William Marlin about Dutch integrity investigation order: “Politicians have brought this upon themselves”

POSTED: 10/4/13 1:51 PM

St. Maarten – National Alliance leader William Marlin is back in his role as Member of Parliament and he grabbed the opportunity yesterday in the meeting requested by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Justice Minister Dennis Richardson to give his opinion about the integrity investigation the Kingdom Council of Ministers has ordered Governor Holiday to commission. “The politicians in St. Maarten have brought this upon themselves,” he said. “The mess that we find ourselves in today was created by those who at all costs wanted to remain in government and wanted to bend the rules misuse their position they are in, hide information, twist and bend facts for political gain. At the end of the day this compromised the political integrity of this country to the point now where the Dutch government – maybe not following the right channels either – are saying: we cannot allow this to continue.”

Marlin referred to the arrest of Gregory Koeiman in Curacao at the request of the US government – “someone who has seemingly close ties to the government.” The NA-leader said that this way St. Maarten was “making headlines again” and that it has an impact on the image and the integrity of the government, governance and those in government.

“The Dutch government may well be thinking, if St. Maarten is unable or unwilling to clean up the mess as long as they are in the Kingdom then we are going to use whatever measures we have and we may run outside of the foul line but at the end of the day we want to reach home and score a touchdown to restore law and order, decency and integrity.”

Earlier in his address, Marlin said that Prime Minister Wescot-Williams had not told the whole story about the apparent animosity from the Dutch government towards St. Maarten. Referring to a visit by the former Minister of Finance, Roland Tuitt, to the Netherlands where he was snubbed, where appointments he had made to discuss certain issues were suddenly all canceled.

“The minister was pulled aside by a civil servant who said, you know, the real reason why The Hague will not cooperate with St. Maarten is because they are sick and tired of the non-action of the Prime Minister of St. Maarten. She knows that there is blatant corruption and wrongdoings in the government and she is refusing to deal with it.”

Marlin said that he had asked several attorneys for a legal opinion about the road the Kingdom Council of Ministers had followed to arrive at its decision. It appeared that the opinions were divided fifty-fifty: half of the attorneys said that the arguments of Justice Minister Richardson were “perfect” and the other half said: “No, it may not have been the proper way to do this, but it is not illegal.”

The meeting in the Central Committee began almost an hour late due to problems with the electricity in the meeting hall. Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Justice Minister Dennis Richardson presented their side of the story – pretty much a repeat of what they said on Monday night on TV at Oral Gibbes Live and of the position Wescot-Williams took at Wednesday’s press briefing.

With a reference to the existence of the Bureau of the Ombudsman and to other high councils of state, Wescot-Williams said: “Right now you have democracy at its best. The matter of prostitution is being challenged after the parliament passed the amendment to the penal code. Democracy at its best. But those things are not given any consideration, why? Because they are entities of St. Maarten? Our entities cannot have that kind of trust that we can fix this ourselves?”

Justice Minister Dennis Richardson complained about the way he had been treated in The Hague at the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting. “I had to cool my heels in the next room because my presence in the meeting was not allowed.”

Minister Richardson emphasized that the objections are about the instruments the council had used to arrive at its decision, not about the investigation itself. “So why are we so upset? Why not agree to the proposal? We disagree with the legal means that have been used to order the investigation. They evade the obligation of the Kingdom government to motivate its actions  substantially and to offer the country – this is  about Curacao and Aruba as well, this is why Curacao voted against – the opportunity to guard against intervention in internal affairs if it is not sufficiently substantiated. Nobody knows where the limits of an instruction can be. In our case it concerns an investigation. But where is the limit to this instruction?”

“We did not fight for ten years to become an autonomous country to return to a situation wherein a faraway government can tell our governor what he must and must not do. “We did not give a piece of our autonomy to the Dutch government for them to use it on the altar of local politics in the Netherlands – because that is the impression I have. It was to demonstrate to persons like Bosman, Van Raak and the PVV that the toothless guarantee function does have teeth. That the Prime Minister of the Netherlands can intervene at any time.”

Richardson said that – if this were about the investigation itself – it is curious that the Dutch did not accept any of the proposals St. Maarten made for it. “We offered it on the basis of a ministerial decree, a national decree or a joint investigation. None of these possibilities to do the same investigation were taken.”

“We will not cooperate on the basis of a Kingdom decree that is illegal,” Richardson concluded. “We presented our opinion to the Kingdom Council of State with the request to speedily give an advice on this matter. That was a surprise for the ministers in the Kingdom Council of Ministers. They will have to wait until the Council of State issues its advice. It is unbelievable and not understandable that they would bring our governor in such a difficult position. This could lead to a crushing confrontation with the governor, but that will not be the case, because we hope to travel a different route. No matter what, he is our governor.”

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