Opinion: Slackers give our St. Maarten Parliament a bad name.

POSTED: 09/15/11 1:06 PM

Jobs that pay $125,000 a year before taxes and come with a package of fringe benefits worth approximately $20,000 are thin on the ground in St. Maarten. People who hold such a job are fortunate souls. We know at least fifteen of them: they are the Members of our Parliament.

People with a nine to five grunt job get their manager on their back when they show up late, or when they don’t show up at all. Missing a day’s work is not the end of the world, but if it becomes a pattern, most companies will be quick to snuff out the problem. They will jump at the first opportunity to fire the unreliable employee.

Parliamentarians are lucky in many ways: there is no manager looking over their shoulder. Nobody tells them that they have to get up at eight o’clock, or that they have to work late. The only one looking at our parliamentarians are the voters. And guess what: they act only once every four years.

Imagine that! A job where the manager stays away for four years and leaves employees to do whatever they feel like doing. Sounds like a construction that is only possible in fairy tales, doesn’t it?

But here we are, as a young and innocent country with a brand new Parliament, sitting in a brand new building (okay, it’s renovated, but the interior is brand new), and with fifteen parliamentarians who are costing the tax payer a substantial amount of money.

Are these people worth that money? Nobody will argue that parliamentarians should not get a decent income. But the voters want something back for that money. So far the results have been disappointing but hey – the elections are still three years away, so nobody worries too much about what the man in the street (who will become a priceless voter around the summer of 2014) has to complain about.

Life is good in the Parliament building and nobody knows that better than our MPs.

From the first annual report the Parliament produced we know a thing or two about the work ethics of our politicians. Woody Allen once said that 95 percent of life is just about showing up, but we have a few MPs who do not grasp that rather simple concept.

The two champions are Hyacinth Richardson and Louie Laveist. Out of the 34 Central committee meetings the parliament held during its first year, Richardson attended just 9 and Laveist attended 12. For no less than 25 meetings, Richardson did not even bother to give notice or to provide a reason for his absence. Laveist follows close on his heels with 22 absences without notice.

Many grunt workers on the island have a contract that says: no pay is due when no work is performed. Attending meetings is obviously only a part of the work parliamentarians are supposed to do. But what are Richardson and Laveist doing? Nobody knows, but many people wonder. It seems though that the gentlemen are making a mockery of their job.

There are two courses of action. The voters will have their say, but that will only happen in 2014. And the faction could, we suppose, take disciplinary measures against lazy members.

The best course of action would obviously be that Richardson and Laveist give up their seats in parliament because they are obviously not interested and because they do bugger all for – here comes a politicians’ best friend – “the people of St. Maarten.” Who is fooling who?

Maybe (just maybe, okay?) we have it all wrong and Laveist and Richardson are working behind the scenes on the most brilliant scheme to help “the people of St. Maarten.” When they present that plan we rest our case, but for the time being we maintain that slackers give our Parliament a bad name.

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