From a press statement by the president of parliament, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams we learn that the current financial compensation for a parliamentarian is 120 guilders per hour. Assuming a 40-hour workweek and 52 weeks in a year, this puts the weekly income at 4,800 guilders and the monthly income at 20,800 guilders. Per year that adds up to 249,600 guilders, or $139,441.
That is respectable, if not overblown, by most standards. A working stiff will never see that kind of money in his life, yet he has to work much harder for what he does find in his pocket at the end of the month.
It is therefore interesting that one of our fifteen MPs, namely, the president of parliament, has pointed out how much her esteemed colleagues cost the tax payers for every half hour they waste.
That does not bother most parliamentarians, because their bosses, even though they are all around them, only call them to account once every four years if they are lucky. As the 2014 elections have shown, not many incumbent MPs survive the punishment they receive at the hands of the electorate. Nine of the fifteen Members of Parliament who obtained a comfy seat in 2010, were sent home by the voters in 2014.
But the current parliament is now under renewed pressure with the prospect of new elections. For sure several, if not quite some of the incumbent MPs will be without a job after the voters have spoken.
The question that will become actual this week is when those elections are going to take place, and when the voters will get the chance to speak their mind.
Bienvenido Richardson makes the case against fast elections elsewhere on this page and he is of course right on the money.
If you always do what you always did, your will always get what you always got. It is as simple as that. We cannot expect elections to bring about the change many in our community are craving. We cannot expect a stable government if the practice of ship jumping continues. The future of our system is in the hands of fifteen representatives of the people who may or may not be in favor of change.
Among them are some ship jumpers who would probably strongly dislike the idea that this will no longer be possible in the future.
The most prominent ship jumper in parliament is Leona Marlin-Romeo. Shortly after declaring that she was not going anywhere last year, she dumped Frans Richardson’s United St. Maarten party all the same for a spot with the UP-led majority.
Cornelius de Weever went before her, and current president of parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams came after her, only to jump back later on.
USp-leader Frans Richardson has done his own share of ship jumping He was involved in the Carnival coup in 2012, together with Patrick Illidge and Romaine Laville.
Then there is of course Silvio Matser, according to UP-leader Theo Heyliger the source of all political troubles. Matser may be new to politics, but he is not new to making deals. We’re not sure whether he engineered the fall of the government, but he certainly took part in it with gusto. A recent internet poll showed that voters – that is to say, the participants in this poll – were most likely not to vote for him again.
And what about ship jumper Maurice Lake? The former policy advisor to Theo Heyliger and former minister of Vromi claims that he followed his conscience, something that is always possible but does little to explain to the electorate why he changed camps. Maybe one day he will open up and tell the true story.
All this is of little interest to the common citizen. All they want is a government that provides services at the best possible level against the best possible price. One thing is certain: right now they are not getting a big bang for their tax-buck and there is not a darn thing they can do about it.
Oh, going to the polls, you say? Yes, we always say that it is important to vote, to exercise our democratic rights. If the system worked, this would be true. But if the system is broken, as ours most certainly is, the importance of voting becomes highly questionable.
Last weekend we watched the fascinating movie Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks as the negotiator James Donovan and Mark Rylance as the Russian spy Rudolf Abel. When things get tight, Hanks asks the spy several times if he never gets worried or anxious. And every time Rylance, staring at God knows what through his retro glasses answers: Would it help?
That is the question voters have to ask themselves in the coming months – and yes, because we do not think that these elections will take place as soon as many people think. Voting, would it help? The prime ingredient that could help making sense of all this are the conditions under which these elections will take place.
Are we going to do the same we did last year, in 2010, 2007, 2003 and further back in time, or are we going to be bold and changes the rules of the game for the betterment of our country?