The appointment of Rueben Thompson as Environmental Safeguard Specialist at the National Recovery Project Bureau (NRPB) is encouraging. Some like to claim only outsiders are benefiting from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, but that is far from correct.

Thompson is not only an expert in the field, but genuinely seems to care about the island as – for example – his continued support of Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) suggests. That may have been what led him to get into politics as co-founder of Citizens for Positive Change (CPC), which registered as a party with the Electoral Council in 2014 but was never on the ballot.

Instead he joined the candidate list of United St. Maarten Party (US Party), which probably contributed to his ending up in the Ministry of Justice as acting Secretary-General (SG) and Cabinet Chief for several years, until current Minister Cornelius de Weever of United Democrats (UD) chose not to extend his contract. Experience in working with the government’s administration, procedures and regulations will therefore not be a problem.

Neither should Thompson’s political activities and affiliation. As matter of fact, the same goes for NRPB Director Claret Connor. Both are local professionals well-qualified for their respective jobs, and that’s what counts.  

These are the kind of issues Members of Parliament (MPs) recently had with the term “Politically Exposed Person” (PEP) and how long one would remain such, during a debate on legislation to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. While their concerns were addressed in an amendment, the point that one cannot dismiss everyone with a past in politics, especially on a small island, was well-taken.

People should not always talk badly about politicians, even though various of them have been accused and even found guilty of improprieties and other misbehaviour. It’s never good to over-generalise and, as the Osmonds once sang: “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl.”

Parliament as the highest democratic body with duly-elected representatives deserves respect, also from the Dutch government and others. However, to truly get such one must also earn it and in that sense there is certainly room for improvement.