Published On: Mon, Sep 9th, 2019

MP Peterson: A true team player in the coalition

MP Claude Chacho Peterson - 9 Sep 2019

PHILIPSBURG — Member of Parliament Claude Chacho Peterson today had the distinction of having to give his prepared closing speech immediately after the unexpected announcement made by MP Franklin Meyers during his speech that he had withdrawn his support from the present government. MP Meyers even commended MP Peterson as one of the few coalition members who was a true team player in the coalition.

Below is the complete text of the speech of MP Claude Peterson.

SPEECH – CLOSING OF PARLIAMENTARY YEAR 2018-2019

Madame Chairlady, as the Faction Leader of the St. Maarten Christian Party representing one of eight seats in the Coalition with the United Democrats Party, it has been quite an interesting year with never a dull moment.

With a slim Coalition majority of eight, we have seen over the past year that the Coalition has lost the majority vote many times. We have even seen one of our very own Ministers sent home by one MP of the Coalition with the full support of the opposition MPs. By all accounts Madame Chairlady, this is unheard of! Yet this Coalition still stands.

[Editor’s note: It is at this point of the speech that MP Peterson paused and made reference to the fact that given what MP Meyers had just said, he “was not sure if the coalition still stands.”]

Some have joked that this is the longest Falling Coalition in the history of SXM.

Madame Chairlady, while it is our constitutional duty as MPs to vote our conscience, as a Coalition it really puts in question our ability to govern on the basis of what brought SMCP and UD together in the Coalition agreement signed on April 5th, 2018. This agreement includes, among other things, the need to STRENGTHEN KINGDOM relations, a Kingdom which includes the Netherlands. This sentiment seems to no longer be shared by all who signed on to this agreement.

It puts in question the ability of this Coalition to support the Council of Ministers in the execution of the Governing Program. A Council Minister made up of 6 Ministers brought forth by the UD and 1 Minister brought forth by SMCP. Both parties worked diligently for weeks to set the direction for the governing period 2018-2022.

The Governing Program was endorsed and signed on June 22nd, 2018 by all Ministers and MPs including incoming Ministers and MPs.

As the next person in line to represent SMCP in the Coalition, I am pretty sure some in UD worried whether joining CHACHO, the out-spoken political activist who was always on Facebook highlighting and debating the issues, would be a TEAM PLAYER. In our Coalition meetings, I believe I have demonstrated my ability to be a team player while always making sure I represented and defended the best interest of MY PEOPLE. I have remained critical on the floor of Parliament when questioning and challenging the various Ministers.

It has not always been easy for me to accept some decisions taken by this Coalition and this Council of Ministers, but I believe I have demonstrated that SMCP joined UD in good faith and with all intentions to fulfill and live up to the agreements we made for St. Maarten during the formation process with the Leader of the UD, MP Heyliger and the UD Members.

Madame Chairlady, as I reflected on my period as a Freshman MP, it has been a great learning experience for me to explore not only my role as a legislator but also my oversight role to the Council of Ministers in a Coalition setting.

It has been a great experience to Chair important meetings of Parliament such as the budget meeting. And most recently the meeting in which changes to the labor regulations in the Civil code were approved; one of which finally tackles the abuse of the short-term contracts, which is now reduced to 2 contracts over 2 years.

The labor changes also positively influence the family with the increase in Maternity leave and paternity leave.

Although this was a meeting started in a parliament with a totally different make up of MPs, it was my honor to chair this meeting and vote for these changes which I do believe will benefit our community positively.

It has been a privilege to travel within the Kingdom to represent St. Maarten to discuss the various issues plaguing us, and our Caribbean Kingdom partners, Aruba and Curacao. In my opinion, the way to truly achieve the status of being equal partners within the Kingdom is for the three islands to unite and support each other, not only on issues we have in common, but also on unique issues each island may face.

Madam Chairlady, my staff and I, have been working since May 2019 on an initiative to amend the traffic laws as it relates to sobriety testing and the use of Breathalyzers by police officers. I was moved to do this given the traffic accidents involving alcohol, some with fatalities, and the limitations voiced to me by police officers. This will synchronize us with the French side where this regulation already exists in their laws. We believe it is time as a society that we treat drinking and driving with a level of seriousness to help protect all our road users. We hope to have this initiative brought to the floor of Parliament soon and I will be seeking the support of my colleague MPs to pass this initiate law amendment.

SMCP Faction has some other initiatives in the works that will be brought to the public in the coming 2019-2020 parliamentary year.

Madame Chairlady, for any Council of Ministers to be successful there needs to be cohesion and unity of action and policy.

During this Parliamentary year, which we are about to close today, the lack of cohesion in the Council of Ministers and the ongoing sabotage by those who do not adhere to strong principles of good governance and who are out to disrupt any clear and well articulated policy or procedure that has been agreed upon is now evident for all to see.

To SMCP the lack of cohesion and sabotage is clearly disrupting the progress of the country.

SMCP finds this UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Madame Chairlady, a coalition is like a marriage, where trials and tribulations can either strengthen your partnership or eventually lead to divorce.

In the coming days, SMCP will be seeking to re-evaluate the commitment of both parties to live up to the agreements we made to work together for betterment of our island.

I continue to believe in stability and I remain fully committed to serve our people while upholding the principles of good governance, Integrity, transparency, accountability and Justice.

Thank you Madame Chairlady.

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Related articles & links:
MP MEYERS WITHDRAWS SUPPORT PRESENT GOVERNMENT
Video recording of the closing of Parliament for the 2018-2019 Parliamentary year