The NA/UPP coalition’s love-hate relationship with the Integrity Chamber of St. Maarten.

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MP Sarah Wescot-Williams

 

“They have to make up their mind what it is.”

MP Wescot over the weekend issued a statement regarding the meeting of parliament to approve the change to the Integrity Chamber law. In her view, the uneasy relationship in the NA/UPP coalition was again manifested during the meeting of parliament, which was convened to finalize the proposal by government to increase the age of the members of the integrity chamber.

“This draft proposal of law was already handled by the central committee of parliament and the government had provided  written answers to the few questions posed. In fact, it was considered such a routine matter that it went straight from the CC meeting to the public meeting with the answers as provided.”

“What we witnessed was the NA and UPP factions  embarrassing their  government by demanding a postponement of the meeting, so these factions could come with an amendment to the draft law presented by  their own government.”

These 2 factions in parliament continue their love-hate relationship with the Integrity Chamber of St. Maarten, beginning with the Leader of the UPP,  MP Brison and other coalition MPs cutting the budget of the Integrity Chamber, and the prime minister having to accept this amendment and only  after pressure from the UD faction, found a way to rearrange the budget of the integrity chamber.

The meeting last Friday was nothing short of an embarrassment for government, as the Prime Minister tried to persuade her own party members and the UPP that the age increase for members of the Integrity Chamber was primarily to accommodate the St. Maarten member on the board of the Integrity Chamber, MP Wescot added.

The NA and UPP factions wanted the postponement of the meeting, so they could come with an amendment that all members of the Integrity Chamber are residents of St. Maarten, thereby obstructing the Netherlands from nominating a candidate for its position who does not reside on Sint Maarten, the  MP explained.

“The  first question is if the these factions in parliament could not have synchronized this idea with their own government, before embarrassing the prime minister?”

During the parliament meeting on Friday, the creation of the integrity chamber was again rehashed, some MPs conveniently forgetting that at least we got the integrity chamber instituted via a national ordinance and not an instruction from the Kingdom government as was threatened at the time, MP Wescot, stated, adding, “thereby guaranteeing the decision making in the hands of the St. Maarten parliament”.

“Now, rather than tweak the law to make it work better for us, we see the  coalition factions in parliament using every opportunity to break  down, rather than build up. Why? Because they had an issue with the institution in the past.”

With our small scale and limited human resources, we should strengthen and respect our institutions, such as the (high) councils of state (Ombudsman, Council of Advice, General Audit Chamber, SER and Integrity Chamber) to be the gate keepers of our democracy and show the world, our size notwithstanding, that our checks and balances are functioning and as closely-knit as we are, there is redress for our citizens, the MP emphatically stated.

What went on in the meeting is not a show of ignorance of the topic Integrity Chamber, but rather bruised egos being  stroked. The NA and UPP factions know very well, that their amendment will cause their government  unnecessary  confrontation.

Rather than that, the government and its supporting MPs should guide the Integrity Chamber in generating an  understanding by the general public that the institution is there to investigate claims of misuse of power and position by the government and its entities. Feelings of misgivings about government can be investigated and if unfounded, laid to rest, MP Wescot concluded.