured by the Canadian women, at the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the U.S. women winning the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, were inspiring achievements realized in his still short tenure.

“We have set an unprecedented landmark by becoming the first confederation in history to win the Gold Medal in both male and female categories in the same Olympic Games,” Webb stated in a release.

CONCACAF had prioritized the fight against discrimination for the confederation and as head of FIFA’s Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force Webb has committed to fulfilling football’s goal to eradicate racism from the fields.

“We have a special responsibility in the way we can impact football and society. One of the opportunities this task force has is its vast reach throughout FIFA's 209 member associations where we can implement the resolutions in every region and every country where football is played, bringing universality to the mechanisms that combat racism and discrimination,” Webb added.

The forthcoming Gold Cup is expected to be a first-class spectacle that promises an outstanding demonstration of aptitude and competiveness. The tournament will take place July 7-28 in 13 cities throughout the United States, allowing each of the twelve qualified National Football Teams to showcase their talent in a celebration of the best of football in the region.

Webb is certain that this is just the beginning of what the Confederation aims to achieve in the coming years. With this in mind, he anticipates further investment in grassroots, education, marketing and infrastructure to reach a standard of excellence that is required to compete at the highest level internationally. Likewise, CONCACAF wants to continue building strategic partnerships that share a common vision to nurture the growth of the sport.

“I’m hopeful to build upon the progress we have already made so far. We are in the right path to deliver the promise of providing opportunities to fulfil our sport’s potential by overcoming obstacles and conquering victories on and off the field.  Despite the challenges, CONCACAF’s passion for football is bringing us together,” Webb stated.

See the year in review below

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Debut cup final will see league leaders clash

| 24/05/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With the close of the 2012-2013 football season this weekend two of Cayman’s leading football clubs will battle it out on the pitch for the first cup final title between the two local leagues. Hosted by the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) the contest between the Cayman Premier League champions and the Foster's First Division team winners this senior men's FA Cup final will see Roma USC pitched against Bodden Town FC the favourites for the debut match. Despite being the underdogs Roma comes to the big match following an excellent run in the games beating out North Side FC, Tigers FC and George Town SC.

Roma now only has the Premier League Champions left to face but it will be a tough game as Bodden Town FC has also had a hard road to the championship match, beating out Foster's First Division Champions, Sunset FC and the always hard to beat Elite SC.

Bodden Town FC has won the Cayman Premier League for the first time in CIFA’s history and wants to seal its brilliant season performance by winning the double crown. The team’s track record owes much to its three winner of the league’s Top Scorer Dwayne "Gaza" Wright. However, its not over till the ref blows his whistle and Roma USC has also surprised the football community by beating the traditional George Town SC in the semi-final.

“Sunday, 26 May’s match will be nothing short of exciting with these two teams fighting for the title,”  a spokesperson for the CIFA stated in a release.
The match will take place at Annex Field in George Town at 7:00pm after the Under 15 Girls FA Cup Final between Elite SC and Scholars ISC at 3:30pm and the Under 15 Boys FA Cup Final between Future SC and Caymans Athletic SC at 5:00pm.

 

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