Published On: Tue, Nov 29th, 2016


When we received a story for publication containing the opinion of René ‘Koto’ Wilson about the screening process, we declined to publish it. Not that we deny anyone the right to his opinion – any letter to the editor is welcome – but presenting an obviously flawed opinion as a news story would suggest that this newspaper legitimizes Mr. Wilson’s opinion. And the fact is, we don’t. More about that later.

This refusal to print the story did not sit well with Wilson and on Sunday night he sent us the following message;

“I understand that you won’t print my opinion in your newspaper so I decided to thank you for this. I will like you to know in advance as of tomorrow I will start a case against your newspaper for defamation and lack of proof in the statements written by your newspaper about me treatning (sic: threatening – ed.) to kill the prime minister and the bullshit without facts and both sides to the story based on the laws for the media. Now just to leave you know I have people on the inside of every newspapers (sic) company on the island and I heard exactly what you said, but Bibi will write the story and in it I will make my stance against your newspaper very clear to the general public of St. Maarten. Thank you and good night.”


Mr. Wilson is clearly unhappy with our decision. That’s okay: we are not here to make everybody happy but to separate newsworthy stories from those that are not.

So why did we not print Mr. Wilson’s story? First of all, we don’t think he is a credible source when it comes to complex issues like the screening process. On that account, we would have happily published a letter to the editor with the content that we declined to publish as an article. We do not want to give credibility to stories that do not make sense to us, but if you have a whacko opinion and you are ready to sign it with your name – by all means..

For argument’s sake we’ll sum up here Mr. Wilson’s opinion about the screening process..

First of all, he apparently wants the national security service VDSM to “work year round” to determine who will be eligible to contest an election. That’s already where we got off the bus. When you are at least 18 and carry a Dutch passport you are eligible to contest an election. Period.

Secondly, Mr. Wilson seemingly wants to return to a system whereby ministers are elected and not appointed. That way, we presume, ministers would no longer be subject to screening. Bad idea.

Then Mr. Wilson wants the results of the screening to become public and take screeners to court if their report is incorrect.

There is of course something to be said for complete transparency, but taking screeners to court for defamation? That is one good reason why the screening of candidate-ministers is confidential – at least, it is supposed to be.

Then Mr. Wilson demands publication of the name of the head of the security service. Why demand it? Everybody who has been paying attention knows who it is. We do.

To cut a long story short, there was too much in Mr. Wilson’s story that did not make sense at all to us. And when stories don’t make sense, we don’t publish them.

Mr. Wilson is now starting “a case” against the Today newspaper for defamation about something that happened like, ages ago: his death threats against Prime Minister William Marlin.

In a meeting of parliament on May 23, United St. Maarten party leader Frans Richardson sounded the alarm: messages on social media suggest killing the Prime Minister, Members of Parliament and their corrupted friends, he said.

It soon turned out that the social media messages Richardson referred to were the work of Mr. Wilson.

Two days later, Prime Minister William Marlin said that he does not intend “to walk around with ten security guards, hide under a rock or buy a bullet proof vest,” in reaction to Facebook posts by social activist René Wilson that incited people to kill the prime minister and his friends. “However, he added, “One can never be too careful.” Marlin declined to file a complaint against Wilson and the prosecutor’s office maintained, contrary to the opinion of local lawyers, that to start an investigation there has to be a complaint first.

One day later, Mr. Wilson accepted an invitation from the prime minister to talk things over. According to a statement from the cabinet of the prime minister, Wilson asked on that occasion for a photo to be taken and for the issuance of a press release stating that his Facebook-post was “blown out of proportion.”

End of story.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Wilson will turn the reporting about these events into a defamation lawsuit, but since he turned to a gossip website to do his dirty work, one may expect more statements that are, for all intents and purposes, blown out of proportion.