26 JANUARY 2017
THE HAGUE–The Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Wednesday decided to seek clarity from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the January 4, 2017 petition of the St. Eustatius Government to halt the process of embedding Statia as a public entity in the Dutch Constitution.
The Committee wants to receive a formal response of the Prime Minister on the official petition signed by the Executive Council in protest of the “unilateral” move by the Dutch Government to embed Statia as a public entity in the Constitution. The Statia Government also sent the petition to the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
In carrying out the Island Council’s motion of November 30, 2016, the petitioners urgently called on The Hague to “immediately” cease this process and to commence consultations with the Statia Government aimed at achieving full internal self-governance by means of free association with the Netherlands, “in accordance with the expressed wishes of the people of Statia and the international legal order.”
The request of the Kingdom Relations Committee to seek clarity from Rutte came from Member of the Second Chamber Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) during Wednesday’s procedural meeting. The Committee also requested a copy of this petition, since it had not received this document and had only taken notice of it via the media.
Asked for a reaction to his request, Van Raak said that it was the right of the Statia Government to seek an autonomous status for the island, but that it was of vital importance that Statia people were heard on this matter through a referendum. “It is their ultimate right to determine Statia’s constitutional status. Sovereignty is a matter of the people,” he told The Daily Herald.
The Committee also took the decision on Wednesday to send a formal letter on behalf of the Committee to Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk regarding the appointment of a new interim Island Governor for Statia.
According to sources, Minister Plasterk and Kingdom Government Representative for the Caribbean Netherlands Gilbert Isabella plan to appoint a high-ranking Dutch civil servant as Island Governor for a limited period.
The Kingdom Relations Committees of the First and Second Chamber would rather see the appointment of an experienced person from the Netherlands who has ample knowledge of the workings of a local administration, for example a former mayor. This person should also have sufficient affinity with St. Eustatius and have an impeccable record.
The Dutch Parliamentary delegation present at the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO in Curaçao early this month voiced its objections to the appointment of a Dutch civil servant in an email to the Minister.
During Wednesday’s meeting Member of the Second Chamber André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party repeated Parliament’s concerns. “We have already had a debate with the Minister on this issue. It concerns a temporary function and in our opinion requires a solid administrator who can make the necessary connection with the Statia Government,” said Bosman.
Bosman said that naturally the Minister decided on matters concerning his personnel. However, considering the precarious situation in Statia it was important to solve the problems on the island not only in a “project-based” manner, but also on an administrative level to achieve a much-needed improvement of the quality of the local administration, Bosman said.
After the meeting, Van Raak shared his concerns about the situation on the island. “I am very worried. The bad quality of the current government mostly affects the people. St. Eustatius doesn’t only have a defective government, but it has a government that has no intention of carrying out its tasks in a proper manner,” he said.
According to Van Raak, it was “high time” for the people to express their sentiments about the current government. “It is up to the people to show their discontent, because they are the victims of this government.” He said there were “enough smart people and critical thinkers” on the island to solve the crisis.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten