Published On: Fri, Oct 11th, 2019

Getting Mullet Bay out of its funk

Mullet Bay property aerial view

By Hilbert Haar

In different words, MP Wescot-Williams criticized the proposal to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into Mullet Bay the same way civil law attorney Wim van Sambeek did in an article stmaartennews.com published in August. And in both cases the proposal’s initiator reacted like he just got stung by a wasp. “He does not even live here,” was his way of dismissing Van Sambeek’s legitimate remarks, while Brison characterized Wescot-Williams’ performance in the central committee “a sad display” on his Facebook-page.

Nobody is arguing with the efforts Brison has pumped into his efforts to put Mullet Bay on the political agenda. Bravo. And nobody would argue that Mullet Bay is best left in its sad current state for the next 24 years. But apparently, critical remarks about the inquiry proposal are not welcome.

That is a pity because the criticism from Van Sambeek and Wescot-Williams make clear that Brison’s proposal could do with some serious tweaking. That’s nothing to be ashamed of: changes can only make it better – or even redundant.

The key question is of course whether it is really necessary to pump nearly half a million guilders into this inquiry. Not that the money is an issue; in the big scheme of things it is a drop in the ocean.

I think that the key issue comes down to this: has the Parliament done everything within its powers to get answers to the questions that are now brought up in the inquiry? And did the parliament, in spite of its best efforts, not get the answers it was looking for? When the answer to this question is no – and I think it is – then there is no basis for an inquiry. In that scenario the parliament should get to work and pose its questions to the relevant authorities.

As it stands right now, MP Brison has gone solo and concluded that, since he personally did not get the answers he was looking for, a parliamentary inquiry is justified.

Mullet Bay property

One answer is already available: the Mullet Bay beach is public property. Based on the law there is no question about it. That the Mullet Bay owners harass businesses on this beach is something successive governments have allowed to happen, while successive parliaments have stood by doing the same – nada.

And then there is the premise of the inquiry: giving Mullet Bay back to the people. What does this mean exactly and what is behind it? The only way to do something economically meaningful with the property is to develop it.

Development means jobs (in construction) and jobs at the projects developers put in place. Is that giving back Mullet Bay to the people? I doubt it. If it is about the beach: that already does belong to “the people.”

That does not mean that parliament should drop the inquiry proposal and do nothing. On the contrary; I agree with MP Brison and with other MPs that after 24 years it is high time that at least something should be is done.

The best way to begin is to look at the questions in the current proposal and send them to the relevant authorities like the Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, the Central Bank and the Cadastre.

With the answers from those sources on the table there could very well be no need for an inquiry. If the answers are not forthcoming, there is the option to go to court to force authorities to provide the answers. If that does not work, parliament’s efforts have indeed been exhausted. As it stands now, so far successive parliaments have done absolutely nothing to get Mullet Bay out of its funk.

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Related links:
Presentation MP Rolando Brison’s Proposal for Parliamentary Inquiry on Mullet Bay
MP Brison: 24 years is long enough without knowing truth on Mullet Bay
“Inquiry-proposal fully misses the point” says Dutch civil law attorney