SIMPSON BAY–National Alliance leader Member of Parliament Silveria Jacobs has expressed grave concerns about the absence of fellow MP Theo Heyliger (United Democrats) from the tripartite meeting of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten parliamentarians held in Simpson Bay Resort on Monday.
Jacobs said in a press statement that it is “with extreme disappointed” that she notes “the lack of interest” by Heyliger, who is chairman of Parliament’s Committee for Kingdom Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Relations CKAIR, in representing the people. She tied this to Heyliger’s non-attendance and not chairing the tripartite meeting “held right here on the island with our counterparts in the kingdom.”
In reaction to Jacobs, Heyliger said he will be present at the IPKO session today, Tuesday, as was his intention. MP Claude Peterson was scheduled to chair Monday’s session but fell ill suddenly, said Heyliger, who returned on Sunday from a family trip planned long in advance of IPKO when he was still an opposition member and before he became committee chairman.
“I don’t speak on behalf of the NA; they should be capable of doing that themselves. I am sure the good NA leader didn’t need me to hold her hand in Monday’s session. Why then the focus on me?” Heyliger queried.
As the country’s “most highly elected leader,” a description of him given by Jacobs, Heyliger said he takes the people’s confidence seriously and has never refused to stand up for the people. “What stand did I miss on Monday? I believe our issues lie with The Hague and those are set for today and onwards,” he said.
Heyliger has chaired only one CKAIR meeting since taking up the role in September 2018, said Jacobs. Committee vice-chairman MP Claude Peterson has been at the helm of the meetings in Heyliger’s “very obvious absence.”
Heyliger had informed Parliament of his absence last week due to family plans. However, he stated that he would attend this week’s consultations, according to Jacobs. “His seat at the table remains ominously empty,” she said.
Heyliger’s replacement Peterson has fallen ill and was not able to attend the tripartite meeting Monday. The notification of Peterson’s illness was communicated to local and visiting MPs via the IPKO chairperson MP Sarah Wescot-Williams. No notice was given about Heyliger’s absence, said Jacobs.
“What conclusions can we draw from this apparent lack of interest by the Member of Parliament? Can we assume that the MP is also ill? Or could it be that the MP’s legal issues have made it a very difficult period for him to focus on his responsibility towards the people of St. Maarten?” Jacobs questioned. “Or should we assume, as he stated many times both on and off the record, that he is not prepared to meet with the Dutch for any reason, as he feels targeted by them?”
In spite of the reason, Heyliger’s absence “has shown little regard and respect to the people who elected him and his party, the people he’s sworn to represent as well as the people he jointly appointed to the Council of a Ministers, in neglecting his duties without a single word of explanation.
“How can we as people of St. Maarten be expected to fight for our leaders to lead when our most highly elected leader of the people refuses to stand up for the people when it counts the most?” said Jacobs.
IPKO discussions among MPs from the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten get underway today, Tuesday, at Simpson Bay Resort. The discussions wrap up on Friday.