PHILIPSBURG Against the backdrop of much talk from many political corners about quitting the Dutch kingdom for independent statehood, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin’s message on Constitution Day, Monday, was straightforward: any change of status can only come from the people of the country and it is on their desire that politicians must act.
“As the political climate intensifies and discussions of independence or any other political status arise we must be reminded that it’s the people that chose the current status and only the people of St. Maarten can decide any future change,” Romeo-Marlin said at a church service in St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church on Front Street.
A year ago, then-Prime Minister William Marlin also spoke of the will of the people being the only vehicle for any status change. He stated in the 2017 church service that it was “rather unfortunate” that there are those who have begun to float the idea of rolling back the autonomous status which we are marking today. They “are in La-la-la land; they have a determined St. Maarten people to deal with,” he said.
Marlin, like his successor Romeo-Marlin, said the principles upon which the Constitution is based are “irreversible and non-negotiable. Only through the expressed will of the people of St. Maarten can any changes be made to our current constitutional status.”
October 10 will mark eight years since St. Maarten attained the status of country-within-the-Dutch-Kingdom and its constitution came into force. Due to the changing nature of the calendar, government decided four years ago to mark Constitution Day on the second Monday in October, ensuring a long weekend, instead of on October 10 itself
Romeo-Marlin said in marking this milestone, “We must ask ourselves: are we truly exercising the autonomy as defined in our status? Are we taking the responsibility necessary to uphold and maintain the institutions and organs established on 10-10-10?”
The task of defending the autonomy as a constituent state is not an easy one as prime minister, she said. “The growing pains are evident as internal and external forces continue to challenge our autonomy and only as a collective can we fight to maintain what we have achieved.”
Quoting the preamble of the Constitution, Romeo-Marlin said she hopes to inspire the community “to continue to persevere individually and collectively as we journey on the road to recovery with the rebuilding and redeveloping our nation.”
Government is well aware the recovery is moving slowly, but compared to others around, Romeo-Marlin said, “I can state here confidently we are miles ahead. We are poised for a full recovery, but it will not happen overnight. Hurricane Irma knocked us down but she did not knock us out.
“Strong, Better, Resilient are all words that have been used to describe St. Maarten over the past year. We must embrace these words and keep our eyes on the prize. Now is not the time to lose focus; in fact, now is the time for us to remain steadfast as the high season of our tourism-based economy is on the horizon.”
Businesses and frontline ambassadors must ensure guests experience an enjoyable, top-notch and unforgettable stay when they arrive to these shores, she added.
“Now is the time for our educators to continue to equip our students with the best education to ensure that the next generation takes the baton and builds on the current foundation to elevate this country to the next level.”
It is also time for law enforcement agencies to act with strength and swiftness to create and maintain a secure environment in which residents and guests alike can truly feel secure whether at the beach or driving on roads, said Romeo-Marlin.
“Now is not a time for tearing down but it’s a time for building up. Now is the time to protect and build on the institutions and processes that work, and correct and adjust those that are failing. Now is a time for all of us to stand tall, take the responsibility assigned to us in whichever capacity it may be and act with integrity to ensure a brighter future for St. Maarten,” she said.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/81415-pm-only-people-can-decide-on-any-future-status-change