SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Stemming from the recently leaked, controversial statements of President of Parliament Rolando Brison, Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson have called on MP Brison to resign from his position. If he does not comply, the PFP MPs have submitted a request for an urgent public meeting on the issue, where Parliament can officially remove MP Brison with a majority vote.
Before submitting the request, MP Gumbs called a meeting of faction leaders on Monday afternoon, November 1, 2021, to discuss the matter directly with MP Brison. In addition to MP Gumbs, four other faction leaders signed on to the public meeting request. These are MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten of United People’s (UP) Party, MP Claudius Buncamper of United Sint Maarten Party (USP), Independent MP Christophe Emmanuel, and MP Sarah Wescot-Williams of United Democrats (UD).
The public meeting is to be called no later than Friday, November 5, 2021, and MPs would vote on removing MP Brison from the position of President of Parliament. If passed, Brison would still remain a Member of Parliament.
In the controversial voice clip - which circulated widely on social media on Friday, October 29, 2021 - Brison could be heard talking about “making deals” with “the young boys” in National Alliance (NA) and how current Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Doran will not comply with the Motion of Disapproval passed against him. Brison also openly spoke of MP Heyliger-Marten not being able to receive a permit because of her recent stances in opposition to the Government.
MPs Gumbs and Peterson have condemned these statements, characterizing them as unacceptable, disrespectful and a threat to our democratic processes.
“While much of the focus has been on the insults to that MP, this goes deeper than that. The statements clearly show that our President of Parliament is okay with Ministers ignoring Parliament’s instructions and using their office for personal and political retribution and intimidation. I am not okay with that and I have expressed this directly to MP Brison,” said MP Gumbs. “If it were only insults, we could have accepted an apology. But there are also insinuations of collusion, nepotism, and the shadowy interests of third parties. The President of Parliament has demonstrated that he is fine with some persons in the coalition violating the principles of good governance and trampling on our democratic processes. As a leader of this country, this is unforgivable.”
“The PFP faction is committed to good governance and accountability among our elected and appointed officials. This is why we submitted the Motion of Disapproval against Minister Doran, to ensure that there is a fair and objective process in the distribution of long-lease land in the Over The Bank area. The motion was passed with a substantial majority and all the factions leaders, including MP Brison’s faction leader, voted in favour,” said MP Peterson. “Ensuring accountability is the same motivation we have in calling for the MP’s resignation as Chairman. The President of Parliament is tasked with a certain level of complete objectivity at all times, in public and in private, and this does not only count for MP Brison, but for anyone who wishes to take up the role of President of Parliament. If they cannot, then the PFP faction is ready to take the necessary steps.”
“This evolving scandal is not about MP Brison’s role as a representative of his political party, but his role as the head of Parliament, the people’s highest representative body,” explained MP Peterson. “The people deserve to have a President of Parliament that respects the authority of Parliament as a check on Government’s power. This is more important than what was signed on to in a coalition agreement. ”
The PFP MPs do not believe that this matter is an internal party conflict, as mentioned by MP Heyliger-Marten in a press statement over the weeked and Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in a radio interview on Monday morning.
“As such, it is the people’s representatives who need to decide on how to handle this breach of public trust and confidence, not the individual party boards,” said MP Gumbs. “It is a stain on our country for the President of Parliament to openly enable certain Ministers to avoid accountability to Parliament and to continue their wrongdoing. I urge my fellow MPs to join this faction in cleaning up the stains.”