Below is the full statement made by Minister of VROMI Egbert Jurendy Doran and the partial secret recording released to the public.
PHILIPSBURG:--- Before I officially begin my opening statements pertaining to VROMI, I would like to address “the elephant in the room”.
Last week I was away to attend the funeral service of a close relative. While away, I took note of an article published in the Daily Herald stating that I threatened a Member of Parliament based on a partial recording that was released.
I wish to refute this article for two reasons:
- Firstly, because that is absolutely not what took place
- Secondly, once again, I was not contacted for a statement on the matter before the article was published.
Nevertheless, I will briefly address the situation:
The meeting request with both MPs from the PFP was genuine on my end. I invited them in because the Member of Parliament who secretly recorded me in my office was asking me questions on the floor of Parliament pertaining to the Alegria situation.
The questions that he asked indicated that he was against the issuance of the water rights to Alegria.
However, this did not coincide with the meeting minutes that Alegria sent to the Ministry, indicating that the MP, who was then the Acting Department Head, was positive about the issuance of the water rights to Alegria.
The minutes also show where the now MP was basically asking Alegria what they propose to pay for the canon.
This is actually not normal practice as the ministry has proper guidelines in place for what persons should pay per m2. So, asking a person or in this case, Alegria, what they propose to pay, was improper.
Seeing that the MP was a new, young MP, and considering the close culture we have as St. Maarten people, I decided to welcome him into my office to have a conversation with him about the situation.
I explained to him that he is asking me certain questions on the floor of Parliament, but if I were to answer his questions, based on these minutes, it would make him look bad in the public’s eye simply because even though the minutes hold no legal weight, he did not dispute them at the time as Acting Department Head.
Important to mention is the fact that the minutes that I was discussing with the MP in the secret recording, are not the letter that I discussed a few weeks ago. That letter was only brought to my attention at the time that I mentioned it a few weeks ago.
So, 2 years ago, I discussed with the MP that I have no intentions of making this become a circus in the public’s eye, hence the reason for the meeting.
The MP explained himself and we left it as is and had a very positive conversation that day, of which I honestly felt proud of.
The minutes in question were booked into parliament around November 20th, 2020 by request of another MP, so for the record, they were never hidden or held in a back pocket to be used as ammunition because that is not how I operate.
So, to now insinuate that I threatened an MP, 2 years ago, is completely untrue.
But if the MP felt threatened in any way, to that I would have to then say that it is strange that the MP would:
- Not immediately express to me that he feels threatened
- Have an hour-plus conversation with me if he was being threatened
- Leave my office in good spirits and even laugh with me
- Have many WhatsApp conversations with me since this meeting
- Not report the incident to the authorities right away or even on the floor of Parliament where the MP is extremely vocal.
I do not want this situation to continue to play out in the public’s eye, but after a lot of thought, I decided that I had to address it due to the serious accusation.
Members of the media, respectfully, that is all the attention that I wish to give to this topic.
I now move on to discuss work-related topics of VROMI.