Hard nut to crack

Hard nut to crack

What had been hanging in the air for some time became reality on Monday, when United People’s (UP) party leader Rolando Brison requested to add an agenda point to the meeting on changes in the 12.5% public sector employee benefits reduction law, namely “relieving of her duties” President of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten. Mind you, she was UP’s biggest vote-getter in the most recent election and is the wife of its founder Theodore Heyliger.
Her reaction was to immediately adjourn proceedings, preventing the proposal from being adopted. However, not before asking Members of Parliament (MPs) William Marlin and George Pantophlet, both of UP’s governing partner National Alliance (NA), whether they supported such, as well as Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs who was there to discuss the draft legislation.
The latter in a subsequent press release expressed her commitment to have the national ordinance relaxing the cuts passed and said this was not the outcome she had expected, but surely the NA leader must have known about the intentions of the majority now backing her cabinet. Reconvening the meeting will in any case have to wait until her return from the United Nations (UN) in New York and perhaps also the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations IPKO in The Hague to be attended by a St. Maarten delegation at the end of this month.
The main reason for wanting to replace Heyliger-Marten was her declining to sign an agreement bringing into the NA/UP coalition independent MP Akeem Arrindell and substitute member on behalf of United St. Maarten Party (US Party) – despite having been expelled by the party’s board – Chanel Brownbill. This happened after MP Ludmila Solange Duncan broke with NA and went independent, as did former UP faction member Ludmila de Weever later.
Despite adding Arrindell and Brownbill, this leaves the Council of Ministers with minimal majority legislative support of eight seats, the same eight who recently dismissed a motion of no-confidence against Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran (NA) that Heyliger-Marten, Duncan and De Weever all backed. Also considering Marlin’s medical condition and his need for more treatment abroad, this might create a problem going forward.
As pointed out in this column earlier, experience teaches that having the chair of Parliament in non-coalition hands tends to make things difficult for governments. In Curaçao, it even led to a “new majority” holding “gatherings” to choose their own president and send home the – by then minority – Schotte Cabinet.
While the latter is clearly not the plan here, this example nevertheless shows how important the authority to call – or not – meetings can be. Consequently, getting rid of the present chair especially under the current political circumstances could prove a harder nut to crack than some may realise.

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