29 April, 2007

Executive Council

Press Briefings. On 20 April the government of the Cayman Islands gave a “post-cabinet press briefing”. It is an example to us in Anguilla how an Executive Council can involve the people in good governance issues. It is a matter of regret to many of us in Anguilla that government, despite recent efforts, continues to shield us from knowledge of the important issues they are tackling. How are we to respond when we find out only after the fact?

Here is what the Cayman Net News published on 23 April:

Cabinet Ministers demand say in key Government agencies
Monday, April 23, 2007

Elected members of Cabinet are insisting that they be involved in national security
matters involving the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services, HM Customs and Immigration Department. Currently, these responsibilities fall under the Governor’s reserved powers in the Cayman Islands Constitution. . . Cabinet members . . . told last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing at the GIS they wanted a change in the status quo . . .

“This is just not right, we are the elected representatives, we are the people held accountable irrespective of what the Constitution says,” said Mr McLaughlin, stressing that it is his personal opinion on the matter . . . Mr McLaughlin said he was not prepared to support funding for the police if Cabinet did not form part of the discussions.

“It is fundamentally wrong and I have made it clear that I am not prepared to support funding or anything to do with the police if I am not apprised of the basis of that funding and if the elected Government is shut out of the discussions about it,” said Mr McLaughlin. “This is a constant battle and constant tension and we are seeking to have at least one elected member of the Cabinet part of these discussions.”

Mr McLaughlin warned that there could be a crisis if Cabinet is left out from discussions involving the three agencies. “From my perspective they are either going to involve the elected Government or they will have a crisis on their hands,” he said.

Is this not a refreshing change from how our Executive Council fails to publicise its difficult issues?

Of course, we in Anguilla are in complete control of our Customs and Immigration Departments. They fall under the Chief Minister’s portfolio. But, we have no local institution in charge of the Royal Anguilla Police Force. They are presently a law unto themselves. They are essentially unregulated. You cannot call having the Governor in charge a form of regulation. The Governor of Anguilla has repeatedly over the past decades abdicated all responsibility for ensuring standards in the police force. Only if we have a local agency, such as the Police Service Commission as recommended by the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission in its report of 25 August 2006, in charge of the RAPF will there be any movement away from the present near-disastrous situation.

That’s not just my opinion, but the opinion of a majority of persons who made representations to the Commission. Would it not be wonderful if we really had regular press briefings like those given by the Cayman Executive Council? How much we would learn about the problems faced by our government! How much more support we could give them!


  1. In Anguilla, Customs is part of the Ministry of Finance.

  2. Somebody is going to tell Osborne about this Blog, “Osborne, Don publishing again about how secret this government is.” Osborne will tell Curtis it is his job to show the people how much government love and trust them, “Curtis, I done tell you to put something in the press after every ExCo meeting!” Curtis will issue a press release saying how transparent this government is. Look how much information we giving out.” Then, we go back to normal once again!

  3. This week's "Anguillian" has five articles, 2 letters and one editorial about police and crime and the wonderful new openness we are suddenly getting from our secret police.

    On page 3 Superintendent Proctor is quoted, "If you were to follow the recent spate of robberies in the community, based on reports carried by the media, you would realise that we are dealing with a very sick individual. That person wants to cause harm to Anguilla as opposed to being just one individual responsible for his actions. The Police Department is doing all in its power to catch up with this person." Also on page 3 a reward is offered for information about this person.

    Nowhere have I seen any information about this individual. Notice that Proctor even avoids saying whether it’s a man or a woman that they are looking for, but lectures us on how open they are and whines about how we're not cooperating.

    Officer, if you want equity you must DO equity, do not insult our intelligence.

  4. Here is my all time favourite article about closed government:

    Royal Gazette
    Hamilton, Bermuda
    November 16, 2004
    Governors set to visit

    Government House will be hosting a Governors' Conference sometime next month.
    A Government House spokesperson said the conference was a private, in-house event, and as such she would give no further details on it.

    Copyright 2001 The Royal Gazette Ltd.

  5. My nomination for the Open Government Award:

    Stabroek News
    Georgetown, Guyana
    Bids suspended for US$4M textbook print job
    Sunday, November 28th 2004

    The government is advising all potential bidders for a US$4M primary school textbooks contract that the bidding process "is now suspended until further notice."

    The advertisement inviting bids had been placed in the Stabroek News and the Guyana Chronicle last week but the advertisement giving notice of suspension was placed only in this weekend's Mirror.

    Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Phulander Kandhi issued the notice.

    Contacted yesterday for the reason the bidding process was suspended, Kandhi told Stabroek News, "We don't have to assign a reason... there is no particular reason." However, he added that, "we'll advise when to resume the ad."


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