Letter to the editor: Clyde van Putten about Plasterk’s visit

PLP leader Clyde Van Putten looks back on the visit of Minister Plasterk.

Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius, August 17th, 2017


I have taken note of the statements made in the local and Dutch press by outgoing Minister Plasterk about his discussions with the Executive and Island Councils of Sint Eustatius during his farewell visit to the island on August 14th.

First of all, I would like to state that I was pleasantly surprised by the reconciliatory content and tone of Mr. Plasterk’s message during the meetings and in his press statements. I would like to think that this is due to the fact that Sint Eustatius has been countering and continues to counter the allegations and actions by the Dutch government with sound legal arguments and visible positive efforts towards improvements and progress for the entire island and its population under difficult circumstance.

That being said, I would like to rectify a number of false perceptions which Mr. Plasterk continues to create in his press statement.

Unlike Mr. Plasterk and his civil servants, who bluntly refuse to receive (members of) delegations to talk about certain topics because they don’t wish to be confronted and pointed to their misdeed, the government of Sint Eustatius has always been, and continues to be willing to have an open and frank dialogue with the government of the Netherlands about any subject. This has been reaffirmed in all Island Council motions and letters to the Dutch government, all of which are on public record.

Moreover, the government of Sint Eustatius in its letter of February 14th, 2017, was the one who first proposed to have said dialogue and who proposed a joint committee of wise men charged with preparing a round table conference between parties.

Mr. Plasterk then broke the agreements which were made between the coalition and his Secretary-General Mr. Van Zwol during two visits earlier this year, and confirmed to me directly by the latter, and decided to unilaterally appoint two persons to prepare an investigative report.

The “lack of communication, collaboration and respect” of which Mr. Plasterk speaks in his press statement is therefore solely applicable to him and his ministry. The Government of Sint Eustatius can certainly not be accused of this.

The same goes for: “sitting down and listening to each other, within the confines of the law and the context of our Constitution, to find ways to improve the lives of the people”, “… be polite, pragmatic, practical and willing to collaborate.”, “…work within the constitutional status they have right now and be constructive in that context.

While making this statement, Mr. Plasterk again purposely fails to mention a number of things. The first one is that the Dutch government, whenever it is convenient, arbitrarily ignores the same “our Constitution” in which the people of Sint Eustatius were place against their expressed wishes and therefore illegally. Examples are the $714.000 payment to KPMG without the approval of the Island Council and condoning the behavior of the acting Governor which conflicts what that same Constitution.

Secondly, the “Constitution” and related legislation clearly prescribe the rules and regulations regarding the appointment of Governors, including the role of the so-called vertrouwenscommissie. It is therefore unacceptable and incomprehensible that Mr. Plasterk has decided that the appointment will depend on the advice of the two “Wise Men”.

Thirdly, Mr. Plasterk continues to deliberately ignore the context of international law, being the UN Charter and relevant resolutions, which are superior to-, and therefore overrule “our Constitution” in cases of conflicts between the two legislative systems.

Fourthly, Mr. Plasterk should know that it is not “polite” to talk about Sint Eustatius and it’s Government in a derogatory manner in the press, in the Dutch Parliament, and on the island while visiting, instead of talking with the Government of Sint Eustatius.

Finally, I would like to correct Mr. Plasterk’s statements about the Plan of Approach (PoA). This Plan of Approach was not based on the Spies report. It was used as an excuse to impose higher supervision in June of 2015. Interestingly, Mr. Plasterk selectively “shops” around in the Spies report. The report contains many other recommendations benefitting the islands which Mr. Plasterk chose ignore, while only picking out the parts he wishes to use.

Furthermore, the Plan of Approach stalled because it was not needed nor realistic in the first place, because the process manager appointed by the Kingdom Representative did not function and suddenly disappeared from the island without notice or reason, and because the Dutch government failed to live up to its promise to fund the entire program.

Interestingly, those he same actions outlined in the PoA, when being implemented by the Government of Sint Eustatius independently, continue to be stagnated and stalled by the lack of cooperation on the side of the Kingdom Representative and BZK.

At the end of his meeting with the Island Council, which was recorded for future reference, Mr. Plasterk handed me his private phone number and asked me to contact him to talk.

I will comply with Mr. Plasterk’s request, and trust that he and his successor will be willing to dialogue, listen to-, and cooperate with the proposals of the Government of Sint Eustatius in order to structurally improve the relationship between parties and the lives of the people of Sint Eustatius.

Clyde I. van Putten
Leader of Government of St. Eustatius

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