Published On: Thu, Oct 23rd, 2014

“They cannot set aside the Governor”

Governor2WILLEMSTAD – Curaçao and Sint Maarten will never succeed in putting the governor aside in the screening of the candidate ministers for the government of each island. This was stated by legal expert Ulli d’Oliveira and Aubrich Bakuis, PhD in Kingdom Law, in an interview with the Caribisch Netwerk (Caribbean Network).

"The governor is the Dutch government’s outpost to ensure good governance," said D'Oliveira.


The instruction, given by the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR) to Sint Maarten, which states that there should be a more rigorous screening of the new cabinet, is within the possibilities offered by the Charter of the Kingdom and the Regulations of the Governor, according to the two experts. The actions of the parliaments of Curaçao and Sint Maarten are, according to D'Oliveira, ridiculous.

Power play

Bakhuis calls it a constitutional power play that the Netherlands has told the governor to “only accept the new ministers after an independent screening was done with Dutch assistance”. It is legally right at the edge of the Statute what the Dutch government is doing. D' Oliveira thinks differently about this. He finds the actions of the RMR perfectly legitimate. “It is a misconception that the governor is a toothless tiger.”

At the same time, both experts note that the Netherlands is trying to avoid, by using these instructions, an intervention from their part on the government of Sint Maarten, through a Kingdom Order. The Dutch government feels the hot breath of the Lower House on its neck to apply a guarantee function. An instruction is therefore a milder form for the Netherlands to influence the results.


Parliamentarian Gert-Jan Segers (Christian Union) understands the decision of the RMR to give an instruction, but says: “It is painful that we have this kind of confrontation in the Kingdom because of this decision. Yet it is necessary if the integrity and fairness are at stake. These are the highest existing values. The Netherlands do not directly bear the brunt of it, but the people of St. Maarten do.”


To avoid loss of face for the Caribbean islands in the future, D'Oliveira sees a solution in the suggestion made by the public administration expert Oberon Nauta in a legal magazine: "He proposes for the governor to be at the meetings of the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean countries as much as possible. Formally, he is the chairman, but in practice he is rarely present. If he chairs the meetings and there are proposals that conflict with rules of integrity, the governor can intervene in privacy. That is less painful,” said D'Oliveira.


For Segers, the current developments show that there should be a court that can quickly solves disputes in the Kingdom. “That flaw avenges now. It is damaging that the countries have no possibility to appeal against decisions made. That should be really fixed in the 2015 evaluation.”

Not signing

Bakhouse is curious about what would happen if the governor decides not to sign a national decree and thereby submit it to the Kingdom Council of Ministers. “This will provoke the countries to seek for an assessment of the Council of State provoke on the legality of the decisions.”

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