Infrastructure Sec. snubs PVV MP in response to NS gender-neutral announcement questions

Sharon Dijksma (Photo: Commons). Sharon Dijksma (Photo: Commons)

State Secretary Sharon Dijksma of Infrastructure gave a remarkable answer to parliamentary questions by a PVV MP about

PVV parliamentarian Roy van Aalst wanted to know hom many people are working on implementing the new gender-neutral form of address of "dear travelers" in NS announcements, according to AD.

Dijksma responded: "No, I don't have that information. If you'd like, I can inform you about the number of FTEs and costs involved in answering parliamentary questions." FTE stands for full time equivalent - it is the ratio of the total number of paid hours worked during a period. 

The State Secretary further emphasized that NS is not banning the use of "ladies and gentlemen", only switching to "dear travelers" in its announcements. "It is up tot he conductor self how he or she will express hospitality in personal contacts with travelers", she said.

Officials of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment told RTL Nieuws that they appreciate Dijksma's response. In particular with the sometimes challengingly formulated questions posed by the PVV, the officials find it refreshing that they can also be answered with humor. 

At the PVV, nobody was available for comment, according to the broadcaster.

This is not the first time a State Secretary or Minister responded to parliamentary questions in a somewhat snarky way. State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice once corrected the PVV's language in a question on asylum policy, according to RTL. Translated to English, the question was: "Mr. Dijkhoff, do you see yourself capable to bear the responsibility for security- and foreigner's policy in view of the proven incompetence in this and other matters?"

Dijkhoff answered: "I do not see myself capable, because that is not a Dutch expression. I consider myself capable."

And former Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten once answered a question about Sinterklaas' horse with a poem, according to the broadcaster. 

In Dutch, the poem read:

Uw Kamer vroeg mijn aandacht voor een kwestie zeer urgent;
Ik reageer direct, zoals u mij kent.
De kwestie is het paard van Sinterklaas;
Dat nog niet terugkeerde, helaas.
Al dagenlang is Amerigo nu reeds zoek;
Er wordt naar uitgekeken op iedere hoek.
Inderdaad een zaak van groot belang;
Zonder paard komt immers de viering in het gedrang.
Uw Kamer vroeg om actie van mijn kant;
Ik bied natuurlijk graag een helpende hand.
Ik heb hoogstpersoonlijk bij de politie aangekaart:
Alle agenten uit te laten kijken naar dit paard. Ik doe ook een beroep op ieders verantwoordelijkheid:
Wees alert, er is nog tijd.

Translated to English, it is not very poetic:

Your Kamer asked my attention on a matter of urgency;
I respond immediately, as you know me.
The issue is the horse of Sinterklaas;
It has not yet returned, unfortunately.
For days we've searched for Amerigo;
Looking in every corner.
Indeed, a matter of great importance;
After all, without a horse, the celebration is in jeopardy.
Your Kamer asked for action from my side;
I gladly lend a helping hand.
I personally made it a priority with the police:
All officers to keep an eye out for this horse. I also appeal to everyone's responsibility:
Be alert, there is still time.