~ No difference between Van Huffelen, Knops ~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Tuesday urged the UP/National Alliance government to stop trying to confuse the people of St. Maarten by willfully and childishly undermining serious issues, especially after two years of scandal-ridden governing. “Our people deserve better than this display of the UP and National Alliance back-biting each other and further eroding its vanishing credibility, while the people suffer in the real world,” the MP said.
Emmanuel was referring to the recent squabbling in the coalition about the Coharis petition to the UN, the Prime Minister conveniently finding her voice on the same and the false impression being created that the country should expect different treatment from the Dutch government through the new State Secretary of Kingdom Affairs Alexandra van Huffelen.
He noted that some members of the government, including the Prime Minister, are carrying on as if the new State has said anything different than her predecessor Secretary Raymond Knops as it pertains to COHO, liquidity support, country packages and implementation agendas. “The only difference is she said it with a smile,” MP Emmanuel said, adding that the demands and consequences for not adhering to these demands are still very much in place.
“The Prime Minister wants everyone to be gentle and walk on egg shells so we do not upset Van Huffelen. She keeps referring to improved relations with the Dutch government. But what exactly is improving? What is happening that we should feel obliged to tread carefully?” the MP asked.
“Is the COHO off the table? Are loans being written off? Is the blackmailing coming to an end? Is the CFT and its powers being reigned in? Do we have a real dispute regulation? Is the ordinance on the 12.5% cuts to income being rescinded? Are new taxes on import etc being cancelled? What improved relationship are we talking about exactly? The only thing we know is what we have read and these are the same exact things Knops advocated for that Van Huffelen is now advancing,” Emmanuel said.
In that context, he questioned why the Prime Minister threw the President of Parliament of her own coalition under the bus for executing something that was mandated by Parliament, while remaining quiet when the previous President of Parliament acted without her condemnation.
“Maybe there is a word or two to change here and there in the Coharis petition, but the language about COHO in particular and the general conclusions remain the same. So what was so pre-mature? And when exactly would have been a good time to re-submit the petition? When relations improve with the Dutch? When will this be and more importantly what would this look like?” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP said the UP/NA coalition division over the Coharis petition, a petition that every one of the coalition MP’s supported, is a clear indication that the coalition can’t seem to agree on which master to serve; the people of St. Maarten or the government of the Netherlands to which the coalition gave away the country’s autonomy by agreeing to a full administrative takeover through COHO.
“Out of the blue you have a Prime Minister, who despite being questioned over and over by Parliament about her position on the petition, and never offering one, only indirect references, all of a sudden she has found her voice. The PM is using some of the same concerns expressed on the floor of Parliament to somehow call the submission of the petition pre-mature. On the premise of responsibility and common decency, I think it is past time now that the Prime Minister tells the people of St. Maarten how she truly feels about this petition and where she stands on it,” the MP said.
He continued: “In fact, in the rare times the PM did make comments she made them in a Washington Post article about the petition and COHO. Even in that piece she danced around the issue only stating, and I quote: ‘What it feels like, though, is a lack of respect, whether it’s because of race or whether it’s because we’re a small island. This top-down approach definitely feels like reverting back to colonial times.’ It would be good to know if the Prime Minister still feels this way,” the MP concluded.