SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Friday said it is unbelievable that the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, an educator by profession, would openly label government as an “equal opportunity employer” when discussing qualified St. Maarteners getting first preference over non-St. Maarteners with employment. “This is the ultimate betrayal of our people and everyone who voted for the National Alliance and who anticipated being prioritized by that party,” the MP said.
The MP was reacting to Prime Minister Silveria Jacob’s explanation about what is happening at the Fire Department with the hiring of a Dutchman as Head of Repression. In her press release the Prime Minister said that her government is an equal opportunity employer, a notion that Emmanuel said completely flies in the face of any self-respecting government standing for or defending its people.
MP Emmanuel said the Prime Minister as usual issued a press release saying absolutely nothing. “The Prime Minister and her government seem to think that people are impressed when they quote policy and procedure. The fact is you might impress Facebook, but you are disappointing real people. People who expect you to stand by them when they need you, especially after you just asked them for their vote,” the MP said.
He said when the term equal opportunity employer is applied to sex or gender identity, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status etc it’s one thing, “but on a territory the size of St. Maarten where we profess every election cycle that the people of St. Maarten should come first, national origin cannot be equal in the employment aspects, unless every effort to recruit a qualified St. Maartener has been exhausted and/or there is none available.”
He added the PM has to answer a few questions as they relate to the Fire Department including, but not limited to: Is there a St. Maartener at the Fire Department qualified for the position of Head of Repression yes or no? Explain in detail what disqualified local candidates? Since the departure of the previous Head of Repression, who happened to be another Dutchman, who was asked to carry out those duties? Were local candidates informed that they were not getting the position and how?
“We are replacing one Dutchman with another. So during the tenure of the first, no local was trained or upgraded to assume that role? We are supposed to believe that no local fire officer could have been promoted into that role. This is beyond shameful and sends the wrong message to our young academics,” the MP said.
He continued: “The Prime Minister should walk over to the Fire Department now and tell the local fire officers that they are not qualified. Tell the person who has been performing the task all along that he is not qualified and why. What kind of St. Maarten are we creating here? Nothing against our Caribbean brothers and sisters, but this is our country. I want my children to compete with qualified St. Maarteners. That is what we should be striving towards. Our people must secure livelihoods in their country to help build their country. We should be building our nation on the experience and expertise of our own with assistance when we need it. Not the other way around. If we want our people to have real ownership of their country we have to recognize their value. The Prime Minister and the National Alliance do not recognize the value of their people. This is not the National Alliance I once knew. They have lost their way. This is more evidence why I pulled away,” he said.
“The Prime Minister, who educates our children and delivers speeches at graduations telling them to strive for the best in order to come back home and contribute to the further development of St. Maarten, is also telling them to be prepared, even though you are qualified, you might not be chosen if there is a qualified non-St. Maarten applying as well,” the MP said.
“I do not care if a person has worked here for 18 years as the Minister of Education stated in defending his placing of a non-national in a top position. That person is not a St. Maartener and should not get preference over my people and our children. It is a shameful statement by the Prime Minister of this country who, along with the statement of the Minister of Education, have now left no doubt that they do not stand for St. Maarten and its people,” he concluded.