PHILIPSBURG–National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel wants Dutch State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops to stop meddling in the day-to-day running of the country.
It is “crystal clear,” Emmanuel said in a press statement Sunday that it is not the appointed Council of Ministers that is running Sint Maarten. “What we see now is that the State Secretary of Home Affairs Knops is confirming this to the people of St. Maarten,” he said.
The MP, who is one of seven that signed the still-to-be voted-on motions of no-confidence against Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson, queried if people “deserve such a weak government as the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet.” The cabinet has proven, he added, that the only thing it is good at “is betraying the people and selling out Sint Maarten.”
Emmanuel questioned if the prime minister gave Knops “such an entitlement, allowing him to be able to be so deeply involved in the day-to-day running … [as – Ed.] opposed to making it clear to him, that despite working together, he has to stay in his lane and respect the government and Parliament of Sint Maarten.”
Has the Council of Ministers decided that “in order for them to appear successful, they would allow Holland to run the show and take what they want, while they pretend to be working, whereas all the while they’re only hiding in the background?” he asked. “Where and when will the line be drawn as far as this State Secretary is concerned?”
As to Knops’ statement in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament calling on the local MPs to take an urgent stand on the Dutch government’s offer to assist Princess Juliana International Airport with US $100 million for reconstruction, Emmanuel said Knops “seems to be testing the waters more and more each time, in order to see how much he can get away with.
“When did he receive the power to tell Parliament to hurry up and take a stand, while Parliament never had a discussion with him?” Emmanuel queried in his statement.
The MP took slight with Knops’ statement that the motions of no-confidence “are holding hostage much-needed progress in this area.” Knops also indicated that the Dutch cannot move forward with its offer for the airport “as there is no clarity as to the support in the Sint Maarten Parliament for the government in power.”
Emmanuel said it is “an insult to the intelligence of the people” for Knops “to remotely suggest that the two motions tabled by the opposition are holding up the airport’s progress.” He questioned if the motions are also keeping back the roof construction for people seeking assistance from government for almost two years now, the clear and decisive plan for the landfill and the delivery of the overdue budget.
Government, said Emmanuel, already accepted the offer to aid the airport on January 9 and Knops had said on January 10 that government “made an important decision” on the airport. The MP said he wanted the prime minister to tell the public “the truth about what exactly took place, and if what she and Knops reported was false” because Knops now says progress to a deal that was supposedly signed, sealed and delivered, is being held back because of unsure support for government.
The MP queried if the money for the airport will only be granted if the present government remains in office.
Knops’ “disrespectful actions” are attributed by Emmanuel to the Council of Ministers’ “obvious inabilities” and them “instantly bow without debate to every demand that has come out of The Hague so far.” The perception, he said, has now been created that everyone on Sint Maarten “is blinded to the blackmail-type tactics that are being played out.”
Knops’ remarks are “nothing more than scare tactics and bully posturing, as he seems to want to do everything that is within his power to hold on to this government as this government has proven to be willing to do anything, including selling out Sint Maarten, in order to stay in power.”
It is “high time” government starts seeking other solutions to the problems plaguing the country, said Emmanuel. He suggested that the airport and Port St. Maarten should have meetings with General Pension Fund APS and Social and Health Insurance SZV in order to come up with an investment loan agreement, similar to the one SZV and the Port had to tackle the Zebec case.
The US $100-million loan from the Dutch government and the European Investment Bank “is another bait and catch with far-reaching consequences,” because the airport needs more than that amount, said the MP. “What this will do, is simply put the airport in a long-term state of begging, which of course will be very convenient for certain parties.”