On Monday October 8th in celebration of Constitution Day, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin along with His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday and The Council of Ministers attended church service at the Roman Catholic Church in Philipsburg. Annually, Constitution Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October, in honor of October 10th 2010 when Sint Maarten became a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
During the church service Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin was granted the opportunity to address those that were in attendance.
“On this 8th anniversary of Sint Maarten acquiring its status as a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. I ask you the community of Sint Maarten to reflect on how far we have come and how much we have grown as a country responsible for its own future. Are we truly a country?
The political analyst and scholar Julio Romney defined our status as a Constituent State of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In his book, Mr Romney defines our status as a territory that is part of a larger political entity or sovereign state, but which holds administrative jurisdiction or autonomy over its defined geographic area.
Today October 8th 2018 as we celebrate and reflect on 10 10 10 we must ask ourselves are we truly exercising the autonomy as defined in our status? Are we taking the responsibility necessary to uphold and maintain the institutions and organs established on 10 10 10.
As Prime Minister, I must say that the task of defending our autonomy as a Constituent State is not an easy one. The growing pains are evident as internal and external forces continue to challenge our autonomy and only as a collective can we fight to maintain what we have achieved.
Our Constitution is the foundation on which the constituent state Sint Maarten stands. In the preamble of our Constitution it states "we the people of Sint Maarten declare that we are a people that believe in the principle of democracy, the rule of law, the principle of the segregation of powers, the dignity and value of the individual, the entitlement of all persons to the fundamental rights and freedoms."
By reminding you of this declaration, I hope to inspire you to continue to persevere individually and collectively as we journey on the road to recovery with the rebuilding and redeveloping our nation. The Government of Sint Maarten is well aware that the recovery is moving slowly but compared to others around us I can state here confidently we are miles ahead. We are poised for
a full recovery but it will not happen overnight Hurricane Irma knocked us down but she did not knock us out.
Strong, Better, Resilient are all words that have been used to describe Sint Maarten over the past year. We must embrace these words and keep our eyes on the prize.
Now is not the time to lose focus, in fact now is the time for us to remain steadfast as the high season of our tourism based economy is on the horizon.
Now is the time for our businesses and frontline ambassadors to ensure that our guests experience an enjoyable, top notch and unforgettable stay when they arrive to our shores.
Now is the time for our educators to continue to equip our students with the best education to ensure that the next generation takes the baton and builds on the current foundation to elevate this country to the next level.
Now is the time for our law enforcement agencies to act with strength and swiftness to create and maintain a secure environment in which citizens and guests alike can truly feel secure whether at the beach or driving on our roads.
Now is not a time for tearing down but it’s a time for building up. Now is the time to protect and build on the institutions and processes that work and correct and adjust those that are failing.
Now is a time for all of us to stand tall, take the responsibility assigned to us in whichever capacity it may be and act with integrity to ensure a brighter future for Sint Maarten.
As the political climate intensifies and discussions of independence or any other political status arise we must be reminded that it’s the people that chose the current status and only the people of Sint Maarten can decide any future change.
In conclusion, I wish each one of you a wonderful Constitution Day.
May God bless Sint Maarten.
Photo 1 – Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin addressing the gathering at the Catholic Church on Constitution Day 2018