Published On: Sat, Jul 23rd, 2022

Minister Doran demands clarification, MP Peterson threatens with lawsuit

PHILIPSBURG — The dispute between minister of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Doran and Member of Parliament Raeyhon Peterson (Party for Progress) is turning into an ugly dog fight. Doran demands that Peterson clarifies his role in Alegria’s request for long lease rights and Peterson threatens Doran with a defamation lawsuit.

Minister Doran wrote a letter dated July 20 to Peterson that was delivered to the MP by a bailiff a day later. Doran notes that Peterson was the acting head of domain affairs before he became a parliamentarian. He refers to a letter Alegria’s ultimate beneficial owner Ray Sidhom sent to him on June 22, 2020, which states that Peterson was “instrumental” to discussions about the company’s request for long lease rights to a water parcel at the bottom of Burgeaux Bay.

“I am hereby seeking clarification on what exactly your role was in the Alegria water rights matter. Specifically why Alegria would indicate that you were “instrumental” in discussions pertaining to the price of the long lease for water rights,” Doran wrote.

The minister furthermore asks Peterson “to indicate what promises Alegria made to you.”

Doran demands answers by July 29 at 3 p.m. to his email address Egbert.Doran@sintmaartengov.org.

A day later Doran received a written reply from MP Peterson that made clear he has no intention to answer to the minister’s work email address because he is the only one that has access to it. “My response will be provided publicly. The public of St. Maarten needs to be informed so we can be fully transparent.”

MP Peterson refers in his letter to a meeting in Doran’s office on July 15, 2020. He attended the meeting together with his party leader MP Melissa Gumbs. Charlon Pompier, head of the department of permits and acting head of the department of infrastructure was also present.

“In this meeting I showed you that the advice from the department head of domain affairs about Alegria was always negative, until I was removed as acting head on October 11, 2019.”

MP Peterson notes that the “evidence” Doran presented during his radio-interview with Lady Grace (the letter from Ray Sidhom) is a “one-sided notation made by Alegira” based on their own recollection. “This was never verified by VROMI or ratified by any minister or civil servant.”

Instead, MP Peterson wrote, the letter was used as evidence in the court case against the government. It was dismissed by the judge and Alegria lost the case.

According to MP Peterson, Doran said in the meeting of July 15, 2020, that he could discredit Peterson for one hundred percent because he is a politician and “this is all that matters in our society.”

In other words, MP Peterson wrote, “The only thing you could have been insinuating is that our people are naïve and will believe whatever you say.”

The parliamentarian took issue with Doran’s allegation (during his interview with Lady Grace) that he had guaranteed the water rights to Alegria and that he had made a deal with the company. ”I request that you bring this case before the prosecutor’s office and prove your accusations with facts.” In case the minister does not want to do that, he should make a public apology to Peterson for lying about him before Sunday, July 24 at 6 p.m.

“If you don’t all there is left to say is that the truth shall set you free,” Peterson wrote. “I will then decide whether I will start a lawsuit against you personally based on defamation of character and slander.”

MP Peterson also used the letter to point out to the minister that he had asked questions on four different occasions between January 6 and May 18, 2022 and that he is still waiting for answers. He demands that Doran provides the answers no later than July 28.

“If you fail, your unwillingness to answer questions will be reflected in the motion of no confidence that will be dealt with in parliament as soon as recess is over.”


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