Published On: Tue, Jul 3rd, 2018

Parliament approves credentials incoming members

Screenshot MP They Heyliger - 20180703

PHLIPSBURG — In its third attempt at holding an urgent plenary session of Parliament on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018, at 1pm, the ruling coalition was able to garner support from the National Alliance members MP Silveria Jacobs (faction leader) and MP Ardwell Irion to form a quorum of eight members and – most importantly – approve the credentials of the incoming members Tamara Leonard and Claude Peterson.

President of Parliament, Sarah Wescot-Williams opened the session and informed the members present that notice of absence had been received from MPs Christophe Emmaneul, Egbert Jurendy Doran-York, Rolando Brison and William Marlin. No mention was made of the absense of MP Frans Richardson.

The president of parliament elaborated as to the nature of the meeting, pointing out that the convocation for the initial meeting on Friday was sent out on Wednesday, that the meeting was deemed an urgent meeting due to parliament having only 13 sitting members as a result of the resignations of two members to become ministers. In order for parliament to resume work as a full parliament after the summer recess, it was necessary to call this urgent meeting to examine and approve the credentials of the two new incoming members, the president of parliament pointed out.

In an opening statement, MP Silveria Jacobs extended the people of St. Maarten a Happy Emancipation Day wish given the holidays of the past weekend as well as extended her condolences to the family Vlaun on the passing of the late Ms. Sadie Vlaun (Sarah Elizabeth Vlaun – RIP).

In a first round – eventhough technically there would be no second round, MP Jacobs was given the floor by the Chairlady of Parliament and Jacobs confirmed that the National Alliance did give notice of absence on Friday for its five members, including those representing the Parliament of Sint Maarten in Curacao during its Flag Day celebrations.

MP Jacobs wanted the members of the general public to know that there were numerous occasions when the opposition could have submitted a motion of non-confidence due to the absence of members supporting the coalition in the past months since April 2nd. Jacobs also pointed out how many times the NA have given support for quorums. MP Jacobs stated that she has no inclination to send the island into disarray by sending home the government with a motion of no confidence. The MP listed the many unanswered questions, the apparent lack of functioning of ministers, lack of budget, lack of answers that are blatantly not given despite promises to, yet at no time did the NA call for a motion of no confidence. MP Jacobs asked rhetorically when was it not known that only having eight coalition members would not be a potential for a crisis? “Who did not see this coming with a slim majority?” Jacobs asked.

Afterwards, MP Theo Heyliger took the floor and pointed out that there should be no reason to vote and have discussions on incoming members of Parliament. Use of the word ‘approval’ in regards to incoming members of parliament, according to MP Heyliger always had him wondering “What if the sitting parliament does not approve incoming members? That would be an interesting situation.” MP Heyliger felt that the word ‘examine’ should be used instead when it comes to the credentials of incoming members of parliament. “Democracy of the people must be respected.” the MP stated and said “It should be a ‘hamerstuk’.”

Finally, MP Ardwell Irion took the floor and pointed out that there was no issue with approving credentials, that it was a last minute meeting and blamed ‘poor planning’ as the cause of the failure of the meeting to be held. MP Irion pointed out that despite the five notices of absence, “the chair still took it upon herself to call a meeting eventhough five MPs were absent.” The MP remarked that the NA had requested four meetings since April 2nd; three from himself to the Finance Committee; and none were called nor held. “No urgency there.” MP Irion concluded his remarks.

MP Theo Heyliger chairing a committee consisting of MPs Silveria Jacobs and Franklin Meyers, examined and approved the credentials of the incoming members of Parliament Leonard and Peterson. Parliament will now inform the Governor about the admittance of these new members to Parliament.