Ex-formateur William Marlin: “Matter of time before we see another shift”

POSTED: 09/30/14 12:26 AM

St. Maarten – “It is a matter of time before you will see another shift,” former formateur William Marlin said at a press conference yesterday in answer to a question from this newspaper about political instability. “There is not a problem with the system, but there are too many who approach this like, I have my seat and I am going to peddle it to the highest bidder. They think that, if they set themselves up strategically, they are able to get the most out of their seat, rather than as a member of a party with a vision. Some unfortunately think: if I jump ship, I will acquire the leverage that I will be able to use.”

Marlin convened a press conference at the parliament building yesterday afternoon to offer an explanation for what happened during the last week of the formation whereby Democratic Party member Cornelius de Weever suddenly had a change of heart. He dropped his support for the National Alliance/Democratic Party/United St. Maarten party-coalition and signed on for a coalition agreement with the United People’s party.

“What bothers people is the way things have transpired,” Marlin said. “I went to the governor on Wednesday and the next day the leader of the UP party went to the governor with a majority for a new government. Now two informateurs have been appointed and that has raised big question marks.”

Marlin said that his task as formateur had been to put a majority government together that would be prepared to carry out the recommendations of the integrity reports. The leaders of the three parties made a huge effort to put a governing program together before the new government would take office.

A workgroup of nine people, three from each party, with the support of staff from Bearing Point worked for three weeks “morning, noon and night” to put the program together. On the last Monday before the deadline of September 24, the team went home at 2.30 in the morning, and the next day they held out until 5 in the morning. Last week Wednesday, the team put together the hard copies of the program, consisting of two separate books, entitled Open and Stable Government.

Marlin said that on Wednesday morning he received the first messages that something was wrong with his coalition. His son called about it and later Michael Ferrier came with the same information. Finally, Minister Cornelius de Weever announced that he would take up his seat in Parliament and not continue as a minister and that he had signed an agreement with the UP.

“The system works,” Marlin maintained. “Legislating jumping ship is not possible. This is how democracy works. There was much seriousness in this coalition, we put together a well-thought out governing program.”

The now defunct program is based on a clear strategy that addresses five areas: enhancing the quality of life and the well-being of citizens, ensuring good governance, a realistic financial management, nation building and sustainable development.

Marlin said that some felt it was not a good idea to make the program public after the coalition fell apart, but the decision went the other way. “This program does not belong to the work group or to the three parties. If another government carries it out – more power to them. This program is based on openness, transparency and integrity and on open communication with the people of St. Maarten. For now, of course, the program has been shelved.”

Lowering the cost of electricity and installing solar panels on schools and the senior homes in Belvedere, were among the short-term objectives of the program. A pilot project with LED-lights in senior homes, regulating the school bus system and connecting the main sewage line from St. Peters to the wastewater processing plant were also among the issues the government-that-will- not-take-office had in mind. Furthermore, the program addresses the concession policy for government-owned companies, the operational status of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority, and legislating the energy buy-back policy.

Marlin said yesterday afternoon that the governing program would be made available to the media electronically, but in the early evening hours, this newspaper had not yet received a copy of it.

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