MP Christophe Emmanuel.
PHILIPSBURG--Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Monday said that the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran is so comfortable and at ease with abusing his power, that he constitutes and clear and present danger to the country and the governing of same.
“To add salt to the wound, he has basically called the people of St. Maarten a herd of sheep,” MP Emmanuel said in a press statement.
Emmanuel was reacting to a recording that went public on Monday of a 2020 meeting between the Minister and MPs Raeyhon Peterson and Mellissa Gumbs of the Party for Progress (PFP) faction in Parliament about the ongoing Alegria case. Emmanuel said on the recording, the Minister can be heard threatening to make the public believe that Peterson as former head of Domain Affairs had been playing both sides in the Alegria case.
“Doran clearly stated at the time that he knew what he would disclose had no legal weight, but told Peterson: "I am a politician just like you. I can use this now to discredit you 100%. And it will work." Two years later, in an effort to distract from the results of the systemic investigation conducted by Ombudsman into the bidding process for garbage contracts, Doran made good on his threat and used the document (Minutes of a 2019 meeting with Alegria) in question in an attempt to tarnish Peterson,” Emmanuel said in his release.
Emmanuel reminded the public that Doran went so far in saying on radio that he believes that the pending motion of no confidence against him was a personal issue being pushed by the PFP faction. “So, we can conclude that two years later the Minister found a way to be vindictive and use his position to get at an MP who is doing his job,” Emmanuel said.
The remarkable and truly eye-opening aspect of this, Emmanuel continued, is that the Minister blatantly lied to the people of St. Maarten last week, knowing full well that his intention was to discredit MP Peterson. “It is right there on the recording. He literally admitted that he knew the document held no water, has no legal basis, but he will put it out there anyway because the people of St. Maarten are sheep, are stupid, and will believe the hype and sensationalism of it. That is what this Minister and this government in general thinks about the people of St. Maarten,” Emmanuel stressed.
He said every high council of state, advisory body, government department, NGO, unions, the media and regular citizens should recognise what the Minister did for what it is: an abuse of power.
“The Minister understands the power he has as a Minister. In his hands is a document that can do nothing, but hurt or tear down an individual. He admits this much to the individual. And what does he turn and do when he suspects a personal intent? He uses it publicly anyways to get at that individual. That alone is enough grounds for a motion of no confidence. That a sitting Minister, cornered and running from accountability, would abuse his power to discredit anyone and anything just to create a distraction, is a clear and present danger to the country and we better recognise that type of behaviour for what it is,” Emmanuel said.
He continued: “I have stated before that the modus operandi of this government is to lie, deflect, distract, mislead. The government is completely untrustworthy. This is also the second recording now from this government in which a member of the government has laid bare his opinion of the people of St. Maarten. First it was MP [Rolando] Brison calling MP [Grisha] Heyliger-Martin stupid and implying that the “young boys” can get away with anything under the noses of the people. Now we have the VROMI Minister literally calling society dumb. They lie, they deceive and they think the people are stupid. Their own words betray them. Once they perceived a threat or some delusional personal slight, they come after you to protect their power. They don’t care and feel they can do what they want. These are the people governing St. Maarten,” Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel further pointed out that the entire coalition has been silent on the issue, including Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs. He noted that Jacobs in the past has “run to the rescue” of Brison and Doran by dismissing their public infractions as “forgivable.”
“I wonder if the Prime Minister and the rest of the coalition views calling the people of St. Maarten stupid and being openly nasty and vindictive with false information, as a forgivable offence in their capacity as Ministers and MP’s” Emmanuel concluded.
The Daily Herald published on Monday, July 25, that the 1½-hour-long recording Doran can be heard saying to Peterson, his Party for Progress (PFP) colleague Melissa Gumbs and former PFP member Charlon Pompier that he knows the information he intended to use against Peterson has no legal weight. But it will work, he said. “At the end of the day it was written on paper. Just like this is written, this is … . We understand it. We know, and I can. … I know that this don’t carry no weight, but this is what counts in our society.”
Peterson appeared in an interview with Lady Grace on PJD2 that same morning and played four minutes of the recording live for the public.