Published On: Tue, Mar 29th, 2022

A questionable history

By Hilbert Haar

Politicians are not exactly role models. This statement is true for most politicians but obviously not for all of them.

In St. Maarten even King Beau Beau is wondering who will be locked up next. Good question because, given the recent history of parliamentarians who ended up in court and who went home with a serious prison sentence, this is only a matter of time.

It is fair to say that St. Maarten has (and has had) its fair share of parliamentarians with criminal tendencies. When they get caught they routinely, and most of the time falsely, claim their innocence, adding at times for good measure that the prosecutor’s office is corrupt. Or the judge does not know what he is talking about. That’s fine, because we live in a country where everybody has freedom of expression, but lies do not change the facts.

Then there is a category of politicians with ethical issues and outrageous behavior. Take Rolando Brison, who first had to step down as the chairman of parliament and who is now again in hot water because he trashed a villa he rented. The court had looked at the case and ordered Brison to pay for the damages he caused.

This is obviously not a criminal matter, but a civil dispute. Does it matter? It should, but I figure that it doesn’t. In countries where politicians, or their parties, still have a measure of decency, characters like Brison would have left office before the sun went down. That’s not how it works in St. Maarten because parliamentarians depend for their livelihood on that seat they so comfortably occupy. Without it, they would just be poor schmucks with little to no value in the labor market.

Brison has a questionable history. He stole from his employer Winair (though he seems to have repaid what he took) but that did not stand in the way of his election to parliament. You cannot undo theft or embezzlement. At best you can repay, but it does not change the fact that you are an embezzler.

Remember Fredericka Ford and a company called Ethegrity? Brison invited her to give a presentation in the parliamentary committee for public health in 2020. Ford proposed a business deal with the Mental Health Foundation worth $2.4 million. Nothing ever happened: Ford was not in parliament to give a presentation, she launched a sales pitch.

Last year, Brison bloopered when he accused MP Wescot-Williams of having paid $20,000 to a Dutch law firm for legal advice about the suspension of MP Theo Heyliger. Bu the amount was only a fraction of that amount and, adding insult to injury, the reason Wescot-Williams sought this advice was solid and made a lot of sense.

Late last year, Brison was forced to step down as the chairman of parliament after a voice recording leaked in which he, among other things, insulted his fellow party member Grisha Heyliger-Marten.

Brison’s latest stunt is a request to the minister of finance to convert his salary in Bitcoin Cash.

While this is not likely to happen anytime soon, it indicates the way Brison is thinking. Bitcoin Cash was trading around $360 last week. At that rate the government would have to pay around thirty bitcoin cash units each month.

To say that cryptocurrencies are volatile is an understatement. Their value varies wildly: it could collapse from $360 to $200 in the blink of an eye but it could also shoot up to $700. This way the value of Brison’s bitcoin cash units could vary from $6000 to $21000. It is highly unlikely that the government is prepared to expose itself to such risks. So basically: forget it. At best Brison’s request is a conversation starter about the use of blockchain technology.

Another issue surfaced last week when Brison announced he was going on the road with his draft law that proposes to hit tourists with a $30 health levy. He wants to (or is going to, I’m not sure) give a presentation about his draft in Curacao, while the parliament in St. Maarten had not discussed it yet and while the Council of Advice has advised to drop the whole thing for a variety of reasons.

The root cause of Brison’s behavior can only be explained from a condition he suffers: BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder. That is not a secret, since he announced this himself some time ago in a public meeting. In that meeting he said that he is undergoing online treatment for this condition.

The conclusion must be that this treatment is not working and that therefore Brison is not fit to function as a representative of the people.