In The Spotlight
The standard is that when the people placed their trust in persons to govern their day-to- day affairs it is expected that any action on behalf of the people is done within the bounds of the judicial system. Morality, integrity and transparency must be the guiding forces in every action taken on behalf of the people.
Anytime those in power neglect to abide by the law and resort to illegitimate acts they temporarily neutralize these values within themselves and, therefore, forego the trust of the people. We, the people thought that the firestorm which ensued after Mr. Simmons, Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs, went on to illegally sign an agreement with a constitutional experts that the executive branch would have been more cautious in executing its duty.
On the contrary, last week both the commissioners went on to sign an agreement with NuStar regarding the harbour ordinance. One would have expected that the island secretary, as the last line of defence of what is legally allowed, at least would have done his duty and refuse to affix his signature on that document.
This is a sad state of affairs when egos blind persons that they will venture so far off course to believe that they can make their own rules and regulations as they go along. Although, we all agree that the evaluation of the WolBES is a must, this law states clearly who the person in charge is of signing any agreement on behalf of the Public Entity Statia ( art. 173, sub 1 WolBES).
We also understood that the ‘tall’ commissioner displayed a childish antic by getting hyper emotional when the Secretary General indicated that according to The Hague there was no progress in the process of bettering the administration and financial household, and that the supervision will not be lifted.
Little that this rocking horse knows, is that emotions do not have much influence on these European Dutch. By the way, keep the adage of the writer Alfred A. Montapert in mind, “Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving, but does not make any progress.” We are witnessing a rocking-horse governance in which members are jerking back and forth furiously yet there is no forward movement.
It is expected that you the people will be continuously bombarded with misinformation in the coming days in an effort to convince you how wrong and spiteful The Hague is towards the government of Statia, more specifically you the people. This is done in an effort to divert your attention from the truth, namely, they as government are trampling on the laws that govern us. Listen carefully and separate sense from nonsense so you are able to see through the smoke screen of confusion and rubbish.
It is a pity, but with this last illegal act this coalition gives The Hague the confirmation to establish their next step under the umbrella of supervision. The United People’s Coalition again calls upon government to put its egos asides and be smart by seeking honest dialogue in the interest of our people.
Reginald C. Zaandam
Leader of the United People’s Coalition
My husband won’t eat anything but dairy products, bread and pasta. He eats cheese and drinks milk, which are healthy enough, but he won’t eat meat or even try fruits or vegetables or any new dish I offer him
Up to now I have managed by making meals that include both the things he will eat and the healthy things I want – he eats the things he likes and leaves the rest. But now we have a baby and I am afraid he will follow his father’s example and grow up to be a picky eater. I worry about his health and his father’s.
Queenie, what do you suggest I do?—Worried mother
For the time being you can arrange for your child to eat at a different time than you and your husband, so he does not have a chance to follow his father’s example. You also should consult your family doctor, and maybe a nutritionist, to learn just what elements are necessary for a healthy diet.
There also are cookbooks that specialise in including healthy ingredients in foods for picky eaters, like soups, spaghetti sauces and even desserts.
Finally, your doctor can recommend vitamin supplements – some of which you might even be able to sneak into the picky eaters’ foods, if necessary.
Curaçao chose to govern itself as a democracy, but its constitutions and institutions have turned out to be weak and not very popular. Participation in formal and informal institutions is anaemic and not inclusive. Secretive, closed groups seem to manipulate the society to meet their specific needs regardless of any public concerns.
Democracy means power distributed. In a democracy with checks and balances a big chunk of the society is well beyond the control of government; in effect, the government controls very little. Therefore, a crisis in government should not paralyze social and economic activities of the society.
Unfortunately, the year-long crisis in government, that was unleashed when Member of parliament, Marilyn Moses withdrew her support from the PS-PAIS coalition government, has had an extremely adverse effect on the local economy. Foreign investors are unclear as to what to expect. Laws, rules and regulations are up for change in a murky future. A parliament, where 25 per cent of its members have a criminal record, does not imbue much confidence either.
