Published On: Fri, Mar 19th, 2021

PoP Brison bloopers with charge against MP Wescot-Williams

PHILIPSBURG — Maybe President of Parliament Rolando Brison is not good at math. Or maybe he just wanted to take a cheap shot at MP Sarah Wescot-Williams for criticizing parliament’s decision to hire the Washington-based law firm Choharis for (at least) $7,000 per month to help out with the doomed decolonization petition to the United Nations.

Anyway, in the radio program The Review (see video clip above), Brison claimed that Wescot-Williams had once paid a Dutch law firm over “twenty-something thousand euros” (€2?,000+) for advice about “how to keep (now former) MP Theo Heyliger out of Parliament.” In actuality, the request for advice was based on the Public Prosecutor’s Office informing Parliament that Heyliger’s pre-trial detention was extended and therefore, by law, had to be suspended as a member of Parliament.

Related article: A closer look at the rules for suspending parliamentarians

Disclaimer: This video is not our production. Video sent via social media to our news desk.

MP Christophe Emmanuel demanded in a subsequent Central Committee meeting the following day to see the documents relevant to this seemingly exorbitant payment but, to his surprise, Wescot-Williams supported his request.

The reason became clear once the documents surfaced: Brison had made an incorrect statement in The Review (some would call it lying) because the invoice of the relevant law firm (Rotsburg Juridische Dienstverlening en Onderzoek) amounted to just €2,722.50 ($3,239.78 at the current rate of exchange). That is a mere 13.6 percent of the €20,000+ Brison mentioned during the radio program, moderated by three USp members.

In a following Central Committee meeting that dealt with the annual account for 2016, Brison made a public apology for his blooper, though one may wonder how many listeners of The Review received that message, although some hail The Review as the last bastion of good journalism on St. Maarten and, therefore, they may as yet broadcast that apology.

For the record, we note that MP Sarah Wescot-Williams was not present during this meeting when Brison issued his public apology. An apology that basically threw the Secretariat of Parliament under the bus. The mere fact that Brison, who as PoP (President of Parliament) is ultimately responsible for the secretariat, still attempted to deflect blame, makes one wonder how much credence can be given to this apology. (We smell a lie in there somewhere.)

And what was it all about, anyway? Wescot-Williams, at the time President of Parliament, sought advice from Rotsburg about the interpretation of article 50 of St. Maarten’s Constitution. This had to do with the suspension of MP Theo Heyliger after his arrest on suspicions of bribery. Wescot-Williams wanted to make sure she did the right thing, after the Public Prosecutor’s Office had advised the Minister of Justice that, because of his arrest, Heyliger was suspended by law as a member of parliament, based on said article 50.

Prof. Gerhard Hoogers who teaches constitutional law and administrative law at Groningen University wrote the advice; it shows that Parliament has still some work to do if it wants to avoid future confusion about the interpretation of article 50 (see related article: A closer look at the rules for suspending parliamentarians).


Related article: A closer look at the rules for suspending parliamentarians