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Second Chamber backs St. Maarten instruction

page3a129~ A very necessary move, says majority ~

THE HAGUE--The liberal democratic VVD party, the Labour Party PvdA and Socialist Party (SP) representing a majority in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament fully support the decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers last week Friday to order a more thorough screening of St. Maarten's candidate ministers.

The instruction that the Kingdom government gave to St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday to hold off on the signing of the appointment of the members of the new Council of Ministers until an additional integrity screening has been completed with the assistance of Dutch experts, was "highly necessary," said Members of the Second Chamber André Bosman (VVD) and Ronald van Raak (PvdA).

Member of the Second Chamber Roelof van Laar said that during the handling of the draft 2015 Kingdom Relations budget on October 1, he already called for an in-depth investigation of the indications of vote-buying in St. Maarten before the appointment of a new government. "The St. Maarten people need our help to promote integrity and to combat corruption," he said at the time.

"Integrity, or rather the lack of it, is a severe problem in St. Maarten. The recent integrity report showed that ministers have not acted in good faith. It should not be tolerated that people like that are automatically appointed. It is a good thing that additional requirements are being set," Van Laar told The Daily Herald on Sunday.

"The Kingdom Council of Ministers is protecting the interest of the Dutch taxpayer against the corrupt St. Maarten politicians. It has nothing to do with colonialism. Damage is being done to the Kingdom and it is our task to protect it. We will not tolerate that the Kingdom is hijacked by St. Maarten. The politicians should not be surprised that this instruction was given," said Bosman in an interview.

Van Raak said the strict screening of the candidate ministers was needed so St. Maarten would get a proper government. "You cannot leave the people to be governed by a team that has links with the mafia. We have to prevent St. Maarten from going down the drain. I want the people to have a future and that is not possible with a government that has been bought and with corrupt politicians," he said.

Bosman, Van Raak and Van Laar were not impressed by statements of caretaker Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the United People's (UP) party that they would not cooperate with the instruction of the Kingdom government.

"If they don't cooperate, it means that it is time for a referendum so the people can express what they want and decisions can be taken how to proceed," said Van Raak. "Higher supervision is not far away; it can be arranged in a heartbeat," said Bosman.

"If St. Maarten doesn't cooperate, their ministers cannot be appointed. It is that simple. But we can't have a prime minister who has been accused of vote-buying. We need a new government with people who comply with the requirements of integrity and of whom it is certain that there are no conflicts of interest," said Van Laar.

The three Members of Parliament (MPs) said that the Kingdom government had every reason to intervene. The charter dictates that it is the responsibility of the Kingdom government to safeguard good governance in the Kingdom.

"We are not doing this for fun. The islands should comprehend for once and for all, whether it is Aruba, Curaçao or St. Maarten, that there are rules in the Kingdom that they have to stick to. St. Maarten wants to be part of the Kingdom, St. Maarten knows the responsibilities that it carries. They signed for it," said Bosman.

"Buying votes is apparently a normal thing in St. Maarten. There is a report that states that members of government are not taking integrity very seriously. We have to prevent this from happening again. These things are intolerable. St. Maarten has to acknowledge that integrity and good governance are a top priority and take serious action," said Van Laar.

"It is the task of the Kingdom government to intervene when things go wrong as long as St. Maarten is part of the Kingdom. The Hague is saying that a decent screening is needed. What we are saying is not that strange. It counts for every democracy," said Van Raak, who called the response of the UP on Friday "predictable." "They are moving towards independence with this attitude."

Bosman said the "tone" of the UP reaction showed that "they don't really comprehend the seriousness of the issue." He pointed out that there is no majority in the Second Chamber that wants to keep the islands in the Kingdom at all cost. "This is the Kingdom new style. If you think you can do all you want, then you can expect an instruction. If you want to be independent, then that is fine too. Then you can do your own thing."

