PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear Editor,
Please allow me to express my concerns and questions to the people of St. Maarten.
As a new comer to this political arena, there are many hurdles and challenges we have had to face and we remain positive being one of our core guiding principles. On our campaign trails we have been confronted with the hottest topic and concern for the island namely, the Pearl of China investment project. As a concerned citizen, aspiring representative of parliament and a future leader I share and empatize with the people of St. Maarten.
The questions and queries that continuosly rise up from the annoucement of the Pearl of China Project, I interprete as the voice and the justified concerns and reactions of our citizens in St. Maarten, that’s what’s on my mind. So our people again are feeling ignored, not included and disenfranchised. A project of this magnitude will have effects on our citizens and it is our governments responsibility to be open and transparent about this big investment project.
As a leader of a political party who hopes to represent the people of St. Maarten in parliament, I think it is fair to ask the following question: Where is Parliament in this investment Project? Why are the people of St. Maarten left to there own defences when we have elected representatives that should be doing this for us? These are just some of the questions that arise in me. I have been searching for answers as I too was curious, not saying that all are correct but would like enlighten you all to my findings.
Q: What is the main function of parliament?
A: According to Article 44: Parliament represents the entire population of St. Maarten.
Let’s take it a step further which brings me to my next question.
Q: What is the right of Parliament?
A: According to Article 62: Every Member of Parliament has the right to put questions to ministers. The ministers shall answer such questions within a reasonable term, to the extent that the answering thereof cannot be deemed to conflict with the interests of the Country or of the Kingdom.
Article 63 :
1. The ministers shall have the right to attend meetings and may take part in the deliberations.
2. The may be invited by Parliament to be present at meetings in order to provide the required information, to the extent that providing this cannot be deemed to conflict with the interests of the Country or of the Kingdom.
3. They may be assisted at the meetings by persons nominated by them for that purpose.
Article 64: Parliament has a right of inquiry, to be regulated by national ordinance
This project was announced at a town hall meeting on Setember 1st 2016, by our current finance Minister Mr. Richard Gibson. It’s been all over social media, objections have been filed, NGO’s and different interest groups have also made their concerns known, petitions are being started, our local media is bringing us the news and yet there is nothing heard from Parliament with regards to this.
Is this the norm on how our Parliament represents our people’s concerns? Well according to the law it is clearly stipulated how that should happen right? I ask myself then why is Parliament not playing their vital role in all this? WHY ARE THEY NOT FUNCTIONING?
Should all the concerns of the people and citizens of this country go answered and we welcome these delegates from China on September 17th with local and international media coverage for a world stage do we think that we are doing right for our country and our people? I honestly don’t think so. I think it all goes right back again to the RULE OF LAW. If we continue to ignore our rules and regulations that have been put there for our represetatives to follow it will be to the detriment of our people.
The citizens and the people of our Sweet St. Maarten should be at the forefront each and everytime when it comes to the development of this country. The 5 P’s (proper planning prevents poor presentation)is just an example on how we can help our people excel.
That being said and thinking about diversivication and development of our Tourism product ofcoarse it is good to bring tourists to our island. We have to also ensure that what we do is done on a responsible methodical and sustainable manner to try to avoid bigger problems in the near future. We need to do our HOMEWORK, our environment is one of our main reasons that people visit our shores and we have to protect it to ensure that we have a beautiful island that people would like to visit. We do this by talking to all the NGO’s with regards to environment and listening and taking their advise and expertise into serious account before saying yes to such big investment projects.
A sustainable and stable foundation government is also another thing that comes to my mind. How can we manage a project of this magnitude and bring it to fruition if we cannot even stay together for 4 consecutive years? We need continuity in good governance care for our people first! We need more political maturity, dedicated work ethic, a code of conduct that we all adhere to, respect on all fronts and professionalism to be able to deliver such a project. This project should benefit the people of ST. Maarten first and foremost and have back up plans in the event of natural disasters for our people and their families all these details need to worked out on this investment project for our island.
More concerns and questions I have according to the law we have our ministers that are screened and go through different procedures before the are allowed to represent us. Should we as a developing country not screen and do background checks on potential mega investors aswell as a self protection and preservation? As private citizens sometimes reference letters are asked when we go for another form of employment should we do the same for forreign investors?
More and more questions come to my mind. Can any government from the world just make substantial investments or partnerships in our country? Are we not a country within the kingdom? Where are the protocals,policies and legislations that protect our people first? Is holland not in charge of Forreign Affairs according to the Kingdom Charter? What does this mean or translate for a country within the kingdom? What kind of reprocutions can this have for St. Maarten and our people? Are we as a government be held liable if their investments fail? Who’ gonna clean up the messif natural disasters hit and how much time to they get, I can go on and on and on. We have to learn from our mistakes and try to do better for our future generations I believe.
Are we selling out ourselves for the highest bidder? Can these investors not assist us with priority projects that our developing country really really need urgently??? Should we not put the country’s interest and that of our people as first priority??Perfect examples of priorities are just to name a few;
- Waste to energyplant, reducing our dumpsite and landfill to prevent hazardous influence on our people and visiting tourists this investment will also create jobs.
- A hospital that can provide proper medical care and keep us in tune with the newest technologies and at the same time diversify through medical tourism this also will create jobs
- Argriculture and hydropronics systems stations, this will also create jobs
- Professional sports facilities where we could attract a sports tourism this will also create jobs
These are just some of the concerns of HOPE with regards to this Pearl of ChinaProject urgency. If these investors have the best interest for our country they will help us to reap the benefits for all partners and stake holders involved for a sustainable development of our country and their investment.
For now, we are asking the sitting parliament members of Sint Maarten to dig into this matter and to address these questions and concerns to the responsible ministers. We are begging at the same time the responsible ministers to give honest answers on these questions and to go back to the starting point of this whole project and address these concerns of this project properly putting the people first and not forgetting to, adhere to the Good Governance principles. We, the people of Sint Maarten, deserve proper representation on all fronts. Please do your JOBS!
I would people to know that I love my island very much and I value it because it is my home, its where I share my life with the the people of my communityand it’s where MY heart is. St. Maarten is precious let take care of her together.
“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore, if you want one you must dive for it” Cinesese Proverb.
Give St. Maarten Hope.
On behalf of
Mercedes “Elektra” van der Waals-Wyatt
Political Leader of HOPE and our HOPE Team.