Justice Park is dead, Romain Laville ready to pay “ultimate sacrifice”POSTED: 05/10/13 1:58 PM
DP faction leader Roy Marlin addresses the media while Leroy de Weever and Gracita Arrindell look on. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar
Majority of eight wants “all noses in the same direction”
St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Two remarkable pieces of news from the press conference the 8 parliamentarians united in a UP/DP/Laville coalition: the Justice Park in its present form is dead, and Romain Laville is prepared “to lay down his life” in his fight for what is right for the people of St. Maarten.
The eight MPs – Roy Marlin, Leroy de Weever, Gracita Arrindell, Jules James, Dr. Ruth Douglass (who said she is definitely not leaving St. Maarten), Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce, Johan Leonard and Romain Laville – gathered in the conference room of the parliament building yesterday afternoon to explain why three of them had pulled their support for the current government and why the UP had decided to join them to form a new majority.
It was, in the words of DP-MP Leroy de Weever “not a happy occasion for St. Maarten to change government midstream.”
De Weever made clear that “one or more ministers” do no longer have majority support. While it became apparent that the main problem is Justice Minister Roland Duncan, it remained unclear what exactly the problem is with the other four ministers that have been asked to resign or face a motion of no-confidence today. It is anyway not Vice Prime Minister William Marlin with whom De Weever said to have an excellent working relationship. That leaves the Ministers Jacobs (Education), Pantophlet (Economic Affairs) and Tuitt (Finance) as the possible targets of the new majority’s grievances
The budget debate and especially the lame answers even Mps from coalition-partner DP received about their questions about the harbor seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. De Weever called the way these questions were answered “an abuse of trust.”
The main concern of the revolting parliamentarian is that every minister in the cabinet that has now been asked to leave was going in his or her own direction.
“The dynamics of politics have to play out,” De Weever said. “Ministers have to take decisions that are in the best interest of the country. I will not sit around and be part of the destruction of St. Maarten. Many things in many ministries do not have our support.”
De Weever added that “today is not an easy day: if we do not get their resignation, we have to get a vote of no confidence. I urge them to do the honorable thing.”
UP-MP Gracita Arrindell, who may return to her position as President of parliament, said that the new coalition wants a situation whereby “the noses of all ministers point in the same direction. We want more unity.”
Independent MP Romain Laville, who was at the center of a storm for causing the government to fall for a second time within a bit more than a year, wanted to get one thing out of the way first: “This has nothing to do with any monetary gain. From 2010 I have been consistent in my vision of where I think this country should go. Regretfully it has come to this. We need to take stock of what kind of country we want. My consistency in parliament has never changed. We have to make sure that our people are taken care off. Everybody may be in a frenzy now, but I have sacrificed everything to do what is the best for the people.”
Laville expressed his frustration with the lack of cooperation from several ministers – without calling anyone of them by name. “I am tired of banging on ministers’ desks – not for me, but for the people – to have them understand their priorities.”
Laville referred to his position on the plight of the Pelican-workers, his motions about obligatory pension plans, free education and a breakfast program for primary schools.
“I don’t want my years in parliament to go by and get a name that I am a good talker. I am ready to sacrifice. I will give up my safe seat in parliament to become a minister and to perform. In that function anybody can put in a vote of no confidence and I will lose my job. If that happens I can say that I fought a good fight in the best interest of the people.”
MP Laville made a rather disconcerting reference to the assassination of Helmin Wiels. “There is a climate of talks about what has happened in Curacao and that this could happen in St. Maarten too. I am willing to sacrifice no matter what the situation will be. If it turns out that I have to pay the ultimate sacrifice, I am ready to do it. Because this is not about me, not about Romain Laville. I have always loved the people of St. Maarten, a place where I was conceived but not born. I am ready to lay down my life for them.”
UP-MP Jules James said that the now outgoing cabinet has put St. Maarten in an awkward position, mainly due to the persistence of Justice Minister Roland Duncan, who brought the country on the brink of an instruction by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. James also mentioned the fact that in his view the budget is not balanced and that there are motions that could also have financial consequences. “But now there is a new political reality,” he concluded.
DP faction leader Roy Marlin said that he is “disappointed” in the performance of the council of Ministers. “I loudly protested the Justice Park, because that was an instruction waiting to happen. The possibility of an instruction is still hanging over our heads.”
Marlin criticized the budget and also mention “the hiring of personnel” as a grievance. “There are sixteen notions that will have dire financial consequences if they are executed. It is unacceptable to continue under those circumstances.”
Marlin also reiterated that there is no need to dissolve the parliament. “Those five ministers have no choice but to tender their resignation,” he said.
Laville frankly brought up the “unresolved issues” between him and UP-MP Jules James, whom he threatened to shoot and kill last year. “Are these issues bigger than the concerns of the people?” he asked. He added that he aims to become the Minister of economic affairs and tourism in the new cabinet and that tax breaks for young entrepreneurs as well as customer service are two of the issues that will have his attention.
MP Roy Marlin noted that the motions that were approved by the parliament would be a financial burden for the country if executed. “They need to be more structured,” he indicated. “Not all of these motions are executable. The money has to come from some place and at the moment, the buck is not there.”
Marlin confirmed that the Justice Park “is killed in its present form.”