The Electoral and Constitutional Fiasco in Turks and Caicos Islands

Published in TCI POST on 09th March 2013.

The Attorney General vs Ms. Amanda Missick
The Acting Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos Islands has filed in the supreme court against Ms. Amanda Missick stating the following:
“Following receipt of copies of the section 49(1)(f) Notices and related correspondence supplied to me by the TCI Integrity Commission and having caused background research to be undertaken in the Lands Division of the Chambers, I have come to the conclusion that I should act under section 50(3) of the Constitution, and today a challenge to the veracity of the declaration made by Ms. Amanda Missick, PNP candidate for the upcoming by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill Electoral District on 22 March 2013 has been filed before the Supreme Court.
FACT: It is a fact that Ms. Amanda Missick has a property 60804/138 with a TCIG belonger discount charge (see exhibit A)
According to the Integrity Commission and the Attorney General such a charge is considered to be a contract with Government and the Candidate shall to give NOTICE to the Integrity Commission on or before Nomination Day, in accordance with Section 49 (1)f of the TCI Constitution.
Disputable: It is disputable whether someone who has a Crown freehold property with a subsistent belonger discount charge (having had the property for less than 10 years after obtaining freehold title), is considered as having a contract with Government.
FACT: If a potential Candidate does not comply with Section 49 (1)f of the TCI Constitution 2011 he /she shall not be qualified to be an elected member of the House of Assembly. It states: 49.—(1) No person shall be qualified to be an elected member of the House of Assembly who, on the date of his or her nomination for election: (f) is a party to, or a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government and has not, by that date, disclosed in a notice to the Integrity Commission the nature of such contract and his or her interest, or the interest of such firm or company, in it;
FACT: The Constitution does not give a defined time period prior to Nomination Day during which such notice of contract with Government should be made. It simply states that such contracts should be “by that date (NOMINATION DAY), disclosed in a notice to the Integrity Commission the nature of such contract and his or her interest, or the interest of such firm or company, in it”
FACT: There is no prescribed form for giving such notice of contract with Government to the Integrity Commission. It simply says “disclosure in notice to the Integrity Commission”. This fact is also supported by the varied instruments of submission used by other elected members of the House of Assembly during the 2012 nomination process, who have made declarations under section 49 (1)f. Some used emailed submission, some used written hand delivered letters and some could have even called in.

Amanda-Lease Cancellation
THEREFORE:
FACT: Ms Amanda Missick made a Declaration to the Integrity Commission in on Oct 24, 2012 and this was publicized by the Integrity Commission in a Contracts Notice Register (see exhibit B). This declaration should have satisfied the condition under Section 49 (1)f of the Constitution, for nomination in the By-election, since such the notice is not time bound prior to nomination day and there is no legal requirement to make another declaration to the Integrity Commission unless there is additional information to be declare or remove, which is not the case with Ms. Missick.
Conclusion: Ms. Amanda Missick should not be disqualified. She did declare her interest to the Integrity Commission on time as she did so on October 24, 2012 and again on February 15, 2013, on a form used for members of the House of Assembly to declare their registrable Interest (including contracts with Government) which is a public document.
Also if the Judge rules that Crown freehold land with subsistent belonger discount charge is NOT contract with Government, then Ms. Missick would have had nothing to declare and should not be disqualified.
Furthermore:
If it is determined by the Courts that Crown Freehold title with subsistent belonger discount charge is a contract with Government, this should not affect Ms Missick as she made declaration of such contract on October 24, 2012 and again on February 15, 2013.
I rest my case and the learned Judge should see it likewise.
So I am encouraging all PNPs to Stay the Course!
Cheshire Hall Voter (Plaintiff) Vs Oral Selver

Oral Leasehold
A Cheshire Hall Voter filed in the Courts on March 8, 2013 against Isaac Oral Selver on the grounds that he failed to comply with the provisions of Section 49(1)f of the TCI Constitution.
It has been discovered that Mr. Oral Selver is the Leasee of Crown land 50206/1/1 – North Caicos (2.5 acres) which was issued on 12.11.2004 for a period of 3 years. Mr. Selver failed to pay his lease and in April 2011, he wrote to the PS of the Lands Department to have his lease extended. His letter was acknowledged in April 2011, and he was given conditions upon which the lease would be extended. The conditions included obtaining a building permit which he had, as stated in his reply letter and payment of arrears on the lease. Mr. Selver accepted the Offer and paid the arrears on the Property on December 24, 2012 (shortly after 2012 general elections).
Oral Lease Payment
The Plaintiff is of the view that Mr. Selver had a contract with Government on nomination day 2012 (October 25, 2012) and did not declare this interest at that time as required by Section 49(1)f of the constitution.
The Plaintiff is also of the view that Mr. Oral Selver still has a contract with Government i.e. the lease on property 50206/1/1 as he has accepted the conditional offer to extend the lease and is actively engaged with the Lands Department to retain the lease, which still remains in his name on the Lands register (see exhibit). Also of note is that the application procedure by the Lands Department for the termination of the lease has not been done. This procedure was use in the termination of a Conditional Purchase Lease (CPL) owned by Ms Amanda Missick, on property 60400/277 –Chalk Sound. Ms. Missick obtained the CPL around the same time as Mr Selver in 2004 and was denied extension without hesitation, that culminated in the cancellation of her lease on March 22, 2010.
Therefore:
We conclude that Mr Oral Selver failed to declare his contract with Government by nomination days October 25, 2012 and March 1, 2013 and should be disqualified under Section 49 (1)f.
The Attorney General
Vs
George Lightbourne
Hugh Derek Taylor
Josephine Connelly
Edwin Astwood
Vaden Delroy Williams
The Acting Attorney General is challenging the defendants listed, under section 53(2) of the constitution “An application to the Supreme Court for the determination of any question under subsection (1) may be made by the Attorney General or by any person who is a registered elector; and an application for the determination of any question under subsection (1)(b) may also be made by any member of the House of Assembly” It has been determined that the defendants have not filed all of their contracts (Crown freehold property with subsistent belonger discount charge) with Government and should be disqualified.
Contracts Notice Register – General Elections_001 Copy
The question for the Judge to rule on in this case is whether Crown freehold land with subsistent belonger discount charge is a contract with Government. If the Judge rule that it is then all of the elected members listed above will be disqualified and cease being members of the House of Assembly.
The next question to be determined by (Judge or AG?) is how should the vacated 5 seats in the House of Assembly be filled?
I am of the view that:
A constituency in the 2012 election, which had more than 2 candidates contesting but returning only 1 member to the House of Assembly (eg Wheeland), should go to a By-election if the elected member is disqualified.
A constituency in the 2012 election, which had only 2 candidates contesting and returning only 1 member to the House of Assembly (eg Grand Turk North or Grand Turk South), that the seat should be turned over to the other candidate upon disqualification of the elected candidate. If the non-elected Candidate is unavailable then the seat should go to a By-election.
A constituency in the 2012 election, which had more than 2 candidates contesting but returning more than 1 member to the House of Assembly (eg All-Islands Constituency), that the vacated seats due to disqualifications should be filled using the non-elected candidates based on the next highest number of votes and availability.
The British has indeed made a mockery of our democracy and the judicial system has fallen victim to the poorly drafted and ill-conceived laws enacted by the British, including of 2011 Constitution which is top of the list.
This is indeed a time for the PNP and PDM to come together and form a coalition Government and to fast track this country towards independence. I firmly believe that it is our people as opposed to our leaders and elected officials that are against unity and coalition in preference of the euphoria of partisan politics. It is however, our leaders who must make that bold decisions and lead the people in the direction of a united front in the best interest of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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