Our constitution is our foundation and
framework upon which we have built our lives and our very existence as a
constituent state within the Kingdom some 11 years ago. A step that saw St.
Maarten embark on a journey of self-determination - Fighting for the right to
self-govern, with a vision, hopes, and dreams of being a nation of people with
a strong identity, a sense of belonging and accountability for our own success.
Greetings to you, People of St. Maarten, both
here at home and those working and studying abroad. It is an honor to address
you today on the 11th Anniversary of Constitution Day right here on St. Maarten.
I congratulate you, the people of St.
Maarten, its Parliament, High Councils, government apparatus, civil servants as
well as civil society doing all you can on your effort to build a stable and
sustainable country. We have come quite far, but we have very far to go. It is
upon this foundation that we continue to build. The agreement of 10-10-10 is a
historic achievement; the achievement of a status that reflects the legitimate
will of the people of St. Maarten and with those dreams and hopes of a better
tomorrow. We honor those who had the vision to get us to where we are today.
This 11th anniversary has been themed “Building our Nation and Investing in Our
Future.” We know that we are now at a crossroads to which building our
nation is crucial for our long-term sustainability, and in doing so, each
crucial step we take now is and should be, a great investment in our future.
Nation Building is a key factor as we gain
more and more autonomy. To build this Nation, it starts with how we identify
with our country and how much we see ourselves as key factors for St. Maarten’s
success. We must all buy into the idea and work hard to achieve this vision for
a St. Maarten where all her people recognize their potential for greatness, are
determined in their resolve and decisiveness and disciplined in the execution
of the many tasks ahead. With all hands on deck working towards the same goal,
we can become a prosperous and financially independent nation. It will require
an investment in all the people. It will require an investment in time, in knowledge
about self, about country, and our history, coupled with awareness of the
potential of each and every woman, man, boy and girl to make a positive change
in St. Maarten. Wherever you are, you can be the difference.
The month of October gives us many reminders
of how we must invest in our people. On October 1st, we celebrated
the international day of Older persons, the elders of our nation under the
theme “Digital Equity for all ages.”
This allows them, our elders who we honor, to stay in contact and have
meaningful participation in an ever-changing digital world, where sometimes
physical contact is not possible, at least being able to do so digitally will
keep our elders thriving as well.
On October 5th, we are reminded to
appreciate teachers for their unwavering contribution to helping form our
future; helping form the future of the world by molding our young ones under
the theme, “Teachers at the heart of the education
recovery.” I think any parent today, would know and understand, especially
during these trying times, how important our teachers are.
So, as we sit here and now, honoring our
elders and nurturing our youngsters, we must give all those that fall in
between every opportunity to be their best selves as they are the ones carrying
the load for both our upline and the downline.
However, it would be naïve of us not to
acknowledge that all the challenges that may make this vision seem far from
attainable, such as our aging infrastructure, our sole reliance on tourism, and
our susceptibility to external shocks, government’s liquidity position and
insufficient human capital also play a role. We cannot ignore these facts, but
as we work together through these challenges, one thing that has been crucial
to our steady growth, has been the understanding that building a nation is not
a one-man job and it is not just the responsibility of a select few. It will
require all of us engaging the people we are sworn to serve, engaging the youth
in schools and neighborhoods, and CSO/NGOs and so many others who are quietly
making their contribution felt and quietly making it happen. As we continue to
build our nation, we must remain open to learning, open to seeing other perspectives,
open to innovation, open to change and therefore to growth.
Beyond this 11th year, we must remain on the
trajectory to continue to improve our way of life. The future of St. Maarten
involves everyone. The constitution is not just for the bureaucratic few, it is
for all of us. This document provides the essential framework for our
government of, by, and for the people. I encourage each citizen of St. Maarten
to familiarize yourselves and become versed with our constitution. Let it
remain a part of our dialogue on a daily basis as we continue to develop our
Ladies and Gentlemen, people of St. Maarten,
today, I leave you with this message. There is a lot of work to be done with
regards to building this nation and safeguarding our future. We’ve faced
challenges, like every other nation, however, we continue to endure, we
continue to grow and we continue to strive. These challenges are not unlikely
for any country in our developmental stage. However, the challenges of late,
have shown that our capacity for resilience, our determination to unite, and
our immeasurable potential will get us there. This quote “A journey of a million miles, starts with a single step.” is one
we can all take to heart. Let’s take the next steps together to realize the rights
as have been set forth in our constitution.
As we are a country that has prided ourselves
on ‘always moving forward,’ this is where I expect the focus
our people on St. Maarten to remain; that whatever we are doing today, ensures
the next generation will have a prosperous future.
Learn from the
past, plan for the future, but plant your feet firmly in the here and now,
living fully today, doing the best that we can with what we have for ourselves,
for our families, for our St. Maarten.
Constitutional Day St. Maarten – Building our Nation Investing in our Future.