Row erupts about delegation to attend king’s inauguration

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(TDH) – PHILIPSBURG–A row erupted during a Central Committee of Parliament on Thursday in relation to the delegation that is to attend the inauguration of Crown Prince Willem Alexander as king in The Netherlands on April 30.

The ensuing confusion saw United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament Johan Leonard lose his temper and declaring that the Dutch don’t want to see representatives of St. Maarten.

The confusion came when UP Interim Fraction Leader MP Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce tried to get an addition to the second agenda point for the meeting. She wanted MPs to discuss the possible expansion of the delegation to the inauguration, while the agenda point was the approval of an invitation for President of Parliament Rodolphe Samuel and his spouse to travel to The Netherlands for a dinner on April 29 with the queen on her majesty’s invitation. The travel was approved.

Objections were made concerning the late request for the addition to the agenda, a request, independent MP Frans Richardson said, that should have been made at the beginning of the meeting. Meyers-Olivacce pulled back the request, but the discussion continued.

There was some confusion as to whether the UP party was objecting to the inclusion of Samuel’s spouse to the delegation. Even Leonard was caught off guard, and objected to the addition of Samuel’s wife when his party was seeking to expand the delegation to the inauguration of the new king, and not the invitation to the queen’s dinner.

Leonard said the country has financial constraints, besides which MPs should be “ashamed of going to Holland” until this situation involving independent MP Patrick Illidge in a case of alleged bribery is cleared up.

“We will be looked at as corrupt. Parliament has one convicted MP in its ranks and another “on his way probably to be convicted.”

Independent MP Romain Laville said the invitation for the queen’s dinner was “crystal clear.” He also chided the UP party for talking at one point about limited finances and still requesting a larger delegation.

Arrindell explained after much ado that the UP party was attempting to expand the delegation to the inauguration, not to the queen’s dinner. The delegation to the inauguration was decided on some three weeks ago by Parliament and will include only Samuel and General Secretary Jozef Semeleer, due to financial constraints.

UP wanted Parliament to readdress the delegation composition after Aruba and Curaçao had taken a second look at the invitation for the inauguration and realised it was for the entire parliament, and not just the president.

In Aruba, an adjustment to its delegation was made for more MPs to attend the ceremonies. They opted not to attend several meetings of the Parliament of Latin America Parlatino and use the money from those travels to fund the trip to the inauguration. Aruba’s delegation will comprise some eight to ten members.

UP is “cognizant of the finances,” but based on the historical value of the event, considered it necessary to see if St. Maarten’s delegation could be expanded, Arrindell said.

Leonard’s outburst and Arrindell’s explanation led MP Frans Richardson to chide Arrindell for not using her experience to ensure her party’s proper request for the addition to the agenda. “UP has experienced politicians who allowed the inexperienced ones to be trampled.”

He said Arrindell (though he did not name her directly) “should have taken the lead. Those with experience allowed the inexperienced ones to be embarrassed. We didn’t need the drama.”

He said Arrindell always wants to travel and never wants to make the requests herself; rather she leaves it up to other fellow party members to fight her battles for her.

National Alliance (NA) MP Louie Laveist said he was “disappointed,” because there is “at least one faction in Parliament that will stop at nothing for its own personal gains, right down from the leader to the members.” He accused Arrindell of using the “inexperienced rookie MPs to do the dirty work” for her desire to travel.

In response, Arrindell, who sits next to MP Richardson in Parliament, said she should not be spoken about as though she were “a potted plant” or not even present in the room. She added that an explanation was given about the addition and it was agreed that the addition should have been made at the beginning of the meeting.

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