After holding the government of St. Maarten on a line for a while, Dutch Minister Plasterk has “come clean”, to use a local expression.
I am of the opinion that nothing that St. Maarten has done with respect to tackling integrity issues has made any difference for Minister Plasterk and his colleagues in the Dutch cabinet as far as imposing a measure of higher supervision on St. Maarten. That’s what an article 51 measure is.
It is a measure that Minister Plasterk has been fencing with for a long time and actually used the government of St. Maarten, as he made it appear as if a good plan by St. Maarten could ward off the imposition of higher supervision.
It is my guess that some persons will react with satisfaction to this news and as we heard when St. Maarten wanted to clean its own house and commissioned its own integrity investigation: “What do you have to fear from a measure or an instruction by the Dutch government?
That reasoning misses the point.
Let’s put aside the politicians for argument’s sake. They are are all in the same boat, Minister Plasterk argues.
But are we to conclude that St. Maarten can not find even a handful of upstanding citizens to execute and guide this process and not be intimidated by the politics of the day?
That would indeed be a sad conclusion to arrive at. One that gives no hope and I strongly disagree with that assessment.
I have asked for but not (yet) received from government the St. Maarten draft ordinance that should put in place the systems and persons to deal with the integrity issues St. Maarten faces.
The easy thing for me would be to place the blame in the lap of the UP/de Weever/Marlin/US government, that has been hoodwinked into believing that they were being given a chance to prove their critics wrong. However, this slap in the face of the government is a slap in the face of St. Maarten. So I for one get no pleasure from that which has befallen us.
As I have argued from day one, when we firstly commissioned the global agency Transparency International to do an in depth and general integrity assessment of St. Maarten and subsequently also established our own integrity committee to investigate matters, integrity is not a matter of a day, neither are the solutions available overnight.
By doing this, the government of St. Maarten acknowledge the many shortcomings we have and want to address these structurally.
It is a process of learning, establishing checks and balances, assuming responsibility and practicing openness and transparency on all levels of society.
I do not believe that any one institutions can accomplish this and I surely do not believe that sidelining the elected representatives of the people of St. Maarten is the way to ensure durable and lasting solutions to the problems we face.