Tuesday, Mar 26th

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No confidence motion passed against Council of Ministers


~ Richardson,Lake, Matser support motion ~

Link to Motion of No-Confidence

PHILIPSBURG--A surprise no-confidence motion was passed against the Gumbs Cabinet on Wednesday when eight Members of Parliament (MPs) including two from the United People’s (UP) party supported the motion tabled by Democratic Party (DP) leader MP Sarah Wescot-Williams.

UP MP Silvio Matser also announced during the meeting attended by all 15 MPs that he would be severing ties with the UP and would be “drawing a line in the sand” by declaring himself an independent MP.

The no-confidence motion means that the sitting Council of Ministers no longer enjoys the support of Parliament.

Supporting the motion were UP MP Matser; MP Maurice Lake; Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party); Wescot-Williams (DP); and National Alliance (NA) MPs William Marlin, Silveria Jacobs, George Pantophlet and Christophe Emmanuel.

Voting against the motion were UP MPs Theo Heyliger, Tamara Leonard, Johan “Janchi” Leonard, Franklin Meyers and Dr. Lloyd Richardson (Parliament Chairman); and independent MPs Cornelius de Weever and Leona Romeo-Marlin.

News of the no-confidence motion spread around the island quickly, with many persons turning to social media to comment on the issue. Some expressed surprise at the move, some disappointment and some welcomed it. “What just happened?” read one post that appeared just after the parliamentary meeting ended.

Wescot-Williams tabled the motion during the handling of the agenda point on recent developments in Government-owned companies, in particular Princess Juliana International Airport SXM.

The motion said considering that Government was “oblivious” to the “urgent needs of the people” of St. Maarten such as health care, security, pensions, employment and housing etc.; the blatant disrespect for the Parliament of St. Maarten; the untenable situation at “most” Government-owned companies and entities such as Kadaster and St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation; the lack of leadership in and by Government; and the absence of a measurable Government programme, the Gumbs Cabinet consisting of Ministers Marcel Gumbs, Martin Hassink, Dennis Richardson, Rita Bourne-Gumbs, Claret Connor, Rafael Boasman and Ernest Sams no longer enjoyed the confidence of the Parliament of St. Maarten.

Matser, Meyers and Lake (see related story) were the only MPs to “motivate” their votes.


Line in the sand

Matser said he had received a call on Tuesday night that “letters were being signed” to “kick me out” of the coalition, so he had decided to “do them a big favour. No one has to compromise anymore. You [Richardson – Ed.] will get a letter from me saying that MP Matser has become an independent Member. I will not sit and let anyone call me criminal.”

Matser said he had supported the UP coalition and it was “sad to see that we are a year further and I am standing here and I don’t know who are in certain ministries and who does what.”

He said the UP party had been given a mandate by the people who elected the MPs to office. He said too that while someone could shoulder “a lot of abuse and beating” at times, there came a time when one had to “draw the line in the sand … and this morning Matser has drawn a line in the sand.” Matser said during the parliamentary meeting that it was “hard” to “deal with colleagues” who were not considerate when “you reach out to them.”

He said he was part of a political party with a “man” with whom he had a special relationship, but yet he was subjected to abuse and had to “take all type of crap” from the individual. Matser said he was a “quiet person” who was often by himself, yet he always was subjected to rumours that he was “dropping Government and all sorts of things. … But there is a time that all comes to an end.”

Matser said he had a court case “like any other tax person.” He said he never had done anything different from anyone else in business. He suggested that whenever someone was “getting big” in their company they were “attacked” personally. However, he said he had “broad shoulders” and would “take it” and handle whatever rulings were made on his court appeal.

Matser also said he was a “straightforward person” and people “can’t handle straightforward persons. … When you are with colleagues thinking and looking forward for the best interest of St. Maarten and you give your best and all you can hear about is ‘You have to stop him’ and ‘He can’t do this.’”

“I can’t take the abuse internally. … I can’t take this,” Matser said in announcing his decision to sever ties with UP. He told Chairman of Parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson that he could expect Matser’s letter declaring himself an independent MP.


Power to them

Meyers said he had had an extensive political career and was aware that although many would like things to be done immediately, in Government “it takes a while” for things to happen. He said he could not support the motion because St. Maarten did not need “more instability” at this juncture, but noted that if the majority felt it fit to go in another direction then “power to them. … It seems that the only thing that exceeds power here is the craving for more power.”