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Dr. Nilda Arduin, 2004
Both the Former Prime Ministers Conference entitled "Looking Back to Move Forward" held in the week-end and the "Open invitation for a public debate to Dr. Nilda Arduin" extended by Drs. Leopold James through the media at the end of last week, prompted me to write an epilogue on my five part series (the last part divided in A and B), which briefly analyzed the past fifty years of the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
I congratulate the organizers of the Conference, island council woman Drs. Gracita Arrindell, the students of the International School and the Board of the Association for Public and Administrative law of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, for putting the event together. There are valuable lessons to be learned from the past, even when mistakes may have been made.
"Looking Back to Move Forward" planted a seed for continued deliberation and discussion. Having "free agents" like ex-Prime Minister Don Martina, as he labeled himself, on the panel, enhanced openness and freedom in the presentations at the Conference. The "Democratic deficit" mentioned by Don Martina and Suzy Camelia-Roumer, as well as "the kingdom rights of the people" provided for by the Charter, but in the opinion of the last mentioned Prime Minister not applied to the common interest of all Dutch citizens of the kingdom, underscored my conclusion, that the Charter has not yielded the results that it set out to achieve.
I would like to encourage the organizers to invite the three most senior ex-Prime Ministers Don Martina, Miguel Pourier, and Mrs. Maria Liberia-Peters, to further elaborate on the last question posed from the floor regarding actions taken during their tenure, if applicable, to comply -where needed -with the recommendations offered in the Maydays report of 1970. All in the spirit of evaluating the past for posterity, and as an exercise to determine how we could move forward.
"Government and Corporate Governance", "Ys age" and "Can Higher Supervision enhance values of Self-determination and Emancipation of a Nation?" all presented some thought-provoking arguments. The outline of last mentioned topic, presented as a question by Mrs. Maria Liberia-Peters, highlighted our own (i.e. Antillean) lack of interaction, trust, and believing in each other as partners in the Caribbean part of the kingdom.
In the opening of this article, I mentioned the Open invitation to a public debate to my person as one of the two reasons for writing this epilogue. While I am indeed very pleased to note that the series of essays triggered reaction and a reason for further debate, which is one of the objectives of any scientific analyses, I have to decline the invitation extended by Drs. Leopold James, President of the St. Maarten Nation Building Foundation (SNBF) for the mere reason that the forum of a debate is to argue opposing positions and views.
I refer to article "The St. Maarten nation building series: In preparation of defining the St. Martiner" by Drs. James, published on page 31 of The Daily Herald, Tuesday June 1, 2004. Mr. James stated in mentioned article that the considerations of the SNBF relative to the term "St. Martiner" is not from a legal constitutional aspect, but rather from a combination of socio-cultural, historical, anthropological, and other non-legal aspects, while the definition sited in my article referred to by Drs. James, is constitutional, as established in art. 6 of Island Ordinance Referendum Constitutional Future Sint Maarten.
Though it is indeed pragmatic that the same interpretation is given to certain terms within the society, it should be clear that the legal interpretation of terms are specific and oftentimes differ from the use in daily life. Engaging in a debate on the different interpretations as stated above will be doing that what Mr. James set out to avoid by his abovementioned article, namely "...people..." disagreeing fanatically with each other, while the possibility might exist that if the same interpretations of the terms involved had been applied, who knows, they might have shared exact the same opinion".
I would be the last to deny the native St. Martiner his existence, and could not agree more with Mr. James that the indigenous St. Martiners have the right to pride and dignity, and the first preference to every aspect of the development taking place on their island. Reason why in a previous series of essays entitled "Nation Building", written by me and published in the latter part of 1999 in our local daily newspapers, I called upon the indigenous St. Martiners to take the lead in preparing the nation for the future. The people of Sint Maarten were at that time preparing for the Referendum of June 2000 (See www.burofocus.com for a review of the "Nation Building" series of articles).
In the essay series Fifty Years "Statuut", mentioned by Drs. James, in dealing with the topic on "Population" (see Today Newspaper dated May 31, 2004 and The Daily Herald dated June 1, 2004), I suggested that -apart from others- we look in the direction of the Sint Maarten Nation Building Foundation to further the discussion pertaining to our identity and coordinate efforts with regards to nation building.
Concepts such as "the people" are not static, but ever evolving as time goes by, while the fact remains that by international constitutional law the people of Sint Maarten, by means of their elected representatives at this point and time gave contents and definition to the term "the people".
"The people" of Sint Maarten, which includes the indigenous people of Sint Maarten, continue to have the right of self-determination, and as such the right to redefine "the people", until according to international constitutional law it has exercised its right to become an independent sovereign country.
Until recently an "Antillean" was considered to be a person of Dutch nationality, born in the Netherlands Antilles or lived in the Netherlands Antilles for a period of ten years or more. That interpretation in my opinion no longer holds, since the revision of the Kingdom law on Dutch citizenship, as well as the fact that there are no longer any limitations set forth by law for Dutch nationals to establish within the Antilles.