Archive for October 18th, 2009

Switzerland: Low-tax high life

| 18/10/2009 | 1 Comment

(Times Online): Switzerland’s benign tax regime has long made it a favourite with pop stars and racing drivers, but these days its appeal is growing for members of Britain’s financial community, keen to avoid the 50% tax rate due next April, and other future blows to their wallets. Monaco and the Cayman Islands are more glamorous, and Gibraltar has the lowest corporate tax in Europe, but convenience and lifestyle play a big part in Switzerland’s appeal — a factor stressed by the country’s authorities, who have been trying to persuade the chief executives of FTSE 100 companies to relocate.

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‘Spitting’ on Cayman

| 18/10/2009 | 15 Comments

Few CNS readers will have missed the irony of the exposure of SPIT’s antics and capers being sandwiched between two local news stories reporting serious crimes. While the underlying causes of rising crime here are no doubt multifaceted, the impact of the ‘sunshine squad’ on the morale of the RCIPS should not be underestimated.

For two years officers from our own police service have been subject to secret and mysterious scrutiny by a bunch of UK officers backed by the country’s highest official authority – the governor — which sent the message that they were corrupt and incompetent, and all because the Special Police Investigation Team said so.

Not a morsel of evidence or corruption has been revealed and, as far as we at CNS can tell from piecing together what has been exposed during the court hearings, judge’s rulings and sources close to the investigation, SIO Martin Bridger (who, you have to agree, cuts a dashing figure in a rubber ring) has interviewed no more than a handful of people in this investigation and did very little police work to find evidence to back his outrageous suggestions and theories.

The idea that murders, drug dealing, arms smuggling and other heinous crimes were rife in the RCIPS was based on nothing more than the marl road and malicious gossip fed to Bridger from the company he was want to keep during his stay here.

As it appears now that he was so busy buying boats and condos, drinking champagne at the Ritz and beer in the Triple Crown or flying first class, there wasn’t much time to actually do the detective work required to find out if the marl road rumour had any truth to it.

All of the people arrested during this shambolic investigation and his theories for what was going on were based on documents Bridger received on arrival from former commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, and DCS John Jones. From that, with the gossip he heard, Bridger had put two and two together and got 22. He arrested Lyndon Martin, a high court judge and the deputy commissioner of police merely on his own theories of invented burglaries and cover ups.

Convinced, or more likely wishing, that the entire judiciary and the RCIPS were corrupt but with no evidence, Bridger bent the rules to suit his own agenda and by doing so fundamentally disrupted this entire jurisdiction without cause -_ a point noted by Sir Peter Cresswell, who condemned Bridger for abusing his position.

Despite that, the result has been that we are bickering amongst ourselves over who is to blame for the scandalous situation. Politicians are shouting across the floor of the House blaming each other for supporting/causing the investigation, the members of the oversight committee are pointing fingers every which way but themselves, the community is blaming ex-pat cops, the ex-pats are blaming the Caymanians … and so it goes on.

There are, however, just two people who should be made to answer for this fiasco and the impact it has had on all of us as well as policing in the islands, and that is the governor, Stuart Jack, and the lead investigator, Martin Bridger.

They are the two that should be held accountable and forced to make a public apology to the people of the Cayman Islands and especially to the officers of the RCIPS, both those who are still serving and those who have since left as a result of this ridiculous escapade.

Whether Cayman will ever receive fair compensation for this outrageous abuse of power by the UK’s representative and what can only be described as the contemptible and scournful behaviour of Bridger and SPIT remains to be seen, but a very public apology is the very least the country should expect and receive.

Our crimewave may have its roots in the economic woes, the influx of guns into the island or even poor parenting, but it seems likely that the brazen behaviour of criminals owes much to the recognition that the RCIPS is depleted both in numbers and in terms of its morale. For two years the leadership has been unstable, the force has been under the cloud of suspicion, it has, as the new commissioner has noted since he arrived, been looking in on itself and not out at the community. Some of the best officers have resigned and the others are overworked and utterly demoralized because they feel — lets face it with due cause — as though they were spat upon.

The governor’s blind and continued support of Operation Tempura and latterly Cealt must stop. This insistence that the thousands of hours of reports given to the consultancy firm working for SPIT have revealed very serious crime, I suspect, isagain nothing more that malicious gossip and rumour. After all, commonsense tells us if there was even a scintilla of evidence, given Bridger’s track record, arrests would already have been made.

It is time for Cayman to demand that a line be drawn and for the apologies to be made. Then the country can begin a new chapter on 6 November when hopefully the new Constitution will give Caymanians the confidence to make steps towards ruling their own destiny, and finally shaking off the chains of colonialism which have no place in the modern world.

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Jesus is a Pirate

| 18/10/2009 | 104 Comments

If the Cayman Islands Government wishes to change Pirates Week’s name for religious reasons, it’s because Jesus doesn’t have much meaning for them. It’s the sad case of Christians (Caymanians) not understanding Christianity.

Today, for both Christians and non-Christians, Jesus is thought of as somewhat like Barney the Dinosaur. A fun loving, peace bringing, cheerful smile when you’re feeling down. The often quoted “love your neighbour as yourself” has softened Jesus’ image into more of a passive (rather than active) figure. This narrow and shallow interpretation of Jesus is very prevalent today. The fact is that Jesus’ personality embraces much larger (and darker) proportions than many of us realize. By dwelling on a particular aspect of his personality, we can see that we do not need to change Pirates Week’s name for religious reasons, because Jesus is a pirate.

