SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “As an independent faction, I would like to share with the People of St. Maarten the reasons for the recent shake up that I, Franklin Meyers, caused. It was not an easy decision and one that I pondered seriously for many months,” Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Franklin Meyers said in a press statemen on Wednesday.
“It is for some time now that I constantly caught myself feeling frustrated about how the political process of our beloved Country was unfolding. This frustration was not unique to me. Prior to making the move to declare myself independent it was clear, after having talks with coalition members, that not only the most loyal coalition member, the SMCP, but also other coalition members shared this frustration perhaps for different reasons.
“I have had the honour to serve St. Maarten for a very long time, both before and after 10-10-10. Since entering politics I have had the privilege of enjoying great mentoring by some of the most seasoned professionals, most importantly my political guru Joe Richardson, who I miss dearly at times like this. The frustration that I have felt for months became so dominant in my life, that I found myself disengaged with politics.
“Looking around me how things unfolded, when push came to shove, I found myself in a position having to defend Government policies that, in the beginning, I was reluctant to agree with. However, for the greater good and for the general wellbeing of St.Maarten and its’ People, I put my personal feelings and convictions aside so that St.Maarten could receive the much needed financial aid after the passing of hurricane Irma (which left us totally devastated).
“I am also aware of the frustration of my colleagues in the coalition concerning the directives of the coalition agreement, which had not changed, and as such we preferred to blame Ministers rather than, as a united front, accept responsibility for having been misled. This is one part of what lead to my inevitable withdrawal. I can assure the People of St.Maarten that, had it not been me, it would have been someone else. I could not stand by and see a concerted effort by members of the coalition as well as opposition trying to “pick-off” Ministers, one by one, until the COM would have not represented the coalition, rather it would reflect individual members of Parliament. This would have set a dangerous precedent.
“There are some MP’s whose intentions are good, emphasis on some, but because of a lack of political mentoring, in which I was lucky to have received from some of the most seasoned politicians who had governed before me, decisions were made without taking the larger political ramifications into consideration. Because of these actions we were faced with a lack of cohesion, communication and common goal.
“Let us be reminded that Article 56 of our Constitution, states that members of the Parliament shall make the following oath (declaration and promise) to the Governor before accepting their appointments: "I swear (declare) that I have neither given nor promised anything, nor shall I give or promise anything, howsoever described and under any pretext, to anyone whomsoever, either directly or indirectly, in connection with my election as a member of the Parliament. I swear (promise) that I shall not accept any promise or gift, from anyone at all, either directly or indirectly, in order to do or refrain from doing anything in the course of this appointment. I swear (promise) allegiance to the King and the Constitution of the Kingdom, that I shall always help to uphold the Constitution of Sint Maarten and that I shall champion the interests of Sint Maarten to the best of my ability. So help me Almighty God (And I hereby make this declaration and promise)!" This is a serious commitment one which I take to heart.
“This is the environment in which I found myself when coming to my decision.
“In addition to this I have to confess that hurricane Dorian triggered something in me. Everyone knows that while I can be passionate, I am not easily moved but now two years after Irma, as I witnessed the devastation that our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas had to suffer, this hit home. Dorian slammed them for hours, families left homeless, and countless unaccounted for. This was frightening. Frightening, in the realisation that this could have been us, AGAIN, and that we are nowhere ready to deal with such a calamity. I asked myself, if this would have been us, would we be able to stand up and muster, once again, the resilience that I am so proud we are able to show time and time again. I reflected on the current political environment and I got even more concerned. The current political environment cannot handle another blow like Irma. I considered the stage we are in with the reconstruction and the need to speed that up, and realised that we would be no better off than the Bahamas should we get struck again.
“I also looked at the potential impact of some of geo-political trends on our economy and our stability as a Country and concluded we are not addressing them to mitigate any impact. Let me share a few of these considerations with you:
- The threat of being blacklisted if we do not comply with OECD and CFATF guidelines and the impact de-risking will have on our tourism product, our ability as a country to be a trading hub, let alone be a trading partner with the rest of the world. While we are promoting US pre -clearance for hub connectivity throughout the World, on the one hand, we are cutting off ourselves from the rest of the World due to us not taking a decision to comply with the guidelines set forth by the CFATF.
- The impact of migration from Venezuela on our socio-economic construct;
- Brexit and the yet unknown impact for our brothers and sisters in Anguilla;
- The much-needed intensification of relationships with our brothers and sisters on the Northern Part of our island to achieve synergy;
“These are just some current geo-political challenges we are not looking at. We should be thinking about them and get a good understanding so that we can protect the interests of St.Maarten and mitigate the impact. Instead we go about picking petty local fights for selfish or grandstanding reasons, blaming everybody else and not taking our own responsibility where we can, whilst the World moves on and potentially leaves us behind. The St.Maarten I once knew, and still believe exists, was always at the leading edge of new frontiers and we were not afraid to boldly explore those possibilities so that the general population could have a better life. We voice great ambitions for our Country, but as we are handling things now, we are falling short of that very goal in which we want to achieve for the People.
“I found myself in a setting where the language used in political debate is divisive, unconstructive, negative, demeaning, and where defamation of character was the new order of the day. There was no regard or respect for the truth in the highest body of Government, leadership was not being acknowledged, let alone respected, and too many people wanting to go in their own direction. This is played out in Parliament by grandstanding individuals with a great feeling of self-importance but lacking self-reflection and thinking through the consequences of their actions. The norm no longer seemed to be the pursuit of the interest of the Country and the People we represent. This manifested into a rudderless coalition, with a total absence of cohesion and unity within, worst of all, blatant sabotage for all the wrong reasons.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is a quote which is attributed to Albert Einstein and is applicable to the rationale for what I did and when I did it. For months, over and over again, together with some others in the coalition members, I attempted to charter and pursue a cohesive and unified course, and over and over again we found ourselves startled by badly-timed, and unconstructive surprise actions.
“So after long reflection, sleepless nights, seeking inspiration in the teachings of Joe, soul searching and seeking solace from God, I decided this insanity needed to stop. Martin Luther King Jr. once said and I quote “there comes a time that one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, no popular but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right”. That was the decision that I took!
“In the past, when any other Member of Parliament made a decision to withdraw their support from the Government, a replacement Government was already negotiated. My actions had nothing to do with forming another Government or trying to use my position as a power move. Rather, it was to take a stance for what I believe is right. We were heading down the wrong path, with the wrong intentions and as such I could not continue to follow. In the end, I decided I needed a different approach, and as the saying goes, I preferred to walk alone than walk with a crowd, going in the wrong direction, a conviction in which I maintain to this day.
“My decision may have come as a shock to many, but the insanity had to stop! We need to start doing things differently in order to achieve a different result and to bring about the desperately needed direction for this Country. Hopefully my decision will force the realisation of the negative environment we have created for ourselves, and jumpstart the fostering of a positive mind-set, and a can-do mentality, to contribute to the much-needed continuity of governance, cohesion and unity.
“There’s a saying “you did nothing to be a shamed of” and my reply to that is, “I’m ashamed because I did nothing”. I am at peace with my conscience, knowing that I did what I had to do, after ample reflection, and did so with integrity and best intentions to make a final attempt, from my side, for the Country to go forward on a more stable basis in the best interest of our sweet St.Maarten land and its’ People because, we deserve that!”