He is calling out our Members of Parliament to let’s have that referendum to see what the people will decide whether to stay in the Kingdom or go independent. Van Raak said the following in his article:
Sometimes, as a Member of Parliament, you get strange messages, such as the letter of the St. Maarten Court of Justice which alleged that Dutch agents had stolen “a considerable number of jewels” during the arrest of mafia boss Francesco Corallo. Corallo was arrested on the suspicion of bribing politicians. The letter contains remarkable language errors and the name under the letter belongs to someone who didn’t work at the Court. Also strange is that this letter was sent on January 8, 2016, while the arrest of Corallo took place on December 13, 2016 – eleven months later. What is going on here? Either the people at the Court can predict the future, or this letter is a forgery. The accused agents are part of a team that investigates corruption on the island, the TBO. St. Maarten politician Frans Richardson, suspected of fraud and corruption, showed the letter in Parliament. It is not the first time that a local parliamentarian has launched an attack on police officers investigating fraud and corruption. Theo Heyliger, the most influential politician on the island, did it before. Meanwhile, it has become clear that Heyliger himself is the subject of investigation, charged with bribing another politician. The leader of the largest party would also have been bribed by a consultant from the Netherlands.
I have written more often in this paper about fraud and corruption in St. Maarten, and also about the parliamentarians, half of whom are the subject of an investigation, or have been sentenced in the meantime. An international investigation is being done on the island focusing on the connection between the legitimate society and the underworld. It is painful to see how many politicians are involved in fraud and corruption. This investigation led to a counter- reaction by a number of politicians on the island, who organised demonstrations against the interference of the Netherlands and drafted proposals to become independent. A discussion in Parliament where Dutch politicians were accused of “slavery” and “apartheid” says a great deal. Referring to the current anti-corruption investigation, Heyliger even spoke about “Gestapo methods.” Other politicians called for independence with the idea of preventing the prosecution of corrupt politicians. The outcome of that debate in Parliament remained obscure, also because halfway through the light went out. Threatening with independence is not very effective, because no politician in the Netherlands will stop it. A condition is that not only the politicians but especially the inhabitants of the island speak their mind on the matter of independence. Let politics organize such a referendum, which seems much better to me than spreading letters with a nonsensical content.
Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin has voiced criticism about the corruption investigation, something that the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament didn’t appreciate, because this kind of political interference with criminal investigations does not fit a constitutional state. As a result of this criticism, the prime minister refrained from an intended visit to the Second Chamber to speak with us about St. Maarten’s recovery after last year’s Hurricane Irma, for which the Netherlands has reserved 550 million euros. Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings decided to come to the Second Chamber, as an investment in better relations. In an interview with the TV news programme EenVandaag, the minister distanced himself from Heyliger’s “Gestapo methods” statement. When he returned to the island, the Parliament bombarded him with negative reactions. Even the opposition felt that the minister should have said that the Netherlands is using Nazi practices. Most local politicians felt that the minister should not have spoken with Dutch Members of Parliament. It makes me sad when I see how politicians on St. Maarten are suspicious of the help that the Netherlands offers, and how they try to frustrate any attempt to fight fraud and corruption. Let’s have that referendum on independence that politicians are threatening with. Then people can choose whether they want to live in a fraud state or in a lawful, constitutional state.
Ronald van Raak is a Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament for the Socialist Party (SP)