After the most recent crises of last week, politicians’ responses were, once again, elections. The last elections were held in September 2016. The outcome then was fragmentation, which makes it almost impossible to form a solid majority coalition. New elections should produce less fragmentation, but what the rationale behind that thought is, remains muddled. The positive energy of idealistic politicians, eager to serve their community, is once again turned into negative, destructive campaign rhetoric.
So, Curaçao, unable to forge working coalitions is turning into an electocracy – a fake democracy. Richard Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council of Foreign Relations (USA), warned a decade ago that “an electocracy should not be confused with democracy. Immature democracies – those that hold elections but lack many of the checks and balances characteristic of a true democracy – are particularly vulnerable to being hijacked by popular passions. To have elections without such controls means that the election itself is likely to be flawed and that whoever wins will have too much power.”
Exactly that very scenario played out in 2010 and 2013/14. Schotte, a populist and in the meantime a convicted criminal, became the winner and again, is the favourite for the next election outcome. The island has been in disarray since 2010, chaos prevails. Chaos and insecurity do not stimulate the economy and the society in any way or fashion.
The shadow economy, forged by the ongoing success of narco crime, eagerly moves into the large open weak spots of the social, economic and political fabric of the island. By the time a new government takes power they will be firmly settled and established.
Jacob Gelt Dekker
My boyfriend can’t seem to do anything without talking it over with his older sister – manage his finances, getting a pet, making a doctor appointment, how things are going at work, etc., etc. etc. She even covers for him when he has a problem, like a bank overdraft or late filing a tax return.
He never talks to me about these things, even when I try to have a conversation with him about one of them. Then if I complain that he is ignoring me he says I am making a big thing out of nothing.
Queenie, he’s a grown man! Why can’t he handle things for himself?—Disgusted girlfriend
Apparently your boyfriend has been relying on his sister for so long he never developed the habit of looking out for himself.
Aside from the question of competing with your boyfriend’s sister for his attention, you should be asking yourself if you really would rather have the hassle of taking care of this boy-man’s affairs for him instead of his sister. Or would you rather look for a boyfriend who is mature enough to look out for himself?
Western (Judeo-Christian) civilization is imploding. The crippled vessel is listing heavily; it is sinking. There is nothing we can do about it, so we may as well “sombrer avec élégance,” sink with elegance. Roughly put, that is the message that Michel Onfray has brought us in Décadence, his latest book (subtitled “From Jesus to Ben Laden”). But any such summing-up of the rather complex and alarming arguments in Décadence falls short of the mark.
There are so many things St. Martiners (French and Dutch) may rather be reading about than the dark prognostication of a philosopher in Europe. But ever since I started following Michel Onfray in his work many years ago, I’ve been captivated by his novel approaches, his prolific pen and his golden tongue; by his abilities as a writer-researcher-debater; fascinated by this man from modest origins who attended the public schools of the Republic, and has forged his way to become a veritable phenomenon: an intellectual spokesman, a one-man-political-force to be reckoned with in France, in Europe and the world.
Listening to Michel Onfray, watching him debate and defend his positions is like looking at the frigate bird in flight competing for prey with dolphins below and other seabirds above; ill-matched quarrels, amazing uneven contests! He is the envy of all of us teachers, scribblers and stutterers, more envied in France than anywhere else, I presume.
Onfray rails against “L’État Jacobin: le Jacobinisme,” (the centralized, administrative, bureaucratic role of the French state “where truth resides in Paris only.” He champions regionalism (traditional, regional, and rural cultural values, particularly the culinary specificities of the various regions of his country); I take it this includes French St. Martin. Some 15 years ago he resigned from his job as a high school teacher to work toward establishing “L’université populaire de Caen,” the People’s University of Caen in his native Normandy.
Like his contemporary, the novelist Michel Houellebecq, Onfray espouses the views of Samuel Huntington that civilizations clash; that they are clashing. He forecasts “le métissage,” race mixing, a multiracial western society: “The white man is an old thing that will soon disappear...” (Interview, Europe 1: 18/01/2017). In keeping with most of the above, he argues that France should exit the European Union, and he is stanchly against Marine Le Pen’s National Front, the national conservative political party. He is an atheist who is respectfully critical of all religions.
