Press Release from DP on the meetings of the island council of March 18 2010

Press Release from DP on the meetings of the island council of March 18 2010 & the gradual turn from a democratic form of government to a monocratic one


The Democratic Party was quite skeptical when the current island government made its debut in June 2009 under the mantra of a "new beginning".

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This skepticism of the Democratic Party had to do with the old adage that "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks".

We were wrong. The NA/Heyliger/Laveist coalition has ushered in a new beginning in many ways. Regretfully, not with the things that need to be done to show St. Maarten’s maturity in governing its own affairs.

If the Executive Council can’t get the functioning of government right, what can we expect in other areas of government’s responsibility?

Today, March 18, was to be another day of meetings of the island council, requested by the opposition Democratic Party. A meeting of the PCCA and one of the Central Committee of the island council respectively.

Never mind, that the government stated that they were intending to call a PCCA as well, but the opposition DP beat them to it.

The NA/Heyliger/Laveist government put as the first agenda point for the PCCA for March 18, 2010 on request of the Chairman of the PCCA: "The federal ordinance to change the islands regulation, making it possible to dissolve the island councils of St. Maarten and Curacao respectively".

This convocation reached the members of the Democratic Party faction without any documentation on this law in question.

Only upon requesting such , was the Democratic Party provided with a copy of the draft law; the letter of the central government proposing the law to the island government, and the reaction of the Executive Council to the same law.

Lo and behold: When the Minister with his advisors started his presentation to the PCCA members, it took the DP faction to recognize that the version of the law which was commented on by the NA/Heyliger Executive Council and which was sent to the PCCA, (after it was requested by the DP), was not the draft submitted to Parliament and currently being handled by Parliament.

Were the differences cosmetic in nature? Absolutely not, as the draft law which the Executive Council had reacted to and which was sent to the PCCA for its meeting of March 18, was changed in such a manner that only in the new draft is the obligation taken up that the Constitution for country Sint Maarten must be approved before the island council is dissolved and new elections can be called.

This is the draft that Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles has in front of it today, spearheaded by the Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Mr. Roland Duncan of the National Alliance.

The DP could have kicked up a storm in the PCCA, accusing the NA/Heyliger government of misleading the island council with an flawed piece of draft legislation.

No, rather we communicated our displeasure at these events; the correct drafts were distributed during the meeting and the DP continued with the debate on the draft federal law, which would make it possible to hold early island council elections.

In our opinion, this law creates a sort of a hybrid Parliament for Sint Maarten. In numbers (15), yes, but nothing else being put in place to facilitate a well functioning dualistic system of government, a system which the same law propagates.

The DP also reserved the right to look still closer at the draft which is now before Parliament and has advised the Executive Council to do the same.

Furthermore, the DP has advised the PCCA to make the position regarding St. Maarten’s authority for its own island council/parliament (which it currently does not have) part of the deliberations on this draft law in Parliament.

This episode took us nearly to the time for the Central Committee meeting, which was scheduled to start at 14.30 hours on Thursday. The DP had requested this meeting to get answers from the Executive Council to the questions posed by the members of the island council in the Central Committee meeting of March 10th because of the refusal of the Executive Council to answer any questions posed by the Democratic party during that Central Committee meeting of March 10th requested by the DP on the topic of "the position of the Executive Council on (incidental) subsidies/investments".

Neither had the Executive Council allowed any of the numerous advisors present on March 10th to shed any light on the matters at hand.

To no avail however, on March 18th again with several advisors present in the house, no member of the Executive Council showed their face, let alone sign up for the meeting and after the mandatory half hour, the Chairman, Mr. George Pantophlet concluded: "no quorum, no meeting" and… no answers.

Still no word either on the convening of the 3rd (!) meeting on the budget 2010, requested by the Democratic Party and no word on what budget amendments the island council is being asked to ratify on Monday, March 22nd.

But the DP is expected to be there, although the budget could be passed without the DP and with the announced amendment by the NA/Heyliger/Laveist government, which amendment is still any-one’s guess.

This is indeed a "new beginning", turning a democracy into a monocracy.

For the Democratic Party

Sarah Wescot-Williams