Dutch send Supervisor Integrity and reinforcements to the island

POSTED: 10/2/14 11:28 PM

Debate about Kingdom Relations-budget in The Hague

THE HAGUE  – Assistance for the Public Prosecutor’s Office to fight white collar criminality,  border control under the supervision of the Netherlands and the appointment of a Supervisor Integrity. These are the three pillars of an action plan Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk announced yesterday in the debate about the budget for Kingdom Relations in the Second Chamber in The Hague.

Plasterk said during the debate that the situation in St. Maarten is humiliating. The PricewaterhouseCoopers integrity report shows that there is “rot on all layers.” The additional manpower the ministry will send to the prosecutor’s office will focus on corruption in politics and government.

The Supervisor Integrity will be able to do independent investigations and will function as a contact point for instance for whistleblowers.

The Netherlands will send more members of the Royal Marechaussee for border control and for combating drugs trafficking and illegal immigration.

The debate about the budget for Kingdom Relations began on time yesterday morning and all parliamentarians that were supposed to attend the meeting – the spokesmen and –women on the dossier for their respective parties – were present. Josianne Fleming-Artsen attended the meeting as a deputy Minister Plenipotentiary in the company of the director of the Minister Plenipotentiary’s cabinet, Perry Geerlings.

Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak was at the top of the speakers list and he basically repeated statements he made in a column this newspaper published on Tuesday. “Corruption is widespread in St. Maarten and there is every reason for an investigation into election fraud and the United People’s party,” Van Raak said. He also demanded an investigation of UP-leader Theo Heyliger. “I want an investigation that will be completed and brought to court.”

Van Raak repeated his call for an action plan against poverty on the islands and expressed his support for a future commonwealth construction. “Combating the mafia is the first thing I want,” Van Raak said after an interruption by Christian Union MP Gert-Jan Segers. “The ties with the islands are pressing; the countries are autonomous but the Netherlands is responsible for good governance. That is not working. A commonwealth could be the solution.”

“You want to combat poverty and at the same time you tell St. Maarten that they have to figure it out themselves,” Segers retorted. “I do not understand that.”

Van Raak maintained that St. Maarten must first put its house in order. “I do not want a situation whereby one country is responsible for the failures of another country. I am proud that the people in the islands want to belong to the Kingdom.”

Van Raak became slightly irritated when Roelof van Laar wondered who would manage the prosecutor’s office and who would take care of border control if St. Maarten decided to step out of the Kingdom. “Easy now,” Van Raak said. “I suggest that you go back to 2010 and take a good look in the mirror. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for the decision that you took to grant the island autonomy. But the ties we have with the island are centuries old and we will maintain them.”

VVD-MP André Bosman said he was not surprised about the content of the PWC-integrity report. “Important is what happens with this report,” he said. Bosman referred also to the integrity report of the Wit-Committee. “Ministers that fail to submit a declaration (about their side-activities – ed.), the harbor group of companies that looks bad because it did not cooperate, while there is more money going around there than in the national budget. Heyliger who has never been investigated.”

Bosman asked Minister Plasterk to give the prosecutor’s office an instruction to do this investigation. “The majority on that island is simply for sale,” he said. “I give St. Maarten until May 2015 to put its house in order. Otherwise we have to intervene.”

Wassila Hachchi (D66) noted that intervention is “the final instrument” and asked whether Minister Plasterk has done enough to keep things under control.

“That is a flaw in your thinking,” Bosman said. “The countries must do it themselves, the Netherlands has no say in their affairs.”

Hachchi pointed out that St. Maarten has been asking for support already a year ago. Bosman acknowledged the need to send assistance to the island. “But they need a broad mandate. Right now, the people we send have no maneuvering space. That is useless.”

Bosman said that he is a “progress-optimist” and that intervening too early is improper. With a reference to the recent elections he added, “The people in Sint Maarten have voted for these people.”

That triggered an intervention from Van Raak: “First you must have fair election. There has been massive vote buying going on and probably Members of Parliament have been bought as well. These elections were not fair.”

Bosman: “We have to be careful stepping into the role of the prosecutor’s office as politicians. The problem is that Heyliger has not been investigated. Autonomy stops when politicians make a mess of things.”

Bosman made clear that his party opposes the establishment of an independent institution for settling disputes between the countries in the Kingdom. “In such an institution St. Maarten would have one vote, Aruba two, Curacao three and the Netherlands 234,” he said. “The countries are not equal.”

