Dr. Mercelina claims he tabled a motion against Minister Lee because of his “love for country”. I question this, and here is why: What this country needs now more than anything is for personal ego’s to be parked, power plays to be put on hold and the economic challenges to be tackled by all. Stability in government now more than ever HAS to be everyone’s focus, especially for all those that have signed on to the present Governing Accord. Being part of a coalition with a very slim one-seat majority takes more skill and political savvy to maintain the abovementioned stability. And then this: St. Maarten, a geographically small island nation, with a not yet decade-old parliamentary democracy, has a lot going on and not all of it is good!
Hurricane Irma was devastating, but prior to that event, there were quite a few social and economic challenges. The economy wasn’t really growing, there were and still are clear signs of inequality; there are growing divisions among the various groups and the government was and is financially constrained. To recover from Hurricane Irma and with few if any reserves to cover disasters, St. Maarten must deal with a single donor with whom, unfortunately, it has a strained and complicated relationship. Conditions and requirements (set by the donor) make for “slow going” as it relates to investment of actual funds for the reconstruction and recovery of the community.
According to the Prime Minister, $22 million has been DISBURSED to date. That is $22 million of a promised $550 million after 22 months. As former Minister of Finance, I have gone on record with my position regarding the Trust Fund. The process is overly bureaucratic and too focused on procedures rather than social/economic effective results, especially on the short term, when the needs for so many post-Irma continue to be huge. So, getting our economy up to speed, thereby creating jobs so people can continue to help themselves while awaiting the release of Trust Fund money, HAS to be our focus! No other viable alternatives (PLAN B’s) have to date presented themselves! Instead, on July 2nd, 2019, we are still without an approved national budget 2019. And after days of unbecoming, downright low-level grand standing by some MPs, where are we?
Following countless hours of questions and long-winded, often off-topic monologues, there are two motions of non-confidence pending; one of which has the potential to cause a crisis in government. Specifically, the motion tabled by MP Doc Luc. What are these motions supposed to achieve? Who benefits? The people of St. Maarten? Really? Members of Parliament, representatives of the people, who earn nearly 15 times the minimum wage, retire at the age of 60, receive redundancy pay when they resign (or are fired), and can have side jobs, feel that the most important thing for the budget debate is a change of ministers? To be clear, the opposition doesn’t really need a reason: the way politics works in St. Maarten is that being “opposition” means disagreeing with government: basically, just be against everything government proposes.
But how about the true motive for the motion from a coalition MP against the Minister of VSA? What is really going on there? According to MP Doc Luc, he wants a constitutional revolution. Really? As I know my limitations, I have asked people smarter than me to “unpack” this: Here is what they came up with: “Constitutional” relates to the basic principles governing the country. A “Revolution” is a change that occurs rapidly and massively, leading to a fundamental transformation of society. We have all heard about “silent marches”, but the “Revolution” MP Doc Luc refers to, must be the quietest version ever! No riots, no protests, no strikes, no referendum. Just one MP out of step with his fellow Coalition Member colleagues.
The MP mentioned several points to support his call for revolution, including dollarization, getting rid of the CFT and making English the “only official language”. Never mind that these issues cannot be achieved on short term, they will do little to improve the recovery and reconstruction of our country and have no effect on Budget 2019.
More importantly, what does this “constitutional revolution” and all the 10 reasons provided for it, have to do with the motion against the Minister VSA? And the opposition is onboard with this call for a “constitutional revolution”. I guess they DO understand how the dots connect, because they SIGNED the motion. Maybe they can explain it! And can the opposition and/or MP Dr. Luc also explain why the Minister of VROMi and the Minister of Finance have to leave as well. All these changes….are they part of the revolution?
With all the proposed changes in the Council of Ministers, I wonder who is going to execute the Budget 2019, assuming it passes? Who is going to make sure the money gets into the reconstruction? Who is going to do all this “caring about the people of St. Maarten”? Does it really matter to those Parliamentarians playing the obstruction game? I guess not. St. Maarten has been waiting 22 months and counting. No skin off their noses. They keep getting paid. Come to think of it, it is hoped enough money was budgeted for redundancy pay for ministers who are leaving and salary for 3-4 new ministers.
So, MP Dr. Luc, I ask again: What is the end goal? I don’t know about a constitutional revolution, but I believe your (in my opinion) ill-advised motion against Minister Lee MAY head us to our next constitutional crisis. As I understand it, there is still time for you to have a change of heart and really do the best thing to guarantee our continued, albeit annoyingly slow recovery. Personal political interests and ambitions have nothing to do with the needs of St. Maarten and its people.
And to quote my learned friends: “Democracy allows, in fact encourages, diverse opinions and ideologies. But if the freedom to disagree, criticize and oppose is taken to absurd and impractical extremes such as we are witnessing in Parliament, the only thing that will be achieved is chaos”. Several St. Maarten politicians shout at the top of their lungs that “others” are taking over, but ignore the fact that THEY are the ones who are facilitating the division that will allow us to be conquered.
But what do I know? Viva la revolución!
Michael J. Ferrier