Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — The word independence has been carried and dropped many times during parliamentary debates recently. The Faction of the Democratic Party considers it opportune at this time to reiterate its stance on the political future of our country.
Politically going forward, in our opinion there is only one way, as going back is not an option.
Our faction has remained steadfast over the years about the political future of our island.
Back in 1994, it was our belief that the Netherlands Antilles had served its time. In the referendum of that year, however, the majority of persons on St. Maarten did not feel the same way and voted to remain in the Antillean constellation.
The DP respected the will of the people and continued to represent the people on both levels. However, we never wavered about out belief that it was time for St. Maarten to shed the “territory” mantra.
Consequently, after 2 postponements another referendum was held in 2000, a bare 6 years later.
The result is the constitutional status we enjoy today, achieved on October 10, 2010, a short 5 years ago.
Well, we are surely learning what it means to “hold our own” in so many ways.
A lot of what was expected of us was known and foreseen, but then again not everything was.
On paper we did most of what was expected, but the implementation was and still is a challenge.
The 2 most critical resources needed to further our autonomous status are human and financial.
We are nowhere close to the ideal level of any of these 2. We lack (local) resources in many areas and our finances are under stress.
I am of the opinion that we are going through a learning process in every sense of the word.
Nowhere is this more glaring than in politics itself. From a territory to a country within the Kingdom. From an island council to a parliament, from an executive council to a council of ministers and there is still a lot to be righted.
There is still a lot to be learned by elected persons and the electorate.
And so, in looking at our political future, I believe:
- While there is only one way forward, there is a lot still to be righted.
- Since we know where we are heading to or at least would like to, there should be a roadmap to get us there.
- The roadmap must include a program to equip and empower our own to hold the critical positions in our country;
- Education must be a top priority.
- Social cohesion must be advanced.
Left up to the DP, there are currently more important and urgent matters for the government and parliament to attend to than devising a roadmap to independence at this time. And believe you me, if there is one person who can speak of what it takes, that person is me.
There is however all reason to start putting the building blocks in place.
It is in line with this thinking, that the DP submitted the motion regarding the English language as the first official language of the 2 mentioned in our constitution.