UP-leader Theo Heyliger: “Convicted felons should not be sitting in parliament”

POSTED: 02/13/14 12:09 PM

St. Maarten – The Central Committee had an opportunity to give its input to a discussion paper Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams presented yesterday, but instead of adding to the presented suggestions, most MPs seemed not to be ready for it – even though the paper was submitted already to Parliament on January 23.

The strongest statement came from UP-leader Theo Heyliger who noted that a covenant between candidates and their parties – as suggested by Wescot-Williams – would prove to be a toothless tiger and no more than a nice public relations instrument.

He also noted, with an obvious wink to the National Alliance – that he had seen how citizens after they had casted their votes – “received neatly ironed white tee shirts.”

To suggestions that voters should be banned from taking cell phones into voting booths, Heyliger said, “Can you go and body search people before voting? That way you are telling them that they are not to be trusted.”

Heyliger pleaded for regulating what elected MPs are allowed to give away to citizens. “Please let’s regulate that. I get requests every day. Let’s do it for all and for the sake of transparency. But we have to realize that we live in a small community where people speak with politicians every day.”

Heyliger showed some resistance against tougher rules for political parties that want to take part in elections. “Some of those rules will make it so that small parties won’t be able to take part anymore. These rules put a lot of onus on them. If one-man parties want to take part, why not? It is a democratic process.”

Heyliger saved his best remarks for last: they touch on the integrity of parliamentarians. Referring to a remark Wescot-Williams made during the budget debate (namely, that Parliament ought to deal with integrity issues among its members) Heyliger said: “If you have convicted felons sitting in Parliament that should not be left up to Parliament to handle. They should not be sitting in Parliament at all, and they should not even open their mouth about electoral reform. They should not even be allowed to take part in the next elections.”

Earlier, National alliance leader William Marlin expressed his doubts that any meaningful changes would be possible. “What do we want to achieve? If we change the constitution, that would change its spirit. We should not apply cosmetics to please the people.”

Marlin also noted that forcing MPs to stay with their party (or lose their seat if they go independent) would not work. “If you say MPs cannot leave, they will simply stay with the party and still vote their conscience,” he said.

Marlin noted that legislation is not the answer. “We need a change of attitude.”

MPs Louie Laveist and Frans Richardson hammered on Wescot-Williams’ statements that the motion Parliament approved last year (wherein Richardson called for putting regulations in place to guarantee fair elections) is if fact obsolete because all the points the motion calls for have already been regulated. “It that is so, than those articles need to be amended to make them more meaningful,” Laveist said. Richardson said that he would put forward his ideas about electoral reform in writing at a later moment “when the time is right.”

DP-MP Roy Marlin noted that the constitution already safeguards fair elections and that if anything needs to happen, it is the strengthening of the institutions that have to look after this. He also called for an information campaign to make voters more aware of their rights.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Boo-boo says:

    I’ve never heard more nonsense in my life. What is so hard about having a law that clearly states. if you win your seat outright, and you want to move, it’s your seat, go with it. If on the other hand you got two votes , but was given a seat by your party and you want to move, go ahead, but the seat stays with the party that gave it to you.