St. Maarten Justice Minister: “Where does it say I am not allowed to have a brothel?”

POSTED: 04/4/13 1:08 PM

Duncan - brothels

Justice Minister Duncan’s name was linked to two brothels last month – Bada Bing and the Seaman’s Club.

Kingdom Council of Ministers expects action from government in bribery case

St. Maarten – The Netherlands is expecting a gesture from the government to show that the public administration and the body politic have sufficient “self cleaning abilities.” The Kingdom Council of Ministers had harsh words for St. Maarten because of the lack of reaction from the cabinet of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams about her discredited Minister of Justice Roland Duncan who refuses to step down and denied in an interview with Natasja Gibbs on Caribisch Netwerk that he “owns a brothel.”

In the Bada Bing bribery tape that shows how strip club owner Jaap van den Heuvel pays $15,000 parliamentarian Patrick Illidge, Duncan’s name is mentioned at the very beginning. Shortly after the bribery-scandal became public, this newspaper published a series of four articles that establish Duncan’s ties to the prostitution sector.

The bribery-video was the clincher for politicians in The Hague: they see it as proof that the underworld is closely linked to legal businesses.

Kingdom relations Minister Ronald Plasterk has made clear that the criminal investigation into the bribery is a matter for the prosecutor’s office in Philipsburg. Because the integrity of the government is also at stake, he put the issue on the agenda of the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

Plasterk’s concerns focus on the fact that Wescot-Williams did not take her distance from the bribery-incident and that the parliament does not seem to be bothered either.

In The Hague circles the report that Members of Parliament “have increased their own remuneration while they have cut the police budget.” That is of course not the case – at least, not yet, because the parliament still has to approve the 2013 budget. But the writing is on the wall.

Politicians in The Hague are even more miffed because the existence of the bribery-video was already known for quite some time among several people before it was finally published by the Daily Herald.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers has asked Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges to convey the message to the government in Philipsburg that it counts on a stern reaction that shows that the cabinet supports good governance.

The gesture the council expects could be that Duncan leaves his post as Justice Minister for the duration of the investigation. But there is no chance that this will happen.

Yesterday Duncan said in an interview with Natasja Gibbs on Caribisch Netwerk that he is not about to go and prove his innocence.

“I cannot prove my innocence,” he said. “If we live in a constitutional state than innocence is presumed until the opposite has been proven. Now they say that Duncan has to step down. Why? There is no investigation that I know of. Why would I have to step down?”

Duncan complained in the interview about the Dutch approach towards St. Maarten. “They have shut me out, taken money away from Usona, they want to install a cable (a fiber optic cable connection with Saba – ed.) they want that we lower our airport fees for “Winair, and we have to cut our budget. All this is done to destabilize St. Maarten.”

Duncan took a stab at the financial supervisor Cft, saying that it is run by Dutch people: “They have said that we have to cut our budget by 25 million guilders. From my budget, 6 million has been cut. Now I am being accused of trying to kill an investigation and that I do not allocate money for it. But I am not able to allocate money I do not have. What should I do then? Not cutting my budget? Then we will get an instruction to cut the budget. And if I do cut, I get an instruction not to cut the police budget. It is one or the other.”

The Justice Minister said that it is clear that people in the Netherlands are out to destabilize St. Maarten. “And the Kingdom Council of Ministers is doing nothing about it. That is also bad governance. You are not allowed to do that. Everything St. Maarten does is being run down. But they do not contribute anything to St. Maarten. We did not cause a problem; we are a small country that is attempting to get by. We do not say bad things about others and we are not looking for confrontations.”

Duncan also complained to interviewer Natasja Gibbs about his “ICT-problem.” according to the Justice Minister a Dutch civil servant, Klaas de Jong, shut down the system in St. Maarten. Duncan probably refers to the border management system. “The Kingdom Council of Ministers did nothing about this. What should I do – scream? Complain to the United Nations? I have found my own software, I am busy doing my own things.”

At that point, interviewer Gibbs observes: “You are not checkmate at all.”

“The only people who could put me checkmate are the people of St. Maarten and the parliament. To them I have to give account. Next week is the budget debate and there I will explain what I think about my budget. If people like Bosman or Van Raak think that I did something criminal they have to file a complaint. You know why? When you file a complaint you have to make clear what the problem is. What did I do wrong? Then I will be able to defend myself.”

Duncan refuted the notion that he is a brothel-owner. He is not, but this newspaper established that two Duncan-companies are the directors of Hypnotic Hotel and Entertainment, a company that manages the oldest brothel on St. Maarten, the Seaman’s Club.

“I am not a brothel-owner,” Duncan told Gibbs. But even so, where does it say that I am not allowed to have a brothel? But I do not have a brothel.”

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