The Daily Herald writes that National Alliance NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher Emmanuel said on Monday that he had been offered US $2 million for his parliamentary support as he stressed the point that St. Maarten had an integrity issue. Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Emmanuel said he had been offered $80,000 in 2010. He did not specify what the offer was for, but The Daily Herald was told that the offer was for him to run on the slate of another big political party, which he turned down.
Emmanuel told Parliament that “the stakes went up a little higher” in 2014 when he obtained a seat on the National Alliance slate during the August 29 elections and he was offered $400,000 to declare himself an independent MP, which he said went up to $2 million. “This is not hearsay,” Emmanuel said in Parliament. “We have an integrity problem on St. Maarten. Let’s be real and admit it. We have now moved from buying votes to buying seats. We have a problem in the country and instead of doing as Michael Jackson said in his song to look at the man in the mirror, let’s look at ourselves.” He said, “We can go on and on and say what we want about the Dutch…, but the issue is not the Dutch the issue is us – we. We have the problem. We created the problem, not the Dutch.” He did not mention the names of any political party when he made his statement, but The Daily Herald was told that the offers had been made by a big political party.
Emmanuel, one of the new faces in the current Parliament, is not the first to make claims of having been offered money in exchange for their parliamentary support. Former United People’s (UP) fraction leader and subsequent independent MP Romain Laville made similar claims in the past of being offered money from UP for his support, after he had severed ties with the party. He said the offer had gone up when he turned it down the first time.
Emmanuel’s statement drew reactions from several MPs who either distanced themselves or made clear that they never had been paid for their parliamentary seat or support. One MP said that if Emmanuel had been offered money, he should have recorded the discussion and taken it to the Prosecutor. UP MP Dr. Lloyd Richardson, who was elected on the NA slate in 2010, but subsequently went independent and ran on the UP slate for the August 29, 2014, election, said he had not been paid for anything. “Nobody offered me money. I received no money from anyone to make any decision,” Richardson said. “They could search all they want – everything that Lloyd spends he worked for.”
Democratic Party (DP) MP Cornelius de Weever also said he had not been offered any money. UP leader Theo Heyliger alluded to Emmanuel’s statements when he addressed Parliament later in the meeting. Heyliger said that while some persons spoke about who was being bought, he had realised he could not be around persons other than family members without having two possible witnesses at all times, as “these stories can live a life of their own.”
Heyliger said he had asked many media outlets where they had obtained their information. He said when all was done, St. Maarten’s budget would not have money to pay for one to be in government.