SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) – On Saturday, February 10, 2024, the new members of parliament took the oath based on the results of the January 11, 2024, parliamentary elections.
His Excellency Governor Ajamu Baly delivered the following speech to Members of Parliament; Ministers; Vice-President of the Collectivite of Saint Martin; Acting Vice-chairlady of the Council of Advice; Chairman of the Audit Chamber; Ombudsman; Chairman of the Integrity Chamber; Secretary General of Parliament;
Chairlady of the Central Voting Bureau; Chairman of the Electoral Council; Chief Public Prosecutor; Commander of the Marines detachment on Sint Maarten; Representative of the Netherlands in Philipsburg; and distinguished guests’ present.
“Life is all about a delicate balance. Up & down, in & out, left & right, Yin and Yang. The task you are about to take up as Parliamentarians is no different. More about the balance in a moment. First about the task.
“On Thursday January 11th of this year, 66% of the eligible voters of Sint Maarten exercised one of their fundamental Constitutional rights, their right to vote. They cast their vote on candidates that exercised another fundamental Constitutional right, their right to be elected. And yes you, all fifteen of you, have acquired a unique position: you have gained the confidence of the voters of Sint Maarten to represent them, all of them.
All of you, collectively and individually, are called by the Constitution, our highest law, to represent the entire people of Sint Maarten. A wonderful assignment, a great privilege, and a great responsibility. Congratulations to you.
“I have come to understand that the period leading up to those elections has been a long, tough, and gruelling journey. But it is only now, that the really hard work begins. You are no longer simply a politician, you are now a Parliamentarian. And that title brings with it some major responsibilities.
“Because now you as Parliamentarians, representatives of the people have to cater to the people of this country, all the people of this country so also those who's views you may not agree with. It is your responsibility to take into account and protect their views and them as well. That is why the general interest must be at the heart and core of all the decisions you individually and collectively make. And that is on both sides of the aisle, so whether you are in opposition or part of the majority supporting the government you are tasked with forming.
“That is why I use the word task here purposely because those that have voted for you, in doing so have selected you to represent not only them, but to represent all of the people of this country, not just one group in particular, not just one ethnicity in particular, not just one particular lifestyle, not just believers, not just one religion in particular. But every single person. When you seriously think about it you cannot help but to realize what a daunting task that is. And yes as a parliamentarian with your individual vote you have to decide for all of these groups and individual persons I have just mentioned. You have a free mandate. So you do not represent your supporters, nor your voters, nor your party, you represent all the people of this country and only serve the general interest of the people of Sint Maarten. When you seriously think about it you cannot help but to realize what a daunting task that is. You and you alone, all fifteen of you, are directly elected by the voters of Sint Maarten. Only you, as members of Parliament, have a direct electoral mandate and therefore direct democratic legitimacy. This makes you the anchor and heart of Sint Maarten's democracy. Did I already mention that this was a daunting task?
“In your work, as a co-legislator with government and with your task of keeping a check on that same government, you bear a special responsibility. That is a privilege and a burden: a privilege because together you are the bearers of the will of the people of Sint Maarten, but also a burden because it is expected of you, and rightfully so, that you will express the will you bear, in a responsible manner and in a manner focused on the general interest of the people and that you will put that will of the people into action four years long.
“But you did not get here alone, you were elected into this role as parliamentarian via a political party. You formed part of a greater whole, a team a support system. That support system can help guide your decision making and ease the task upon your shoulders. This is where you start to see some of the balance mentioned earlier. Your individual vote, your free mandate as a Parliamentarian and the political party via which you were elected to Parliament. Your individual and collective responsibility of deciding in matters concerning individuals and groups, big business and small business, employer and employee, laws and liberties and the like. Finding the delicate balance of all of these.
“So elected members of Parliament, do not take your role lightly, because it is not one to take lightly. You have been entrusted with an enormous weight on your shoulders an enormous responsibility and we, the people of Sint Maarten will be watching your movement and non movement, motivation and silence, your decision and non decision, your presence and absence, whilst counting on you to, to the best of your ability, carry out and exercise this delicate act of balance with the lives and future of the people of our country.
“Sounds like quite a daunting task, right? Well, it is, but in addition to the support system I mentioned earlier, you also have guidelines as an aid in your task.
Those guidelines stand on the tip of that point, you have to balance on, and are worded in the very oath you are about to take. Four fundamental guidelines:
- The Rule of Law; and
- The general interest of the people of St. Maarten.
“I swear (declare) that I have not given or promised anything to anyone whosoever, directly or indirectly, under any name or pretext whatsoever, in connection with me being elected as a Member of Parliament, nor shall I do so.
I swear (promise), that I shall not accept any pledge or gift of any description from any person whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in order to take or refrain from any action of any description in this position. Integrity.
I swear (promise) my loyalty to the King and the Charter for the Kingdom; Allegiance.
that I shall always help to uphold the Constitution of Sint Maarten
The Rule of Law.
and shall promote the well-being of Sint Maarten to the best of my ability.
The general interest of the people of Sint Maarten.
“As I now proceed to invite you forward to take the oath, the final step required in order for you to be able to carry out your function as member of Parliament and in closing, if you remember nothing else that has been said this morning, remember the following:
Although to politicians it may seem to always be about politics, politicking is not the end goal. The end goal is the prosperity of the people of St. Maarten and serving the people of this country.
“It is said that health does not always come from medicine; most of the time it comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart and peace in the soul. It comes from laughter and love. And to that I say:
Stability does not always come from Electoral reform; most of the time it comes from people in Parliament, people in Government, people in general. It comes from integrity and love of St. Maarten and its people. Congratulations once more to each and every one of you. Let us begin,” His Excellency Governor of Sint Maarten Ajamu Baly concludes.