Sunday, May 19th

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Editorial - Something tangible

That the Parliament of St. Maarten has agreed to co-sign a letter to the First and Second Chambers of Parliament in the Netherlands on a kingdom dispute regulation (see related article) is in itself good news. After all, there is strength in numbers, so an initiative in combination with Curaçao and Aruba is bound to make a bigger impression than separate actions by each of the individual countries.

There was a bit of discussion about the letterhead, because the Dutch Caribbean is, of course, not a constitutional entity and has no shared legislature. Fabricating a type of joint logo as suggested might unnecessarily raise questions that distract from the issue, so adding either all three or none would seem to be the appropriate way to go.

The letter basically asks the elected representatives in the Netherlands what their position is on the fact that the Rutte cabinet basically went against the expressed wishes coming out of the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation IPKO in May of this year by holding off on establishing a dispute resolution arrangement and body.

It must be said: opposition leader William Marlin (NA) correctly pointed out that whatever consequences would have to come from politicians in The Hague, not in Willemstad, Oranjestad or Philipsburg. Moreover, the "shared directive" specifically covered only differences in interpretation of stipulations in the Kingdom Charter, making it of a rather limited scope.

Still, one could argue that when the four parliaments of the kingdom take a decision together their respective governments should in principle adhere to such unless there is good reason not to. That clearly did not happen in this case at the Kingdom Conference in Aruba last month.

On the other hand, Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk of the Netherlands had proposed a temporary provision. That the other kingdom partners did not want this was their good right, but it's not like no offer was made.

To expect much from Dutch parliamentarians would anyhow not be too realistic, considering positions taken by the majority on topics related to the islands in the recent past. The matter is simply not likely to prompt a political crisis at this stage.

It probably can't hurt to remind the Dutch parliamentarians of the agreements made, but citizens should not hold their breath that it will also lead to something tangible anytime soon.