PHILIPSBURG–The relationship between United People’s (UP) party leader Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger and the Dutch Government has been rocky at best, but in light of the assistance rendered to St. Maarten after monster Hurricane Irma and the country’s place in the Kingdom, Heyliger has sent an open letter of thanks to the Dutch Government and people.
Heyliger said UP is confident St. Maarten will be able to count on the Netherlands in the long term, and both St. Maarten and the Netherlands can count on UP for the correct spending of funds made available by the Netherlands and in the reconstruction of St. Maarten.
“St. Maarten is also grateful to the Dutch soldiers, the Royal Marechaussee and the National Police, who have excellently assisted and still help in maintaining public order and safety and providing emergency relief … I would like to thank the Netherlands and the Dutch people, on behalf of my group, the United People (UP) from the heart of my heart,” he said.
It was “heart-warming” that the Dutch people have supported national action that raised some 15 million euros for use by the Red Cross and others for rebuilding in St. Maarten.
He thanked the Dutch Government for the use of its military capacity, for their assistance in the coordination of emergency aid and for sending the Joint Support Ship Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman with aid and materials to the country.
The “thank you” to the Dutch Government and people covers, but is not limited to, their help with distribution of primary necessities (water and food), providing emergency services for people without roofs, restoration of vital infrastructure including the airport and ports services, prison security services and evacuation.
The Statute of the Kingdom stipulates that the countries in the Kingdom provide each other with assistance and assistance where necessary, he said. “And at a time when St. Maarten needed help and assistance more than ever, the Netherlands and the Dutch people also provided assistance and demonstrated enormous solidarity and sympathy with the people of St. Maarten.”
Heyliger also expressed criticism of the local government about the delayed declaration of a state of emergency. That declaration came on September 8, two days after Irma devastated the country on September 6.
“The UP considers it very regrettable that the St. Maarten Government led by William Marlin had taken so long to announce the state of emergency affairs. This was … far too late, causing St. Maarten and St. Maarten’s business not only to be catastrophically affected by Hurricane Irma but also led to large-scale robberies, both during and immediately after the hurricane,” Heyliger stated in the letter deposited with the Dutch Representation in Philipsburg as a conduit to the Government in The Hague.
If the state of emergency had been declared earlier, the Royal Dutch Marines could have helped to prevent robberies, he said. “Unfortunately, this has not happened.”
Heyliger notes in his letter that his criticism is solely for the local government. “The Dutch population and the Dutch Government do not get any blame for this. To them, only praise and very much thanks.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/70017-heyliger-thanks-dutch-for-irma-relief-support-2