PHILIPSBURG - The United People’s (UP) Party Faction Leader Hon. Member of Parliament Franklin Meyers would hereby like to make one thing abundantly clear to the general population and Kingdom partners: The issue with the instruction given to Governor Holiday regarding expanded screening criteria to be executed by appointees of the Dutch government, is not about ‘having something to hide’. Rather, the unconstitutional levels of interference the Dutch government is attempting to embark upon.
“No citizen of St. Maarten, no matter the political affiliation, can accept this. What other freedoms will be trampled on next? Every partner within the Kingdom is responsible for its good governance as is outlined in the Charter. If this action of interference by the Dutch government is allowed to continue, the consequences will be so far reaching it will eliminate any semblance of self/good governance that exists. It would open the door for interference on all levels,” UP Fraction Leader Franklin Meyers said.
St. Maarten already has regulation for the screening of candidate ministers. This fact is acknowledged by the Dutch government in the very same instruction given to the governor. By asking the Governor to hold off on signing appointing decrees until further investigation is completed “in addition to the existing investigation regulations” the Dutch government confirms its own interference in contradiction to the Charter.
St. Maarten’s screening regulation as is follows a democratic process that also does not infringe on certain rights laid out in the constitution of St. Maarten. If the Dutch government truly wants to play the role of partner, it can suggest ways to perhaps strengthen the process, it cannot unilaterally decide it will change the process and interfere.
In particular, it cannot do so at this stage of St. Maarten’s democratic electoral process after it (the Dutch Government) acts like a spoilt child and didn’t get the government it seemingly wanted. If the latter is your premise, then Holland turned into a dictatorship without the world having taken notice, but a development that St. Maarten will duly show to the world.
What is the legal basis for this “new” screening process? Is there any or did the Dutch government just make one up? These are the questions our people are and should be concerned about. In fact, the Dutch government have no legal basis for the screening of its own candidate Ministers. Their screening process is based on a 2002 letter from the Dutch Prime Minister to the Second Chamber in which screening is described. That’s it. No law or expanded actions that they now want to subject St. Maarten to.
Furthermore, the constitution of St. Maarten as well as the Charter of the Kingdom safeguards basic human rights and rights on privacy. The Dutch government want to infringe on all of these rights, which are also outlined in international conventions to which the Kingdom is signatory to, by having their appointees dig into the privacy of friends, family, acquaintances and other third parties uncontested.
On the issue of integrity and corruption, the UP Faction is not advocating that integrity lapses in one country justifies those is another. However, the Dutch Government admonishing St. Maarten and attempting to put itself on an integrity pedestal, is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The international non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) recently presented its assessment of the Dutch national integrity system and concluded that corruption in Dutch business equals in size the one in public sector.
The study concluded that the country was vulnerable to corruption and there was a ‘taboo’ among people in the country to speak about corruption. Moreover, it found out that “cooperation between public, social and private organisations in the realm of anti-corruption efforts is evaluated as being poor for the public sector, civil society and business.”
According to the report, in the Netherlands “anti-corruption initiatives are seldom developed by governmental or non-governmental organisations, or by business.” The study also mentioned the recent corruption scandals and the perception of the Dutch people that corruption has increased.
In addition, TI claimed that corruption detection, investigation and prosecution in the country were still difficult in practice, clarifying that a tension existed between the criminal justice interest in enforcement and the economic interest in avoiding criminal justice involvement and this tension made “the priority for investigating possible corruption by Dutch companies outside the Netherlands rather low.”
The report is also critical on the current legislation, finding out that “despite the existing steady stream of new legislation aimed at preventing corruption and protecting integrity, there are still areas where this legislation is inadequate’. This statement was made in connection to the lack of adequate protection in for whistle-blowers. Mind you, the same whistle-blower facility they want implemented on St. Maarten. They can’t even get it right in Holland.
The NGO’s report also alarmed that corruption among private parties was not punished in the Netherlands. Compared to other European countries, where corruption in the private sector is combated, the Netherlands lags behind.
Furthermore, TI found out that the corruption in the private sector was almost equal to the corruption by civil servants, while no cooperation existed between the two sectors in developing anti-corruption initiatives.
The report concluded that the Netherlands was frequently considered to be a corruption-free society in the eyes of international business, yet there were signs of lack of transparency, integrity and accountability.
The TI study comes to prove that no country is immune to the spread of corruption within its public or private sector. Nevertheless, the Dutch expectations for anti-corruption development in the new members of the EU, have been harsh and demanding. (Contributed by the UP Party)