Parliament’s role is to supervise government, which includes pointing out failures and offering suggestions but also applauding when government takes the right decision. In fact, psychology tells us that reinforcing good performance has a more powerful and lasting effect than negative criticism. Hence, it is important that parliamentarians also look at the positive things that government has done or is doing and commend them for this. In our society we tend to only focus on the mistakes, failures and on the bad or negative. My pastor, the late Rev. Alwyn Lake, would always say: “there is always some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best of us”.

So when the executive branch does things right, parliamentarians should also commend the government or a minister for such. In this regard, I would like to suggest to our parliamentarians that they should commend the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, for the stand and the decision that she took to have the Youth Extravaganza Show stopped due to the sexually explicit and vulgar content of the program. As I was not at the show my knowledge of the event is based solely on what I have read, heard and seen of Minister Jacobs’ passionate plea to restore a level of morality in our society. I couldn’t agree more with the honorable Minister. We have reached a point in our society where respect for God, authority, women, people’s property and even life is in a rapid downward spiral. Unfortunately, we are quick to blame the youth about their disrespect and negative behavior. But the first people to blame are the adults, the parents and the authority figures in our society who should be leading, not only by talking but also by example!

I believe that our parliamentarians should publicly support the stand and decision of the Honorable Minister. It would send a strong message, to our society, that the highest supervisory body in the country embraces and promotes certain moral standards in our society. According to Minister Jacobs an investigation into all that transpired on the night of the Youth Extravaganza is being conducted. I propose that when the report is ready, the Minister should send it to Parliament who in turn should invite the Minister to present the findings as to what went wrong and offer solutions to avoid such a disrespectful display by our youth at such shows in the future. After the Minister’s presentation, parliamentarians should continue to promote an awareness of what is acceptable behavior as they carry on the conversation via the media and with groups and individual members of our society. I also believe that the church as well as social organizations in Sint Maarten should also come out publicly and support the Honorable Minister on this issue. To effect change, it is going to take a concerted effort by all concerned, to raise awareness in our society regarding the decline in respect, ethics, standards and morality and to try to restore these virtues in our society.

I also strongly suggest that parliament request our Minister of Justice to investigate and report to parliament, as soon as possible, on the incident that transpired, where one of our youth lost her life during carnival. The Sint Maarten Christian Party would hereby like to extend condolences to the family and friends of Rachelle Thomas whose life was snatched away from us so prematurely. We are all shocked that something like this could have happened to one of our youth. Parliament should press upon the Minister of Justice to leave no stone unturned until this case is solved. Sadly, the solving of this case will not bring back Rachelle but it can surely help to prevent such an incident from happening again. During this tragic incident it was admirable to see some of our youth take on the responsibility to reach out to their peers, the community and even the world, via Facebook, as they called on people everywhere to pray for Rachelle. Spearheading this movement was one of Rachelle’s close friends, Theodore DeWeever who must be commended for the tremendous role that he played in reaching out to the community and requesting prayers for his friend. Theodore and friends, you have given the adults in this community hope that all is not lost among our youth.

Another area where our parliament and government can show positive support is when groups in our community come together for a positive cause. This past weekend, some fifteen to twenty evangelical churches came together for the annual Believers’ Connection Convention. The governments of both sides of the island were invited. The government of the French side sent a representative who addressed the congregations on behalf of the Collectivité. Regrettably, not one representative from the government on the Dutch side took the time or made an effort to attend the opening ceremony or one of the other services. I know that several of our public officials attended or participated in Carnival. Yet, not one official from the Dutch side showed the churches any form of respect. I am pretty sure that if elections were imminent many of these politicians would have attended the Convention.

Wycliffe Smith

Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party