"Let us now ensure that there will be fresh ideas and input into the governing of this country and move away from negativity and half-truths. Let us all work together to be the change we would like to see on our island."
The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams has issued a strong reaction to statements attributed to outgoing Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin regarding the political situation on St. Maarten. "It is quite unfortunate to read, not only in the national press but also in the international press that "there are daily protests on the streets, that there is a culture of fear on St. Maarten, that the President of Parliament is threatened and that there is total chaos on the island." Also attributed to Minister Marlin is the statement that the only redress available now is the Kingdom Government.
Not to mention the outlandish report by the Minister that the Prime Minister of the country is "holding democracy hostage".
I would like to emphasize that on our small island democracy is alive and well established. Still, like in other democracies, we will have our disagreements, but to portray St. Maarten in essence as a "banana republic" is sad and reprehensible.
"Our numbers, such as the number of members of Parliament are small, but are represented by the same principles, a majority of Parliament must be respected and the minority must be heard.
A majority in Parliament passed a motion of no confidence which, according to the Constitution means that mentioned Ministers no longer enjoy the confidence of a majority, with the result that their resignation is necessary.
"The records show that every action which I have conducted during the political impasse of the last two weeks were all within the laws that govern our Country. Laws, which I must add, the outgoing Minister has disregarded in order for him and his colleagues to take part in what the Minister himself described as a "Mexican Standoff".
"The Minister in question, using his position as Deputy Prime Minister sought to undermine the position of the Chair of the Council of Ministers (the Prime Minister) by sending a letter to the Governor on behalf of the Council, which he was not authorized to do. This is an illegal act, an act which the outgoing Minister has admitted to doing in the national press of St. Maarten.
"By admission of the President of Parliament himself, who was willing to accept the political reality of the day and resign from his position, he was coerced by Minister Marlin not to do so, further perpetrating the "Mexican stand-off".
"But the most disturbing action conducted by the Minister whose responsibility it is to act not only in accordance with the laws but in the interest of the people of St. Maarten, is making false claims regarding the political situation. This information has traveled like wild fire throughout the Kingdom and beyond and created images of a St. Maarten burdened and out of control due to civil unrest or strife.
"Let me again state: claims that there was civil unrest on St. Maarten are erroneous, irresponsible and false. Yes, indeed there was a peaceful march, with emphasis on peaceful, of citizens exercising their right to voice their opinion.
"A petition was circulated and has since been submitted, totally legal in our democratic system, where the rights of petition and assembly are enshrined in our constitution.
"For outgoing Minister Marlin to allege that there was violence, fear and intimidation, is simply wrong and only serves to incite fear and mistrust in our community, long hailed for its peacefulness and all "getting along".
"Additionally, the outgoing Minister claims that parliamentarians and politicians were intimidated and threatened. This is very, very sad.
Minister Marlin has never substantiated his allegations that anyone was threatened. Up until yesterday parliamentarians and ministers were walking freely in Philipsburg without security and without anyone bothering them.
"In fact, as often seen, outside the halls of Parliament, these politicians remain civil towards one another, not always in agreement, but surely recognizing that we all want to continue living together on our beautiful island and that indeed we can have difference of opinion, political or otherwise.
The exiting Minister has contradicted himself by stating in the local press that statements made by the UP Party that the political situation will scare off investors to the island, is akin to fear mongering, while in the same breath goes out and tells those outside of St. Maarten that there is a "culture of fear" on the island.
It is upsetting to see that events which are part of the growing pains of a new democracy have been turned into, as the outgoing Minister has termed it, a ‘Mexican Standoff’.
Finally, the fact remains that, despite the tactics employed by the outgoing Minister, he and his Ministers have sent their letters of resignation to the Governor of St. Maarten.
Why? Because the laws that govern this young but wonderful country of ours
Gave him no other choice.
To the people of St. Maarten, "We have overcome this hurdle as I have said we would".
It’s the first major one, testing our resolve as a young country to solve our own issues, within the laws of the land and respect for one another and each other’s opinion.
Let us also resolve that the loopholes which have become apparent during this debacle, be closed, so that we avoid situations like this in the future. Let us now ensure that there will be truly the possibility for fresh ideas and input into the governing of this country. Let us work together to effect the change we would like to see on our island," concluded the Honorable Wescot-Williams.