The site Koninkrijsrelaties reports that Bonaire’s interim island registrar, Arjen de Wolff has apologized to the Saban population, after insulting them to the bone. As far as Bonaire party leader Daisy Coffie (M21) is concerned, this is certainly not the end of the matter. “I think the Island Council should pull him by his ears,” she said this weekend in the radio program ‘Op de klippen’.
In an earlier broadcast of the same program, De Wolff argued that Saba needs immigrants because of its small population size because inbreeding is lurking. On the island, there has been a shocked reaction to these statements. Prominent Sabans, including former commissioner Will Johnson and Dave Levenstone of the United People Movement, spoke of it as a disgrace. On Facebook, they called on Lieutenant Governor Jonathan Johnson and the Island Council to demand an apology from Bonaire.
De Wolff’s statements have not gone down well on Bonaire either. Daisy Coffie: “I listened to the fragment. I dissociate myself from his statements. I condemn this one as well. I am almost certain that the entire Island Council shares my opinion.” The politician disagreed with the program makers, who argued softly that it was a short fragment of a much longer conversation. “I’ve heard what he’s said and that’s just not possible. I told him to apologize publicly.”
As far as Coffie is concerned, that alone is not enough to draw a line under the ‘diplomatic’ incident. She believes that the Island Council should look into the affair. “He made those statements in his capacity as island registrar. We cannot turn a blind eye to this. The Island Council must pull him by his ears, especially to prevent it from repeating itself.”
The program makers took it less seriously. They pointed out that things are “a bit loose” at the interview table and that De Wolff feels at home there as their former colleague: “In retrospect, you can say that he brought it very popularly, that the choice of words could have been different and that it was awkward to make a joke out of it, but he doesn’t have it bad, wrong or mean. It’s right that he makes excuses.”
De Wolff has apologized in a response on the Facebook page of the Saban politician Levenstone, but he seems to regret the fuss about his statements more than the statements themselves. The registrar feels himself to be the victim of what he sees as a “bad and malicious journalist” who reported that his words have gone down badly on Saba. In his response, De Wolff denies having said what he said:
“My dear Saban friends, and Saba community: my apology to you is public and sincere: I am very sorry if my words have hurt people. I have never intended to cause harm. But if my words have caused you grief, I simply ask that your grief is over my own words. Not the contrary meaning and foul language a mean-spirited blogger has put into my mouth”, says De Wolff.
For the sake of completeness, the verbatim reproduction of the offending radio clip: “Saba has a small population and therefore a problem with marrying each other. You have to make sure that you get fresh blood regularly because if you don’t, you will end up with studies that biologists like to write books about. And that also happens in the case of Saba, I can tell you. That is why there must be a regular influx.”
Finally, the program makers: “In purely factual terms, he has not said anything that is not true. It’s just that it’s tactically awkward to insult people when you have to work with them.”