THE HAGUE–Ridding St. Maarten of corrupt politicians is in the best interest of the country and the people, said Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party and Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) on Wednesday, one day after the arrest of St. Maarten United Democrats (UD) leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger.
“The anti-corruption investigation that was initiated several years ago has as objective to create clean and honest politics in St. Maarten. This is the only way to give the island a future. It is painful that so many politicians are involved in corruption, but the only way to get rid of that is through a clean-up,” Van Raak told The Daily Herald and Amigoe Curaçao newspapers.
“Former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte of Curaçao is already behind bars and Theo Heyliger is next. The time will come for everyone who gets involved in shady deals. No stone will be left unturned in this anti-corruption investigation. Theo Heyliger is the first and more will follow,” said Bosman in an invited comment.
Van Raak and Bosman were the Members of Parliament who a few years ago asked the Dutch government to conduct a large-scale investigation into the connection between the underworld and upper world in St. Maarten. The result was the establishing of the Anti-Corruption Taskforce TBO which operates in St. Maarten and Curaçao.
“Politicians who are not corrupt have nothing to worry about; they won’t be prosecuted. We are not doing this for the Netherlands but for St. Maarten,” said Van Raak, who added that Dutch (construction) companies that were involved in corruption practices on the islands should be tackled “harder than anyone else.”
Bosman and Van Raak showed no sympathy for the complaint of Heyliger’s wife that her husband had been locked up in an inadequate and unfit for human detention police cell. “If people are locked up in police cells that are not complying with human rights, than that is the fault of the St. Maarten government and its Justice minister who have failed to sufficiently invest in the law enforcement system,” said Bosman.
“Unfortunately, there is no suitable detention facility in St. Maarten. The St. Maarten government should have invested in the law enforcement. I was there, together with my colleague Bosman, when Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever said that if the problem gets big enough, it will automatically become a problem of the Kingdom. That is an irresponsible attitude and I was shocked to hear the minister say that,” said Van Raak.
About the Dutch involvement in the St. Maarten law enforcement and the complaints of some on the island that The Hague is meddling too much in local affairs, Bosman implied that there was also a big role for the St. Maarten politicians. “It would be good if they would figure out that a clean government is good for St. Maarten. A government that truly serves the best interest of the people, a government with the honest attitude to repair roofs and rebuild the airport,” he said.
Bosman said that the Dutch law enforcement officers carried out their work as independently and objectively as possible. But because the law enforcement entities such as the TBO, the Special Police Taskforce RST and the Public Prosecutor’s Office were lacking capacity, the cases are handled one by one.
Other Dutch MPs chose not to respond to Heyliger’s arrest, contending that it was important for justice to run its course.