Opinion: Ministerial rant

POSTED: 05/10/12 3:57 PM

Economic Affairs Minister Franklin Meyers did not call a press conference to whine, or so he said. We understand that the minister is getting tired and frustrated about accusations at his address, or at that of his partner Brenda Wathey, and we also understand that he finally wants to get even with all those who have fueled the rumor mill at his expense.

We think that nobody ought to be subjected to false allegations, including ministers and their spouses or partners. Local politics has always been the playing field for rumor mongers. Seldom do these rumors turn into something substantial; all they do is leave a nasty smell of corruption and backroom deals behind.

Meyers has now challenged the rumor mongers to step forward, if they dare, and to show proof for allegations that all kinds of government contracts were granted to Brenda Wathey.

At the same time, the minister hinted that the fall of the government he belongs to until Friday at midnight, was caused by greed. Now there’s an allegation that screams for an explanation, but it was not forthcoming yesterday.

Even since Joep Dohmen published his book The Construction Cesspit in 2004, St. Maarten has been walking around with the image that ministers take ten percent of all projects on the island. It’s a picture that will not quickly fade, and because our politicians love to speak in half-truths and in utterly vague indications about the wrongdoings by others, we’re going to be stuck with it for the foreseeable future.

Muckraking by the media goes only that far, mainly because in depth investigations into any kind of allegation takes time, and because our quality media are not exactly overstaffed, such investigations have to be done on the fly – if they are done at all.

There is a big difference between spreading rumors and printing stories about those rumors. Newspapers have to substantiate any claims they make, otherwise they find themselves in court for slander, facing damages to their bank accounts and to their reputation. But the rumors, they are always there.

It is in itself amazing that politicians who have a seat in parliament do not dare to be specific when they utter certain accusations; they always stick to veiled terms, even though they cannot be dragged into court for anything – no matter how outrageous – they say as a Member of Parliament. Politicians in Curacao have discovered this apparently a long time ago and they speak their mind when they have something to say in terms that nobody misunderstands.

The question is whether St. Maarten’s politicians want to lower themselves to the level that is run of the mill in Willemstad. We certainly wish that not to be the case.

On the other hand, if there are questionable actions committed by politicians, they ought to be brought to light.

For the time being we are stuck with Minister Meyers’ rather mysterious claim that greed is behind the fall of the current government. It is a tantalizing and interesting statement, for sure. But where is the proof? Without that, the statement remains just another ministerial rant.

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