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Editorial - Not helpful

The postponement of yet another Parliament meeting on Monday (see related story) raises doubts about the seriousness of elected representatives. After all, it concerned the very important issue of an Integrity Chamber over which St. Maarten is currently in a dispute with the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

Granted, it's first and foremost the task of the governing parties to ensure a quorum when these kinds of sessions – rather than on the initiative of legislators – are called at the request of government by the chairperson, who is obviously also part of that coalition. In this case two UP-fraction members were said to be off-island respectively for a surgical procedure and to visit a son studying in the US during his spring break, while one of the two independent parliamentarians supporting the Gumbs cabinet also was abroad, reportedly to get medical treatment for her child.

Several other members actually were present, but did not sign in, so there was no majority with just seven of 15 seats. Chairman Lloyd Richardson explained that –aware of the three absentees with notice – he had approached NA parliamentarians beforehand who had promised to cooperate, but failed to do so in the end.

Of course, it must be said in their defence that the UP-led coalition also has basically boycotted various meetings requested by the opposition, such as the one on the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) nearly three weeks ago. Be that as it may, one hardly can deny that the draft National Ordinance on an Integrity Chamber is paramount in light of The Hague's intention to impose a General Measure of Kingdom Governance in that direction.

The Council of State has been consulted on the latter and it probably would be helpful if St. Maarten approved and presented its own version before that, so the need for this rather drastic step can be better judged. As the advice is due early May, timing is clearly of the essence.

In addition, it regarded a Central Committee meeting rather than a general assembly, where there is always the risk of whatever majority present at any time passing a motion. That was not a factor here, however.

Ministers and their staff again were made to waste their precious time preparing for and attending an official gathering of the highest democratic body in the land, never mind people who in a fruitless effort tuned into radio or television to follow the proceedings. What's worse is that while practically every local politician has spoken out on more than one occasion against what they see as the Netherlands increasingly meddling in the Dutch side's internal affairs, when push comes to shove some – for apparently purely political reasons – seemingly prefer not to assist in opposing this trend.

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