Published On: Tue, Mar 16th, 2021

“Constitution being trampled on by the chairpersons” Peterson says

PHILIPSBURG – Member of Parliament for the Party for Progress faction (PFP) Raeyhon Peterson has expressed his concerns for the complete disregard for the Constitution that is being displayed by the chairpersons of Parliament. MP Peterson was referring to the petition backed by twelve members of Parliament to the United Nations (UN) to “investigate systematic discrimination and racism perpetrated against the people of Sint Maarten.”

“It is very alarming to see that the chairpersons are using the usual spin-tactic and fear-mongering to deliberately give the public false information, just to defend the illegality of their actions,” Peterson said. “I find it hard to believe that the same persons who have been chosen to lead and guide this Parliament do not understand the basics of our authority as Members of Parliament, according to the Constitution.”

Parliament, acting outside of their authority, chose to send a petition through a foreign law firm, Choharis Law Group, to the United Nations, with the firm claiming to be acting ‘on behalf of the Parliament and citizens of Sint Maarten.’ MPs Gumbs and Peterson from the PFP faction, and MP Wescot-Williams from the UD faction, all expressed their concerns regarding this move.

Peterson referred to article 44 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten, which has been mentioned as justification for Parliament’s controversial actions. Article 44 states that Parliament shall represent the entire people of Sint Maarten, but there is more to the article than just its one sentence.

“This has nothing to do with being victims of abuse, as was suggested by one of our colleagues in her press release to justify this fiasco,” Peterson says. “This has to do with simply understanding the very Constitution that we have been chosen by the people of Sint Maarten to uphold. When reading a law, you read the article and then examine the Explanatory Note of said article in the Explanatory Memorandum. This is the most common practice when interpreting and applying our laws, and one of the main principles that govern how our laws are actually supposed to work in practice. The intention of the law-maker is usually made clear in this note and has to be seen as an integral part of the law when you want to apply it.”

“In light of this, I feel the need to inform the people of Sint Maarten the right way, so they do not fall for the rhetoric that has been imposed on our population for more than a decade,” Peterson continued. “The Explanatory Note on article 44 of the Constitution states specifically: ‘Naturally, the provision that Parliament represents the entire populace of Sint Maarten should not be interpreted in a private law sense. Parliament does not act on behalf of the people of Sint Maarten in the way that a representative acts on behalf of the party that it represents.”

Peterson explained that acting contrary to article 44 might create the impression that every Member of Parliament individually is supposed to symbolically represent all the people of Sint Maarten. However, he explained, the sole purpose of article 44 is to make it clear that every MP represents the entire population, and not their respective political parties or their personal agendas. This, however, does not mean that we as MPs are allowed to take actions such as petitions, etc., in representation of the people of Sint Maarten. This is strictly not the intention of the law, Peterson cautions, stating that this contravention of the law is exactly what’s happening right now. This is not a matter of opinion but a legal fact. The law speaks for itself, Peterson says, but the majority are attempting to fool the population into thinking otherwise.

The MP goes on to warn the public against falling for what he terms as further emotional hijacking and encourages everyone to read the laws for themselves, including the explanatory notes.

“When a population is strategically being kept in the dark in order to keep personal agendas afloat, you get the regrettable situation we have now,” Peterson stated. “And every time the majority is contradicted or questioned over their actions, they run to the same argument over and over again: ‘the Dutch are bullying us, the Dutch government fell too, this Dutch MP did or said this and this Dutch Minister did or said that’. Blame-shifting has become the order of the day, yet we forget how we got here in the first place. Who has been in power for the last few decades? When will we have our moment of clarity and self-reflection? I personally am not interested in the Dutch local politics, I am too focused on my own island.”

Peterson mentioned that if Parliament wants to know what the people of Sint Maarten want for their future, they simply have to ask. He mentioned the possibility of a referendum as the main solution for taking the ‘temperature’ of the people. However, he said, under no circumstances should you go internationally and under false pretenses “represent” the people of Sint Maarten, without even having the full mandate to do so. Representing the people in this manner is part of the executive role of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, not of the legislative role of Parliament.

“It’s funny that the aforementioned press release ends with the statement that the agreements that our Prime Minister is negotiating with Holland must not be in violation of any laws, be they local, kingdom or international laws. But the irony is that this same petition tramples on our most important local law, our Constitution and in doing so, on the rights of the people of Sint Maarten.”