GREAT BAY — Former Prime Minister William Marlin on Thursday attempted to clear the air on what he says are outright lies being planted in the community by members of the United Democrats to gain political mileage in the run up to snap parliamentary elections.
Marlin made clear that his intention is to simply correct the lies being peddled by the party to gain sympathy from the electorate.
Members of the party have been using issues such as the container at the border, the 2017 St. Maarten Day wreath laying photo op, and the Oyster Pond issue to claim that he is at odds with French St. Martin.
UD’s attempts to give the impression that Marlin has been and is at odds with the French side has no basis and is a lame attempt by that party to try to divide the people. “And you can’t divide people and think you have conquered the same people. When you try to win an election by diving people, you can’t rule those same people because you’ve created a division”, he said.
“What they are trying to perpetrate with their lies is the height of nonsense”, Marlin said noting that not only is his wife deeply rooted in French St. Martin, but he has a personal relationship with hundreds of French nationals dating back from since he was a school principal and 50% of his students were from the French side.
“When politicians cannot say something negative about a person’s performance and about their work, they resort to planting hollow statements”.
He said despite the fact that the correct information had been presented in the past, one of the party’s candidates continues to say that he placed a container at the border to create a rift between the two sides. “This is absolutely not true”, Marlin said adding that former Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman had already made it clear that Marlin had noting to do with this as the decision to place the container at the border after hurricane Irma was made by the police management in an attempt to stem the transport of stolen cars from the Dutch to the French side.
Another lie that he says continues to be peddled is false statements that government did not show up at the border for wreath laying on St. Maarten Day 2017. Marlin said the cultural representatives from the two sides of the island had agreed to make the focus of last year’s St. Maarten Day, a celebration on the history and culture of the people, and show that there is no difference between the two sides, signifying that a person does not stop being a St. Maartener/St. Martiner when they cross the border. Neither authority had planned a wreath laying ceremony at the border. However, Marlin understood that while the French side delegation had been travelling to participate in an event at the Government Building on the Dutch side, they received a call from the son of a senior member of the Democratic Party, to join them for a photo op at the frontier and the French officials stopped and took the photo and then continued on their way. “The entire thing was cooked up, just like the break up of the government”, Marlin said noting that this explains why only members of the Coalition of 8 were present, including the then DP Minister.
“Why would the Government of St. Maarten invite the French government to a celebration at the Government Building but snob them at a wreath laying. That’s another hoax they to create a rift”.
Marlin is also being accused of creating a problem over the Oyster Pond matter. He said while it is one island with one people, there is colonial division between the two sides. Also, while the Sea Border Demarcation Treaty between the two sides was negotiated, concluded and was eventually signed off on in 2017; the Land Border Demarcation Treaty is not yet concluded.
When authorities were preparing for land demarcation talks, French officials went to Captain Olivers and arrested the owner and manager, took them to Marigot and informed them that they had been breaking French laws as they had been repairing the marina against French regulation and that they should be paying taxes. “I vehemently protested when this happened”, Marlin said
While Captain Olivers had bought land on the French side, his restaurant and marina are in Dutch waters and he had received a permit and license from the Dutch side (former Antillean Government) and had been paying taxes on the Dutch side.
“While we are one people and for us one island, legally we are the French St. Martin, which falls under France and Dutch St. Maarten which falls under the Dutch Kingdom and we have a separate regulations. When William Marlin took the oath for office, it was an oath to defend St. Maarten and its 16 square miles of this 37 square mile island and if the other side encroaches and claims something that isn’t theirs, am I not supposed to defend my territory?”
Marlin said the French authorities were wrong and he protested as agreements had been made that the status quo would be observed until the land border demarcation treaty has been finalized.
“If we don’t react, then one of these days they will claim properties near Belvedere and will claim that Belvedere belongs to the French side and will claim Diamond Estate. This is what triggered that discussion”.
Marlin said despite his protest, immediately after the hurricane, he had contacted the Director General in Brussel for the European Union who agreed to make funds available for joint cooperation projects between the French and Dutch sides and he agreed and had subsequently contacted President of the Collectivite Daniel Gibbs on the matter and made a call for the technical persons on both sides to look into possible joint projects such as possibly the cleaning of the lagoon.
The Causeway is also being used to create false impressions. Marlin said he had referred to the Causeway as the bridge to nowhere when it was being built because it did not solve the traffic bottlenecks. This is evident with the traffic that backs up all the way to the Airport in Simpson Bay and in the area of Cole Bay in the afternoons. This is when Marlin came up with the idea to build a tunnel and some Chinese investors had agreed to build, own and operate the tunnel, which would have significantly eased the traffic bottlenecks that existed. “These are the facts”, Marlin said urging the populace to not be mislead by the misconceptions being planted in the community in the run up to elections.