19 JANUARY 2017
POND ISLAND–The St. Maarten Government has not been informed, officially or unofficially, by the Dutch Government about its recent appointment of a quartermaster for the still-to-be legislated Integrity Chamber.
Prime Minister William Marlin said on Wednesday, almost a week after the appointment was made, “Officially, we have not been notified … we have received no official communication. It is not that my phone number is unknown to the Dutch minister … so for the Government, officially, there is no such thing that has taken place.”
“I am taking it for now [like – Ed.] it has to be some joke or some mistake. But in the event that it is not … then I am saying we are heading definitely in the wrong direction, because this is not the way communication is supposed to take place within and between the Governments of the Kingdom,” Marlin told the press when asked about the appointment.
The appointment of quartermasters to oversee the establishment of the framework for an integrity chamber was agreed to in a protocol signed by former Justice Minister Dennis Richardson in 2015. St. Maarten had to appoint one of the two quartermasters and this led to the drafting of the integrity chamber law that was eventually squashed by the Constitutional Court for not providing sufficient protection to residents in case of overreaching of the chamber. The Dutch did not appoint a quartermaster until now.
Marlin said his party, the National Alliance, and Government is not against tackling integrity issues. “We believe there are enough mechanisms within government. Yes, we fall short with certain legislation and that is being worked on … but the fact that just this week two immigration officers were arrested shows that issues are being tackled,” he said.
“This Government is committed to tackling integrity issues and cleaning up whatever mess we may have. We do not believe that an integrity chamber is necessary, particularly not in the manner it was proposed at the time” in the squashed law tabled by the then United People’s (UP) party Government, said Marlin.
Although the NA was “vehemently against” the law, it was passed in 2015 and with it Government lived up to its part in the protocol and a quartermaster was appointed, the Prime Minister said.
The Legal Affairs Department has prepared an advice on the way forward based on the verdict of the Constitutional Court. Government has to still take a decision on the outline approach, said Marlin. “This is known to the Dutch Government. This is known to all parties in the kingdom.”
“To read on a given morning that the Dutch just appointed somebody and it looks as if the appointment is to help out somebody who has not been able to find a resting spot within the marechaussee, went to the tax office couldn’t do a good job there either … let us give him an appointment,” Marlin said.
He added that if indeed this is how that appointment went “that is a breach of integrity. That is not the way these things should go.”
Marlin said he is “kind of flabbergasted in terms of what has happened” and has not reacted officially to the news report of the appointment. “We are saying it is out of place if it has happened it is unacceptable to us.”
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten