Priest dismisses Heyliger’s statement as “cheap and transparent political ploy”

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Leader of the OSPP Lenny Priest

PHILIPSBURG – A call for the resignation of the Justice Minister by MP Theo Heyliger has been dismissed as “nothing but a cheap and transparent political stunt” by leader of the One St. Maarten People Party (OSPP) Lenny Priest.

In a press statement that appeared in the local media on Tuesday, September 6, MP Heyliger issued the call for Justice Minister Edson Kirindongo to tender his resignation in the wake of the shooting death of an inmate at the Pointe Blanche Prison, and the other killing that took place.

“It really irks me that the persons who have been elected and charged with the responsibility for taking care of the people’s business choose instead to play politics and not bring important issues to Parliament where the people business is handled,” Priest said.

“This call is nothing but a cheap and transparent political stunt and not even a very good one at that. If the MP truly wanted the minister to resign then as a Member of Parliament he would request a meeting of Parliament to discuss the matter and table a motion asking for the Minister’s resignation or failing that issue a motion of no confidence in the Minister at Parliament. MP Heyliger is not a novice to the St. Maarten political arena. MP Heyliger has been a Member of the Island Council of St. Maarten for over 15 years and over the last 6 years as a Member of Parliament. He practically grew up in the corridors of power, first as a member of the Island Council and now as a member of the Parliament of St. Maarten so he knows, or at least we hope he knows, the procedures of Parliament,” Priest stated.

He noted that while it is common knowledge that inmates get into fights and that these fights   don’t end just because someone is incarcerated, it is unprecedented on St. Maarten that an inmate was killed with a gun smuggled into the prison.

“An inmate getting shot and killed – not knifed, which is bad enough, but shot – while in prison is a serious matter that needs urgent attention and we definitely believe that the Minister of Justice should do the honorable thing and resign. As a matter of fact the OSPP has called for his resignation when an inmate was transported to a clinic and was able to escape and to date he is still on the loose. This matter regarding the killings of several persons over the last couple of days was discussed in our in-house meetings, but realized that if the call for the Minister’s resignation was issued by us it may have been misinterpreted as political rhetoric and may have caused St. Maarten’s MPs not to request a meeting to discuss this very important matter. So we gave them space for their legal maneuvering. It is mind boggling to see that a week later none of the MPs have at the least requested even a meeting of Parliament with the Minister to have him explain to Parliament where that gun came from, how it found its way into the prison, what steps have been taken to ensure nothing like this ever happens again, and what punishment was meted out to the perpetrators as a deterrent to others. This is what we want to see, this is what needs to happen. Our young men cannot just keep killing each other like life has no value. When did this killing of each other become business as usual on St. Maarten?” the OSPP leader questioned.

Priest urged the people of St. Maarten to demand more from their elected representatives and advised the elected representatives to start taking the people’s business seriously. “Campaigning is no excuse for not calling a meeting of parliament to discuss an issue as important as our security. After all, the salaries of the MPs do not stop because they are campaigning. Call a meeting of Parliament now and request the Minister of Justice to be present to explain to the people what security measures are being put in place and at the end fire him,” Priest concluded.