HARBOUR VIEW – His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday delivered the following speech to incoming parliamentarians who were sworn in on Friday, October 10, 2014 for the governing period 2014-2018.
Members of Parliament elect,
President of the Collectivité of Sint Maarten
Ladies and gentlemen,
And to all the people of Sint Maarten I am pleased to extend congratulations to you and to wish you a happy anniversary on this our 4th Constitution Day.
It is also my pleasure to welcome you to this oath of office ceremony and more in particular I extend a special welcome to the 15 elected parliamentarians seated alphabetically on my left and on my right for whom this ceremony has been organized.Congratulations to each of you with your election to parliament. You will in a few minutes take the oath required for holding the office as a member of parliament. But before doing so I shall share some words with you on the cornerstones of your mandate as parliamentarians.
On August 29th, 2014, the people of Sint Maarten in an expression of their will went to the polls and casted their votes to elect 15 members of Parliament. We are in keeping with the provisions of our constitution, gathered here at this hillside location overlooking our nation’s capital, to effect the expressed will of our people. That is to administer the oath of office for the elected members of Parliament who have been elected to serve in the 2nd term of Parliament. According to article 56 of our constitution members of Parliament shall take an oath or promise before the Governor prior to accepting their function; that is before accepting their function as representatives of the people of Sint Maarten. The end of this formal oath of office ceremony will thus mark the beginning of the term of office of the 15 of you present here this morning. In taking your oath of office this morning you agree to accept the serious responsibility to carry out the will of our people. That is you have agreed to serve for and in the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. That means that you have accepted the responsibility to contribute to the good governance of Sint Maarten in the following ways:
- First, by lending your support and confidence to the government to allow for the management of the affairs of our people;
- Second, by holding that same government accountable for their decisions and actions; and
- Third, by initiating and/or approving the laws that govern the affairs of our people.
As such you have a central and critical role to play in fostering good governance on Sint Maarten with due observance of the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the principle of the separation of powers, the dignity and value of the individual and the entitlement of all individuals to the fundamental rights and freedoms, as anchored in the preamble of our constitution.
Members of parliament elect, these important principles are the foundations on which the constitutional order and governance of our people are based. They are intended to foster and ensure that we are governed freely, honestly, fairly, justly and respectfully in the pursuit of the building of our nation. In other words they are the cornerstones for your mandate as representative of our people.
It should be clear that your individual and collective mandate comes with expectations, high expectations. And it is no secret that there are questions among our people in regard to the commitment of parliamentarians. To meet the high expectations and discard questions about your commitment you must have high expectations of yourselves. The law acknowledges that and as a result requires that parliamentarians must take an oath. It is against the background of that legal provision that you are here today. Taking an oath or making a pledge as a representative of the people is therefore a serious legal but also personal and public matter.
In that regard I will like to call your attention to the four aspects as stipulated in the oath, which you are about to take. Accepting the function of parliamentarian through the taking of the oath is:
- First, your solemn expression of your commitment to perform your function independently and with integrity, that is that you have not accepted anything from or given anything to anyone in connection with your election as a member of parliament;
- Second, taking the oath is your pledge of allegiance to the King and the Kingdom Charter;
- Third, taking the oath is your sincere pledge or promise to always uphold the Constitution of Sint Maarten; and
- And finally, by taking the oath you unconditionally swear to always dedicate yourself to foster the wellbeing of the people of Sint Maarten.
In taking this solemn oath you accept and agree to our constitutional principles as the cornerstone of your mandate as representatives of the people of Sint Maarten. In that regard there rests on you individually as members of parliament and collectively as the Parliament of Sint Maarten a great responsibility to represent and serve the general interest of our people and meet the high expectations that come with the function which you are about to fulfill. I therefore recommend that you use the oath as a guide in the performance of your function to fulfill your mandate aimed at addressing, among others, the education, employment, health care, cost of living, housing, and crime challenges which our people face. And I trust that in doing so, that you will embrace our constitutional principles and that you will act with purpose but with reflection, courageously but with due thoughtfulness, deliberately but prudently, self-reliant but with compassion, working together with honor and respect to continue to build this our beloved nation Sint Maarten.
With that trust, I hereby conclude by wishing you strength and wisdom as you work to meet the high expectations of your function, to help realize the quality of governance necessary to address the challenges faced by and thus improve the wellbeing of our people.
Thank you, God bless you and God bless Sint Maarten. It is with these words of faith in God’s guidance over our Country that I hereby invite you to take your oath.