Prime Minister & Minister of Justice Liken Actions of Dutch Government to Neocolonialism

PM: "This is not about an investigation; it is about the autonomy of the Countries within the Kingdom being at stake"

Minister of Justice: "The people of St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba did not leave their autonomy in the hand of the Dutch Government so that the Bosmans and Wilders’ out there can use St. Maarten as a political pawn."

A reversal of St. Maarten’s autonomy as a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and an erosion towards neocolonialism was how the Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Minister of Justice the Honorable Dennis Richardson explained the so-called ‘instruction’ of the Kingdom Council of Ministers to the Governor of St. Maarten to conduct an integrity investigation on St. Maarten.


The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice explained television viewers on the illegal, un-constitutional handling by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte and Minister of Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk. The PM and Minister Richardson emphasized that the issue is not centered on the investigation itself, since various steps were already being taken by the Government, amongst which the signing of an agreement with Transparency International to conduct a country wide integrity assessment for St. Maarten. "We made it a point to be in the Netherlands so that we could be present for the Kingdom Council of Ministers as it became clear that they were adamant about issuing a Royal Decree that would instruct the Governor to carry out an investigation on St Maarten. Prime Minister Rutte believed and still believes that he could give an instruction to have an investigation carried out within an autonomous country within the Kingdom. When we heard this we immediately asked ourselves how would they be able to do that? It is important to state that it is not about an investigation. If it were about an investigation we would not have contacted Transparency International to conduct an investigation, we would not have contacted a worldwide organization that deals with that specific issue. We have told Rutte and Plasterk about this initiative because we believe that there was so much negative talk out there regarding St Maarten and we wanted to find out where the sensitive areas were where it comes to St. Maarten and where we could improve with regards to this. We believe a dangerous precedent would be set if the Kingdom Government could interfere in our internal affairs. We wanted to make our case very very clear as it pertains to this," stressed the Prime Minister.

Dutch Misuse of Article 43 within the Kingdom Charter

The Minister of Justice the Honorable Dennis Richardson said that Government contests the legality of the decision of the Dutch Government, who de facto initiated what has been termed a constitutional blunder. "Rutte and Plasterk used an article in the laws for which that law was not intended and we believe this is against the principles of good governance and we believe it is illegal, which is ironic considering what they are saying. If the Kingdom Council of Ministers uses the article of higher supervision, which is the proper procedure, they would subsequently need to involve the Kingdom Council of State. Even then St. Maarten can appeal that decision and it is clear that political games are being played since this was not done. Because we believe that this is an illegal decision we have the right and obligation not to go with it. This is also of great importance to the other countries within the Kingdom because if this precedent is set the Dutch can subsequently use Article 43 for any purpose to interfere in the internal handling of a country within the Kingdom. There is a procedure in place to initiate the guarantee function which involves the use of article 51. The Dutch cannot justify that our system is not working. All allegations are in the public prosecutors system. So therefore we need to ask ourselves what is it that the Dutch really want?"

Dutch Putting Governor in Awkward Situation

The Prime Minister continued by stating that everyone, including the Governor His Excellency Eugene Holiday, has worked diligently in securing the independent position of the countries in their internal matters but that that work is now being brought into jeopardy by the unlawful actions of Prime Minister Rutte and Minister Plasterk. "If the countries themselves do nothing to remediate a situation and the systems do not work then yes the Kingdom Council of Ministers can invoke article 43. If they determine that our systems are failing fundamentally they need to use the procedure as outlined in article 51 to reach to article 43. There is also a process when it comes to that. Because none of these procedures were followed we are going to continuing to object. If it were something we had to hide we would not bring in Transparency International to St. Maarten. This is a reputable organization and are not there to give favors. If you bring them in you better be prepared for what they might find. What we realize is that Rutte and Plasterk had to back up their political statement in wanting to instruct St. Maarten, it was about meddling in our internal affairs to begin with. Our Governor is being put into a very awkward situation through coming with this Decree," stressed the Prime Minister.

The Minister of Justice further commented that the Dutch Government is using thin, baseless and ungrounded explanations for the issuing of the royal decree. "The backdoor is being forced to be wide open for Dutch Ministers to interfere with anything on St. Maarten or Curacao or Aruba and they want us to not do anything about it."

"We don’t have a problem with an investigation. We invited TI and made a proposal that is more direct and broader than that of the Dutch Government using reputable people from Holland and St. Maarten to guide the investigation but they refused that. The Dutch Government has put in this Royal Decree that countries have gone to the Dutch Government saying they have concerns about St. Maarten but when we questioned this they were unable to substantiate anything. It is a tactic of using this to allow them to interfere in our own affairs, in the affairs of all of the countries in the Kingdom. This kind of paternalistic feeling shared by the Dutch Ministers and a general feeling of resentment that St. Maarten became a country. We have worked day and night to do the things that were expected of us to become a country and St. Maarten has proven itself.

Back to the Old Days of Colonialism

"If this happens we will have reverted to the old days of Colonialism and ruling the people indirectly. That is not what we fought for. The people of St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba did not leave their autonomy in the hand of the Dutch Government so that the Bosmans and Wilders out there can complain and say that PM Rutte is not doing his job politically and using St. Maarten as political pawn.

"The Dutch have stopped funding social development on our islands, have left us with a debt of the Netherlands Antilles without providing the debt relief which was promised to us. They have left us no room to maneuver. We never received the money promised to us because of the famous statement that ‘the door is closed’. All this while the Dutch Government cannot stick within the European Norm as far as the Budget is concerned because the Dutch Government is having a hard time to keep within the 3% deficit. But us we cannot have a Budget Deficit because of CFT, we receive no aid and to nail the coffin shut now they are saying that they want to investigate us?

What is their objective? Do they want to help St. Maarten? We do not get that impression. It is not about an investigation because in fact that is what we want, that is what we have been calling for. We are being scapegoated. For example during the last couple of months every time a question is asked to Plasterk his response would be that most likely ST. Maarten would get an instruction on the Budget. When that did not happen and no instruction was given the Dutch Government saw they compelled to use something. The thinking is that that little miserable child of St. Maarten is something we as Dutch need to do something about. As St. Maarteners we cannot accept that. Forget about me as Prime Minister, as a St. Maartener it hurts me to see that St. Maarten is made out to be as something that it is not," stressed Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.

Minister of Justice Richardson also stressed that St. Maarten will move ahead with Transparency International but that until the Kingdom Council of Advice gives their statement, that no cooperation will be given to the so-called ‘instruction’. "Let it be clear to the people that we are moving ahead with Transparency International and others but we will not cooperate with a Royal Decree that will leave the door open for any Dutch Politician to interfere in the matters of the countries. We will not accept that."

To Inform Parliament

The Prime Minister also explained that a request was sent for a meeting of Parliament so that the body can be brought up to speed on the issue. "Today we have asked the Chairlady of Parliament to schedule a meeting so that we can apprise Parliament on the situation. This is not about Sarah Wescot-Williams, Dennis Richardson, William Marlin, this is about the back door being forced open for the Dutch to conduct neocolonialism and if we do not take our stance then, as we say here, "Crapaud Smoke our Pipe". This leaves the three Countries in a very difficult situation and we have the support of Willemstad as it is in all of our interest. If we want to be a real autonomous country in the Kingdom we need to stand together to avoid this neocolonialism," concluded the PM.