Published On: Fri, Aug 4th, 2017

Integrity Chamber

The clash between Prime Minister Marlin and opposition MP Claret Connor feels like an example of politics 101 – Connor teased and Marlin did all the biting.

But the prime minister was on the right side of the argument. Where Connor made an attempt to create the impression that Marlin had gone with the flow – against in opposition and in favor once he was on the other side of the fence – Marlin managed to establish a different picture.

He explained in no uncertain terms how he had been upset with the protocol former Vice Prime Minister Dennis Richardson had signed with Minister Plasterk in May 2015. That protocol completely sidelined the parliament in Philipsburg because the Dutch demand was that the parliament would not be allowed to make any changes to the draft legislation to establish the integrity chamber.

It is true that Marlin (and the complete National Alliance faction) voted against the integrity chamber legislation in 2015 but in his role as prime minister, Marlin has at best said something like, we don’t need an integrity chamber. He has also said on numerous occasions that the integrity chamber was not a priority for his government, given the many other pressing issues it had on its plate.

Today, the situation is different from 2015. Integrity breaches and their criminal side effects are being tackled (Marlin mentioned the human smuggling trial against several immigration officers as an example) and the plan that is now in place does not affect the functioning of the parliament in any way.

There is a deadline – October 31 – but, as marlin explained, that deadline does not bind the parliament. It is a commitment the government has made to promote the speedy handling of the legislation. If it stalls at a later stage, it will be the responsibility of the Council of Advice or the parliament.

Remarkably, the Marlin-Connor clash was the high point of a meeting that could have gone any other way and dealt for instance with the real issue: does the parliament want an integrity chamber and what should such an agency look like? Apparently, such questions are too complicated or not interesting enough for our elected representatives. Or maybe we have to wait for the real fireworks until the draft legislation is ready for handling in parliament.

We’ll keep you posted.