Bosman and Van Raak submitted a position paper in July 2013 in which they made a case for a commonwealth construction in the Kingdom whereby the countries Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten would have looser ties with the Netherlands. A debate in the Second Chamber on this position paper is scheduled to take place on December 1, 2014.

Ferrier resigns from DP, against Sarah supporting UP coalition

~ Richelda feels deceived, doesn't support Sarah ~

PHILIPSBURG--Former President of the Democratic Party (DP) and candidate in the August 29 parliamentary election Michael Ferrier has tendered his resignation from DP over the move by party leader Sarah Wescot-Williams to join the United People's (UP) party-led coalition.

DP candidate Richelda Rodriguez-Emmanuel in an email responding to Ferrier's resignation said she still couldn't "get over the feeling of anger, deception, disappointment and disbelief" to put in any form of communication. "Those who say to me it's just politics don't grasp that our commitment to this party and our leader has over the years, events, etc., has gone way beyond politics." Rodriguez-Emmanuel said while she will continue to pray for the DP leader, she "just can't understand or support this direction."

In a letter to Wescot-Williams dated October 17, Ferrier said Wescot-Williams' decision to "drastically alter the course" set out for DP through consensus has caused him to reflect on his own role in the party as long as she remained party leader.

"While I fully grasp and fully understand the concept of being in government to be able to make a meaningful difference in the quality of life for the people of our fledging country, I cannot subscribe to abandoning all that we campaigned on and claim to stand for prior to August 29, 2014, by joining a government that has been given life by a person or a couple of people from within our own DP ranks who seems to be driven only by power greed and self-interest," Ferrier said.

"Becoming a small fry in a pond filled with so-called friendly piranhas will not give this DP any chance of survival let alone glory."

Ferrier said he was aware that making a significant difference as a one-woman fraction in Parliament would be practically impossible. He said too that Wescot-Williams winding down her personal political career in such a tame fashion is probably also not so desirable.

The former DP member said he had urged Wescot-Williams to reach out to the leaders of the two other smaller fractions in parliament, form a formidable block in the opposition benches, thereby utilising a fresh new approach to "force true openness and transparency in government" and government-owned companies. "This might not only have resulted in improving the quality of life for all our citizens, but also prevent the blemishing of your good name and reputation as a woman of integrity and beyond reproach, two traits why I have for the last 15 years until now fiercely defended and supported you."

Ferrier said his first recollection of his unwavering support for DP for the past 55 years had been riding his bike with a "vote Claude" flag around town during the campaign for the 1959 Island Council elections. "The last 15 years have seen me grow from making a successful bid for public office as DP candidate number 10 in 1999, to being a very vocal part of the face of the DP through September 24, 2014, when DP's "second hard earned parliamentary seat "was unceremoniously hijacked by DP candidate number 2 Cornelius de Weever."

"This unexpected despicable act of treason committee against the remaining 18 DP candidates, whose combined received votes made the second seat a reality for the DP, not only involuntarily changed our party of course, but also caused all 2,342 DP votes minus your 697 to be counted, but rendered of no consequence. The precious votes cast for the DP because of loyalty to the party and to you were in essence wasted."

He continued: "How hypocritical our collective presence in that wonderful thanksgiving church service on August 31 led by the dynamic pastor Harrigan and organised by Leona Marlin-Romeo now seems to me."

Ferrier questioned why DP did not fire De Weever from the party after he signed an agreement with UP to keep the DP's honours and why Wescot-Williams may be of the opinion that she or DP will be given any credit for whatever may go right in the UP/DP/Marlin-Romeo coalition government. He also questioned Wescot-Williams' belief that "under the mum of making the call take the DP on this 180 degree course deviation, for the good citizens of St. Maarten, is what we meant with our DP slogan "Let's get it right."

Ferrier said he was pleased to see that several professional young people have "enthusiastically" joined the active management of DP, but said he regretfully tendered his resignation from the party with immediate effect.

