A screenshot of MP Brison on the scene.
~ Emmanuel: Brison setting dangerous precedent ~
PHILIPSBURG–Chairperson of Parliament Rolando Brison says he will not be stopped from asking the proper questions when he sees injustice taking place on the island.
A video circulated over the weekend in which Brison was seen questioning inspectors who had gone to control District 721 in Simpson Bay. Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel referred to Brison’s actions in the video as “sewing seditious behaviour and interfering with civil servants executing directives,” and indicated that this is “a dangerous precedent to set.”
Brison said Emmanuel’s “cute press release or no others will not stop me from asking the proper questions when I witness injustice where I am on St. Maarten.” District 721 is expected to give its side of the story to The Daily Herald today, Monday.
In the video, Brison is recorded “chiding and questioning the inspectors for trying to close the establishment, questioning their authority and legal basis. He further asked the inspectors if they ‘have a conscience’ and called them ‘arrogant’,” Emmanuel said in a press release issued over the weekend.
The fundamental problems with Brison’s actions, the MP said, are many. First, as an MP and Chairman of Parliament, Brison should let and encourage citizens to use the means of protest available to them and deal with the matter the correct way with the Economic Affairs Department and the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT).
“It does not matter how you feel, let the inspectors work and let the business owner protest. If the inspectors did something wrong, then their department head and the Minister will correct that,” Emmanuel said. He added that Brison’s interference adds more to the speculation that government officials use their positions to influence matters in certain beneficial directions. “It was poor judgment,” Emmanuel said.
He explained that the inspectors did not even have to mention a minister, once their management gave them an instruction. The minister does not authorise everything, management cannot be dismissed in this process, Emmanuel noted. Additionally, he said, the Prime Minister (PM) and the TEATT Minister are on record as stating that economic controls would be stepped up to ensure that businesses are adhering to the implemented COVID-19 measures.
“That alone is a general directive,” Emmanuel said.
“It could also be seen as the Minister sending him to interfere as a result of her own conflict of interest with the land upon which the establishment sits, or reportedly the MP was defending personal interests of associates doing business in the establishment, which is also a conflict of interest,” Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel said Brison’s actions could also be viewed as inciting seditious and belligerent behaviour by business owners whenever the inspectors attempt to execute directives, making their jobs more difficult.
“The Chairman has the time to do this, but can’t find the time to call meetings and inform the people about the COHO [Caribbean Body for Reform and Development – Ed.] and other changes coming to the country. This despite his coalition partner, the PM, saying she updates Parliament regularly.
“The Chairman has time to cheer the fall of the Dutch government on social media, but just last week remained silent when the PM said signing agreements with Holland signals a new beginning between the two countries. This government is totally detached from actual governing and improving the lives of the people of St. Maarten,” Emmanuel said. “Now the Minister of TEATT has to provide an explanation about what exactly happened.
“We are talking about the highest seat in the land. It behoves the Minister of TEATT to provide an explanation about how this situation occurred, since her apparent directive was questioned.”