21 December 2011

Most Dutch MPs favour Curaçao independence; Curacao, Sint Maarten want end to unilateral Kingdom laws

Page10A174THE HAGUE--A majority in the Second Chamber supports independence for Curaçao. The liberal democratic VVD party, Labour Party PvdA, Socialist Party (SP) and Party for Freedom PVV considered it "good news" that the Schotte cabinet was seeking more autonomy.

"We are most willing to cooperate, but it shouldn't cost us a dime," said Member of Parliament (MP) Ronald van Raak of the SP in Thursday's debate with Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner.

A headline in Thursday's De Volkskrant newspaper stated that Curaçao wanting independence pleased the four large parties in Dutch Parliament. "We support Curaçao's desire for independence. Let's make it as quick as possible," said André Bosman of the VVD.

"It was almost celebration time at the PVV. We almost got out the festive decorations and we were ready to buy cake," said Eric Lucassen of the PVV. "But unfortunately it is only empty talk from the regime in Willemstad. Curaçao will not immediately get out of the Kingdom. They only want less supervision by the Netherlands after the money has already been wired," he added.

Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte announced this week that he will seek cancellation of the Kingdom Consensus Law of Financial Supervision at the Kingdom Conference in The Hague next Wednesday. St. Maarten also wants to get rid of financial supervision.

For a majority in the Dutch Parliament, no financial supervision means getting out of the Kingdom as this goes against the agreements that were made to reorganise the Antillean debt and to establish new relations in the Kingdom with effect from October 10, 2010

Martijn van Dam of the PvdA was determined that Curaçao should leave now: "There is only one road. Independence should happen immediately and not after a few years," he said. According to Van Dam, Curaçao did not stick to any agreement, including having an independent integrity investigation and presenting a balanced budget. "You're either in or you're out."

Van Dam added that it was not up to him to proclaim Curaçao's independence. The people will have to speak first through a referendum, he said. Bosman said the VVD supported further emancipation of Curaçao, since "truly balanced" relations are only possible when Curaçao was independent.

Republic of Curaçao

Bosman painted a cynical picture of an independent Curaçao. "I see it before me: the first President of the Republic of Curaçao, together with Vice-president Helmin Wiels travelling first class to the United Nations in New York where he will complain about the colonialists in the world and especially the Netherlands. 

Schotte will speak of Curaçao's victory and how successful it became after independence. I don't want to take away that success from Curaçao," said Bosman.

Minister Donner said that as "Kingdom Minister" he stood for "unity." On a personal note, he added: "I would consider it an impoverishment if the Caribbean islands were no longer part of the Kingdom."

Donner said the Dutch Caribbean countries could always choose independence if they so desired. "But that is an extensive process. I don't consider it opportune or useful to take a position on this now," he said.

The Christian Democratic Party CDA and the green left party GroenLinks did not support the stance of VVD, PvdA, PVV and SP for independence. Bas Jan van Bochove of CDA said he refused to be part of a "getting rid of them" discussion. He guessed that the majority of the Curaçao people preferred to remain in the Kingdom.

Sharp teeth

Ineke van Gent of GroenLinks wondered if the "showing of sharp teeth" by members of the Dutch Parliament was in the best interest of the Curaçao people. She lamented the "goodbye good riddance discussion."

"Words are getting bigger while the situation of the Curaçao people becomes worse. I am not making the choice for independence now," said Van Gent.

Wassila Hachchi of democrats D66 considered the discussion on integrity and good governance of the Curaçao Government more urgent. She said there was work to be done in this area and stressed the need for a proper investigation, as was recommended by the Rosenmöller integrity committee. "A solid investigation is primarily in the interest of the people there. Good governance is of fundamental importance for Curaçao's future," she said.

Hachchi said Minister Donner seemed to downplay the Rosenmöller report by taking satisfaction in Curaçao's promise that it would have Transparency International (TI) carry out a general integrity assessment. Donner assured Parliament that he too was "concerned" about integrity in Curaçao.

Several MP's sought clarity from Donner on the TI assessment and the fact that this analysis would not focus on individual members of the Schotte cabinet. They wanted to know to what extent the TI assessment would observe the recommendations of the Rosenmöller integrity committee.

Parliament said they intended to keep a close eye on the announced assessment by TI. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating. What matters is what Curaçao will do with the recommendations by Transparency International," said Van Bochove (CDA).

Credibility at stake

Van Gent (GL) said the matter was urgent and merited Donner's active involvement. "A weak intermediate proposal to keep the peace does not serve any purpose," she said. Van Dam (PvdA) said Curaçao had to be forced. He said the credibility of the Kingdom was at stake. "We surpass the Charter if we accept this," he said.

Van Raak (SP) and Lucassen (PVV) repeated their call for an independent investigation, preferably by the Dutch National Detectives. They said leaving the solution of integrity and good governance up to the Curaçao Government would not work. "You are making a pyromaniac chief of the fire department. This way the Kingdom can never live up to its responsibility for good governance," said Van Raak.

Lucassen criticised the laid-back attitude of the Kingdom Council of Ministers in the matter. "A few weeks ago the Council seemed a growling tiger, ready for action. But after a make-over the Council became a lazy house cat, a Garfield who agrees with all," he said.
He said TI could never take the place of the responsibility of the Kingdom.

Dissatisfied with the answers by Minister Donner, Lucassen and Van Dam requested a second debate on the integrity investigation. Lucassen announced that he will consider submitting a motion during that meeting. (Suzanne Koelega)


St. Maarten and Curacao jointly request discussion on terminating Kingdom laws

TODAY of Sint Maarten

Prime Minister Mike Eman, Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte and Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams stand together with the agreement they signed... at their summit in Curacao.

WILLEMSTAD/GREAT BAY – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte are the co-authors of the request for the Kingdom Conference on December 14 to examine the possibility of a termination date for the Consensus Kingdom Laws agreed to and established as part of the process of constitutional change. One that Wescot-Williams definitely wants reviewed is the Consensus Kingdom Law Financial Supervision.

Wescot-Williams put this position on table during a meeting with her colleague prime ministers at a summit in Curacao on Monday. During the meeting she called the law on financial supervision an eyesore and a straightjacket.

“We cannot discuss the future of the Kingdom if the Netherlands is not willing to talk about current problems that we face. There were a series of laws introduced at Kingdom level, and we only now see their effects in practice. So there is a strong need for evaluation. We have been busy setting up a number of institutions for checks and balances and giving content to the Kingdom Laws. This has been no easy chore for our young country. Therefore it is vital that we as partners in the kingdom take a very good look at these laws and, where necessary, terminate and/or modify them,” Wescot-Williams said.

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