In Décadence, Onfray contends that the imminent signs of decline and sure death are all around us, everywhere. Key among them is nihilism (absence of values, nothing worth dying for). “Westerners, today, rely on paid soldiers who do not wish to die defending dead values they do not believe in [...] He asks: “Who would give up their life for gadgets that are now cult objects of the religion of capital [of capitalism]? One does not die for an iPhone.” Other key signs are “tribalism” [Kind of hostility to diversity and multiplicity.], and a domination of gloom, “une domination des passions tristes,” particularly “ressentiment” [Form of resentment: a kind of scapegoating that involves assigning blame on others for one’s failures, discontent, frustration, jealousy, feelings of inferiority ] (Le Point, 05/01/17).
To those who reproach the author of being, himself, an agent of gloom, of hopelessness and defeatism, Onfray replies: “I’m like a doctor who has diagnosed a cancer in his patient; you do not accuse a doctor of wanting the death of his patient or of promoting cancer: you should not accuse me of promoting defeatism or of willing decadence” (Europe 1, 17/01/2017). He explains that he studied this decadence “dans la longue durée,” that is by concentrating on long-term conditions and gradual change.
Indeed, how else could one seriously reflect on the rise and fall of a civilization? And so the sinking is not for tomorrow, or in five, 10 or 20 years; but we are, Onfray insists, experiencing the last phases of decay: “Judeo-Christian civilization is a power that has run out of steam [...] there is nothing that can be done to save a civilization that is dying [...] our boat is sinking, but we need not despair: we must neither laugh nor cry, but understand “Ni rire, ni pleurer, mais comprendre.” And we can also choose to sink with elegance ... (Interviews: Le Point, 5/1/2017; Europe 1, 18/1/2017).
In Sagesse (Wisdom), one of several other books planned for this year, Michel Onfray will set forth the wisdom that would seemingly help his readers to “sink with elegance,”
Some of us need not be troubled; neither by Onfray’s dismal prognosis nor by that of a number of other contemporary French doomsayers – prophets of decline and decay. Indeed, old-timers like me need not worry at all, our battered ship is too far gone, sinking is much too imminent! Moreover philosophers come and philosophers go and the rains keep marching down Marigot Hill. Besides, all of us readers may elect to ask ourselves: “What shall we gain by being wise? [...] Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
Gérard M. Hunt
The Prime Minister and Ministers of Vromi and Justice are doing great, as you all know our police are always doing their best but those that are responsible to change the laws must wake up and change the laws.
Government must continue focusing on the East side of the island, the light poles at Dawn Beach and Oyster Pond; we all appreciated this great performance of our Government; thanks, keep up the good works and don't forget the side-walks.
Although we are seeing how well Minister Christophe is doing, many people still rather he should remain in Parliament to help get the laws changed and bring in some new laws to move this Island forward.
And l will like to remind Minister Christopher the clients of CKC credit union still waiting for the promises you did during your campaigns how you will help them get back their money from the Central Bank.
It is really discouraging to see so many ministers for finance not doing enough to give the people back their money, it’s very sad when a Government doesn't listen to the voice of its people. It's very sad when a Government doesn't listen to its senior citizens; they were the ones developing this Island when these Politicians were students going school both in St. Maarten and abroad.
Why Government keeps distancing itself from the people cries such as a small claims court is needed, increase the minimum wage, house rent on the island is too high, help the pensioner, legalize gypsies, let them pay a fee every month to help build community centres in every district.
And it is time for St. Maarteners to stop protesting on radio and television and put their two feet on the streets and let Government fulfil their demands; always stand in solidarity with your pensioner at all times, tomorrow you too may be a pensioner.
Think tank, think tank, did you hear about Curaçao Government? Oh yes, I heard of the situation BUT read my lips, for all the former Antilles nations to move forward and to be more successful, all the territories should have a political party.
As the MFK party and UP party both the leaders of MFK party and UP party are the people, Nelson Mandela and with Aruba great things can happen for the people.
I am recently divorced from my (ex-)husband. There’s this couple we were friends with and used to go out with regularly and I have developed feelings for the husband.
Queenie, how do I go about breaking them up and getting together with him?—Lonely divorcee
Obviously you do not read my column regularly. If you think I will advise you how to interfere in someone else’s relationship you have another think coming!
