By Hilbert Haar
The interim government that will take office on Monday is, as some may agree with me, a curious bunch.
For the first time in its history, the country will have a ship jumper in the seat of the prime minister – Leona Marlin-Romeo. I remember vividly, because I was there, how our designated interim PM said at a press conference hosted by United St. Maarten party-leader Frans Richardson to kill rumors that she was going to jump ship: “I am not going anywhere.”
Not too long afterwards, Marlin-Romeo left the USp and joined a coalition with the United People’s party. Her appointment shows that old sins are quickly forgiven – but not forgotten – in local politics.
I’m not saying that this disqualifies her for this highly temporary function. One could say that this is nothing more than a second caretaker government, one that has to make sure the elections go the way they are supposed to go. The brief period between the elections and the installation of a new government after the February 26 elections is simply too brief for this interim-government to do anything meaningful, apart from tracking down possible departure policy decisions of the outgoing government and keeping an eye on the store.
In this interim-cabinet we see also two politicians become unlikely colleagues on the same side of the aisle: Cornelius de Weever (as Minister of Justice) and Minister Emil Lee, who will retain his position as minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor.
In my mind, De Weever split with the Democratic Party in 2014 to prevent Lee from entering Parliament. He has called Lee a Johnny-come-lately, even saying in Parliament that in his time the only Lee he knew was Bruce Lee.
One would hope that De Weever has by now understood that racist remarks like this are not productive. Now he will have to work together with a fellow-minister who has built a stellar reputation during the relatively short period he has been in office.
Interestingly, De Weever was Minister of Public Health before Lee, so one would think that the two will have plenty to talk about. And maybe all this will work out just fine; maybe those old wounds have healed, and maybe all that happened in the past has been forgiven.
For the sake of the people who are still living in our country, that would obviously be the best outcome, but I suspect that, with elections around the corner, candidates will have an irresistible desire to profile themselves in the fight for the seven or eight seats the United Democrats will win on February 26.
In the fight for those seats, Lee has a leg up on De Weever. He won 667 votes, more than four times as many as De Weever’s 158. Interim PM Marlin-Romeo won 194 votes.
Based on the results the candidates on the UD-list who took part in the 2016 elections (for different parties), De Weever ranks eleventh in number of votes. Emil Lee is, behind the 1,429 votes of party-leader Theo Heyliger, the second highest vote getter with 667.
Grabbing a comfortable seat in Parliament will therefore seem close to impossible for De Weever; the difference between his 2016-votes and those of the number eight on the current list, Tamara Leonard, is 49 votes. In the St. Maarten context that is quite a gap, but there is always a consolation prize: a post in the next cabinet, together with his buddy Emil Lee who will without much doubt remain the country’s Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor.
Source: StMaartenNews http://stmaartennews.com/opinions/ship-jumper-pm/