The silence of our local legal minds during this political impasse is deafening.


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Today our young island nation is in a constitutional crisis because of the different interpretations of articles #33 and #59 of our constitution. The Council of Ministers has requested the opinions of various Dutch constitutional experts from the Hague. Our governor has taken the high road and requested three judges to provide an advice on this political impasse in five working days. We don’t know if the eight majority in the parliament of St. Maarten has acquired advice from any legal minds locally or from the Hague.

What bothers me is that time after time our elected officials especially those supporting the Council of Ministers have ridiculed the same Dutch for meddling in our internal affairs. But now that it is convenient they are calling on the same Dutch experts to provide them with legal advice.

Our constitution was established by the team that negotiated St. Maarten becoming a country within the Dutch Kingdom. This team if I can remember correctly consisted of the leaders of the National Alliance and the Democratic Party of St. Maarten. Their legal advisors were Attorneys at Law, Mr. Ralph Richardson., Mr. Richardson Gibson Sr., Mr. Gaston Bell, Mr. Reynold Groeneveld and Mr. Roland Duncan for a period of time. Three of those members served as Minister of Constitutional Affairs of the former Netherlands Antilles and must have acquired much knowledge while serving in that position. They were good to advise us in putting the constitution together but they aren’t good enough now to advise us on this political impasse.

Every civilized country has a constitution and while some may remark that ours is a carbon copy of the former Netherlands Antilles our legal advisors while establishing it must have gone over article for article. Therefore, each article in the constitution must have been motivated by those in charge at that moment while putting it together. Some articles may have been straight forward and others required a discussion amongst those legal advisors and the leadership of the country at that time. I want to believe that these two articles #33 and #59 in particular must have raised some type of eyebrows during those discussions.

I am therefore calling on those legal advisors who were part of the Constitution Committee to come forward and explained to the general public and to submit an opinion as a team or individually to our governor regarding the interpretation of those two articles. After all you have put the constitution together and you have lived it over the last five years. Nobody, not even those judges can interpret those articles better than those of you who put them together. Other than those members of the Constitution Committee it is the civic duty of our resident lawyers and law firms to issue an opinion on this impasse. Perhaps you are available to be part of a forum to be organized on short notice to discuss this political impasse that we are experiencing today. At the end of the day you are going to have to live with the opinion that you issue if it is carried unlike those judges who don’t live here and would not be affected one way or the other.