Bush hits backs at “bloggers”

| 23/07/2014

(CNS): The leader of the opposition has said that the accusations hurled at him by those commenting on the CNS website on stories posted last week about the governor's attack on the press are unfounded. But despite the criticisms he faces from the public, McKeeva Bush said that he fully supports a free press and believes it is a "basic tenet of democracy". He said the governor's position over the Tempura documents has nothing to do with him but he said when it comes to a "free and fair Cayman" the FCO has had a wanton disregard, and commenters dragging him into the fight between the press and the governor are deflecting the real problem, which is that the UK simply does not care about the overseas territories.

While people commenting may not like him or his policies, Bush said that didn't mean he had ever done anything wrong.

Responding to a commenter who was attacking all politicians and suggesting that the opposition leader should have been prosecuted for unspecified allegations years ago, Bush said whoever it was must really hate him, but whatever people think about him the real problem for Cayman was the FCO.

"The individual who drew me into their blog on the way the governor has insulted the press was trying to distract the matter of the FCO's wanton disregard for a fair and free Cayman," Bush said. "I have no boxer in this fight of the governor and the press but I do stand for a free and fair Cayman and freedom of a fair press is a basic tenet of democracy. That is in our constitution."

The opposition leader said the FCO uses the overseas territories as pawns for a buttress and scapegoats in their European Union arguments and queried why anyone is surprised by what governors say or do to suit their purpose.

"They have destroyed bigger men than me, and many viable countries have fallen because when the FCO should have cared for them, they didn't," he stated.

Pointing to comments made by commenters tying him into the situation, he said much of it was because people didn't like him for a catalogue of reasons. He believes some don't like him because they couldn't get elected, some because they couldn't get status, but for others it was because they can no longer "rule Cayman like they did before orwant to do as they please with us", as he pointed the finger at the British establishment. But he stressed that none of the reasons why people don't like him actually equate to him doing anything wrong.

"And because they don't like me, it doesn't mean that I did anything to hurt them or these islands," he said. "I have done everything I could to stand against the efforts of the FCO, the UK Treasury and the European Union to make Cayman unviable as an offshore international business centre … I refused to put in place their income and property tax and VAT," Bush said.

Despite the problems he faced when he was premier, the opposition leader said he had still managed well enough to keep the country's high credit rating when both the US and the UK fell down the rankings. Talking about his long career in the Legislative Assembly, he pointed out that he was part of the ExCo that put in place the Monetary Authority and the hedge fund law.

"I put in place much of the good financial regulation we have today," he said, also noting other legislation unrelated to the financial services that he was responsible for that has helped the people of Cayman.

"I put in place the policy for the establishment of the libraries in the districts, the policy to build the clinics in the districts. I also put in place the social legislation in Cayman that manages to help a very disenfranchised people with a modicum of decency, from sports to pensions, and took us out of masters and servants law that governed Cayman as labour legislation up until the 1980s .

"Today pregnant women have benefits they didn't have when I got elected in 1984 and people who lose family members have compassion leave. The stealing of gratuities from the workers is a thing of the past too … So what little labour legislation we have today I fought for and had it put it there. And no one can say I hate foreigners as my own people say I give them too much room."

Bush said he has fought for a more developed and inclusive Cayman and believes he has made a significant contribution as a legislator to bring about a better Cayman, "even if I should say so myself," he added, as he defended his long career in politics.

"What is it that some of the bloggers want? They need to go and do some positive work to help Cayman rather than to keep saying all kinds of worthless and untrue statements about me and our people," he said as he hit back at his critics. "If what they say about me is true and they have the proof, why not say what it is and sign their name to the blog?"

Bush said if he had done anything illegal the efforts to destroy him would have succeeded by now.
Currently facing serious allegations, which are expect to go before the courts in September regarding the misuse of a government credit card, Bush insisted none of the allegations amounted to a crime.  
"What have I done thats illegal?" Bush asked rhetorically. "I used  my credit card and payed it back which a lot, if not all, of the civil servants and ministers did. It was and still is an accepted practice within the civil service and the private sector."
Pointing to comments made in Miami earlier this year by the former auditor general, Dan Duguay, a man Bush once described as a "cowboy", the opposition leader said the former auditor admitted knowing all about the credit card issue but he didn't carry out any audits about the use during his time here because he acknowledged that there were no policies in place to prevent it.
"In the civil service there were no rules against using your card. And there was no policy set down by the minister of finance," Bush stated, explaining that Kenneth Jefferson, the financial secretary, didn't sit in cabinet after 6 November 2009 and so couldn't make policy. And, Bush said, his Cabinet didn't pass or make any polices relating to the issue.
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