Dutch TV-broadcast pummels St. Maarten

POSTED: 03/13/13 12:19 PM
Screenshot EenVandaag
The Dutch news program EenVandaag depicted yesterday Justice Minister Roland Duncan this way with strip club Bada Bing in the background. Photo Screenshot EenVandaag.

St. Maarten – The Patrick Illidge bribery scandal is spreading like wildfire through the Dutch media. Yesterday the news broadcast EenVandaag spent all of five minutes on the story under the premise that Illidge could be among parliamentarians attending the inauguration of King Willem Alexander in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam on April 30. Wrong: on Monday the parliament in Philipsburg decided that only President drs. Rodolphe Samuel and registrar Joseph Semeleer will attend. The reason: the parliament wants to keep the delegation to a minimum to save money and to show that MPs are able to say no to a trip abroad.

That did not stop EenVandaag to demolish St. Maarten in a news item that was rife with incorrect information. “In St. Maarten politicians exploit illegal brothels, they take bribes and they walk around constantly with a pistol in their pocket,” was the opening line of the story.

The introduction fails to mention that prostitution is condoned on the island – the way it was condoned for decades in the Netherlands until it was legalized in 2000. St. Maarten brings prostitution under a permit system in its new penal code, but these details were lost on the producers of the broadcast.

The next statement: “On April 30 they are present at the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam? Is it possible to get weirder than this? Dutch parliamentarians are astonished.”

Then we get a statement from Henk Krol, leader of the parliament faction 50Plus: “What kind of banana country is this?”

A voice over picks up the story from there: “Could you imagine: Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten operating a brothel and always walking around with a pistol in his pocket? Or Members of Parliament who let themselves be bribed by a brothel owner? That is unthinkable in the Netherlands. “In Sint Maarten, a separate country within the Kingdom this is common practice.”

After this statement we see socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak: “What you see there is that politicians are getting ;paid by the underworld. The underworld has come to the surface.”

Voice-over; “Minister Roland Duncan allegedly operates a brothel. This week a video leaked via the website of a local newspaper that shows how a brothel owner bribes MP Patrick Illidge of St. Maarten. In exchange for residence permits for prostitutes he gets here on camera $15,000.”

Then it is Van Raak’s turn again: “Here you see a parliamentarian from St. Maarten who walks into a brothel dressed in shorts and walking on slippers to pick up thousands of dollars, and to promise illegal permits while prostitution is prohibited and while he does this at the orders of the Minister of Justice who is operating a brothel himself and who gives himself permits. This cannot be.”

VVD-MP André Bosman, asked whether the bribery is an incident, answers: No, and that is what worries me the most.”

Then EenVandaag dives into the (already debunked) presence of Illidge at the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander. “A majority of the parliament finds this absurd but is formally unable to do something against it,” the voice-over says.

Henk Krol: “You don’t want to think about it, that this man will be sitting in the Nieuwe Kerk at the inauguration, that festive moment, maybe with a gun in his pocket. And we would have to sit next to him as Members of Parliament.”

“Van Raak: “We are unable to stop him. It is his right to be there and to take the oath or the promise to the new king.”

Satisfied with this part of the story, the voice-over moves to another subject: “The country is autonomous, but the Netherlands stands surety financially. We have nothing to say about St. Maarten but when things go wrong financially, the Netherlands will have to pay the bill?

Andre Bosman: “To cut a long story short: indeed.”

Van Raak: “Things are going very bad in St. Maarten and I am very much afraid that in a couple of years we will have to pay their debts again. Nobody in the Netherlands wants this, because we are in a deep crisis,. It will be about billions of euros again. The politicians over there are free to make a mess, the mafia is allowed to take over the island and we have to pay.”

The voice-over somberly notes that the Netherlands has no sanctions it could impose on St. Maarten and that a United Nation as treaty makes it impossible for the Netherlands to kick St. Maarten unilaterally out of the Kingdom.

Bosman has a solution – but it is an old one, and nobody wants it: “A commonwealth construction like the English have whereby all countries are independent and not responsible for each other, but whereby they do work together.”

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