Swearing In Ceremony 2021
Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
I am greatly honoured to be taking part in this swearing in ceremony on what is Her Majesty the Queen’s 95th birthday. I know everyone will wish to join me in sending Her best wishes albeit in sad circumstances following the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.
My congratulations go to all elected Members of Parliament as they take their seats today. I particularly congratulate those members who have taken on the responsibility of serving our people as an elected representative for the first time. I would also like to thank those candidates who were unsuccessful for their invaluable contribution to our democratic process.
The turnout in the elections was a highly respectable 73% continuing Cayman’s strong track record for high voter participation, and comparing very favourably internationally.
Owing to the Covid pandemic still affecting international travel, we were unable to invite the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to oversee the conduct of this election in person. They did however carry out a remote audit of the process. I am pleased that we were able to appoint a team of nine domestic observers who worked diligently in country to augment the work of the CPA and provide additional reassurance to the general public about meeting international standards for democratic, genuine and transparent elections. In their statement of 15 April, I am very pleased to say that the spokesman for the local observers confirmed that they had full confidence in the integrity of our elections process.
I look forward to receiving in due course both the report of the local observers and that of the CPA. We should carefully consider recommendations for improving the process for future elections. There are some areas that need addressing, including election finance, to enhance our good governance. It is my hope that the incoming Government will make this a priority in the early part of its term in office.
The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Wesley Howell, his office and the many volunteers who supported the elections process are to be congratulated on their efforts in getting us to this point, especially given the reduced timetable under which they had to operate after the elections were called early.
I also thank them for the additional measures that they had to introduce to ensure any voter in quarantine was able to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot. We are very fortunate to have such a capable and dedicated elections team to rely upon. They have earned, and enjoy, strong trust and confidence from our community. Yet again, they have demonstrated that Cayman has much to be proud of in holding free and fair elections.
I would also thank the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, and Special Constabulary, who as in previous years, turned out to ensure electors felt safe and secure as they cast their votes on Grand Cayman and in the Sister Islands.
Elected Members of Parliament, you are privileged to have been chosen by our people to represent them. You have four years in which to justify their faith in you and I am sure you will wish to fulfil your leadership roles with integrity, passion and energy. Above all, I urge you to have the best interests of the people of these wonderful Cayman Islands firmly in your hearts and minds.
There are likely to be many challenges facing the Cayman Islands during your term in office, particularly as we move to reopen our borders and build back better in the midst of this global pandemic. I am confident that you will face these challenges head on and do your utmost to lead these islands to a brighter future.
I believe one of the messages the public clearly sent in these elections is about the great importance attached to the integrity and behaviour of elected parliamentarians, Ministers and senior officials. I therefore welcome the incoming government’s announcement it will agree a code of conduct for Parliamentarians. I hope we can also agree code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers.
The UK/Cayman relationship is in very good shape. I look forward to continuing to play my part to strengthen it further. Where UK technical expertise can be helpful, I will continue to do my utmost to secure it. One area of major concern is climate change and the environment, an existential priority for our entire planet, highlighted by the public and a majority of candidates during the campaign. The UK is open to assisting the new government on analysing the risks of climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity and any other areas they will find helpful.
I look forward to working with you all for the remainder of my time as Governor. I will continue to respect the autonomy of the Cayman Islands for domestic affairs and seek to exercise my responsibilities, including for good governance, in the spirit of partnership, mutual trust and collaboration that have marked my first two and a half years as Governor.
I pay tribute to the outgoing Premier for his contribution to our Islands over the last 8 years, particularly steering the country through the global pandemic and to his Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries for their public service to the people of these islands.
I recognise it has been a hard fought election campaign. The last week has been a tense and challenging one for everyone in our community. I hope we can now put this behind us, come together as a community and support the new government and the official Opposition as they start work. While fully respecting everyone’s right to express their opinions, I continue to urge everyone to treat everyone else in our community with courtesy, dignity, respect and fairness at all times.
I, and the Civil Service, ably led by our Deputy Governor, look forward very much to working with the new Government to deliver your programme.
These islands have so much to be thankful for and positive about. I wish all elected Parliamentarians the very best of luck as you embark on a new journey.
God Bless the Cayman Islands.