Coalition and opposition butt heads over meeting procedure

POSTED: 01/26/12 11:53 AM

William Marlin: “What we’re doing here is not correct”

Chairman of the board of Foundation Administrative Office GEBE, which holds the shares on behalf of the governments of St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, Ralph Richardson listens to the discussions on the company he’d come prepared to participate in from the public tribune. Former Managing Director of Eastern Caribbean Cellular Jerry Sardine is also pictured.

St. Maarten – The National Alliance leader William Marlin has placed on record his faction’s disapproval with the way President of Parliament drs Gracita Arrindell in first instance attempted to go over to the second of a discussion on GEBE and then her decision to use article 48 of the Rules of Order to end the meeting. Subsection one of the article gives the chair that power if it is determined that MPs have no further comments on an agenda point. Subsection two of that same article also gives two MPs the power to request that a discussion be terminated.
The opposition’s protest is based on the fact that it requested, during the meeting, for Minister of Energy Affairs Theodore Heyliger to be summoned to parliament to participate in the discussions. This came after withdrawing a request for the shareholder representative to be present and then realizing that the minister is not the shareholder representative. The actual shareholder representative is the board of Foundation Administrative Office GEBE, which holds the shares on behalf of the governments of St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. The chairman of that foundation Ralph Richardson was ready to participate to discussions, but Marlin requested at the start of the meeting that he be excused because it was not his party’s intention to “enter a public discussion with the board.”
“We want the Minister of Energy Affairs to be here,” W. Marlin said.
After the first round of questions and the answers by Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications Franklin Meyers, Arrindell attempted to move to the second round, but Marlin, without citing a rule, said she could not because MPs had not received answers from Heyliger and that his faction had submitted a letter requesting the minister’s presence. Arrindell agreed that they’d submitted a letter in the course of the meeting but said the minister could not be called to parliament at that point. She also said that neither the minister nor his staff had taken note of the questions and thus would not be able to supply answers before suggesting that the National Alliance send a new letter specifically requesting that Heyliger come to parliament in another meeting.
Marlin was not accepting of the chair’s position and called for Arrindell to adjourn the meeting and have the secretariat prepare a report of questions to be sent to the minister so he could provide his responses when the discussion resumes. This proposal was supported by National Alliance MP Louie Laveist who urged the chair “to let impartiality be reflected” in her decision.
Democratic Party faction leader Roy Marlin “totally” supported Arrindell in her position and said his colleagues should be aware at all times “what organ they want present” during a discussion.
United People’s (UP) Party MP Jules James also supported Arrindell, who, by then, was proposing that if there were no additional questions for Meyers that the deliberation should be ended. W. Marlin was not in agreement in though.
“I want the records (minutes of meetings) that we never receive to reflect that what we’re doing here is not correct. The government has a responsibility to answer questions and the ministers don’t need to be present as parliament can prepare and send a report of questions,” W. Marlin said.

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