Wednesday 4th May, 2005 Posted: 20:55 CIT (01:55 +1 GMT)
George Town UDP candidates relax in Randyke Gardens: (from left) Mr. Lloyd Samson, Dr. Frank McField, Ms Beulah McField and Mr. John Henry Ebanks. Photo: Carol Winker
After weeks of intense campaigning and before their Election Eve rally, the George Town “force of four” relaxed with a series of neighbourhood visits and interacting with residents.
Starting in Randyke Gardens on Monday night, the United Democratic Party candidates ignored a stage and sat informally amongst the audience to share refreshments, answer questions and listen to people’s opinions.
Dr. Frank McField, Minister for Community Affairs, started the evening by pointing out that 50 per cent of Cayman’s population lives in the George Town electoral district. That places on lot of stress on resources such as parks, housing, sewage and water systems.
There is no way that one or two representatives can cover the whole of George Town, he said. If the UDP candidates are elected, they will allocate areas so that they can better respond to the needs of individuals. That was why he had chosen the best running mates: Mr. Lloyd Samson, an attorney; Mr. John Henry Ebanks, in the financial industry; Ms Beulah McField, a “bridge” to the community.
Dr. McField had heard complaints that the people of West Bay were treated more favourably than people of other districts. But, he pointed out, West Bayers work very hard and do not divide their power. “Rather than complain about West Bay, take their example and do not split the vote,” he urged.
When representatives go into caucus to decide priorities, how will a George Town issue come to the forefront? he asked and supplied the answer. It needs four people behind it to push it. Four UDP representatives will give George Town greater participation in national politics, he added.
Dr. McField defended his performance over the past four years. All he had done was the result of other members voting for it, he said. In dealing with individual constituents, there were times he had to say no to requests. “I can’t help you if I have to break the rules to do so.”
He had raised political consciousness by starting the local TV programme “Public Eye”. He knew people would not come out to public meetings when they could be home watching “Days of Our Lives”, so he started a programme that came on before the popular soap.
After Hurricane Ivan, over 300 people were paid to out and help clean up the streets and yards. Caymanians are willing to work hard if you given them a good salary, he observed. The town was made presentable again: that was a tribute to the people.
People deserve a government that can take them through times like that. The destruction was so distressing, but Cayman is recovering at the rate it is because of confidence in UDP leadership. The UDP’s greatest achievement was keeping people’s confidence in the government, so that investors were not pulling money out – they were coming in with even more.
Dr. McField also defended the Cabinet grants of status. One reason for them was that there was no way to avoid the legal and moral implications of people brought up in this society but with no rights.
“The greatest weakness in a society is injustice: injustice to anyone,” he declared.
The first question from the audience came at this point. A man wanted to know who should get priority – Caymanians or foreigners.
Dr. McField answered unequivocally, “Caymanians.”
In times of competition, he added, people who want to compete may need to improve their skills. A person should not say, “I am Caymanian; I must be protected.” Rather, that person should say, “I am Caymanian: I need more money to go to school and get the tools.”
A woman asked about Eagle House and criticised its location. Dr. McField said programmes for the young men needing intervention were more important than location. He pointed out that the younger males were separated from the older inmates of Northward Prison, which has a wall between it and Eagle House. “Your country has only so much money. You do the best you can,” he said.
Called to the mike for a while, Mr. Samson fielded questions on gambling, Sunday trading, homosexual cruise ships and planning.
He pointed out that there is Sunday trading already, with bars, restaurants and gas stations. “It’s a matter of how wide we want to extend that.” If Sunday trading becomes acceptable nationally, he thought employers would seek to make arrangements with employees who wish to keep the day for worship and family.