By the end of November our Members of Parliament would have been on the job for one month and it is good took to take a look at how well they have represented us during their first month in office.

In the first week, seven of our MPs took part in an orientation week. At the end of the orientation, all five, first-time MPs and two former MP’s received a certificate of participation. Special congratulations to the five new MPs, for taking their position and their function seriously. We assume that during the first week, the eight former MPs hit the ground running on our behalf. But what did they do? We have no clue!

As the fourteen thousand-plus voters cannot all be present in Parliament at the same time, we elected, on September 26th, fifteen persons to represent us. These persons, who now hold the title “Honorable Members of Parliament”, took the oath of office on October 31st and officially started to represent us in their first public meeting held on the same day, at which time they voted in a new Chairman and Vice Chairman.

The dictionary defines a representative as “a person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another or others.”  In this case our honorable MPs have been chosen to act or speak for the voters of Sint Maarten and consequently represent the entire population of Sint Maarten according to article 44 of our Constitution.

On November 9th and 10th our MP Representatives held two public meetings to hear from Prime Minister William Marlin, who is currently also an MP, concerning the Oyster Pond border dispute. During these meetings, Prime Minister Marlin announced that the Council of Ministers had decided to boycott the official Sint Maarten Day activities; which this year was being organized by the French authorities. Not one of our MP Representatives questioned the Prime Minister or the Government concerning the announced boycott. Not a single MP expressed support for or rejection of the boycott. Not one MP, including the Chairman of Parliament, indicated, during that public meeting, that they would also be boycotting the official ceremonies. Hence, the people assumed that they would be represented at the official ceremonies on November 11th on the French side by their elected representatives.

Surprisingly, only three parliamentarians, namely Sarah Wescott-Williams, Emile Lee and Chanel Brownbill attended the ceremonies. We believe that the absence of the other twelve MPs is a sign of disrespect towards the voters whom they are representing. The correct procedure should have been that during the public meeting, individual MPs, or Parliament as a whole, should have taken a stand as to whether they supported the government’s decision or not to boycott the Sint Maarten Day official ceremonies. As elected representatives, our MPs owe it to the people to inform us as to their stand and decision on such issues. After all, it is your job, Honorable Members of Parliament, to give us proper representation and to inform us as to decisions you take that affect us. Anything less than that is disrespectful towards the people who voted you into Parliament.

The next public meeting convened by Parliament was held on November 24th to vote in a new chairperson of parliament and a second vice chairperson. Here again we expected you, not only to vote but also to motivate your vote. With the exception of MP William Marlin, not one of our representatives had the courtesy or saw the need to inform us, the people, as to why they voted in favor or against the election of the Chair and Second Vice Chairman.

Thus far, our new Parliament has held a total of four meetings which add up to approximately eight hours. Even though our MPs only spent eight hours representing us they will receive a whole month’s salary. I wonder which MP will refuse to accept his/her November salary or return a part of it to government with a notice that they do not deserve to be paid for the entire month of November! We expect that in the coming months our MPs will give us better representation, not only in time but also by speaking for us on the floor of parliament.

Parliament does not have to wait until a new government is in place in order to be able to function. The job of Parliament is to supervise, control and hold government accountable for policies, decisions, actions and non-actions. We would like our honorable representatives in parliament to also be proactive and to call government out on issues such as human trafficking, prostitution, the landfill, GEBE and the bidding procedure related to the new hospital. Parliament should not wait for Government to initiate meetings but should be proactive and hold Government accountable.

We hope that the first month in office is not indicative of the kind of representation we will be getting from this Parliament. Honorable Members of Parliament we request you to inform us, speak for us and give us due respect by explaining to us why you are taking certain decisions on our behalf. We, the people, need to know!

Wycliffe Smith

Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party