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A motorcycle was hit by a bus Monday afternoon. The incident took place near the Cay Hill junction of A.J.C. Brouwer Road and Welgelegen Road, resulting in a minor injury for the rider of the bike. Police officers arrived on the scene and called ambulance officials to check on the biker who was on the ground at the time. Passengers of the bus were asked to come out and allow the driver a chance to explain what had taken place during the incident.

Prime Minister Leona Marlin receiving SMDF annual financials.

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) met with Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin recently. SMDF Director Keith Franca and Programme and Development Manager Makhicia Brooks presented the fund’s annual report for the year 2018, including the audited financial statement, during the visit.

That Diamond Resorts intends to reopen its two Hurricane Irma-damaged timeshare properties (see Tuesday paper) in June 2020 is welcome news. Although some might have hoped they could already be available for the next high season starting in December, the commitment reportedly made to a visiting government delegation for a return one year from now is what’s most important.

For one thing, former personnel who stayed un- or underemployed for more than a year now have at least some prospect of being rehired. What’s more, another six-month Emergency Income Support and Training Programme (EISTP) cycle following the one that recently started may still be required for this group and others so they can keep getting a bi-weekly stipend, small transport allowance and – crucially – medical coverage until then.

With 1,087 participants in the various courses and enrolment up by 36 per cent, the need to continue this programme financed from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank for the time being seems clear. The added benefit is a better-educated workforce and consequently enhanced service.

The Flamingo Beach and Royal Palm Beach resorts are a major part of the island’s room inventory that is slowly but surely rising back to pre-Irma levels. Other promising developments in that sense appear to be taking place at Sapphire Beach Club and The Cliff in the Cupecoy area.

It would also be interesting to know the plans of The Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa, where the main hotel remains closed and only the timeshare part is open. However, with construction on a bigger Planet Hollywood to replace the demolished former Great Bay Beach Resort starting soon, it’s safe to say the Dutch side’s hospitality industry is clearly rebounding strongly.

And it’s not just about rebuilding, but also upgrading visitor accommodations and facilities as well as human resources to deliver an improved tourism product.

An offer for the World Bank to assist St. Maarten with anti-money-laundering measures as part of the recovery process (see related story) is very interesting. The main concern is meeting requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The latter is a responsibility of the Dutch Caribbean country, but the Netherlands considers it important that this matter get priority. It’s also crucial to prevent being blacklisted as a fiscally-non-compliant jurisdiction, with all possible consequences for international trade and the local business climate.

Legislation to implement the recommendations was presented to Parliament recently. The law proposal on Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) was passed after adding an amendment agreed on with government to give the legislature better oversight.

The draft national ordinance with rules to fight money-laundering and the financing of terrorism was also approved, but not before the opposition faction United St. Martin Party presented amendments with mostly technical adjustments that had been generally well-received. These were subsequently withdrawn after Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever made the necessary changes in which he also addressed major reservations over the definition of a “politically exposed person” (PEP).

More will undoubtedly be needed with today’s trend of “de-risking” and combating tax fraud, so it’s good to know the World Bank’s expertise is available in this regard. This may cost a few extra dollars from the Dutch-sponsored Reconstruction Trust Fund, but –considering that there is reportedly still 200 million left to spend – seems like a worthwhile investment.

PARAMARIBO--The two siblings who were arrested in Paramaribo in 2017 on terrorism charges, walked out of court last week as free men. Raoul A. who received a two-year conditional sentence was released on Friday because he had already spent the entire term in pre-detention. His brother Nasr A. was acquitted, because the Judge did not deem it proven that he had been involved in his brother’s terrorism activities. Nasr had been released several weeks ago.

Petro Guaidó urged the Holness Administration not to take control of Venezuela’s shares in Petrojam. Photo credit Voice of America.

 KINGSTON, Jamaica--The ad-hoc board of Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), recently appointed by Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, says it has asked the Jamaican government not to seize the company’s shares in Petrojam, Reuters news agency has reported.

  According to the Reuters report, the board made the request on Saturday and also warned the Andrew Holness Administration that “it cannot maintain any arrangements” with the government of President Nicolás Maduro, whose legitimacy as Venezuela’s leader is disputed.

  “We formally request the suspension of this expropriation process,” Reuters quoted the board as saying in a statement, adding that Guaidó had made a similar request personally to Holness.

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK--Facebook Inc announced ambitious plans on Tuesday to launch a new global cryptocurrency called Libra, part of an effort to expand into digital payments that immediately raised privacy concerns.

AMMAN--Palestinian finances are on the brink of ruin after the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid, the head of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) said on Tuesday.

MOSCOW--A starving polar bear has strayed hundreds of kilometres from its natural Arctic habitat and wandered, exhausted, into the major Russian industrial city of Norilsk in northern Siberia.

