THE HAGUE–The liberal democratic VVD party, the Labour Party PvdA, Socialist Party (SP) and the Party for Freedom PVV in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament lauded the move of the St. Maarten Prosecutor’s Office in Wednesday’s arrest of St. Maarten Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser and two others in the vote buying investigation.
Members of the Second Chamber André Bosman (VVD), Roelof van Laar (PvdA) and Ronald van Raak (SP) were especially content that the Prosecutor’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies were moving ahead with the active investigation and prosecution of illicit acts by elected/government officials.
Sietse Fritsma (PVV) stated that Matser’s arrest in connection with election fraud didn’t come as no surprise as “vote buying has been the common practice for many years in the banana republic St. Maarten.”
“We have been hearing for years that the buying of votes is happening a lot on the islands and all along we have been asking for the prosecution of the offenders. The fact that arrests have been made seems to indicate progress in the investigation,” said Roelof van Laar in an invited comment.
“It is a good thing that the Prosecutor’s Office is proceeding with this matter. The news that the vote buying court case had been dropped last year was a cause of concern for us,” André Bosman told The Daily Herald.
Bosman hoped that this new investigation was in line with the Prosecution’s objective to actively engage in tackling corruption and other related crimes. “It is happening in Curaçao and things are now also moving in St. Maarten. The waiting is on Aruba where very strange things are happening as well.”
About Matser’s arrest, Bosman said: “I hope that one of the bigger fish has now been caught, or one of the smaller larger fish,” also referring to the previous Masbangu investigation in which the Prosecutor’s Office had been accused of only going after the smaller fish.
Ronald van Raak said he was “very glad” that fraud and corruption was being investigated in St. Maarten. “I think that more arrests are coming.” He said that this investigation showed that it was beneficial to “follow the money.” “It is the precise reason for this investigation. Follow the money and see where the lines go to, which names come up.”
Van Laar wondered why MP Theo Heyliger, “the leader of St. Maarten’s biggest party UP, who has already been linked by the judge to vote buying,” again seemed to be “getting off the hook.” “Everyone who has bought votes should be prosecuted,” he told this newspaper.
Fritsma repeated his party’s stance to get rid of the Dutch Caribbean. “Naturally corruption is one of the reasons why the PVV would rather say goodbye to the islands today than tomorrow. Unfortunately other parties are not cooperating to finally liberate the Netherlands from these islands,” he said.
Bosman denied rumours in St. Maarten that the Netherlands, or certain politicians were behind Matser’s arrest in order to gain more influence on the island. “I have heard of these rumours, but I am not involved, and neither is the Dutch Government. We have been saying all along that the islands are responsible for cleaning up their act. This case is clearly a task of the local Prosecutor’s Office.”
Both Bosman and Van Raak were very critical of the move of the opposition not to sign in for Wednesday’s budget debate. As a result of this, there was no quorum due to Matser’s absence and the meeting had to be postponed. Van Raak and Bosman agreed that the budget debate was far too important to have party politics prevail.
“I understood that there is a majority support for this budget. However, it is clear that political games are being played. The approval of the budget shouldn’t depend on Matser’s arrest. There are fourteen MPs who can approve the budget. St. Maarten MPs receive grand salaries and should just do their work,” said Van Raak.
“I find it incomprehensible that the opposition refuses to take part in this debate. That is their job! As opposition one can also lend support to a budget if it is a sensible document,” said Van Raak, who explained that in the Netherlands MPs are automatically signed in when they enter the building.
“I consider it highly peculiar that the opposition doesn’t sign in for a meeting, apparently for political reasons. It seems that party interest is more important to these MPs than St. Maarten’s best interest,” said Bosman.
Source: The Daily Herald Dutch MPs laud vote buying investigation