Published On: Tue, Aug 28th, 2018

With the many institutions we already have, do we really need the Integrity Chamber?

Dear Editor,

It might be nothing new for us, but it is embarrassing to be constantly reading and hearing about members of the highest governing body on our island being corrupt. Yes, there is corruption worldwide, however when the comparison is made of the size of St. Maarten relative to the corruption rate, it is disproportionately great in number. It is not only about the individuals in our Parliament but also those who help contribute to the crimes, from the top come right down. When the island that you love is depicted by the international world as corrupt, you feel utterly disgraced. No matter how we may feel about the Dutch always butting into our country’s affairs, we have allowed them to do so because WE are the ones who have FAILED. WE have chosen these representatives who are responsible for running this country and they have failed us the people of this country. We allow them to do so.

I am sure a lot of people do not know nor realize there are many institutions active in our country charged with the oversight of proper governance and integrity. Here is a list of the institutions I could readily think of off the top of my head.

  • Parliament
  • Council of Ministers (COM)
  • Council of Advice (Raad van Advies)
  • Law Enforcement Council (Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving)
  • General Audit Chamber (Algemene Rekenkamer)
  • Social Economic Council (Social Economisch Raad, SER)
  • Ombudsman

The Entire Justice Chain with…

    • Bureau Unusual Financial Transactions (MOT)
    • National Detectives (Landsrecherche)
    • Customs, Immigration & Border Protection Services
    • Coast Guard
    • Police Corps
    • RST
    • Royal Military Police (Marechaussee)
    • Interior Affairs & Kingdom Relations (BAK)
    • National Security Agency (VDSM)
    • Public Prosecutor’s Office (Openbare Ministerie, OM)
    • Attorney General
    • Joint Court of Justice
    • The Governor of Sint Maarten

With the many institutions we already have, is an Integrity Chamber really needed?

Knowing that we have all of the above mentioned governing bodies, judicial bodies, (inter)national advisory councils, did we really need The Netherlands to force us to adopt an Integrity Chamber (IC) as well. Did we really needed an Anti-Corruption Taskforce (TBO) to come and clean up the mess we have built up for over 40 years? Do we not have our own institutions that should have seen to it that it did not reach this far?

So why, with all these institutions in our country, can’t we tackle corruption and integrity breaches? Is it because corruption is a perception with little evidence to back it up? Or is it that the many institutions – some also manned by Dutch technocrats (like the Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Courts) – are having difficulties getting a grip on a cultural phenomenon that is all pervasive in our country yet difficult to prove?

Integrity key

Integrity is the key to our salvation

What I am trying to say – and this would be my conclusion – is that our institutions are not functioning correctly. Whose fault is that? And what is the cause of that? Lack of discipline, lack of character and the lack of balls to condemn and punish our own when they are committing wrongdoings, but most of all, the lack of integrity, are the reasons why the Dutch government and members of the Second Chamber see the need to constantly point a finger that our island is corrupt. What is the solution to this problem that we have? In the words of C.S. Lewis, we need to start doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. We need integrity. Integrity is the only key to our salvation.

What Integrity Is

Name withheld at author’s request