St. Maarten Government rejects name calling

POSTED: 05/20/11 12:57 PM

Let’s keep the constitutional lines clear”

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Thursday reacted to statements made by several Members of Parliament of the Dutch Second Chamber’s Permanent Commission for Kingdom Relations.

“It is with disbelief that the Government of St. Maarten took note of the personal name calling by some members of the Dutch Parliament directed to the Prime Minister and Vice Prime Minister of the Country St. Maarten. The Government of St. Maarten has become accustomed to the often times critical remarks from members of the Second Chamber directed at the Government of St. Maarten, but a few members during the meeting on May 18, clearly overstepped the boundaries of decency,” Wescot-Williams said on Thursday.

The Prime Minister appreciates the handling of the issue by Minister for Interior and Kingdom Relations Piet Donner and the Chairperson of the Committee, but condemns the statements by members Ronald Van Raak and Eric Lucassen in the strongest possible manner. In musing over this matter, the Prime Minister remarked that it is a public secret that some members of the Second Chamber had opposed St. Maarten’s new status up to the very end.

“That is no reason however for the disrespectful display by these same members. Let it be made abundantly clear that the Parliament to whom the government of country St. Maarten is accountable sits in Philipsburg. Parliaments’ duties include the scrutinizing of the work of their Governments, and in this respect, have all right and perhaps the duty to call their government and its individual ministers to give account,” the prime minister said.

She added, “Dutch legislation, like our own legislation describes the (political) relationship between the Parliament and the Government. Now, maybe, locally we make too much fuss about what individual Members of Parliament say about St. Maarten. Perhaps even there are just a regular few who make the St. Maarten dossier their preferred past time. However, it needs to be said and it needs to be said clearly that the Dutch Parliament’s concern (and supervision if you wish) is on the Dutch government and these direct and subtle threats towards St. Maarten serve no purpose and have no place in our constitutional system.”

“The counterpart for the Dutch Parliament is the Parliament of St Maarten as far as St Maarten is concerned and not like some Members of the Dutch Parliament seems to think that because St. Maarten is now a country, somehow that grants them a new responsibility towards this island. Let’s keep the constitutional lines clear. In fact, not any more than any other citizen of the Kingdom, the Members of the Dutch Parliament can ask any question they feel like, but they should not be showering their Minister of Kingdom Relations or any other minister with questions that regard the internal workings of the governments of the other countries in the Kingdom. If we overstep our bounds in the area of foreign relations and international relationships, then by all means. If we engage in actions that compromise the interests of the Kingdom, then by all means. But some-one would need to explain to us the Dutch Parliament’s role with respect to St. Maarten’s budget and St. Maarten’s government-owned companies. Better yet, explain the Parliament’s role regarding a meeting between the government of St. Maarten and the Cft.”

“The government of St. Maarten has gone to great lengths to establish institutions to provide the necessary checks and balances, not because the Dutch Parliament said so, but because it is good for St. Maarten. And mind you, if the criticism and the subtle threats are leveled with the objective of helping find solutions for whatever perceived misgivings, then again by all means. Until then, we demand respect from Members of the Dutch Chamber and in fact from all partners in the Kingdom,” Wescot-Williams said Thursday.

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