Published On: Tue, Feb 5th, 2019

A polite expression of my thoughts

Hilbert HaarBy Hilbert Haar

Come Thursday, the unity of the governing coalition of United Democrats and the St. Maarten Christian Party will be put to the test. If everybody shows up and toes the party line, the motion of no confidence tabled by the opposition will fail. For the country, that would be a piece of good news because with the exception of the National Alliance and the United St. Maarten party nobody is waiting for another change of the guard.

The tactics of the opposition are on a certain level quite mysterious. On January 21, NA-MP Emmanuel announced a motion of no confidence against Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson. On Monday that motion had suddenly evaporated – at least, Emmanuel did not say a word about it anymore.

Instead the opposition trained its guns on the prime minister. According to the motion of no confidence against her, she “failed to execute the objectives that form the premise of this government.”

Maybe the term foundation would have been better than the term premise in that sentence, but even then it remains unclear what exactly Romeo-Marlin has failed to do. The ‘premise’ the motion refers to is that the government has promised to operate based on “transparency, social dialogue, openness, integrity and communication with a concentrated focus on rebuilding a vibrant economy.”

The accusation is sufficiently vague, like all things politic. Here is another beauty from the motion: the prime minister “has shown no evidence of results of restoring a strong social fabric and promoting a relevant sense of community.”

I had to look it up because I had no idea how anyone would promote a relevant sense of community. This is how I hit upon a definition of by social psychologist McMillan. He wrote it more than forty years ago: “Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”

That commitment to be together has been lacking in St. Maarten for a long time and that’s not the fault of the current government. It is something that is missing in the DNA of local politicians whose main objective is to help themselves first.

This is why our governments fall like dominoes with regular intervals. If we include the interim cabinet that took office on January 15, 2018, the second Romeo-Marlin-cabinet is the eighth (!) government St. Maarten has had since it became a constituent state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010.

In one hundred months since the territory obtained its so-called autonomy, there have been eight governments. That is on average a new government every 12.5 months. If the opposition’s motion gets just one vote from the other side of the aisle (for some reason I have to think about United Democrat’s MP Luc Mercelina in this context), the score will go up to nine governments in 100 months – an average of a new government every eleven months.

That this is not only insane but also detrimental to any plans any government has wanted to put in place during the past eight-plus years requires no further explanation. Saying that I consider the motion of no-confidence ‘ill-advised’ is the most polite expression of my thoughts on the subject.

I am not saying that our current government is perfect but what I do know is this. Criticizing is easy but if you do not have a solid alternative to offer it is most of the time better to just shut up.