PUNTA PERDIZ, Cuba--Some artists like to go on a countryside retreat to foster their creative process. For Cuba's Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea, surrounded by iridescent Caribbean fish and fantastical coral forms.

ORLANDO, Florida--President Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign on Tuesday by presenting himself as the same political insurgent who shook up the Washington establishment four years ago and who is now a victim of an attempted ouster by Democrats.

WASHINGTON--Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan abandoned his quest for the top Pentagon job on Tuesday as reports emerged of domestic violence in his family, plunging the leadership of the U.S. military into new uncertainty just as tensions with Iran are rising.

TOKYO--A strong and shallow earthquake struck Japan's northwest coast around Niigata prefecture on Tuesday, triggering a small tsunami, shaking buildings and cutting power to around 9,000 buildings.

LONDON--Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

Jathan Edward of the Leonald Connor Primary hits the ball against Rev. John A. Gumbs Campus in the ongoing Inter-elementary School Kiddy Cricket tournament at the Caribe Lumber Ballpark yesterday. He top scored for his team with 30 (4x4).


CUL DE SAC--The Rev. John A. Gumbs Campus and the Hillside Christian Primary secured comfortable wins in the ongoing Kiddy Cricket tournament at the Caribe Lumber Ballpark.

VALENCIENNES, France- - Marta's second-half penalty sent Brazil into the last 16 of the women’s World Cup with a 1-0 win against Italy on Tuesday that ensured they finished as one of the best third-placed sides.

Dear Editor,

  In April I wrote an article under the headline ‘Heyliger’s bribery allegations have a long (family) history.’ It appeared on the independent news website

stmaartennews.com on April 9 or 10 of this year. More than two months later one Adrian Lista – a grandson of Claude Wathey, or so I’ve been told – showed in a letter to the editor of The Daily Herald how upset he was about this piece.

  In itself, I find it rather weird to react to an article that appeared on one platform –

stmaartennews.com – with a letter to the editor of another news outlet. But never mind, t’is the culture probably, as the saying goes.

  Mr. Lista makes one very good point in his rather slanderous letter: “Above all else, real journalism is about reporting what is true, not what you want to be true.”  Very good and his letter proves the point.

  Lista labels my article as “weasel journalism” – I hadn’t heard that one before – and speaks of “playing loose with the facts.” My career in journalism spans more than five decades and I surely have made my share of mistakes – but playing loose with the facts isn’t one of them.

  What was Mr. Lista so upset about?

  Probably about the following paragraph:

  “Bribes have been a fact of life in St. Maarten for a long time. Historian Will Johnson mentioned in an address about Heyliger’s grandfather Claude Wathey on July 31, 2016, what must have been one of the first recorded cases of bribery in St. Maarten. In the 50s of the last century Wathey was having trouble getting a majority vote for a project to “turn around traffic in Philipsburg,” as Johnson described it. The crucial vote had to come from Piesco (Charles Wilson). Wathey sent Clem Labega to investigate and he came back with the message that “a small calf would do the trick.” So, according to Johnson, Wathey bought a calf from “either Lexie or Miss Ela Brown and Piesco was back on board.”

   Is that what Mr. Lista considers “playing loose with the facts” by accusing me of “being light on fact and heavy on fiction”? I always thought that Will Johnson was a respectable and reliable source when it comes to the history of St. Maarten. But maybe Mr. Lista considers Johnson a fake historian like he considers my article fake news.

  Oh, that Wathey – according to my article – once described himself as a “beneficial dictator” comes from  the same source – Will Johnson’s address I referred to above.

  I also want to point out that my article was not about Claude Wathey – it was about Theo Heyliger and I used the references to Claude to illustrate that the family he belongs to is no stranger to bribery. Mind you – those allegations against Heyliger are just that: allegations. Time will tell whether these charges hold up in court.

  That Claude was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1994 on charges of forgery and perjury is a historical fact.

  That those who were close to Claude prefer to forget that fact is understandable. It is, however, part of the – to quote Mr. Lista – “incontrovertible facts about Claude.”

  “The way prosecutors trapped Claude and got him convicted of perjury is now no longer permissible under our modern criminal law precisely because it is viewed as an ethically dubious method of getting a conviction,” Mr. Lista furthermore complains.

  That could be true, but hey: in our system court cases are handled based on applicable law, not based on laws that might or might not be written 20 years later. So, it’s a non-argument.

  To sum it up: I stand by my article – not anonymous, but with my full (and real) name.

 

Hilbert Haar

Independent journalist

Currently based in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Dear Queenie,

  I’m going on 35 and I’m beginning to worry that I’ll never get married.

  Queenie, how do I go about finding someone to share the rest of my life with?—Still single

 

Dear Still single,

  Stop thinking about every man you meet as a potential husband. Just try to make new friends. And do not chase after attractive men – let them chase after you. If you are lucky, someone will find you to share his life with. If that does not happen, at least you will still have lived a full, productive life.