PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister William Marlin announced on Wednesday that the amendments that have to be made to St. Maarten’s constitution were sent to the parliament of St. Maarten for the house to schedule a meeting to debate it. The amendment is aimed at curtailing ship-jumping.
Marlin said he does not know if the Parliament of St. Maarten will debate and vote on the issue in the September 26th elections. He said in order for that amendment to be legal the government would need a two-thirds majority in the parliament (10 votes) before it is accepted. Another point Marlin raised on this topic he said that even if all 15 MPs on St. Maarten votes in favor of an amendment, the Kingdom Council of Ministers would still have to adopt it and if they don’t then St. Maarten cannot make use of the amendment.
The Prime Minister said since the negative advice St. Maarten got from the Kingdom Council there have been some teleconference meetings held between the legal arms of the Kingdom and St. Maarten to trash out the issue.
The Prime Minister made clear that the Kingdom cannot apply their rules on St. Maarten when it comes to changing certain parts of the constitution. He said that the Kingdom Council has to take St. Maarten’s reality into consideration when it comes to the problems the country is facing.
He also mentioned that the Council of Advice on St. Maarten had raised some concerns about the electoral reform process.
Another piece of legislation that was sent to the Parliament of St. Maarten is the voting rights of students studying in the Netherlands. Marlin further explained that this has become a hot topic because several persons expressed their concerns and felt that there is some kind of segregation. He said persons that are from St. Maarten and living in the BES islands are also complaining while persons that are ill and is off-island for medical treatment feel they too have the right to vote if they are overseas for medical reasons. Marlin said some years ago St. Maarten got rid of the voting by proxy for good reasons and they do not want to re-introduce that system again. He said that students that are in the Netherlands are not living in the Netherlands by choice, they left the island to study there and as such, they do need to have a say in their country since at some point they will return back to their homeland to live and work.