St. Maarten PM responds to PlasterkPOSTED: 04/25/13 11:55 AM
GREAT BAY- Although St. Maarten is a much smaller country than the Netherlands, it is an equal partner in the Kingdom, whether certain officials choose to acknowledge this or not, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said yesterday.
It is from this perspective as an equal partner that Wescot-Williams has dispatched a letter to Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk in response to concerns raised by several members of the Kingdom Council of Ministers on St. Maarten’s running of its affairs.
During meetings held on March 15 and March 28 the Kingdom Council of Ministers questioned Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges on St. Maarten’s handling of the Bada Bing corruption investigation, the Constitution and relations with Dutch entities; Saba and St. Eustatius.
“I stressed the point that like all other parts of the Kingdom, we believe and respect very much in allowing justice to run its course. Like all over the world in democratic societies persons are innocent until proven guilty. I just reiterated this stance,” the Prime Minister said as she highlighted sections of the correspondence.
She said that with regard to general references being made to the Constitution of St. Maarten, Articles 36 and 50 which dictates the action to be taken should Ministers and Members of Parliament become suspects in criminal investigations or condemned, is still in effect.
“I also asked Minister Plasterk for us to pay heed to the agreements that we have made as governments in the Kingdom. We have made these agreements during the last Kingdom Conference that we will seek to inform our Parliaments as much as possible relating to issues that might surface out there,” the Prime Minister added.
All governments within the Kingdom also have a responsibility to provide accurate information to their respective Parliaments so that MPs can speak on from an informed position instead of trading words without factual information, the Prime Minister said.
“In December 2011 when we had the Kingdom Conference, we spoke about the public back and forth between Members of the Parliament of the different countries. We had committed ourselves as government to bring this back together and that is not the way, in our opinion, that we should act with and against each other as countries within the Kingdom.”
The next Kingdom Conference is expected to be held in Aruba in June.
The Prime Minister added that even as individual members of the legislative or executive branches of the Dutch government make public pronouncements on the state of affairs in St. Maarten, her only official speaking partner will continue to remain the Dutch government.
When asked whether St. Maarten would now considering applying for independence because of the pressure the Dutch government is exerting on it, the Prime Minister said that until the government and the people of St. Maarten seek another referendum, everyone will have to make the best use of the autonomous status that the country within a Kingdom has been given.
“This is what you voted for,” the Prime Minister said.