MP Franklin Meyers
PHILIPSBURG–United Democrats (US) Member of Parliament (MP) Franklin Meyers on Wednesday called for unity amongst Members of Parliament (MPs) to take a stand against undue influence of the Dutch in St. Maarten, and said he will be tabling a motion in the second round of the 2019 budget debate for MPs to renounce their salaries as long as they are being subsidised by the Dutch government.
“I want us to stand as a bloc, all 15 of us, and tell the Dutch, ‘Listen, the people of St. Maarten have spoken and this is what we don’t want.’ … Are we prepared to do that?” he asked during the debate.
He said the situation in which St. Maarten finds itself, with the negative labelling of politicians and the people, was caused by politicians themselves. He gave several examples of MPs making comments publicly about their fellow MPs, which were picked up by Dutch politicians and which led to the negative generalized labelling of St. Maarten.
He said, for example, that it was members of the opposition who labelled suspended MP Theo Heyliger as “Mr. 10 per cent” and who said that Heyliger should be locked up.
“We sell out ourselves, and now that we are reaping what we sowed, we are blaming … . We put ourselves here, nobody else did, not the Dutch. We did it,” Meyers said. “I am ready, willing and able to remedy the situation. I will not throw down any government because I am aware of the consequences. I will not do anything for the detriment of St. Maarten,” he said.
He suggested that liquidity support from the Dutch Government is helping to pay the MPs’ salaries, but asked whether any MP is willing to tell the Dutch not to pay their salary if it is coming from liquidity support.
He was also critical of the disrespect some MPs give to ministers. He said MPs can be firm with ministers, but the level of disrespect that is meted out is not necessary. Meyers said the infighting amongst politicians has gotten everyone nowhere, as politics is being played locally while the country is being destroyed internationally.
“We did it to ourselves. What do you expect? Do you expect the community to turn a blind eye? We did it to ourselves. It wasn’t [State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond – Ed.] Knops here in [Parliament] that said he was offered US $2 million to throw down the government. It wasn’t Knops who said he is selling out the Harbour. … If we continue to say these things, what do you expect the results of that is going to be?” Meyers asked.
The meeting was adjourned last night after the last set of MPs had completed asking their questions and making their remarks on the draft budget. The meeting continues at 1:00pm today, Thursday, with ministers answering questions posed.