Dear Editor,

  It is essential and critical that St. Maarten creates her own constitution, one that reflects our norms and culture; in other words, our way of life. Starting from the days when it was clear that legislation was not only instituted to establish order but to also set up a dictatorship controlled by the colonial powers.

  In our experience and present reality, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Dutch government through the Kingdom Council of Ministers are trampling on our democratic rights or rights of self-determination. They are operating by their laws totally in contravention of the United Nations Charter to which they are signatory.

  Why do I say we need to change many laws? It has been established by law that on January 9, 2020, elections will be held for the 5th time. This means 9 governments and 5 elections in 10 years.

  I have argued for years that not because a law is legal means that it is moral. Slavery was legal, as a matter of fact it still exists today. Especially when it is formulated in such a manner that it allows for one country to dominate another.

  There are articles in the constitution of St. Maarten (copied and pasted from the Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba) that must be changed. There are two in my opinion that are responsible for the upcoming elections: article 33 specifically point #2 which states: If a minister no longer enjoys the confidence of the Parliament, he shall surrender his office. And article 59 point #1 The Parliament may be dissolved by national ordinance.

  This is my proposal on how article 33.2 should read: If a minister no longer enjoys the confidence of Parliament he should immediately vacate his position. The word surrender gives him a choice, with which I totally disagree. If his performance according to the majority of parliament is not in accordance with their governing program as they have determined as being in the best interest of the people is not being executed, he/she has to leave immediately.

  As it relates to Article 59, point #1 should read: The parliament may be dissolved by national ordinance, only if such has been determined in a referendum. It escapes my understanding that an appointed body can ask for a dissolution of the body who appointed them. This is not balance, it is a stalemate and completely against the electorate. The Executive branch did not run for office the people did not choose them.

  It should be the people who decide through a referendum whether an election should be held or not. That is democracy. As it is now it is forced upon them whether they like it or not. Reasons why there are those who said they will not vote.

  I urge you to exercise your democratic right and vote. With regard to the referendum, it should be a simple question; Are you in favor of the new majority in parliament yes or no?

  Another serious problem I have is that a minister can refuse to execute legislation passed in parliament. In my opinion they are sitting on the chair of the constitutional court. In addition to this they can make national decrees and execute them without input from parliament. The few deciding for the masses.

  Finally let me add another article that again to me gives the Ministers too much power. Article 62 of the constitution: Every member of parliament is entitled to ask questions of the ministers. The ministers shall respond (and here is where I continue to be deeply concerned) to these questions within a reasonable period of time, insofar as answering the questions cannot be regarded as being contrary to the interest of the country or of the kingdom.

  What is a reasonable period? Some ministers have never returned to give answers. Meetings have been adjourned and never reconvened. A definite time frame should be given as to when Ministers have to respond to Parliament. Many laws have to be changed and, I repeat, St. Maarten needs her own constitution.

 

George Pantophlet