Published On: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019

Razor-thin motivation

Hilbert HaarBy Hilbert Haar

The motion of CDA parliamentarian Chris van Dam that calls for Dutch involvement in law enforcement on St. Maarten comes across as a fine example of Dutch meddling in our island’s affairs. That is won’t happen anyway does not matter: Van Dam has put the thought out there and a large majority of the Second Chamber blindly followed his lead.

Declaring that I am for or against such a motion is rather pointless: it is what it is. The Second Chamber has supported it and State Secretary Knops is now faced with the consequences. Van Dam has already sent him a letter asking how he intends to execute the motion. I figure that Knops will simply refuse to do it – consequences be damned.

And even if Knops decided to execute the motion, it would soon become clear that the Dutch parliament has sent him on a mission impossible. So there is no reason to worry about anything for all those who do their stinking best to maintain law and order in St. Maarten.

What amazed me the most is not the contents of the motion, but its razor-thin underlying motivation. Van Dam simply states that “there are serious concerns about the maintenance of law and order in St. Maarten.”

But is that really so? And if this is true, what exactly are these concerns based upon? Is Van Dam referring to incompetence or unwillingness by, say, Chief Commissioner Carl John or the Minister of Justice?

Chief John is a competent and amicable leader of the police force – he was also my favorite as the successor of Peter de Witte. The Minister of Justice has his own problems with meeting the standards The Hague desires, yet he has made several steps in the right direction. It is easy to say that the prison has to be put in order, but if the money to put plans in motion simply is not there, the minister will be unable to meet all expectations.

And the reason the minister of justice does not have the funds at his disposal goes back to politics. The government has, also in 2019, opted for different priorities, like the tax administration. The Netherlands could easily solve this funding-issue by making money available on a project-basis for the prison and the police force. But that idea is of course not popular among the bean counters in The Hague.

I imagine that Knops could make a half-hearted attempt to execute Van Dam’s motion. A simple phone call to the government on Philipsburg will do. Then Knops is able to tell the Dutch parliament that there is no way St. Maarten will agree with the idea of further Dutch involvement in local law enforcement. Case closed.


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