Vetting process candidate ministers is underway

POSTED: 05/30/13 11:29 AM

St. Maarten – What bothers me is that all ethics have been thrown to the wind. Do these politicians realize what they are doing to the community?” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said yesterday at what used to be the Council of Ministers press briefing; the past couple of weeks it has turned into a solo performance, because none of the other ministers have made an appearance since the Democratic Party faction and Independent MP Romain Laville withdrew their support for the now fallen government.

The PM did not waste a lot of time on what has become in the blogosphere the smoking-gun letter from Governor Holiday, dated May 17. “I have made my point and I refuse to draw the governor into the polemic,” she said. ”We have different views on the letter from the eight MPs, that’s all.”

With a clear reference to Vice Prime Minister William Marlin, the PM remarked that “one of our ministers is using his position and government facilities for political messages without batting an eye,” adding that the spin given to the so-called hidden letter was “out if this world.”

Wescot-Williams said that the smoking-gun letter is “just that: smoke. The letter has not changed my position. We need to get out if this as soon as possible, though I realize by now that any letter I write to the ministers will end up on the blogs.”

Turning to matters at hand, the PM said that the process of vetting candidate ministers for the new government has started. The process is based on the national decree that regulates the screening. Though Governor Holiday has requested that Wescot-Williams in her role of informateur completes the process by June 7, the PM said that she will probably be ready before that date.

Wescot-Williams repeated that the governor has mentioned three priorities in her assignment as informateur: to give priority to the completion of the 2013 budget, to restore stability in the political process and to get on with electoral reform. “I want to move away from this downward spiral, even if it means that I have to bite my lips,” she said. “We need to act more decent and civil towards each other, even behind the screen of anonymity on social media. The public prosecutor is not there to solve our problems.”

Answering a question from this newspaper, the Prime Minister said that the screening process of candidate ministers involves investigations by the office of the Attorney General and of the National Security Service. The screening process is based on the national decree St. Maarten adopted from the former Netherlands Antilles and on its own national decree that promotes the integrity of ministers.

Referring to her interview with Jamila Baaziz in the Netherlands that was published on Caribisch Netwerk and also in this newspaper, Wescot-Williams repeated that St. Maarten was ahead of Curacao with its screening legislation.”Curacao has made an ordinance that includes what is already in our integrity-ordinance,” she said.”St. Maarten already had that integrity-ordinance in place before Curacao.”

Wescot-Williams said that a statement in Baaziz’ story that the screening legislation had gone through the Constitutional Court was based on a misunderstanding.”That has not happened but before 10-10-10 all legislation was vetted.”



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