Segers opposed this way of power political thinking. “It should not be that we are paying therefore we decide. The countries are entitled to a just assessment.”

Bosman stuck to his guns, saying that the interests of a country with 17 million citizens differ from those of a country with just 40,000.”

Bosman furthermore criticized the role of the board financial supervision Cft. “It is taking on a role that goes beyond its authority. The Cft is a supervisor, not a risk-analyst. If the Cft approves a loan (like the one Curacao obtained for the construction of a new hospital – ed.) the Netherlands has to subscribe to it.”

Peter Oskam (CDA) said that it is time for the Netherlands to also take a look in the mirror. “We are not always careful in the way we deal with the countries. He urged the Parliament to look at positive developments. “That is what we have to talk about,” he said.

Later Oskam admitted that St. Maarten has to be called on its shortcomings, but that there is a separation of powers and that the Netherlands also has to offer assistance.

Oskam noted that the evaluation committee that will assess the developments in the autonomous countries next year ought to be independent. He criticized the appointment of Liesbeth Spies, a former Minister of Kingdom Relations who has been deeply involved in executing 10-10-10, as the chair of this committee.

Roelof van Laar (PvdA) hammered on the undivided Dutch citizenship and on maximum autonomy for the islands. “The Netherlands has to side with the citizens,” he said. Van Laar asked when the minister would strengthen the prosecutor’s office in St. Maarten. “We have to know whether the elections were fair and the island needs help with integrity. Private interests of politicians are winning from good governance right now. The PWC-plan must be executed expeditiously. It is time for a big cleanup.”

Van Laar called for the establishment of a government of national unity and for St. Maarten to take the initiative.

Sietse Fritsma (PVV) repeated an old and well-known position of his party. The PVV would rather be rid of the islands today than tomorrow. “It is a banana republic, an endless prayer. There is large-scale corruption and that is unworthy for our country. The Dutch population is kept prisoner in ties with the Antilles, we are unable to leave and they are able to keep us in suspense forever.”

Fritsma lamented that the United Nations is saddling the Netherlands with all kinds of obligations towards the islands. “The cabinet is defending this, but you are able to change those articles. The Dutch population has lost its freedom to do something about this.”

Fritsma spoke of an “everlasting inheritance-debt” saying that the situation of today has nothing to do with events from the past. He labeled demands for slavery-reparation “scandalous demands.”

The PVV tabled an initiative law yesterday that must make it possible to deport criminal Antilleans. “Already now,” Fritsma said, “If you are shorter than three years in the Netherlands and you go to jail for one day, you can be deported.”

Wassila Hachchi wondered whether Fritsma is aware “that we are all Dutch citizens,” to which the rightwing politicians answered that Curacao is also deporting European Dutch citizens. He furthermore said there is a distinction between Dutch citizenship in the Netherlands and the Dutch citizenship in the islands.

Hachchi noted that Plasterk has become “the minister of kingdom arguments” and that he goes like an elephant through the china cabinet. “We are getting nowhere that way. The islands are digging in their heels and say that their affairs are none of our business. St. Maarten has asked for assistance with its National Detective Agency already a year ago. What they get is strong language instead of solutions.”

Hachchi repeated that the Netherlands should not intervene just like that. “It is a solution of last resort. The question is whether the Netherlands is acting legitimately.”

The D66 politica referred to the motion from 2010 that asks for a regulation to settle disputes between the countries. ‘We have to arrange this as soon as possible,” she said. “We cannot wait forever. I demand a promise from the minister that he will come with a proposal before July 2015, otherwise I will table a motion.”

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Bigy Truth says:

    Theo Heyliger can’t be any better his grandfather Claude wathey was the biggest thief on the island.He and the Buncamper, the Connor’s, the velasquez the Labaga’s they falsified the pappers from the poor old black people and stolen their properties his grandfather was in government he did all those things when he was in power.
    the poor people never sold their land, now hotels being build on them and guess what those group of thieves have shares in them all. The more they get the more they want they never satisfied. The democratic party was founded by his grand father,thats why theres so many crime on the island, that group have everything and the rest got nothing.Sara Wescot Williams is the same they all does get together in private places, Ronald Plasterk need to investigate all these things and make them give back the properties to the rightful owners
    other wise it will never be peace on the beautiful island.
    COME PLASTERK COME CLEAN THEM UP.