Saleh disagrees with Curacao’s screening law

POSTED: 11/6/12 12:20 PM

Professor Jaime Saleh shares a light moment with Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin-Lynch and chairman of the General Audit Chamber Ronald Halman. Photo Today / Milton Pieters

St. Maarten – The former Governor of the Netherlands Antilles believes that screening legislation like the one Curacao implemented to scavenge the closets of elected officials was not necessary.

Professor Jaime Saleh made his sentiments known during last week’s Good Governance Symposium organized by the High Councils of State.

“In fact you don’t need any kind of legislations on screening. At the moment somebody puts himself for the job of minister, he or she should be a clean person. We don’t need a law to have that,” Professor Saleh said.

Governor Frits Goedgedrag signed the screening legislation in October in Curacao during the installation of an interim cabinet led by Stanley Betrian.

But following elections in Curacao, political leaders began having a war of words over whether the legislation was necessary.

“Problems of legitimacy of acts of governors can reach serious crisis level when what has been considered legal no longer is so considered based on values and norms,” Professor Saleh explained.

MFK’s Gerrit Schotte wants the law repealed, while PS’s Helmin Wiels says that he would not negotiate its elimination before the formation of a new cabinet is concluded.

“This is not the time to start a war with the governor,” Wiels was quoted as saying last week.
Schotte, Wiels and MAN party’s Charles Cooper were expected to form a coalition to run the government, but this seems to be under threat since they do not have a collective position on the screening law.

“When we are saying that we need to have a law to do that or otherwise you are not allowed to check me, there is something wrong. When I propose myself to become a minister or civil servant one should understand that you have to be a clean person and not because the law says it but because my attitude and values require that from me as a person,” Professor Saleh added.

He believes that any political constitution or approach to problem solving must face the test of legitimacy.

“The legitimacy of government actions ought to be distinguished by its legality. For it is possible that such acts are acceptable within the range of the law but may be considered illegitimate according to the values and norms of a civilized society. Political systems with good governance are considered legitimate to the extent that those who are affected by political power judge the manner it is being carried out as right or appropriate.”

The screening law was hurried through Curacao’s parliament and signed by the governor immediately with the ousted MFK party remarking that it was unusual for publications which usually take weeks to be approved so quickly.

The screen processing is intended to see whether politicians, before they assume office, are involved in any form of criminal activity.

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