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MP Heyliger-Marten clarifies Parliament’s approach towards decolonization

UP Faction Leader MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten UP Faction Leader MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a statement issued on November 9th, the Faction Leader of the UPP and Second Vice-Chair of Parliament, MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten responded to statements from the opposition parties in Parliament regarding the decolonization process. 

“In the first place”, MP Heyliger-Marten stated, “I would like to point out that, to a certain extent, I can understand the “confusion” that the UD and PFP factions are referring to. The right to self-determination, decolonization, and international law are not complicated topics, but they are very specialistic part of the law. It is not something that most citizens have to deal with on a daily basis. Even most lawyers are not versed in the topic. It took me weeks and months of reading academic research and other documentation, listening to experts, and doing additional research to get a grasp of it. Having started this process back in August of 2019, even I am still learning every day.”   

“The joint proposal with my colleague MP Solange Ludmila Duncan to establish a Permanent Committee on Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization was based this process. The proposal gives an extensive explanation of the tasks and objectives of the Permanent Committee, and I am happy that it was approved unanimously by Parliament.” According to Heyliger-Marten, this matter is crucial for Sint Maarten’s future, and should not be used for party politics. A such, she expressed thanks and appreciation for the cooperation of all parties in Parliament to have the establishment of the Permanent Committee approved during the Public Meeting of November 5th, 2020. 

The motion passed that same day, which was approved with twelve votes in favor and three against, was both a political affirmation of the Permanent Committee and a firm declaration by the representatives of the people of Sint Maarten to the global community -including the Government of the Netherlands- that they will make use of their right to self-determination to achieve a full measure of self-government as required by the United Nations. These rights, and the fact that they have neither been fully exercised by the people of Sint Maarten nor afforded to us by the Government of the Netherlands are not a matter of opinion that need to be debated, but a matter of legal fact. 

According to Heyliger-Marten, these rights and the process do not require “going back to the people for their approval”, since it is both a legal right of the people of Sint Maarten and a legal and sacred obligation of the Netherlands under article 73 of the UN Charter to provide them with these rights. 

“Both the Permanent Committee and the motion create the framework and pave the way for a long-term trajectory. Additionally, resolution four of the motion clearly mandates the Government of Sint Maarten to continue the negotiations for the third tranche of liquidity support with the Netherlands, once the outcome is in accordance with international law, and the interest of the people Sint Maarten are treated as paramount in the process”, Heyliger-Marten stated. 

“As explained in the proposal and motion great deal of the ground-work has been done, and we now have a golden opportunity to finalize unfinished business, correct legal wrongs, and create a better Sint Maarten for generations to come.”

“I was therefore surprised that the same MP’s who voted for the establishment of the Permanent Committee did not support the motion. Both documents have the same points of departure, namely the fact that the decolonization of the former Netherlands Antilles, including Sint Maarten, was never completed.  

The proof of this legal fact has been provided to Parliament months ago, and as legislators, we have the obligation to make sure we read and understand all documents at our disposal before making statements decisions.” Heyliger-Marten added that “you can’t be one foot in, and one foot out, especially not when it comes to matters of crucial importance like these”. 

“I am a firm believer in setting high goals and the five P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. And on the eve of Sint Maarten’s Day I am proud to say that the achievements of the people of Sint Maarten over de centuries give me all reasons to believe that this goal too, will be accomplished by us as a people”, MP Heyliger-Marten concluded.

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