Cart before the horse

Cart before the horse

The adoption of a motion to finalise the decolonisation process and related establishment of a Permanent Committee for Constitutional Affairs by Parliament was a much-discussed topic over the weekend. While a proposal to form the committee was passed unanimously, three of the five opposition members voted against the motion.

Their main argument was that it already asks government to move in a certain direction before talks in the committee and with the public can even take place.

Pro Soualiga Foundation, which was also mentioned, argued in a letter to the editor on the opinion pages of the Friday/Saturday edition of this newspaper that making the kingdom charter United Nations (UN) compliant does require a referendum or complicated and lengthy negotiations. Once the articles that the UN General Assembly identified as falling short of full self-government are eliminated St. Maarten would “become an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.”

The latter seems paradoxical, especially as the Dutch Caribbean islands have always been told by The Hague that such a status is not an option. And when one refers to a Round Table Conference (RTC), that is historically where fundamental decisions are taken about changes in relationships between the participants and consequently their people’s future.

The fact that a US law firm was already hired (see related story) and foresees an RTC in May followed by the signing of an agreement with the Dutch government in July clearly indicates the speed at which those involved intend to proceed. The next step is demanding reparations from the Netherlands.

All this should not take place without consulting the population first. The obvious end result is going to be full political independence and citizens therefore have the right to express themselves if they agree, in advance, not afterwards.

If the politicians in question fear a third referendum will again fail to muster enough support for independence as was the case with the two earlier versions, they should at least make that their main campaign issue for the next election and let the voters have their say. The current approach is like putting the cart before the horse.