St. Maarten Prime Minister deflects criticism on Bada Bing scandal – Challenges UP to use law for its allegationsPOSTED: 03/22/13 1:50 PM
St. Maarten – As the controversial Bada Bing scandal continues, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams is maintaining that she will not be engaging in any tit for tat, especially after Monday’s press conference by the United People’s (UP) Party calling for her to condemn the actions of Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge allegedly accepting a bribe and requesting that himself and Justice Minister Roland Duncan step aside until investigations are completed.
“I can understand from an opposition point of view that basically what the members of the UP would like to hear is a sort of ‘he say/she say’ type of situation. But clear from my initial reaction is that I am not going there. Laws are in place for these types of things. If in this process and in any similar process it is felt that the laws do not cover all aspects that could come about then it behooves the government and parliament to discuss these issues. It is not up to me to judge,” the prime minister said.
While indicating that she was unaware of whether there was any truth to the allegations and insinuations the UP made such as top government officials receiving kickbacks for the Justice Park project, the prime minister pointed the party to judicial authorities if it has proof and valid information.
“If the UP referred to any allegations that they know about then I am sure that that party knows fully-well that once they become aware of any situations what they are called to do as Members of Parliament and as a political party. I don’t know of any negotiating with Mr. Andrawos, the Justice Park and kickbacks having been received by any one. I also have no idea who was negotiating on behalf of Andrawos’ company with the justice minister.
She reiterated that Articles 36 and 50 of the Constitution are clear concerning the vacation of ministers and parliamentarians from their seats. If either one is taken into preliminary detention, they are suspended and if convicted, then must vacate their position permanently.
During yesterday’s Council of Ministers press conference, the leader of the National Alliance/Democratic Party/Independent 3 coalition government was pressed to respond to the many calls in the society for her to show leadership and condemn the acceptance of money by Illidge from the owner of Bada Bing Adult Entertainment Club that was seen on leaked video.
“Nobody should be happy with matters like this. What do we tell the young people? Nobody can stick their hand in the fire for another person,” she responded when asked what she would tell the nation’s young people who are following the situation closely.
“We are only judging by what we saw and what we heard. Many of those who came out and made statements on the first day and called for actions, they needed to take a step backward when the following day more information was revealed and the next day, more information. Then you saw people taking a step backward because you are going to go on this allegation and that allegation and I am not going to do it,” the prime minister said staunchly.
The UP wants to call Wescot-Williams to Parliament to give her direct views on the issues.
In relation to the charges that were made by Parliamentarian Janchi Leonard (UP) that kickbacks and conflicts of interest are also occurring at the St. Maarten Harbor Group of Companies where a parliamentarian secured a construction contract for his father’s company for which he also holds the managing director’s position, Tourism Minister Romeo Pantophlet said that he has no knowledge of Leonard’s claims.
“I have no knowledge of what you are talking about. Those questions will have to be directed to the managing director of the harbor I am just the shareholder representative. I do not get involved in any day to day running. It is not in my competence to sit on the chair of any managing director of any company that I represent for the government. The management of the company is done by the CEO and his/her management team and the shareholder sets the policy and the board will have to execute,” Pantophlet deflected.
Since the scandal broke some two weeks ago, no meeting has been held with coalition partners, the prime minister stated.