My answer to you is: YOU DO NOT DO WHAT YOU ARE ASKING ME ABOUT!!! If you are so lonely, start looking around for someone who is not otherwise attached.
What is inflation? Well to the best of my knowledge, although I am not an economic guru, inflation is an increase in the average level of prices of goods and services.
I feel as though this topic is long overdue for discussion. I do not intend to proffer solutions to the ever growing problems of St. Maarten but to highlight the problems we face daily on the island. I am provoked to write on behalf of everybody whether local or foreign, concerning our daily challenges and frustrations!
1. Dollar has very low value in St. Maarten! You want proof? Try hiring a mason to work for you. Don’t get me wrong, it is not the mason’s fault, it is the way things are naturally in St. Maarten. There is no price control, from the top, which is government establishments to the bottom, which are local businesses. I am sure that even the rich people in St. Maarten will agree with me that GEBE is quite expensive and very unaffordable. Again I do not blame GEBE, you know why? It’s the general situation in St. Maarten. You make all the money and spend all the money whether you like it or not.
The prices of regular items (not ostentatious goods) are out of control compared to everywhere else around St. Maarten, which is why most goods are imported because they are affordable; but as soon as they get to St. Maarten, they are sold expensively. Look around you, there are so many goods coming in from nearby places, for example, alcohol and a lot of hair products, plus furniture are imported from the Dominican Republic, Dominica and Haiti and some other places bring in agricultural products, toys and clothes, candies, confectionaries and many more come in from the United States, packaged sea food mostly from Asia, etc.
The list is endless. St Maarten is a land that collects from everybody and gives out nothing. What does this mean for the economy – DOOM!!! Things will never work out this way, no matter what we do. Our relationship with other countries is one-sided, it is supposed to be a symbiotic relationship. We are spending more than we are earning! I really hope that an economic guru would look into the situation of SXM and tell us exactly where we are at this point.
2. Wages are very low and everything is imported: I often wonder how people survive on such low wages. Let me tell you how this works, if I earn 1,500 dollars a month and spend all of it, how do I survive? And you all wonder why so many adults still live with their parents on the island despite having jobs? The norm is to wait to acquire from your parents to enable you to step up to the next level of owning anything because, it is almost impossible to own anything from your monthly remuneration, which is totally wrong! You can barely survive not to mention save for the future.
The older generation are very quick to blame my generation for having no incentive to attain greatness; how would you be motivated when there is barely anything around to motivate you? I am being very sincere. Most people who are doing well in St. Maarten first of all, most likely got their college education from a foreign country, saved up from a foreign country and then brought all of their money home to set up businesses and try to keep the business afloat.
Often at times, they are only able to maintain that business for as long as they can and they are barely able to expand, which is why so many locally owned businesses aren’t doing very well compared to their foreign counterpart, because most foreigners (who are from countries with less currency value) have the connection to purchase their goods cheaper and from certain places.
Everything needed to run a business including food products is imported in St. Maarten!!! I have lost count of how many times my friends have a tool that needs replacement on their car and they wait for weeks to get it, because it is imported. A friend of mine once imported an item that was about 10 dollars but he paid the cargo company more than the original price of purchase to pick it up! Do we then blame the cargo companies? My answer is NO! They have salaries to pay and are employers of labour as well, living with the situation of St. Maarten.
3. Poverty is the order of the day! There are barely high paying jobs but so many avenues to spend! Yes crime is on the increase! We all need to brace up! Before you start to judge me for predicting doom, realize that I am a realist. We are all suffering and smiling. Even the so called rich people can feel the pinch of constant and forever living inflation on the island. There are hardly any industries in SXM, often at times only low paying jobs are available, well unless you decide to become a politician but hey you need money to campaign right?
The majority of the populace are living from hand to mouth. You can barely satisfy your daily needs not to mention save for the future unless you are fortunate enough to own land and properties that were most likely acquired from your forefathers (and were developed) years ago. Why do you think that most locals sell off their properties? They sell most likely with the intention of maybe, establishing a business but in the twinkle of an eye, the money is gone!
