The initiative by Member of Parliament (MP) Claude “Chacho” Peterson for Dutch Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations State Secretary Raymond Knops to meet with the legislature in Philipsburg (see Wednesday paper) is interesting. Of course, the request backed by independent MP Franklin Meyers and United Democrats (UD) faction member Jules James had to be made through Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin and for the sake of protocol it might be wise to extend the invitation to Dutch Minister Kajsa Ollongren, even though it’s Knops that handles most day-to-day affairs regarding the island.
The reality is that decisions taken in The Hague these days have a bigger-than-usual impact on St. Maarten and its people because of the Dutch government’s role in the country’s continued recovery from Hurricane Irma via its Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, liquidity support, etc. For the responsible public administrator of the Netherlands to have consultations with the local legislature therefore makes all the sense in the world.
Knops should seriously consider accepting the offer in the interest of fairness. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a Kingdom Parliament and the three Dutch Caribbean countries Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have only one representative each in the Kingdom Council of Ministers dominated by Dutch cabinet members.
This so-called “democratic deficit” remains a reality within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so it’s nice when efforts are made to give the islands a bit more input and a frank encounter with local legislators would seem a good way to do so. After all, talking can’t hurt.