Dear Editor,

A fortnight ago, parliament convened to debate the unilateral appointment of a quarter master for the non-existent Integrity Chamber of St. Maarten, which the Constitutional Court found to be an affront to the Constitution, and an undemocratic attack on civil and human rights in this country. Our people paid keen attention to what was said and true to their word, emotions seem to be set aside.

The Prime Minister explained that the protocol, signed by the minister of justice, called for St. Maarten to appoint a quarter master and the Dutch to do so simultaneously or in any event before June 31, 2015. He also explained that the council of ministers took the June 31st that does not exist to mean either June 30th or July 01st. The Dutch did not appoint their quarter master, but trying to pull the wool over the eyes of St. Maarten by providing assistance and dictating what they wanted in the ordinance passed by parliament.

As is customary, St. Maarten trying to appease the masters did not veer from what they proposed and all seemed cosy. But the Dutch seemed to have forgotten that in the so-called high councils we had to establish and finance there is the office of the ombudsman, who is authorized to tweak and challenge any and all laws /ordinances adopted by parliament. This was done, and the Constitutional Court threw out the ordinance which it found unconstitutional with too much reach and no guarantees of due process for the citizen.

The protocol a la Dutch calls for a super civil servant (retired) from Holland to come to the island and bring whomever he wants, he nor they have to clear immigration so that local authorities don’t know who or where they are on the island .These super civil servants with allegations of shadiness can enter any office /business or place of residence and demand information. Should you dare refuse, they can have you arrested with no lawyer and for whatever time they feel.

Now, even though the justice system leaves a lot to be desired, at least they seek an order from the judge to search and any suspect has the right against self-incrimination and therefore can refuse to answer. It also affords people the right to legal counsel and to know what they are charged with. Strangely enough the Dutch do not believe our people should enjoy these rights; it’s beginning to resemble the making of apartheid.

Our government has proposed to employ the services of the audit chamber which already has that authority to tweak integrity in the service and report its findings to the prosecutor if necessary. We have stood by for too long and let people, colonial masters or not from 500 miles across the pond, that don’t get a vote here and don’t contribute to our budget, dictate how things must be done. The Dutch have enjoyed the best of both worlds since 1954 with the “Statuut” which permitted them to tell the UN they don’t have colonies and only handle defence and foreign affairs on our behalf. While we know they are doing all within their power to micro-manage the islands and dictate to us to garner support of their electorate.

We need only look at the situation in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Curaçao and deduce their true intentions. It is high time we take our case back to the people in a consultative referendum. People with power are never eager to let it go. Our main concern must be the welfare of our people and the defence of our beautiful St. Maarten land.

We are more ready now than ever before. Give your own children a fair chance; there is nothing the Dutch can do that we can’t. And as always, it’s a lot better for us to govern or misgovern ourselves than to be governed by somebody else. Let’s make use of our unexhausted right to self-determination.

Elton Jones

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