State of the art (hospital promised, but no consultation with Health Minister

POSTED: 07/4/14 12:46 AM

We have the feeling that things do not really gel anymore in the coalition of the United People’s party and the Democratic Party. The upcoming elections are blowing their icy winds through the corridors of power and parties want to distinguish themselves from the others to the best of their ability.

There is no apparent concern about yet another cabinet crisis. We are too close to the elections and nobody will find it useful to cause the fall of the third government within a single term of Parliament. Just because that does not make sense, parties feel free to make even their coalition partner uncomfortable with actions they would not have dreamt about at the beginning of their political joint venture.

This is why we see UP-leader Theo Heyliger promising “the people” a state of the art new hospital without bothering consulting with the minister who is responsible for public health. Oh, wait, he belongs to the wrong party, that’s why earlier we have seen attempts by Vromi-minister Maurice Lake to make his mark in the medical field.

It was all for publicity’s sake of course, we understand that, but it must be utterly confusing to the average reader.

Why is the UP presenting trumped-up plans for a completely new hospital, while the hospital itself is still trying to come to terms with its plans for the expansion of the existing facility?

Why is there no consultation with the minister of public health about these issues? It is probably much easier to present something nobody could object to (a state of the art hospital), but if the complete story is not told, this is all rather useless.

We’re not here to defend Minister De Weever – or any politician for that matter – but his arguments make perfect sense. St. Maarten will have nothing with just a new building called hospital. The country won’t have anything either by flying in all these specialists we don’t have right now. Specialists need equipment and if that is not available, they are unable to do their work. That is why patients are referred to hospitals abroad for medical services the country is currently unable to provide.

We foresee that the political sabre rattling about the hospital – and about any other megalomaniacal project that comes to some politician’s mind – will continue until August 29. Most of these stories fall into the category of empty promises. After all, elections are about winning votes and about getting a grip on power.

It is telling that so far nothing has come from political reform. The only step in the right direction is the covenant that candidates for the Democratic Party will have to sign. We understand that the UP is working on a similar initiative, but the reality is that none of these so-called pledges have been made public yet.

That makes it hard to assess their practical value, if they have any practical value at all. Anybody who wants to run in these elections will sign such a pledge with her or his eye on the ball: a $125,000+ annual income plus perks. Once elected, all bets are off. Okay, that is not true for every candidate, but we bet our bottom dollar that there will be horses in this political race that will pull a long nose at these covenants the moment it suits their purposes.

Another issue is the publication of political manifestos. According to the electoral law they have to be published in a timely manner. DP-leader Wescot-Williams gave yesterday an idea about what timely could be. For the DP, it is “around postulation day” but she admitted that for others it could very well be “the day before the elections.”

If that latter option turns out to be the real understanding of the timely manner concept, voters ought to understand from this – again – that politics is mainly a lot of blah blah and that nothing will really change.

Yeah, maybe the black curtains will disappear from the voting booths (and maybe not). Maybe there will be a call for not taking photos of the ballot, but we know already that there is no legislation in place to prohibit this.

The answer to most of these issues is transparency from the side of the parties – in terms of financing, in terms of who their financial backers are. That is in the current electoral law, but there is still a problem. The facts will only become clear after the elections. Then it is too late and by the time the next elections roll around, everybody has mostly forgotten who did what in 2014.

These are interesting times, for sure, but don’t hold your breath. The politicians that were screaming the loudest for electoral reform apparently prefer that everything remains the way it is – even if their mouths speak other words.

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