PHILIPSBURG--Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs (National Alliance) does not condemn the threats made by Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran (National Alliance) towards Party for Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeyhon Peterson two years ago, under her administration.
“I would like to give our Minister the opportunity to elucidate and clarify certain statements,” Jacobs said on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers press briefing.
It was Jacobs’ first public appearance since her return to St. Maarten on Monday after attending the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) held by the United Nations in New York, followed by a week of private engagements. While she was off-island, Jacobs said, “I was not able to quite follow all of the hoopla going on in St. Maarten.”
Since her return on Monday, she has taken time to review media reports, including radio interviews. “I must say that while I can see good intentions on both sides, I think it is a time for peace and calm, and for us to take the time to assess what our objective and our goal is here,” Jacobs said.
She said that while the coalition understands that “opposition has their role to play,” she warned that a “dangerous precedent has been set” by the PFP secretly recording the meeting with Minister Doran in the Government Building on Pond Island on July 15, 2020.
“While the legalities of such an action have been mentioned, it is meant to be used in court,” said Jacobs. In reference to the broadcast of the radio programme “The Breakfast Lounge” with Lady Grace on Monday, July 25, in which part of the recordings were shared, Jacobs concluded that “publishing it in this manner is definitely not considered a legal act and I did hear that the Member of Parliament in question [Raeyhon Peterson – Ed.] is aware of that and is ready to face whatever that will bring.”
She warned: “We have to be careful as a country. It is becoming a bit trendy to record, and to leak parts of, the most interesting parts, I guess, of our recording. I think, if you are saying you are clarifying, you are doing an injustice to the people of St. Maarten because they haven’t heard the full story. I believe the full story is yet to be divulged.”
What she saw and read “doesn’t necessarily jibe 100%,” Jacobs said. “I will leave it to the minister to address any points in which he is alleged to have made any threats. I do not have the full recording and I think it is way early to be making judgements on partial recordings that have been snipped for this purpose.”
Part of the recording of a July 15, 2020, meeting was made public by Peterson a week after Minister Doran had accused him publicly of having played both sides in the Alegria case, in his role as acting Head of Domain Affairs. “I am a politician just like you. I can use this now to discredit you 100%. And it will work,” Doran can be heard saying. He was referring to a transcript – “the minutes” – of a meeting Peterson had as Head of Domain Affairs with the Alegria team on March 20, 2019.
”The minutes. That is what paints a different picture too. Because this will now discredit you,” Doran told Peterson, who firmly replied: “No, It would not. Because, as I said, I received these minutes, but again, I don’t think they understand how meetings go. It doesn’t mean anything until there is a signed positive advice on the table.”
Peterson reiterated to Doran that, as acting Head of Domain Affairs, he had been instructed by the VROMI Minister’s cabinet to sit down with Alegria and gather all the information needed to prepare an advice on the issuing of water rights for which Alegria Resort had applied. The resulting advice was negative, Alegria were denied water rights.
Peterson was relieved of his position as Acting Head of Domain Affairs on October 11, 2019, by Doran’s predecessor, former VROMI Minister Chris Wever, and the negative advice regarding the water rights was converted into a positive advice on February 28, 2020. “I do not see how I could have had anything to do with that,” said Peterson, who had become Member of Parliament for PFP, like Melissa Gumbs.
The two MPs decided to question the new VROMI Minister, Egbert Doran, on the change in advice on the granting of water rights to Alegria Resort.
Doran then asked Charlon Pompier, head of Permits at VROMI, to arrange a meeting with Peterson and Gumbs in his office in the Government Building on Pond Island. During this meeting Doran made it clear that he knew that the information he intended to use against Peterson bears no legal weight, but that he would use it anyway to “discredit him 100%.”
Doran followed up on this threat on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.