Published On: Thu, May 2nd, 2024

The Screening Process Screams for Reform

By Terrance Rey

One thing has become crystal clear in the screening of ministerial candidates for the new government under the leadership of formateur Dr. Luc Mercelina (URSM), and that is that there is too much ambiguity involved in the process. Just from the conflicting press releases issued by the formateur, the governor, and the leaders of the three other parties PFP, DP, and NOW supporting this 2×4 coalition, we can deduce that there are many internal conflicts between the governor and the formateur and indirectly with the coalition partners.

Are there now 9 or 7 candidates nominated for swearing-in on May 3rd? If it’s 7, why not swear them all in immediately and get the new government up and running? Why postpone until May 3rd when it could have easily been completed on April 25th, as initially proposed by the parties involved?

I can imagine the discussions between the formateur and the governor must have been very heated. There are rumors about the nature of these talks. I could highlight them because I know how much the people of Sint Maarten love a melee. But I’ve been warned by an experienced, highly critical follower of the whole process not to be sensational in my column and just stick to the facts.

Whatever happened behind closed doors at the governor’s office is clearly ambiguous enough to inspire Sarah Wescot-Williams, the president of parliament, to hold a press conference last Monday and advocate for completely taking the formation and screening process out of the governor’s hands and leaving it solely to the parties in parliament, as is already the case in the Netherlands.

There’s much to be said about that proposal, and it’s now up to this 2×4 coalition and government to implement the necessary constitutional change. Ultimately, if the representatives of the people want to choose to appoint the wife of a convicted criminal as a minister, that’s their prerogative. Who are we to question that? Of course, it gives us as columnists more to write about, and in that sense, I completely agree with my Dutch satirical colleague, Kadushi. Hence the title of this column: the screening process screams for reform.

And now for some housekeeping notes. Tip for PFP: if you can’t find a suitable candidate to be Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning, the Environment, and Infrastructure (VROMI), then I have a suggestion for you: a former prosecutor and ‘environmentalist’ who can focus on environmental offenses and would be brave enough to fine developers and contractors who destroy monuments, operate without permits, and ignore stop orders. He would certainly not only use these fines to fill the coffers of the Crime Fund but also allocate a portion to environmental movements and especially to the Monument Foundation. Because the latter is urgently in need of funds to carry out its work of making monuments attractive and visible to the general public and ensuring that they are not bulldozed in the dead of night.

Another reform for parliament to consider, alongside electoral reform, is to make environmental crimes highly punishable and thus hit offenders hard in their deep pockets. There are many issues on our small island that are screaming for justice.

PS: It’s fortunate that I was able to finish this column without the power going out.


Originally published in Dutch on DossierKoninkrijksrelaties.nl as “Het screeningproces schreeuwt om hervorming”

The above cartoon is part of the collection of 95 cartoons curated for the upcoming book ‘Cusha Cartoons‘. The manuscript went to the printers on Friday, April 26.

The working title of the next Cusha Columns book is “The Interconnectedness of Things in Sint Maarten“. It continues where the first Cusha Columns book left off. That was “The Enigma that is Sint Maarten.”