Opinion: Xenophobic comments by MP De Weever

POSTED: 03/13/16 7:27 PM

Independent MP Cornelius de Weever’s inability to put a simple question in the correct perspective led yesterday for the second time to an ugly outburst that seems to suggest that said MP hates the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Emil Lee for one reason only – the minister’s ethnic origins.

It is truly too-curling to hear a Member of Parliament, who likes to use the prefix honorable, say with a straight face that the only Lee he knew in his youth was Bruce Lee. For good measure, De Weever said that Chinese are known for counterfeit products and knock offs.

This has obviously nothing to do with the budget debate, but everything with the MP’s frustration about the minister sitting in a chair he had wanted for his uncle Leroy.

And what was the question again that got the MP going? Oh, yeah: could you please define what you mean by a local? This was, if memory serves us right, in connection with labor market issues.

It is a correct question, because even MPs are confused about it. Not too long ago, MP Johan Leonard mentioned how he supported locals who want to come back to the island. The example he mentioned was, remarkably, of a student who was actually born in Antigua.

That goes to show: if you live here long enough, locals consider you a local even though – in the strictest sense – you are anything but.

And that is okay: if you have lived here for a long time an, you have contributed to the community on various levels, you become a local even though you were not borne here.

The constitution prohibits discrimination and parliamentarians have sworn to uphold the constitution. In that sense, MP de Weever is trampling the equal rights citizens are entitled to, and he is therefore also violating the constitution.

It is a dangerous path to follow, because what the good MP expressed are true so-called underbelly feelings. They could spark events that nobody is waiting for and that nobody is able to control once they occur.

The Cretans – islanders like St. Maarteners – are a proud people and they have a tendency to ask foreigners who live in their midst on more than one occasion: when are you going back to your country?

When a foreigner then says, somewhat surprised, but this is my country, you get an interesting discussion, until you make the premise clear: home is where my feet are.

This is true of all countries in the world. You have to be extremely narrow-minded if you are unable to see that the whole world is a melting pot and that one of its manifestations is the cultural and ethnical mix of any population.

So if you’re not on vacation here, if you are properly registered in St. Maarten and if you intend to stay here, consider yourself a local. That makes things a lot easier for everyone.

The way MP De Weever is getting all worked up about this non-issue is nothing short of xenophobic.

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