Published On: Thu, Jul 4th, 2019

Smoke and mirrors

Hilbert HaarBy Hilbert Haar

MP Luc Mercelina finds himself in an awkward position after the 2019 budget debate. To outsiders, it seems like he is standing with one foot in the opposition due to his motion that sent Public Health Minister Emil Lee home but on the other hand he is with the coalition, by voting against a motion that demanded the departure of Finance Minister Perry Geerlings.

So the logical question is: what is the real reason for Mercelina’s motion of no confidence against Minister Lee? It cannot be about the minister’s performance as the motion claims. Nor can it be about the lack of progress with social housing projects since this is the responsibility of VROMI-Minister Miklos Giterson. Hurricane shelters then, or the new hospital? All smoke and mirrors my friends.

Why am I saying this? Because I hear a completely different story featuring Sharine Daniels as the main character. Sharine who? In case some readers missed this, she is the chairlady of the supervisory board at Social and Health Insurance SZV. And Daniels is ambitious: she wants to become the director of SZV but Minister Lee stood in her way.

I cannot vouch one hundred percent for this scenario, but several sources have confirmed it to me – so until somebody prove me wrong and I have to stand corrected, that’s good enough for me.

For excellent reasons, Minister Lee prefers Glen Carty to become the SZV-director. Daniels reportedly threw a spanner in the works by providing Mercelina with internal SZV-documents.

That’s how the story about a half-million guilders ‘scam’ came out in the open. So Daniels, as the chair of the supervisory board of SZV leaked confidential information about the organization she is supposed to protect and serve to a third party – in this case, MP Mercelina.

All this makes me obviously wonder about what is in all this for Mercelina. His motion cannot have made him very popular within his own party, the United Democrats. The UD will now always wonder whose side the man is really on. Where is the logic in protecting Minister Geerlings and tripping up Minister Lee? Toeing the party line on the first occasion and swinging in the opposite direction on the next one?

It reminds me of a cartoon where a politician is having a drink with a prostitute. I am a politicians and I am an honest man, the politicians says to her. The prostitute replies: I am a prostitute and I am a virgin. That sums up Mercelina nicely.

What else did I hear? Well, apparently Ms. Daniels has made herself persona non grata in the political arena. It is easy to understand why? If she is capable of providing ammunition to take down Minister Lee, she must be able to do the same thing to anybody else. Conclusion behind the scenes: this lady cannot be trusted.

Like Daniels has her own agenda, focused on becoming the next SZV-director, Mercelina must have an agenda too. His involvement in the group around casino owner Francesco Corallo and lottery king Robbie dos Santos that came up with the plan – reportedly supported by Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson – to lease the cruise port for 20 years to Global Ports Holding – has never been contested.

I hear that Mercelina and Dos Santos know each other from way back, something that could come back to bite him if he ever wanted to become prime minister.

So here is what keeps bothering me. The coalition has asked two ministers (Giterson and De Weever) to step down. The opposition tabled a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Leona Marlin in February and similar motions against Ministers Geerlings and Lee.

Basically, that’s four out of seven in the Council of Ministers. Was there ever a better moment for the opposition to grab power once again? I don’t think so. And yet, rookie MP Mercelina seems to be of two minds: getting the opposition to support his little scheme to send Minister Lee home and cuddling up to the coalition by supporting Minister Geerlings.

There is never a dull moment in St. Maarten’s political arena but one thing has been clear for a long time: it is never about country above self. It is the other way around.