Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel
PHILIPSBURG–National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel voiced his discontent about the 2015 draft budget being presented to Parliament in Dutch. He has “mixed feelings” about handling the budget, because he does not know the budget’s content.
The majority of the country speaks English, the first-term MP said in the Central Committee meeting of Parliament dealing with the budget in Parliament House on Thursday. He had stated his problem with the language first during the notices segment at the start of the meeting. He had refused to sign for his budget package, because the budget is in Dutch, a language he does not read.
Emmanuel continued on the topic of the budget being in Dutch when it was his turn to speak on the budget on Thursday afternoon.
He even questioned why he was receiving a salary as an MP when he cannot read the budget. “I can’t explain the budget … It sets me back … Why am I being paid … I can’t function.”
English is one of the two official languages of the country. It is listed as such in the Constitution, Emmanuel pointed out. By having the budget only in Dutch was an affront to democracy, he said.
The budget is always presented in Dutch to Parliament since its inception in October 2010 and in the former Island Council.
St. Maarten, as part of the Dutch Kingdom, conducts much of its government and judicial business in Dutch. The laws of the country are all in Dutch. Where English translations of laws exist, as with the more than 30 organic laws, a note tagged saying if a conflict arises, the Dutch version is the main one.
Meanwhile, knowledge of the Dutch language is critical for people who want to become naturalized Dutch. Candidates for naturalisation must pass nine examinations, of which four are in Dutch – reading, writing, speaking and listening. – The Daily Herald