New integrity instruction to Governor Holiday: Dutch Kingdom puts appointment Heyliger-cabinet on hold    

POSTED: 10/20/14 6:42 PM

THE HAGUE – The Kingdom Council of Ministers gave an instruction to Governor Drs. Eugène Holiday yesterday to put the appointments of candidate ministers and the candidate prime minister on hold. “The governor will only be able to sign the national decrees for the appointments when it appears that there are sufficient guarantees for the integrity,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference.

“The Kingdom Council of Ministers has established today that the integrity of the government of Sint Maarten must be beyond all reproach,” a press release from the Government Information Service (RVD) states. “This is why the Kingdom Council of Ministers has decided to give the governor of Sint Maarten an instruction, considering the elections and the formation of the cabinet that is currently underway,” Rutte said.

“The reports about the integrity of the government in Sint Maarten show that there is undesirable conflict of interest and abuse of power at all levels and in crucial institutions of the public administration,” the press release furthermore states. The statement refers to the integrity reports of the Wit-committee and the report produced by the New York-based Advisory division of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Outgoing Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams declined to be present at the meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. “Sint Maarten could have opted to have a minister present in that meeting along with the deputy Minister Plenipotentiary. However, I will not be traveling to the Netherlands. My experience is that it does not make any difference and I do not want to be part of a decision that I cannot influence.”

Video footage from NOS-TV showed that deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Josianne Fleming-Artsen and the director of her cabinet Perry Geerlings attended the meeting.

Jamila Baaziz reports on Caribisch Netwerk that Plasterk contacted outgoing Prime Minister Wescot-Williams about the option to let St. Maarten handle the screening the way the Netherlands wants it. “She did not see any possibility to do something like that,” Plasterk said. “I would have preferred for St. Maarten to do it, but I warned her that otherwise the Kingdom Council of Ministers would take this decision.”

“Several weeks ago we received a report that there are serious integrity violations in Sint Maarten, such as abuse of power, also in the government. We will present a plan of action in a couple of weeks to tackle that,” Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk told NOS-TV yesterday. “The Netherlands will contribute to that plan. It is crucial that the ministers that are going to execute that plan are totally incorruptible.”

Asked whether there are indications that candidates are about to be appointed that are corruptible, Plasterk said, “The instruction to the governor is to make certain that everybody is incorruptible. That goes a step further than checking whether there is evidence that someone has a criminal record. It is a better screening, we will really check for guarantees that somebody will be and will remain incorruptible after she or he has been appointed, and that these candidates will not be confronted with something from their past that affects their integrity.”

The NOS-reporter then dropped the following question: “The reports about this issue started specifically about Theo Heyliger who reportedly wants to become prime minister, while he is suspected of vote-buying and involved with fraud. Is that what this is all about?”

Plasterk did not bite: “No, this is not about one particular individual. What matters is that the formation of a cabinet is underway – shortly after it appears that the government seems to be infected with integrity-violations. It is important that in the new government – the ministers, the prime minister, the minister plenipotentiary, the whole club – everyone if totally incorruptible.”

The instruction is not the severest measure at the disposal of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Plasterk said. “A heavier measure would be to annul an appointment after someone has been appointed. In that case, it would focus much more on one individual. This is actually something that precedes the screening, it is an instruction how that screening should be done. That adds something to the screening the country already does.”

Plasterk furthermore said that the Kingdom Council of Ministers comes with a plan of action for Sint Maarten on November 16. “That plan will strengthen the whole chain – customs, Coast Guard, police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The execution of this plan will be partially directed from The Hague. We will for instance establish a unit at the prosecutor’s office specifically for white-collar crime. The intention is to look at these issues in politics – in the parliament and the government.”

The Antilliaans Dagblad reported yesterday about the possible instruction and interpreted it as “Bomb under Heyliger 1,” thereby suggesting that the measure is a direct assault on formateur and designated Prime Minister Theo Heyliger. “The suspicion is that the screening requirements have been formulated in such a way that it is almost impossible for Heyliger (….) to become prime minister,” the news-paper wrote, adding that there is widespread resistance in the Second Chamber against Heyliger’s appointment as prime minister.

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