Civil servants reject ban

| 04/02/2009

(CNS): The constitutional proposal to prevent senior public servants from standing as a political candidate in an election until 12 months has passed following their resignation has been rejected outright by the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association for being “fundamentally undemocratic”. In a letter to Sir Ian Hendry, the leader of the UK delegation, CICSA President James Watler said the proposal was unjustifiable discrimination.

The proposals was written into the final draft of the proposed constitutional document, which the negotiating teams are currently working from in London, and Watler says that this did not form part of the earlier consultation period. The association members have only recently had a chance to read the full proposal and have said they will not support the provision.

The proposal follows recommendations made by Sir Richard Tucker, who presided over the ‘Chuckiegate’ hearing, in which the Minister for Tourism, formerly the permanent secretary in that ministry, was accused of leaking confidential documents to the media. However, Watler insists that this issue of a hiatus should be part of the employment law governing civil servants and has no place in the constitution, which will be the highest law of the land. He wrote, “…to place such a broad and onerous restriction on a public officer in the constitution is both inappropriate and unreasonable.”

Watler stated that the time period would not necessarily provide a safeguard against dishonest disclosure of information as the individual would simple have longer before he or she used that material or could simply pass it to their future political colleagues anyway.

Watler further noted that by preventing civil servants from running for office it was limiting the right of the people of the Cayman Island to choose their own representatives. “The pool of qualified persons is already small and should not be further condensed by a period of disqualification.”

He also pointed out that the current wording of the proposal was ambiguous as it said the ban would apply to chief officers and other senior public servants to be determined by law. “This is a frightening proposition to say the least as it means that the people of this country will be asked to vote to restrict the eligibility of a group of citizens without knowing the size or composition of this group.”

The proposal would, Watler wrote, send a message to future young, talented Caymanian public servants that they are not to consider pursuing a political career and will serve as a disincentive to recruitment into the public service.

He noted that such a rule did not apply in the UK and that civil servants could be trusted to remain neutral during their time serving in public office. He said the proposal to so severely undermine the democratic rights of its members was unacceptable.

“We find this proposal repugnant as it seeks to expressly limit one class of Caymanians fromfreely exercising their civil and political rights to stand for the highest office in their land,” Watler wrote. He went on to say that to discriminate in such a ways was in direct conflict with the notions of equality and fairness that the country is aspiring to with the creation of a new constitution.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    what does the HRC have to say about these Caymanian’s rights, I wonder!

  2. JabJab says:

    They’re right. Thats absolutely beyond the pale. We’ll see now who of our wise negotiating team will stand up for Caymanians and who’ll give in to political spitefullness. Maybe Elio, a former civil servant IIRC, will speak out on this!

    • The Hickatee says:

      Ellio speak out on this issue? He must want Mac to disintegrate! Remember he’s a party man now, thus have to pull and fall within the “Mac Party” lines or else! But, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He might just bring him and the rest in line on the true meaning of “Party”.    

  3. noname says:

    They can take a strong stance on this but not on the fact that they cannot participate in the democratic process by signing petitions!