St. Maarten Prime Minister: “Dutch MPs can scream from now until doomsday”POSTED: 04/4/13 1:05 PM
St. Maarten -“I want to let those members of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, who feel that things on St. Maarten are going haywire, it is not the case. Allow the system to do its work. I cannot wear the cap of the prosecutor and the prosecutor cannot sit on the seat of government, neither parliament. Until those matter starts to crisscross one another, the system is going to continue its work,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said during yesterday’s Council of Ministers press conference. This in a response to a report that the Kingdom Council of Ministers recently used a meeting to call for her to take action on Minister of Justice Roland Duncan while authorities conduct the Orca (Bada Bing corruption scandal) Investigation in which Duncan is mentioned.
These meetings are usually confidential, the prime minister said, but she has been prompted to address information that was leaked out a Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting held on March 28.
Minister Plenipoteniary Mathias Voges had briefed her that the matter of law and order on St. Maarten was discussed in that meeting.
Irate, Wescot-Williams said that since her colleagues across the sea had chosen to make their sentiments public, she would in turn frankly state her position.
“There have been and still are Dutch politicians who were set against St. Maarten becoming a country. Every opportunity that they get to say, we told you so, is being used at this time, clearly. St. Maarten will prove its critics wrong and continue to build.
Something has happened on St. Maarten …. Things happen, not good things happen all over the world within all governments, including the different levels of government in the European part of the Kingdom. Who screams then? St. Maarten doesn’t stand screaming at that time. Not one of them can prove to me until today that we are not handling the situation as is required in any democratic society. The minute a Dutch Member of Parliament or whosoever can show me that; then I will revisit my position. Until that time, they can scream from now until doomsday,” the prime minister said.
In last Thursday’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting, the leader of government said that she was informed by Voges many of the concerns raised about the state of affairs in St. Maarten had to do with the Bada Bing corruption scandal. However before the meeting started, she had already indicated to Voges, that according to the prosecutor, the investigation was progressing.
Based on that assurance and no information to the contrary, the prime minister said that she has seen no need for the justice minister to recuse himself until the investigations are completed.
She said that she has had discussions with Duncan regarding to rumors that he is engaged in “other activities than just the position that he holds.”
“Until the minister indicates to me that there is some truth to these other activities, at which time, I will have to discuss with the minister what we will do about these other activities. I do not have that information from the minister and of course I leave it up to the minister if he feels it necessary to divulge any other information. From the position of prime minister I do not have any information from the minister that would make it necessary.”
The government, parliament and judicial authorities are separated but form part of a functioning democracy on St. Maarten and no one will be allowed to apply any undue pressure on any member of government to do things that are not the responsibility of government, the prime minister said.
Several ministers who might have been engaged in other business activities had already made arrangements to separate those activities from themselves during the initial screening questionnaire for the Council of Ministers, she added.
The prime minister noted that she has also observed that with Tuesday’s announcement that St. Maarten had contacted Transparency International for an integrity assessment, foreign media houses have placed the government’s move in connection with pressure coming from the Kingdom government.
The prime minister concluded by saying that she had not been made aware of any suggestion by the Dutch government that St. Maarten should be placed on higher supervision.