St. Maarten has one friend left in the Hague: Wassili HachchiPOSTED: 10/9/15 12:06 PM
Dutch parliament remains critical of Caribbean islands
THE HAGUE – If St. Maarten and the other Caribbean islands in the Dutch Kingdom have one friend left in The Hague it is Wassili Hachchi, a Member of Parliament for the left-liberal party D66. “The people on the islands are also Dutch,” she said when PVV-MP Sietse Fritsma argued that Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten are ‘different countries. “They have one nationality, they are all Dutch,” Hachchi persisted.
The Second Chamber debated about the budget for Kingdom Relations yesterday. It brought some predictable and well-worn positions about the Caribbean part of the Kingdom to the fore, and there was an ugly dog fight between Sietse Fritsma on one side and Ronald van Raak (Socialist Party) and André Bosman (VVD) on the other.
“We want that they are no longer Dutch citizens,” Fritsma said about the island-populations. “We have never made a secret of that. Why would the interest of three dysfunctional islands carry more weight than our country? The UN charter says that the Netherlands has nothing to say about the islands. And this fake-parliament finds that wonderful.”
Fritsma’s tirade triggered angry reactions from parliament chair Anouschka van Miltenburg; she took offense to the term ‘fake-parliament” that Fritsma borrowed from his party leader Geert Wilders.
Fritsma quoted a survey from Maurice de Hond that found that 55 percent of those surveyed find it incorrect that the Netherlands has the obligation to look after the islands. “And 39 percent finds it unjust that the Netherlands does not have the right to severe the ties. 61 Percent is completely fed up.”
Sietsma kept repeating that “the Netherlands is not allowed to say anything about the Antilles.” He even attacked the plan to send additional manpower to St. Maarten. “We are sending 55 detectives to Sint Maarten while we sorely need them here. And we also have to pay for the Integrity Chamber.”
D66 MP Wassili Hachchi spoke about the shared history of the islands and the Netherlands. “That is 200 years of slavery, 60 years of Netherlands Antilles and five years of autonomy,” she summed it up.
Hachchi disagrees with Minister Plasterk about his interpretation of the advice the Council of State gave about instructions to the governors on the islands. “The guarantee function is an ultimum remedium,” she said. Taking the instruction to the governor of Aruba last year to stall the budget, Hachchi said: “The governor can sign it or he can send it for nullification to the Kingdom government. There is no intermediate form. We need a dispute regulation fast.”
SP-MP Ronald van Raak said, in the seven minutes speaking time he had allotted himself, that not enough had been achieved in the past five years. “There is too much poverty,” he said.
The BES-islands are functioning as Dutch public entities in an unfortunate structure, according to Van Raak: “Three small islands governed by ten large ministries.”
About St. Maarten Van Raak had the usual remarks about the underworld. Apart from that: “It is the smallest island, where the parliamentarians receive the most money and are the most vulnerable to corruption. It even has two governments now.”
Van Raak said that St. Maarten’s problems will only be solved when it is set free of “criminal money.” The deployment of 55 Dutch detectives to the island will be “a painful operation without anesthetic.”
Van Raak also referred to his favorite St. Maartener, the blogger Judith Roumou who is “continuously arrested and intimidated.” Roumou appears on October 21 in court on charges of insulting an attorney and a police officer.
Van Raak got into an argument with Fritsma when he said that the Netherlands cannot get out of the Kingdom unilaterally. “We have made a proposal for a commonwealth whereby we are no longer responsible for abuse.”
Fritsma: “The SP uses a lot of words to cover up the truth. It wants to keep the marriage in place, but this is a forced marriage.”
The bickering went on later during the debate when Fritsma noted that Van Raak voted against a PVV-initiative to abolish the UN Charter that binds the hands of the Dutch in their attempt to severe their ties with the islands.
André Bosman noted that “the Netherlands would also love to be independent. But as long as the rules of the charter are in place, we will follow those rules.”
Bosman remained critical of St. Maarten. “Five governments in five years, it is unspeakable. It seems that everyone there has to become a Member of Parliament sooner or later. That is also a way to secure a good pension.”
Bosman said that the democratic deficit is on the islands, not in the Netherlands and that the countries could assist each other on a voluntary basis in a commonwealth construction.”
Arrange that as soon as possible,” Fritsma urged. “Three quarters of the VVD-voters wants to get rid of the islands.”
Hachchi contested Bosman’s democratic deficit opinion: “The advice from the Council of State shows that there is a democratic deficit because there is no dispute regulation.
Several parliamentarians brought up the need for the dispute regulation, but there did not seem to be any urgency to follow up the decision the parliaments took during the Ipko in May. The Second Chamber will await the answers to their remarks from Minister Ronald Plasterk today.