Integrity chamber meeting adjourned due to no quorum

PHILIPSBURG–An urgent public plenary session of Parliament on the conditions set by the Dutch Government on assistance for St Maarten as well as discussions on the Integrity Chamber and border control was adjourned in the middle of the session on Thursday after several Members of Parliament (MPs)who form the governing coalition had left the room.

  While United People’s (UP) party MP Tamara Leonard was addressing the floor, Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams requested a roll call and as only seven MPs were in the hall, the meeting was immediately adjourned until further notice.

  The seven MPs present for the meeting during the roll call were Democratic Party (DP) MPs Wescot-Williams and Geerlings; UP party MPs Theo Heyliger, Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani, Claret Connor and Leonard; and National Alliance (NA) MP Ardwell Irion. Not in the hall were NA MPs George Pantophlet and Rodolphe Samuel; United St. Maarten (US) party MPs Frans Richardson, Silvio Matser and Chanel Brownbill.

MP Franklin Meyers was absent with notice of being off-island.

  NA MPs Romeo Pantophlet and Hyacinth Richardson were not present for the meeting.

  After the meeting, there were claims that there had been a walkout that led to a lack of quorum. One source told The Daily Herald that coalition MPs had left the room because they were angry about Geerlings, another coalition MP, criticising Minister of General Affairs Prime Minister William Marlin.

  Wescot-Williams told this newspaper that MPs had been in and out of the hall and at one point, when it was brought to her attention that there were only seven MPs in the hall, she performed a roll call and the meeting was adjourned. At least one NA MP said also that it just so happened that he was not in the hall at the time and that reasons for not being in the hall had nothing to do with a walkout.

  At the start of the meeting Prime Minister William Marlin made a presentation about the Integrity Chamber and the conditions set by the Dutch government for St. Maarten to receive recovery aid.

  Marlin gave an historical perspective of the matter, including delving into the history of the Integrity Chamber, and underscored his position that the Dutch Government was holding the country hostage with its conditions that if the country does not implement the Integrity Chamber law there will be no aid.

  Justice Minister Rafael Boasman was scheduled to give his position on the border control condition put in place, but he did not get to do so, as the meeting had been adjourned.

  Several MPs gave their position on the issue, with some of them calling for something to be done now for the people of St. Maarten. DP MP Perry Geerlings, for example, said people are suffering and while Government has a possibility to receive aid to start reconstruction, this is being stalled over the Integrity Chamber and border control. He said Marlin had been against the Integrity Chamber when was an MP and claimed that Marlin’s current “contradiction” over the matter is now “confusing.”

  Thursday’s meeting was set for Marlin to answer questions he had received related to the conditions put forward by the Dutch Government on assistance for St Maarten as well as discussions on the conditions. 

  MPs are expected to meet this morning on aid for St. Maarten, a meeting that had been requested by the governing coalition members in parliament earlier (see related story).

Source: The Daily Herald