Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius, December 20th, 2018
I have taken note of the media reports about State Secretary Knops’ admission to the Dutch Parliament that the government which he himself unlawfully appointed, broke the Dutch law it was supposedly sent to Sint Eustatius to uphold. In the case in question, acting Government Commissioner Stegers, in violation of the Dutch laws and the principles of integrity and avoiding conflicts of interest, awarded a construction contract to the company of the President of the Democratic Party and senior policy advisor in the Governor’s Cabinet for years.
The blatant hypocrisy of the Dutch Government, which I have pointed out on numerous occasions in the past, is once again fully exposed in Mr. Knops’ letter to the Dutch Parliament. Just looking at the history of the Dutch Government’s actions around the world, the many Dutch politicians who were prematurely forced out of office in disgrace the past few years, and the recent case of the exorbitant payments to Mr. Brons, the revelation that Mr. Stegers knowingly acted in violation of the same law he was supposedly sent to Sint Eustatius to uphold comes as no surprise.
It has once again been proven that the Dutch Government had no legal nor moral authority outside of the Netherlands itself. Contrary to the vague and unproven allegations in the report of Mr. Refunjol, which Mr. Knops used as a pretext to unlawfully depose the legitimate government of Sint Eustatius, the case of Mr. Stegers’ violation of his own laws is clear. It was clear enough for Mr. Knops to send a long letter to the Dutch Parliament admitting Mr. Stegers’ violation of the Dutch laws. Yet, no further action is being taken against Mr. Stegers, other than conveniently changing the law.
As is usually the case when Dutch government officials act illegally, Mr. Knops first goes into a lengthy explanation of the law to distract from the real issue at hand. He then attempts to downplay Mr. Stegers’ violations, indicating that “it will not happen again”. The fact remains, however, that Mr. Stegers should have known his own Dutch laws. Mr. Knops ends his letter with another attempt to justify or downplay Mr. Stegers’ actions by indicating that he will examine if the current laws are suitable for the small size of Sint Eustatius.
Ironically, the islands’ elected governments have been making this exact same point since the talks about constitutional reform began back in 2006. Dutch Government commissioned studies also indicated that exceptions should be made to certain laws based on the small scale of the islands. The Dutch Government ignored these requests and studies, stating that Dutch law is Dutch law, and therefore applicable to the islands as well. It is the height of hypocrisy that the Dutch Government is only willing to make exceptions when their own officials are caught breaking their laws.
The fact that this matter only came to light via the media, and not via the democratically elected Island Council of Sint Eustatius, clearly exposed the reason why Mr. Knops does not want elections to be held in March of 2019.
This entire affair again exposes the unlawful Dutch occupation of Sint Eustatius as a farce. It also supports and underscores the legal cases which the legitimate Government of Sint Eustatius has filed against the Dutch Government.
Mr. Stegers’ actions are another embarrassment to the Dutch Government, who not only unlawfully implements laws on a foreign people and kills democracy, but then turns around and knowingly violates those same laws.
In his letter to the Dutch Parliament, Mr. Knops refers to a technical advice that was prepared for the contract in question. Assuming that acting Island Secretary Mrs. Malvern Dijkshoorn-Lopes and interim Director of Economy and Infrastructure Mr. Anthony Reid were both involved in drafting said technical advice, it would stand to reason that they should have also been aware of the violation of the Dutch law which Mr. Knops refers to.
In light of the transparency promised by the Dutch Government via the so-called “cooperative Platform”, I am hereby calling for the immediate and full disclosure of the awarding process and technical advice to the people of Sint Eustatius.
Clyde I. van Putten
Island Council Member and Leader of Government of St. Eustatius