Like a pirate, Jesus gave up a normal life to pursue a passion which prevented him from enjoying the basic things in life. He lives on the road, and he’s very often on the run (John 8: 58 – 59). At night neither he nor his disciples have any place to sleep (Matthew 8: 19-22). Like pirates tend to do, Jesus disrupted the social norm and was a revolutionary with the power to excite vast numbers of people (Matthew 8: 1). And he’s somewhat of a troublemaker. A local community literally begged him to leave their town after he drowned a whole herd of their pigs (Matthew 8: 28- 33). This was someone’s livelihood! In addition to that, he walks into strange towns and curses out the religious authorities (Mark 12: 38 – 40 and Matthew 23: 1 – 39), many of whom were the leaders of these towns. Heck, Jesus is so problematic that his own home town tries throwing him off a cliff (Luke 4: 29 – 20)! Jesus lives a life that is similar to that of a pirate.

Yet Jesus talks rationally and convincingly and acts in the power of God, and he is invited to dinner by these same religious authorities for questioning. He shows up for dinner, and doesn’t even wash his hands (Luke 11: 38)! This is a guy who is sleeping in the wilderness and most likely not showering very frequently. Why did he not wash his hands? Its bad manners, or “no brought ups-y”, as we say in Cayman. And when they call him out on his bad hygiene, he curses them – the very people who invited him to dinner (Luke 11: 37 – 53)! Like a pirate, ‘Jesus don’t business.’

In addition to that, Jesus is very shrewd, and wishes his own followers would be as shrewd as the “children of this age” (Luke 16: 8). He recommends making friends by means of “dishonest wealth” in order to gain more (Luke 16: 1- 9), and that’s something we would expect of a pirate. Jesus tells his followers to be like “serpents” (Matthew 10: 16) and he even lies to his brothers’ faces when they ask him if he’s going to the festival (John 7: 3 – 10). Jesus understood when to be sneaky and deceitful.

In very pirate like fashion, Jesus also has a taste for women and bad company. He is often seen frolicking and dining with prostitutes and sinners (Luke 15: 2). A specific Pharisee must have been alarmed and/or embarrassed when a well known sinner woman shows up at his house to wash his feet (Luke 7: 36 – 39). Jesus takes a pedicure right there on the spot. Can we even imagine that? On another occasion his own disciples are “astonished” to find him chatting to some random woman (John 4: 27) who had been married no less than 5 times, and was currently living with someone who wasn’t even her husband (John 4: 18). Jesus is quite fond of the ladies and vice-versa (Mark 15: 40 – 41), so much so that some rich (and married) women help pay for his lifestyle (Luke 8: 3). Jesus the original sugar daddy?

Even Jesus’ fate was similar to that ofa pirate; he was executed for breaking the law. He was crucified (electric chair in our age) and like a criminal "counted among the lawless" (Luke 22: 37). Is it ironic that Jesus died a death common to one who is lawless like a pirate? No, Jesus shared something essential with these people: his understanding of the law. For Jesus, humans are free from the restricting force of the law (Romans 7: 6). This is not a distortion, nor a misinterpretation of scripture; it is what makes a Christian a Christian. Provided our faith is strong, we Christians can eat and drink whatever we want (Romans 14: 14). Christians can even have their sins overlooked (Romans 4: 8)! It is not how much we fast, observe, or even pray, that we are made holy, but instead, it is through mercy and love, and the celebration of life (Matthew 12: 1 – 14). That is Jesus’ whole point in that Matthew 12 passage. Have we Christians turned into the Pharisees of that passage?

Having said all that, we did not show all the ways Jesus is not a pirate. For instance Jesus wasn’t a thief, a murderer (like Moses?), a rapist, or anything of that sort which we often associate with pirates. We only wished to show how Jesus is positively a pirate, by focusing on yet another side of his divine personality. The problem, which I stated at the beginning, is that Jesus is understood in too narrow and shallow terms. For a Christian, all things can be explained in Jesus’ unique and universal (meaning cosmic as well!) personality. There is a massive psychological reason that 2000 years later Jesus still affects the affairs of mankind, and the government policies of the Cayman Islands. We Christians should be more open minded, brave and objective when it comes to interpreting our faith. Be not afraid. And be not afraid to eat, drink and enjoy Pirates Week because Jesus himself “came eating and drinking” (Matthew 11: 19). And if the Pharisees of today look at us and call us gluttons and drunkards, it’s because many years ago they first called Jesus “a glutton and drunkard” (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus was once asked why his disciples did not fast. His answer was, “Because the bridegroom is here” (Luke 5: 33 – 35). In other words, “It’s time to party people.” The biblical symbol for heaven is in fact a party: a banquet (Matthew 22: 2). There will be a time to fast, but right now, it’s time to party. This November, let’s remember that we are not slaves to the law; but instead, let’s truly try to enjoy life. Let’s dance, eat food, drink drink, and love each other. This Pirates Week, be like Jesus, be a pirate!

*All Biblical quotes from New Revised Standard Version.

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