Clyde van Putten open to ‘dialogue, cooperation’ with Dutch Government

Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk (left) and his delegation  meeting with the Island Council of St. Eustatius on Monday, with PLP foreman Clyde van Putten (third right).

 ST. EUSTATIUS–Island Councilman for coalition partner Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Clyde van Putten said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the “reconciliatory content and tone” of Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk’s statements made at meetings and a press conference during his farewell visit to St. Eustatius on Monday. Van Putten said he would like to think that this is due to the fact that Statia has been countering and continues to counter, the “allegations and actions” by the Dutch Government with “sound legal arguments and visible positive efforts towards improvements and progress for the entire island and its population under difficult circumstances.”

  That being said, Van Putten said he would like to rectify a number of “false perceptions” which Plasterk “continues to create” in his press statement.

  “Unlike Mr. Plasterk and his civil servants, who bluntly refuse to receive delegations to talk about certain topics because they do not wish to be confronted and pointed to their misdeed, the Government of St. Eustatius has always been and continues to be willing, to have an open and frank dialogue with the Government of the Netherlands about any subject. This has been reaffirmed in all Island Council motions and letters to the Dutch Government, all of which are on public record,” Van Putten said.

  According to Van Putten, it was the Government of Statia, in a letter of February 14, which was the first to propose a joint Committee of Wise Men charged with preparing a roundtable conference between parties.

  “Mr. Plasterk then broke the agreements which were made between the coalition and his Secretary-General Richard Van Zwol during two visits earlier this year…and decided to unilaterally appoint two persons to prepare an investigative report.

  “The ‘lack of communication, collaboration and respect,’ of which Mr. Plasterk spoke in his press statement, is therefore solely applicable to him and his Ministry. The Government of St. Eustatius can certainly not be accused of this,” Van Putten stated.

  The Councilman said the same goes for statements made about the Constitution. “While making this statement, Mr. Plasterk again purposely fails to mention a number of things. The first one is that the Dutch Government, whenever it is convenient, arbitrarily ignores the same Constitution under which the people of St. Eustatius were placed against their expressed wishes and therefore illegally.”

  He further claimed that payment of US $714,000 to consultancy KPMG without the approval of the Island Council, and “condoning the behaviour” of Acting Island Governor Julian Woodley are in conflict what that same Constitution.

  “The Constitution and related legislation clearly prescribe the rules and regulations regarding the appointment of Governors, including the role of the so-called Committee of Trust. It is therefore unacceptable and incomprehensible that Mr. Plasterk has decided that the appointment will depend on the advice of the two Wise Men,” Van Putten said.

  According to the PLP Councilman, Minister Plasterk continues to “deliberately ignore” the context of international law, being the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions, “which are superior to, and therefore overrule our Constitution in cases of conflict between the two legislative systems.”

  Van Putten said that Plasterk “should know that it is not polite to talk about St. Eustatius and its Government in a derogatory manner in the press, in the Dutch Parliament, and on the island while visiting, instead of talking with the Government of St. Eustatius.”

  Van Putten said he would also like to correct Plasterk’s statements about the Plan of Approach.

  “This Plan was not based on the Spies Report. It was used as an excuse to impose higher supervision in June of 2015. Interestingly, Mr. Plasterk selectively shops around in the Spies Report. The Report contains many other recommendations benefiting the islands which Mr. Plasterk chose to ignore, while only picking out the parts he wishes to use.”

  Van Putten said the Plan of Approach stalled because it “was not needed and was not realistic in the first place because the process manager appointed by the Kingdom Representative did not function and suddenly disappeared from the island without notice or reason, and because the Dutch Government failed to live up to its promise to fund the entire programme.

  “Interestingly, those same actions outlined in the Plan, when being implemented by the Government of St. Eustatius independently, continue to be stagnated and stalled by the lack of cooperation on the side of the Kingdom Representative and the Ministry.”

  Councilman van Putten closed off by saying that he would comply with Minister Plasterk’s request, “and trust that he and his successor will be willing to dialogue, listen to and cooperate with the proposals of the Government of St. Eustatius in order to structurally improve the relationship between parties and the lives of the people of St. Eustatius.”

Source: The Daily Herald