Saturday , May 27 2023

Hardly surprising

It appears St. Maarten is in a constitutional dispute with the Netherlands concerning the instruction for an integrity investigation via the governor (see Saturday paper). This is a comment in The Daily Herald. The Wescot-Williams cabinet will not cooperate with such pending an advice from the Council of State. The main complaint is the manner in which the Kingdom Council of Ministers is going about it. There is concern that allowing this course of action would set a dangerous precedent for the entire Dutch Caribbean. The other argument is that authorities in Philipsburg already are taking steps to address the issue, including an integrity assessment by Transparency International (TI). However, this does not seem to have convinced The Hague, particularly Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk.
The latter should hardly be surprising. After all, there have been two changes in government since 10-10-10, both sparked by parliamentarians leaving their respective parties and taking their seats with them. Not only that, but there have been shooting threats among elected members, accusation of attempts at political bribery and, last but not least, the Bada Bing tape. Add to that the ongoing investigation into alleged vote-buying and the electoral picture isn’t exactly a pretty one. Moreover, even before country status there were questions regarding the role of one commissioner regarding the harbour and the purchase of a crane, while another got in trouble for creating a confl ict of interest at a government-owned company. That same person as minister later was forced to step down due to a lease land scandal. One other former commissioner who is now senator was even convicted of corruption regarding the still-unoccupied new Administration Building. There has been plenty more controversy since; for example, concerning sand and asphalt. The instruction actually mentioned possible ties with the illegal circuit. The latter may refer to, among others, a local casino proprietor with legal troubles in Italy, but there is also the lottery boss who is currently the subject of a money-laundering and tax-evasion probe in Curaçao.
Perhaps it also has to do with certain things considered important for the necessary checks and balances to help ensure proper governance remaining forthcoming, despite promises to the contrary. One example might be the still pending Gaming Control Board

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