File photo of the statue of the late Dr. Claude Wathey in front of the old Government Administration Building (file photo).
~ Questions govt.’s intentions with Wathey’s statue ~
PHILIPSBURG--Democratic Party (DP) Leader Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams on Sunday questioned statements made by Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning, and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran regarding the demolition of the old government administration building and the imminent fate of the statue of the late Dr. Claude Wathey, which stands in front of the building.
She stressed that the removal and restoration of an icon’s statue need to be done thoughtfully and respectfully. Wathey is co-founder and first DP leader. “These statements have left me with more questions about government’s intentions for the statue of Dr. A. C. Wathey,” the MP said in a press release on Sunday.
“My preoccupation stems from statements such as, ‘the statue might have to be stored; there will be a Wall of Heroes, but not as a replacement for this statue; there are plans in the works at the ministry of VROMI, but these cannot be revealed.’ So, what is it?” Wescot-Williams asked.
The MP asked the minister via Parliament whether a storage location for the statue had been identified and if so where; whether a permanent site had been identified and if so, where and if not, when?
“These are questions that must be answered way beforehand, so as not to fall in the trap of the storage becoming the permanent home for the statue. I have the uncanny feeling that unless something is said, this is exactly what will happen. It is sad enough that it has stood at its current location for as long as it did, but that is water under the bridge,” the MP said.
“If we can have a groundbreaking for the demolition of a derelict building, removal and restoration of an icon’s statue need to be done thoughtfully and respectfully,” she said.
The MP applauded what she described as “the renewed attention” for heroes and icons, as the idea of a “Wall of St. Martin heroes” has been “on the books at the Ministry of Culture for the longest time. Statues are an important part of our history and should remain so, because they each tell a story, reminiscent of past eras and the contribution of personalities,” the MP noted.
The statue was presented to the people of St. Maarten and given to the government of St. Maarten on July 24, 2000, marking what would have been the late Wathey’s 74th birthday. It was made possible with support of the community and by the members of the Wathey family and was the first statue of its kind on St. Maarten. The statue stands on a stone sourced from St. Maarten, representing Wathey’s bond and connection with his island.