SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament and Faction Leader for the United People's Party the honourable Grisha Heyliger-Marten slammed the Kingdom Charter for the Netherlands as being flawed. She says, in its present form it "has not been working for the people of St. Maarten."
The MP brought forward a motion to Parliament urging it to support the Council of Ministers in its quest to secure financial and other assistance to sustainably rebuild and strengthen the economy of St. Maarten in the wake of hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 global pandemic, for the benefit of the wellbeing of the people of St. Maarten. She stated, “The responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands does not negate the obligation of the Government of the Netherlands as colonizing power to comply with the international laws governing self-determination, decolonization, and the right of the people of St. Maarten to a full measure self-government based on absolute equality with the Netherlands.”
The Kingdom Charter is considered the constitution of the Kingdom, which consists of four countries The Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten.
Voicing her dissatisfaction with the way the Kingdom Charter has performed MP Heyliger-Marten issued a call for Parliament in St. Maarten to review the charter post-haste and address the areas where the Kingdom Charter has failed to deliver. Some concerns MP Heyliger-Marten mentioned include St. Maarten not being allowed to educate its young people to become legal professionals trained in their mother tongue English like neighbouring English-speaking countries. "As a result of this issue, all of us are dealing with a foreign language daily whether we master the Dutch language or not."
She made the statements on Tuesday during a public meeting of Parliament to discuss the Government’s plans to move forward with the financial, economic and social future of St. Maarten considering the reality of the measures imposed for liquidity support to get the island through the economic disaster brought on by the global Pandemic COVID-19. "Mr Chairman, because of the Kingdom Charter, we have not taken full advantage of the options to directly access financial, and other resources, from sources other than the Netherlands," said Heyliger-Marten. During the first round of her address, Heyliger-Marten alluded to statements made by Dutch MP Andre Bosman during a 2019 debate on the budget for Kingdom Relations, saying that many Dutch MPs are fully aware that the Kingdom Charter did not work for the Dutch Caribbean Islands, and that the decolonization of the islands was not finalized. “MP Bosman and his colleagues may have different motivations for their grievances with the Kingdom Charter over the years, but that does not make their grievances less valid.”
After the meeting, Heyliger-Marten issued some assuring words to the people of St. Maarten. "As Faction Leader of the UP and a representative of the people of St. Maarten, I will not relent until there is equality in the treatment in the Kingdom for St. Maarten by Holland." Regarding the financial situation in St. Maarten Heyliger-Marten said it is regrettable that after disasters such as hurricane Irma in 2019 and now the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, the Dutch Government uses tactics such as ill-timed conditions to pressure the people. "St. Maarten must manage its finances better, and I can agree to that, but why do you put a person in need to suffer further. While my people are suffering, you are dangling "a carrot on a stick" tied to their forehead and asking them to catch it, adding insult to injury.
"This is one of the reasons why I am saying that I have grievances with the way the Kingdom Partnership has been hampering growth for the people of St. Maarten since its establishment. And like any family living under one roof, when there are grievances, we should be able to sit down and trash them out." Ask yourself why St. Maarten has not been allowed to establish diplomatic relationships with other nations in the region and abroad? Because while they would say that the Netherlands is in charge of international agreements and diplomatic relations I am not so sure that those relationships serve the interest of St. Maarten and I have to look out for my people."
MP Heyliger-Marten says St. Maarten has had its hands tied by a Kingdom agreement that violates international laws. Because of this, our Governments over many years have collectively failed to capitalize on accessing support elsewhere outside the Netherlands Kingdom to help build our country. She said St. Maarten has also not seized opportunities provided through the amendment to United Nations UN Resolution 945 as presented by India and Uruguay in 1955 for the colonies of the Netherlands to “knock at the door of the UN General Assembly at any time” if the need arises.
"A relationship must be one in which both parties’ views are respected, and mutual respect is not there for St. Maarten. We have allowed the Dutch Government, via the so-called "Kingdom Government" and undemocratic institutions like the CFT, to intervene in our affairs, against the principles of the UN Charter and resolutions. Thus preventing us from making decisions that are in our best or paramount, interest."