PHILIPSBURG–Democratic Party (DP) leader Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams is expected to meet with Governor Eugene Holiday today, Monday. She told The Daily Herald last night that the meeting is on invitation of the Governor.
Wescot-Williams said also that she has been engaging in talks with MPs across party lines to “see how they are feeling” about the issues at hand.
Wescot-Williams took a firm stand against her coalition partners on Friday when she indicated that if she is not allowed to have her own position on the matter of aid to St. Maarten, then she has no place in the coalition her party presently supports. The current governing coalition comprises DP (2 seats), National Alliance (NA) (5 seats) and United St. Maarten (US) party (3 seats), with a combined total of 10 seats, while the opposition benches comprise United People’s (UP) party with 6 seats.
“My position has been made clear and now, like I said on Friday, the matter of the Integrity Chamber will have to come to Parliament and in, the meantime, I have been feeling out MPs to see how they think about this matter,” she said. “I have been feeling out other persons on how they are feeling on this. But I was expecting to hear from my coalition partners or the leader of the coalition, but I have not until this moment.”
In a press release sent on Sunday evening, Wescot-Williams said statements made by Minister Christophe Emmanuel that “anyone in line with the Dutch position should not be part of the coalition” were what had led to her bombshell statements in Parliament on Friday.
She said the statements had been repeated by Emmanuel on October 26, when he said, “I have said it before and I will say it again: Anyone agreeing with the conditions should not be part of this Government. The game-playing needs to stop and stop now! I am asking every Member of Parliament and Minister to state your position. Are you in agreement with the conditions? Yes or no.”
Wescot-Williams said none of Emmanuel’s statements had been countered by Prime Minister William Marlin “and therefore seemingly endorsed by the Prime Minister.”
She said DP’s position has always been one of “people first” and therefore “we take the stand that it is urgent that since we do not have our own disaster aid funding, help is needed. We cannot risk Dutch aid being tied up without an alternative. Despite the talks, no tangible alternative has been presented to us for sure.”
She said DP has consistently advocated for the strengthening and development of relationships with many partners, but certainly prioritising cooperation with kingdom partners. “Naturally, open dialogue, mutual trust and mutual respect are fundamental for the development of any relationship.”
She said the attempts of coalition partners to censor, stifle or attack differences of opinion are clearly against DP party philosophy and certainly against all democratic principles.
“The duly elected representatives of the DP have sworn an oath to protect and care for the people of our great country. The DP has an obligation to stay true to the principles of integrity and good governance on which it campaigned,” she said.
“This same inflexible attitude of coalition partners towards the DP is the same attitude that has led to the strained relationship with the Netherlands which has translated into poor communications, lack of trust, lack of cooperation. This has resulted in stalling the reconstruction process and flow of recovery funds which are so desperately needed by the people of St Maarten.”
In her statement in Parliament on Friday, Wescot-Williams said she was bothered when members of the coalition insinuate that she cannot take a position other than the coalition’s position.
“I am now the one that is being crucified because I have the gall to stand up and say how I believe we should approach the matter of aid. Have I sought to crucify anyone else in or out of the coalition for taking their stand against whomsoever – the Dutch Government, the EU, UNDP?” she asked. “Have I?
“But then to be told, in other words, that it’s either that way, which is not my way, or the highway, then I am saying, I will take the highway. And if I can’t take a position other than most other persons, even in the coalition that I support, then I have no place in the coalition that I support, then there is no room there for me and I understand [that this – Ed.] doesn’t really matter, but you listen, you take, you smile, but enough is enough.”
She said at the time that if her position will be held against her, then “so let it be. If the coalition that I support has no room for other opinions than a certain few, then I, my party, and my opinion … would have to see how and where that gets a way to be promoted.”
DP MP Perry Geerlings also does not agree with Government’s handling of especially the request for aid from the Netherlands.