All schools to reopen today

PHILIPSBURG--The roads will be a hub of activity today as students and teachers return to school after a week-long closure due to Hurricane Gonzalo, which pummelled the island last week Monday evening.

Education Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip said Sunday that all schools will reopen their doors today, Monday. This includes the St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary, Marie Genevieve De Weever Primary and Oranje School. The minister had said Friday that these schools might not be ready, but by yesterday, Sunday, they were.

The Ministry's Division of Student Support Services had advised school boards of the strategies that should be employed during the first few days of school to meet the needs of students who have been impacted by Hurricane Gonzalo.

A psychologist and social workers of the Division will be visiting schools to guide and provide additional support to their student care teams.

Man succumbs when truck drives off road in St. Peters

page1a129~ Two injured, teacher seriously ~

ST. PETERS--A man whose name was given as Claude Nourant succumbed to injuries received when a truck in which he was a passenger toppled off the road over Sentry Hill in St. Peters and landed front first on Coco Plum Road below around 4:00pm on Saturday.

The driver of the vehicle, teacher Frank Dellamore, and another passenger were injured in the accident. Reports indicate that the truck's brakes suddenly stopped working and the driver was unable to stop the truck which went through a wall, into a yard and fell onto the road below front first.

Nourant was said to have been in the open tray in the back of the truck when the accident occurred. He reportedly jumped out of the truck trying save himself and hit his head on a hard object that apparently cracked his skull. The back of his head had a gaping wound and he is said to have most probably died instantly.

The impact of the accident caused Dellamore to be flung through the windshield of the truck, falling face down onto the road. He received serious injuries to his face and chest.

It could not be ascertained where in the truck the other passenger was riding at the time of the accident, but this individual is said to have received minor scratches and bruises.

According to reports, Dellamore was performing work as a contractor for United Telecommunications Services (UTS) at the time of the accident. His work is believed to have been related to works associated with repairing damage incurred to the company's infrastructure as a result of Hurricane Gonzalo which hit the island last week Monday evening.

The truck involved in the accident, with licence plate number V 77, was said to have been Dellamore's personal vehicle.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said the driver had been lying next to the truck when several police patrols, paramedics and the Fire Department arrived at the scene of the accident on Coco Plum Road, and had been in a "very serious physical condition."

Henson said a second victim had been lying farther up the hill, not showing any signs of life. Dr. Ruth Douglass pronounced him dead on the scene. The driver was treated on the scene by paramedics and then transported to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further treatment.

Henson said the scene had been closed to allow the Traffic Department to conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident. Police did not officially release the identity of the deceased. Henson said the investigation was ongoing.

MPs to meet Monday on Dutch gov’t instruction

PHILIPSBURG--Members of Parliament (MPs) will discuss in an urgent plenary session of Parliament on Monday the Kingdom Council of Ministers' instruction to Governor Eugene Holiday to execute a thorough screening of candidate-ministers from the United People's (UP) party-led coalition.

The plenary session is set to start at 2:00pm. On the agenda is the instruction from Minister of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk to Holiday "to postpone ratification of the country decree in the appointment of the Ministers and Prime Minister."

The meeting was requested by UP MPs Franklin Meyers, Silvio Matser and Tamara Leonard on Friday.

Meyers said the instruction was "yet another example of interference into St. Maarten's internal affairs. We keep hearing about a kingdom of equal partners, but Dutch MPs and ministers continue to have no respect for our autonomy gained four years ago."

He said the instruction proved that the Dutch government and MPs "still operate or believe that St. Maarten is a Dutch colony, rather than a partner, an equal partner that is, in the Kingdom."

According to the UP MPs, any political party or individual politician "who misguidedly feels that this interference by the Dutch government is to the benefit of the country should check their priorities and really decide if they have our country's best interest at heart," a press release said.

The public can watch the proceedings in person at the House of Parliament across from the Courthouse in Philipsburg. The session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 120; Pearl Radio 98.1FM;

www.pearlfmradio.com and

www.sxmparliament.org .

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