New Broom

The Dutch media announced just a few days ago that the Netherlands has a new coalition government, I checked out the ministers, all young and contemporary-looking, with great hair, many women among them, under the same familiar Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.

The outgoing Secretary of State, Raymond Knops, will be replaced by an unknown entity, Alexandra van Huffelen, 53, currently State Secretary for Finance, in the interim Dutch government. She will become State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitization, representing coalition member, party D66, in the new cabinet.

As the minister in charge of the islands she will have plenty of time for Aruba, and will most certainly become a household name here, visiting with MinPres, prodding, cajoling, pushing, and urging the island to act on the Landspakket, the reform we have been talking about for the past 18 months, with little progress so far.

Will van Huffelen, manage to lead the horse to the water and make it drink?

I looked at her picture: A dome forehead, which she puts on display by styling her dark hair back – compared to the Red Queen, in a popular tweet. That indicates intelligence and abilities. A wisp of white hair on the left, signals acceptance of graceful aging. She also has dimples. Between the red lipstick and the stylish thick eyebrows, she radiates confidence and directness. A conservative dresser she throws in a surprising accent every once in a while. I think the Tantje Alexandra nickname, will suit her very well!

This is what I found about her in deVolkskrant:

Alexandra Carla, the new State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalization, was sworn in at the beginning of 2021 as the State Secretary of Finance with a special task of handling the allowance affair — if you remember that was the scandal that rocked the previous Dutch government which led to early elections. The Prime Minister accepted responsibility for going after innocent tax payers, mostly minorities, for filing false financial claims, which turned out, not to be false.

Thus Van Huffelen’s first government job was a financial cleanup mission.

Born July 21st, 1968, she studied public administration, at prestigious universities, and worked at the Ministry of Housing Special Planning and the Environment, for nine years. Then she worked ten years at an energy company, ending as Director of Business, for a new energy unit.

So far so good, between her public administration background, planning, environment and new energy, this chick has just the right toolbox to understand what is happening here.

Before going into politics, as #3 on the D66 list, van Huffelen undertook inner city sustainability and outdoor space planning in Rotterdam, and became responsible for some major redevelopments. Later she handled the municipal transport company in Amsterdam, which lend her added layers of skills, we badly need.

Knops who entertained the hopes of becoming the Minister of Defense, was disappointed when his candidacy was rejected. He may claim a seat in parliament, from now on.

DeVolkskrant reports: “Administrators in the Caribbean part of the kingdom will not really mourn the departure of Knops.”

Of course, he represented work they didn’t want to do, and cleanups they did not want to undertake.

But beware, this new broom seems to be a good one, especially around economic affairs, climate and finance, and new brooms sweep cleaner.

My friends also mention new cabinet State Secretary Dr Gunay Uslu, who takes on the Culture and Media portfolio, also representing D66. Uslu, 49, is a cultural historian and visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in the history of European culture, heritage studies, museums and cultural policy. Most importantly for the islands, she is the sister of Atilay Uslu, owner of Corendon. The Corendon Foundation is an organization that was initially established to independently support projects that contribute to making the tourism industry more sustainable. The foundation is currently developing a resort complex is Curacao, under the Hilton flag, meaning that the Dutch cabinet now has a super educated and progressively-thinking Director of Hotel & Resort Development, in Curacao, as one of its ministers.

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January 03, 2022
Rona Coster