I have written articles in the past about Turks and Caicos Diaspora in that we should encourage them to return home especially given the fact that the “natural born” Turks and Caicos Islanders are now the minority. Turks and Caicos Islanders represent less than 1/3 of the current resident population of the TCI. However, we have thousands of Turks and Caicos Islanders living abroad. In fact, we have more Turks and Caicos Islanders living abroad then we have at home.
This article is to address one issue that was raised during the Constitutional talks. Of course many issues were addressed at the Constitutional meetings but this one impacted me as I sat there and listen to some of the comments. Yes everyone is entitled to their opinion but it is just not seem right or fair to Turks and Caicos Islanders living abroad who return home and want to participate in the general elections as a candidate.
Currently one has to be a resident of the island for 12 months in order to run. The proposal is to change the residential requirement from 12 months to 36 months if you want to run.
Why lengthen the years?
I do not comprehend the reason behind this proposal. One of the reason given for the change is so that persons should become acquainted with the island before they are able to run. Another reasons stated is that they do not want anyone to come here and dictate to us. I don’t agree with these reasons. One does not have to be living in the islands to be acquainted with what is happening in the islands. We live in a global world now and with all of this modern technology and travelling back and forth, one can easily be acquainted. Ironically there are people that live in the TCI, run for office and still out of touch with the people. The reference of dictation does not stand either. You can be a resident for 12 months, 24months, 5 years, 20 years and still dictate to the people.
I can understand if we had a significant number of Turks and Caicos Islanders residing in TCI having to compete with other Turks and Caicos Islanders living abroad but even this reason is not good enough. A country like the Bahamas with a population of more than 300,000, the residential requirement is 12 months.
The Benefits of Diaspora group
I am conscious of the fact that some Turks and Caicos Islanders left TCI and never look back but there are so many that live abroad that really care about TCI. They are very much in touch of what is happening and if they decide to return home and live home for 12 months, they should have the right to run for political office if they choose to do so especially if they are allowed to vote.
We have so many bright and intelligent minds living abroad. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge and international exposure. Hopefully, they will bring a breath of fresh air to our current political system.
I believe the current 12 months of residential requirement to run for political office is adequate. Why do we want to exclude Turks and Caicos Islanders by extending the stay from 12 months to 3 years? Are we threatened? Some of our current TC Islanders that reside in TCI who I believe would make great candidates do not want to run. Therefore why restrict the possibility of other great candidates who are living abroad that may want to run if they decide to return home. Can you imagine if we had candidates like our first Chief Minister, the Hon. JAGS McCartney restricted from running due to the residential requirement?