Parliamentarians deserve vacations just like the rest of us which is the reason why Parliament goes on recess during the month of July. However, it is expected that in the month of August parliamentarians would resume their normal duties. This year, being an election year, parliament seemingly took the liberty to unofficially extend its recess by three additional months: August, September and October. The month of August was for postulation and campaigning. In September, parliamentarians interrupted their campaigning to attend the closing and opening of the parliamentary year. Now, in October parliamentarians apparently need to rest because meetings have been cancelled due to the lack of a quorum. One would have expected that all MP’s would show up to work, especially after the elections, and that parliament would have been buzzing with meetings to ensure that the people’s business be taken care of prior to the swearing in of the new parliament on October 31st.

But parliamentarians don’t seem to think along those lines. It is a pity that, last week, two parliament meetings had to be cancelled due to the lack of a quorum! What a shame, because the majority of these same parliamentarians were out campaigning, just a few weeks earlier, telling the people what they intend to do for them when they get re-elected. Yet many of these same parliamentarians do not have the sense of responsibility to show up to meetings. This type of behavior does not show respect for the people who elected them. Parliamentarians should at least have the courtesy to notify the President of Parliament ahead of time of their absence. The president should not have to be waiting and wondering if sufficient members will turn up for the meeting.

Unfortunately, discussion in Parliament on several crucial laws had to be postponed due to a lack of quorum. For example, the handling of the Timeshare ordinance, the appointment of the acting ombudsman and the amendment to the Civil Code to regulate the short term contract could not be discussed due to a no show of the majority of our parliamentarians. Now mind you, during the campaign every political party and parliamentarian/politician promised to deal with the abuse of the six month’s contract. But yet after the elections they are not willing to attend a parliamentary meeting to deal with this matter once and for all.

On another note, prior to the elections there were parliamentarians who called for the Minister of Justice to come to parliament to give an account of what transpired at the prison when one of the prisoners was killed by fellow inmates. Why are these MP’s no longer insisting that the minister adheres to their request? Are we to conclude that MP’s didn’t take their request seriously? Or was this just a campaign stunt? In addition, several MP’s also called for the Minister of Finance to appear in parliament to give more information on the Pearl of China project. Why haven’t these MP’s insisted that the Minister appears in Parliament? Or was this also a campaign gimmick? Are our parliamentarians serious about the people’s business?

In the private sector this type of work ethic would never be tolerated. Four months in which hardly, if any work was done but yet parliamentarians collected their salaries at the end of each month. The people elected these parliamentarians and I am sure that the people expect their business in parliament to be handled in an efficient and effective manner. Instead, parliamentarians take a four month extended recess with pay, do not attend meetings and also do not follow-up to ensure that the meetings, they themselves called, actually take place. Come on parliamentarians, you have to do better than this! In Sint Maarten, chronic absenteeism should not be the order of the day. What example are you setting?


Wycliffe Smith

Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party