photo: Today

PHILIPSBURG – Yesterday morning a petition called: “Vote of NO confidence for William Marlin Cabinet” was started on the online petitioning website

“In the current wake of the catastrophic hurricane Irma, we St. Maarten are sick and tired of the current incompetent government not doing their job…” states the first line in the petitions description.

Not enough action
“I started this petition because I am frustrated about the slow pace government is moving in a time of desperate need.” Kevin Spronk, one of the persons who started the petition says.

It took the St. Maarten government over 48 hours to declare state of emergency after hurricane Irma hit St. Maarten, which delayed aid and military assistance.

“If government had secured the major businesses on the island and thus had not encouraged the aftermath of looters, our businesses would have bounced back much faster and thousands of people would not have lost their jobs,” Nisha Khatnani, business owner on St. Maarten who signed the petition, explains.

“It is unfortunate how our government reacted after the hurricane. The business community on a whole felt betrayed,” says resident Sanjay Alwani.

Deadline for aid
“Please vote NO confidence in our government, so we can make way for the much-needed aid that the Dutch government wants to supply with only 2 conditions: integrity chamber, border control…” reads the petition further.

Last week Friday The Netherlands set the deadline at October 31, for St. Maarten government to agree to the two preconditions in order to receive reconstruction funds. The first condition is increasing border control via the ‘Koninklijke Marechaussee’ and the second is the implementation of the Integrity Chamber, with a few changes, which were not agreed upon beforehand. This includes allowing the Netherlands to appoint two members of the Chamber.

“It is beyond me why, if you campaigned on transparency & integrity, Marlin would not sign on the dotted line”, resident Barbara Dobson Platteel writes regarding the petition.

Politicizing a catastrophe
Marlin has stated his support for the integrity chamber in the past, but only if done on St. Maartens terms. “To link reconstruction aid to other issues is to unnecessarily politicize a catastrophe like Irma”, Prime Minister William Marlin expressed in his speech for St. Maartens Constitution Day.

Prime Minister Marlin has made no official statement regarding the set deadline as yet, as he is abroad until Friday.

24 hours later the petition gained 399 signatures.