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Published On: Fri, Nov 6th, 2020

PFP says: Motion Another Example of Coalition Confusion

PHILIPSBURG – The motion approved by eleven members of Parliament on November 5th is yet another indication of the crossed signals currently bouncing around the governing UP/NA coalition and an unfortunate preview at the lack of cohesion and collaboration being forced down the throats of the people.

The public meeting had been called to formally establish a Permanent Committee for Constitutional Affairs & Decolonization for the Parliament of Sint Maarten. During the meeting to discuss the establishment of the Permanent Committee, Gumbs and Peterson expressed their support for the committee and praised the approach taken to create open dialogue and transparency about the topic of decolonization within Parliament and, most importantly, with the people of Sint Maarten.

PFP Members of Parliament Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson voted against the motion, which, among several questionable items, instructed the Council of Ministers to initiate dialogue with the governments of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to prepare a Kingdom Roundtable Conference for July 2021. This, in addition to other considerations in the motion, is an outright trampling of Government’s own statement of being “very, very close” to an agreement with the CFT for the conditions on the second tranche of support, as stated by the Prime Minister in a press release on the same day.

“This year has most sensibly thinking nations focused on economic recovery and social well-being,” Gumbs commented, “but here is an instruction to Government to essentially abandon their current efforts and turn their attention to this. Organizing a roundtable conference with the Kingdom and, we assume, the United Nations, takes serious time and attention. Further to that, the other countries in the Kingdom are focusing on recovery, restructuring and reform… do we have the right to interrupt their process?”

Their surprise at the late introduction of the motion was apparent in their motivation of their votes against it, with Peterson stating that this was counter to the spirit of transparency and open dialogue that had been discussed and agreed to by those present in the meeting. In addition to that, from the very first resolution point the motion appeared vague and weak, as it gives an instruction to the Government of the Netherlands, something that the Parliament of Sint Maarten does not have the authority to do, the faction states.

“This is an unfortunate symptom of ‘the show’ that we have mentioned in and out of Parliament,” Peterson stated. “Along with this, the motion also endorses a private non-profit foundation’s initiative to take the Sint Maarten government to court on this matter, an initiative that was determined as inadmissible in court. It’s like betting on a losing horse: a waste of time and money that the Country cannot afford at this time. I say money because the eleven who voted for this motion have also stated they will retain local and international legal counsel to prepare for this to-be-scheduled the roundtable conference.”

One proposal for such legal services has been sent to Parliament, as Gumbs highlighted in the meeting. It regards the Choharis Law Group based in Washington, D.C., and has been “discounted” to US$7,000 per month in the event that Curacao and Aruba, who are referenced in the proposal, also sign onto the agreement. The faction noted it was odd that the proposal was received by Parliament, when Parliament does not have the authority to commit the Country to any agreements. Gumbs questioned whether this was something the country could afford, considering the state of the country’s finances and the continued discussions to comply with the second tranche conditions.

“We submitted questions to the Prime Minister immediately after the meeting about this same proposal,” Peterson stated, “as well as about Government’s involvement in these discussions that are apparently driven by select members of Parliament. On the same day that she has been quoted as saying we are close to complying with second tranche conditions and thus, second tranche liquidity support, the coalition that supports the Government sneaks in a motion that kind of hog ties the Prime Minister from any further discussion.”

The faction reiterated during their motivations that they were still in favor of establishing the committee and sticking to the promise of open, fact-based discussion that their colleagues had committed to with one another and, more importantly, with the people of Sint Maarten.

“Completing the decolonization process is not something that Parliament or Government has been given the mandate to do,” Gumbs stated in conclusion. “We have been given the mandate to act on behalf of the people in this current status and if they, the people, come to a fully-informed decision to demand a new status, then and only then will Parliament and Government have the mandate to act towards that.”

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