VROMI Minister Egbert Doran
PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran, on Wednesday denied assertions that he had threatened to smear Party for Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeyhon Peterson during a meeting two years ago.
Doran is recorded as having told Peterson during the meeting in question, “I am a politician just like you. I can use this now to discredit you 100%. And it will work.”
According to Doran, it is unlikely that Peterson felt threatened.
“It is very unlikely that the MP felt threatened by my person in any way back in 2020 and those of you know who know the MP would know that he would have immediately expressed that he felt threatened, not have waited two years to say that he was threatened, not have an hour plus conversation with me … and also claiming that he was being threatened for an hour and a half, so that just doesn’t make sense.
“Not leave my office in good spirits even laughing and thanking me for the meeting. Not continuing to have WhatsApp conversations with me and different discussions on the way forward on various VROMI related topics and not, for instance, to report the incident to the authorities right away or even on the floor of Parliament where MPs are normally extremely vocal.
“As much as I do not want this situation to continue to play out in the public eye, but after a lot of thought, I decided I had to address it simply due to the fact of the serious nature of the accusation that was towards my person,” Doran said during the live Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday.
Doran said that while he was away he took note of an article that was published in The Daily Herald “stating that based on a partial recording that was released, an MP was threatened by my person. I wish to refute this article for the simple reason that it’s absolutely not what took place.”
In addressing the allegations, Doran said the meeting that was requested with PFP MPs Peterson and Melissa Gumbs had been genuine on his end.
“I invited them in because the Member of Parliament in question who secretly recorded me in my office [Peterson – Ed.] was asking me questions on the floor of Parliament pertaining to the Alegria situation and I thought a sit-down conversation would bring some clarity on many things. The question that the MP asked indicated that he was against the issuance of the water rights.
“However, this did not coincide with the meeting minutes that Alegria sent the Ministry indicating that the MP, who was then the Acting Head of the Department, was positive about the issuance in water rights of Alegria at the time and he attended meetings with them.”
Doran said the minutes also show Peterson asking Alegria how much they wanted to pay for the water rights. “This is actually not normal practice, as the ministry has proper guidelines in place where persons should pay per square metre, so asking a person, in this case Alegria, what they want to pay seems improper to me and is definitely not the norm.
“Seeing that the MP was a new, young MP and I consider a close culture we have in St Maarten as St. Maarteners, I decided to welcome him to my office to have a conversation with him about the seemingly contradictory situation.
“I explained to the MP that I wanted clarity due to the fact that he is asking me certain questions on the floor of Parliament, but based on these minutes, meeting with Alegria, of which he was an active participant, if I were to answer those questions according to the minutes and relay his comments, he would not be looking good in the public’s eye, simply because even though the minutes hold no legal weight as he mentioned, the MP did not defend himself or dispute at the time, as acting head, those minutes.
“Important to mention is the fact that the minutes that I was discussing with the MP during the secret recording, is not the letter that I discussed a few weeks ago. The letter was only brought to my attention at the time, as I mentioned, which was a few weeks ago.
“So, two years ago I discussed with the MP that I have no intentions of making this become a circus in the public eye, hence, the reason for the meeting. The MP explained himself and we left it as is, a very positive conversation that day which ended and I honestly felt proud of the meeting that we had.
“The minutes in question were booked into Parliament on November 20, 2020, by the request of another Member of Parliament when I submitted all the related Alegria documents. Therefore, for the record it is very important to note that the minutes were never hidden or held back to be used as ammunition, because that’s not how I operate and it was sent to Parliament almost two years ago. So, to now insinuate that I threatened an MP two years ago is completely untrue.”