UP faction walks out of meeting about hospital

POSTED: 02/8/13 1:50 PM

St. Maarten – Under “violent protest” the United People’s Party faction walked out of a Central Committee meeting it called to discuss the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) and its impact on social and labor policies yesterday. The party was peeved that Public Health, Social Development and Labor Minister Cornelius de Weever did not honor its request for information was in a timely manner. The party refused to accept the minister’s verbal response to questions it had posed four months ago during another meeting that was adjourned on October 8.

Parliamentarian Jules James demanded written answers so that his faction could peruse the minister’s proposals. About five minutes after the start of the meeting with colleague Johan “Janchi” Leonard in tow, James became incensed when he heard Democratic Party Parliamentarian Leroy de Weever calling for the meeting to be called off since the UP faction was absent and there was no quorum to continue.

“We have no taste, no appetite to sit in this meeting because of how it is conducted. As a matter of fact, decisions are being made, party invitations have been given out, most likely the minister himself will be a keynote speaker at the farewell of Dr. George Scot at the Great Bay Sonesta, all of that nonsense.  And you expect us to come to this meeting after the fact, after the court cases and everything. Questions have been posed in writing, we have not gotten the written answers back and you will tell me today that the faction that called the meeting is not here and you propose to cancel the meeting and a bunch of malarkey. It is not right.”

Leonard said that he is astonished unless de Weever was looking at family ties he could not understand the reason for his objection to continue with the meeting. “The half hour did not pass… which democracy are you using?” Leonard asked.

Chairman Rodolphe Samuel clarified that a quorum was indeed established with three factions present; DP, NA and the Independent Patrick Illidge, before the UP faction walked in so the meeting could have indeed proceeded.

“The rule adopted for Central Committee meeting is that it can start with three factions with 8 members present, unless it is requested otherwise in written form by those who requested in the meeting,” Samuel said.

He also said the minister was travelling which resulted in a further delay in the continuing Central Committee meeting from last October.
Leonard offered apologies for the absence of faction leader Sylvia Meyers and Dr. Ruth Douglass during the notice period.

James asked the minster whether he had prepared written answers for the questions posed and the minister said that he was only prepared to give verbal responses because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“Without written answers this meeting should not continue. The UP faction would not remain in the meeting,” James said before rounding up his colleagues to walk out in protest.
After close to 30 minutes of wrangling, the meeting was adjourned for five minutes and then proceeded as scheduled but without the UP faction.

Outside the General Assembly Chamber, the UP faction issued a press statement while other parliamentarians jeered them for not “properly representing the people.” James said that at some point between October and December the minister should have made himself available.

Drs. Gracita Arrindell (UP) said “that it’s about time to finalize the rules of order.” She added that the walkout was not directed to the minister personally but as a stance against things not being done properly in parliament.

“All we are asking for is to be communicated with. Inform us of what is going on,” Arrindell said.



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