Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- Leader of the PLP, Rechelline Leerdam, has sent out a press release in response to an article on newssite www.koninkrijk.nu quoting Dutch MP Ronald van Raak. Van Raak said, in response to the PLP’s electoral win, that he thought it was best if a referendum were to be held to determine if the residents of the island would also vote for Independence.
“We must take the results of the elections on St. Eustatius seriously,” said Van Raak. “After the intervention of the Netherlands because of corruption and mismanagement, we have with many people and resources tried to rebuild the island and to gain the confidence of the population. The results of these elections show that this has failed. A majority of the population wants to go back to the old political situation”.
According to Van Raak, this all meant it would be best to organize a referendum on St. Eustatius, to establish if the population would really prefer to become independent.
Leerdam said in response to Van Raak’s comments, that she was surprised that these were the first comments from the Socialist Party’s MP. “I was hoping for a more positive reaction as the people exercised their right to vote, in spite of the fact Statia will not receive their full democracy, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Leerdam also said she was more worried about what the new Island Council would be confronted with after what she called ‘a lack of transparency since the takeover’.
“Since the takeover, no one knows what transpired in Government as there is no Island Council, no Governor, no CFT, and no Kingdom Representative. All the checks and balances were removed. The real question will be what economic, financial, and legislative realities the incoming Island
Council will be faced with as they sit on October 29th 2020″.
Leerdam also pointed out that, while the population had in various instances indicated a wish for more autonomy for the island, there were no indications that Independence was the wish of the people.
“We have never championed Independence, we have always championed what our people have been requesting since 2005, an Autonomous relationship with the Hague. For us to be self-governing, for us to decide what is best for Statia and for us to determine the direction of Statia. Not as it is currently being done by persons who do not know our culture, norms and values, but together (Statia representatives along with the Dutch). The Dutch may mean well, but what works for Holland will not always work for Statia”, said Leerdam in her statement.
The PLP Party leader said she would want to say to Van Raak that a new era has begun. “I would like to say to Van Raak, we have begun a new era. PLP has shown, despite what took place in 2018, that we are ready to work towards the restoration of Democracy which was wrongfully taken away”.
Leerdam said she also wanted to invite Van Raak to show good faith to the people of Statia and start with Dialogue, speak to their Representatives, speak to the People of Statia.”Going based on assumptions did not work in 2018 and we expect in 2020 that will not be the norm of the day. Not having dialogue is not a good way to start and this continues the narrative of The Hague deciding what they think we want, but is not giving us the opportunity to decide what We Need”, Leerdam stated.
“We are ready to sit with you and all other officials in The Hague to express the needs and wishes of the People of Statia, with mutual respect and positive dialogue as we present our plans, ideas and goals for a sustainable Statia. Let’s Start this New Era together”, according to Leerdam.
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