Saba residents most positive about constitutional change

Saba is the most positive island in the Caribbean Netherlands about the changes following October 10, 2010, according to the results of an opinion survey held on all three islands by Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies KITLV.

Between Bonaire (63 per cent), St. Eustatius (51 per cent) and Saba (73 per cent), Saba had the highest percentage of participation in this survey, which focused on six points: constitutional status; relationship with the Netherlands; Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN; local politics; identity and media.

KITLV researcher Wouter Veenendaal presenting the research results at Eugenius Johnson Centre in Windwardside.
(Caribisch Netwerk/Hazel Durand photo)

The research showed that although most participants said they see improvements in education and healthcare on their islands as a result of more investments by the Dutch government, there are many areas where the system is failing, mainly where purchasing power is concerned.

“The participants indicated their satisfaction with the money that has been invested in education and healthcare, but they pointed out the areas that are lacking attention. Therefore, clearly something is not right. We hope to show Dutch politicians that it is not just about the money. Policy makers need to understand this. We have the feeling that the Dutch politicians do want to know what is going on,” said Professor Gert Oostindie, according to Caribisch Netwerk.

The majority of participants on all three islands said they felt that Dutch politicians have no respect for local culture. A majority said they feel that Dutch politicians do not know much about their islands.

“The feeling that we are worlds apart is as strong today as in 1998 when the last survey of this nature was conducted,” Oostindie was quoted as saying.

In contrast, the majority of participants on all three islands said they feel it is a good thing that the islands have Dutch supervision.

On Saba and Bonaire, participants were optimistic about an improvement of the relationship between their islands and the Netherlands over the next two years, while Statia was the most negative about this.

While most respondents said it is good that the Dutch Government is represented by local RCN offices, a large percentage did not immediately know what RCN was. It was also deemed “alarming” that a majority of participants on all three islands did not know that Gilbert Isabella is the Dutch Government’s Representative.

Saba is the most positive about local politics, with a mere 32.9 percentage rate. Bonaireans said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with local politics, while a majority on Statia said they were dissatisfied.

Moreover, a majority on all three islands said they do not trust their local politicians. It was noted that many persons expressed their “anger” with their local politicians. They, therefore, refused to participate in the survey.

On the issue of migration, most Bonaireans feel there are too many Dutch immigrants on their island, while a majority of Sabans and Statians think the opposite. Overall, all three islands are of the opinion that there are too many immigrants on their island.

The next step in the survey is to compare the results with other islands. Unlike the recent evaluation report, this survey was carried out independently for academic research and funded by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO.

The Daily Herald.

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