UP Leader MP Hon. Theo Heyliger Statement on Integrity

“Over the past two weeks much has been said about the PWC Integrity report locally and across the ocean. Unfortunately some are attempting to paint a picture of an unwilling St. Maarten, unwilling to address reported and alleged integrity issues highlighted in the report, a St. Maarten comfortable with the status quo. The volume on the noise has been increased, but it is important that we filter through this and focus.

“I thought it was important to point out that contrary to the opinion of some, you cannot wave a magic wand and address every reported issue overnight. Comments emanating from the Netherlands would have you believe that St. Maarten could have solved or curtailed every instance of reported integrity issues the same week the PWC report was issued.

“St. Maarten, in their opinion, should not be given the opportunity to address its own issues. St. Maarten, they imply, is not capable of doing this and requires that its hand be held. I want to assure the people of St. Maarten that the incoming UP led government, duly elected by the people, has every intention to seriously look at the findings of these integrity reports.

“In the same breath, the world should not expect our democratic government to set aside all forms of due process and legal frameworks and address these findings irresponsibly. Every branch of government, individual and instance that has been tagged by these reports must be looked at objectively. We also have to differentiate between conjecture and fact. We will hold true to democratic principles. We will not conduct ourselves as a radical and reckless mob or go on a witch hunt in order to satisfy ulterior motives.

“The public discussions have given rise to a broad examination of the level of integrity and propriety that the public ought to expect from their government and government entities. It is a worthwhile discussion that should in time result in dispelling any mistrust the public might have of government, politicians and of the institutions that serve them if allegations prove to be true following the application of due process and the rule of law.

“Rather than acknowledging that St. Maarten should be given the opportunity to right its own ship and that St. Maarten has already taken numerous steps to enhance integrity, voices from abroad know that nothing erodes trust faster than allegations of corruption. Circumstances are often such that pretence and untruthfulness are more likely to promote their ends than honesty.

“We cannot be distracted; we must stay true to our mission to promote integrity throughout government even if the voices from abroad believe we should ignore due process. The great majority of St. Maarten’s public servants are good people dedicated to their jobs. That a few should so severely damage the hard won reputation of the whole public sector is deeply saddening.

“The incoming UP led government will also be an open one. We have to finally dispel the thought that government promotes a culture of secrecy where information is scarce and only a few have access and benefit. Government must be open to all. Transparency promotes accountability and an open government promotes efficiency and participation to the benefit of every citizen.

“May God Bless St. Maarten and its people.”

Leader of the United People’s party Member of Parliament Hon. Theo Heyliger