Laville: “all you do is tear down, tear down”: Justice Park sets off attack on opposition

POSTED: 01/24/13 10:32 AM

St. Maarten – Independent MP Romain Laville severely criticized the United People’s party in a meeting of the Central Committee yesterday – without naming the party – during a discussion about Justice Minister Roland Duncan’s plan to establish a Justice Park in Cay Hill. “It is a shame that some refuse to see the benefits of this project,” Laville said. “They get their cues about what to say – and I left, so that answers that question.”

Laville said that he was baffled by the opposition against the plan, and accused the opposition of “immaturity.”

The MP started his attack by pointing out that the Justice Ministry, and other ministries as well for that matter, are paying huge amounts of rent for the buildings that house their offices. “Now we can own our own facilities and then the money that now goes to rent can be used for something else. It is baffling. We are paying that rent for buildings that belong to certain affiliates of political departments – and no one seems to care.”

Laville said that he wants to see the project going ahead, just like he wants to see the new government administration building on Pond Island completed.

Laville accused “certain parties in parliament” of publishing “a lot of rubbish” in the newspapers – a clear reference to the recent spate of press releases issued by the United People’s party about potential job losses in the casino industry and the wholesale sector due to plans to increase fees.

Laville compared the Justice Park to Walmart – as an example of one stop shopping.

The MP kept criticizing the opposition:”Maybe I don’t understand politics. All you do is tear down, tear down. I am not cut from that cloth.” He noted that the opposition is not coming with constructive e ideas as alternatives for government plans they disagree with.

The Central committee discussed the Justice Park. Independents Laville and Illidge as well as National Alliance MP Louie Laveist wholeheartedly support the plan, including the idea to finance the $100 million project by charging foreigners for residence permits.

MP Lloyd Richardson asked whether it would not be cheaper to build a new prison on a different location than to renovate Pointe Blanche. He also wondered whether there will be enough money left for rehabilitation programs. He noted that “80 percent of the people who go to prison, return,” thereby indicating a huge turnstile door problem.

UP-MP Johan Leonard said that his faction is not against the Justice Park, but that there are questions to be answered about the financing. “We did not call it Jurassic Park, that was a member of the coalition,” Leonard said, adding that he was not going to call the name of the MP who coined the phrase. (The remark was made by DP-MP Leroy de Weever – ed.). “We want to know more about the financing, about the total costs and about what this means for our people. But are we against? Absolutely not.”

Later on however, Leonard contradicted himself by saying that he is against the project.

Leonard wondered whether all revenue from residence permits would go into financing the Justice Park. “Would the Cft allow this?”

The MP also questioned the location of the Justice Park in a residential area in Cay Hill. “Do the people in Cay Hill want to be the first ones to be ransacked when prisoners escape? Do they want to hear bullets flying all over their houses? I wouldn’t want to live in that area. These people are going to rip everything asunder on their way to freedom.”

Minister Duncan said that he will not stop pushing the project, until either the Council of Ministers or the parliament says not to. “I will keep explaining the project, but it is not an attempt to ram this down people’s throat. This project is due; we have to deal by what is required from the country. I challenge parliament to come up with alternatives.”

Duncan said that he had been working on the project for two years.”I have a pretty big ego, but this project will pass my term of office somebody else will have to finish it. If it is no good, show me alternatives.”

Duncan said that his ministry has hired the building on Illidge Road next to the WIB bank where the national detective agency (Landsrecherche) will be housed, as well as a department for issuing permits like police records. Duncan said that the fee for residence permits for minors will be halved, but that approving the fees is the parliament’s prerogative.

“If Cay Hill is not a proper location, tell me where it should go,” the minister said.

 

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