I know some of us are very careless with our expenses but the truth is that you are forced to live measly to save up anything on St. Maarten. The rich have been rich from many years ago and it will remain that way unfortunately! Visit the supermarket and pick up a few items, by the time you get to the cashier, you would be shocked at the amount you are charged. I don’t even know “what the St. Maarten is going on.”
4. Most educated “St. Maarteners” decide to stay abroad despite coming from a beautiful country like this. Because, those of them in developed countries see that it is absolutely cheaper and better. They earn more salaries, have better health care, better insurance, better pension plans, cheaper water and electricity bills, better infrastructure and less stress. The few of them that try to come home to set up businesses are mostly not prepared for what they meet. The endless “hidden laws” and the way money flies off of your hands leave you poor and frustrated.
5. So many people on the island are poor because the cost of living is permanently high, but you cannot tell them that though! Some people don’t even know that they are poor, that’s how bad it is! Most people work for several years and drive big cars that they get through a bank loan and they really think that they are equivalent to Bill Gates! Even the government cannot keep up, which is why they are also looking for ways to make more money. The problem isn’t for money to be made, it is for prices to be controlled. But how can you control prices when you do not produce anything!!! Meanwhile the borders are opened to all to bring in everything including shark meat!
6. Prices cannot be controlled, irony of it all right? Well you are able to control prices when you have products that are made in the country I guess or what do you all think? Because it seems complicated to me. Again, because of the high cost of living, as a matter of fact, locally made products are going to be far more expensive than those that’s are imported if you ask me. Most of the products are imported from all over the world without proper checks to trace the origin and rules concerning importation from certain countries but guess what, try exporting from St. Maarten “legally” and you would be met with a huge wall of rules and regulations that are sometimes irrelevant to what you do. Our boarders are opened to everything. How can the infant (local) businesses be protected?
I really don’t understand how people survive on this Island, I don’t even know how I survive, but I know one thing for sure, we are not having it easy, from business owners to employees and even the government. I hope this stop soon because the worse it gets, the more criminality will be recorded on the island and when that increases, tourism would decrease. We all pray it doesn’t get to that. I am afraid for the future of my kids who are from here. What can be done? This is getting out of hand; we are all just suffering and smiling really! Can any economic guru tell us the present economic situation of the Island and how this situation can be curbed since it is impossible to eradicate at this point?
After my husband died his brother and I comforted each other on our loss and after about a year we realized we had romantic feelings for each other and we began dating.
Queenie, is there anything wrong with this relationship?—Doubtful
The two of you are not related by blood, and no longer by marriage – there is good reason why marriage vows include the phrase “until death do us part.”
I wish both of you all the best.
The press briefings have become tasteless and are almost on the same level as the discussions in Parliament. This is mainly due to the attitude of two returning ministers who act as if the ministries are their personal domains. The funny thing is that they begged to resume their respective positions prior to elections; yet, they have not displayed any form of maturity nor expressed any tangible progress. Instead, there is a continuous flow of juvenile behaviour and repetitious information.
I often wondered if the UP Party did not address the issue of a new hospital, what exactly would be the focus of Health Minister Emil Lee. He has become like a broken record regarding his explanation of the proposed new hospital. He has completely ignored the rest of his portfolio. Throughout his tenure he hardly addressed the labour situation nor has he shown much concern about matters affecting the youth. This is why no business owner should be assigned the portfolio that deals with labour affairs. They could never approach the situation and regulations from an impartial standpoint.
Besides, when the Minister took office for the first time he stressed the need to be transparent when he advertised the positions within his ministry. I challenged his decisions, in writing, because I didn’t believe that this was a value that he holds most dear. At the time, one member of his cabinet went in as a volunteer and then to a paid worker. Was the vacancy advertised? This time around members of his cabinet were made public during a press briefing. How come the procedure is different this time? Minister Lee, people can change their outlook on certain prejudices, but not their values.
Then just last week one of the journalists asked him a personal question, which he could have answered with a simple yes, if believes so much in the integrity of the Medical Center. Instead, he chose to insult her. When I heard this response, it reminded me of the reaction of grocery owners of the same ethnic background who publicly declared that they are not here to solve the labour situation on St. Maarten. Minister Lee, this is the behaviour of a chameleon and so you do not have my attention anymore!
Chairlady Wescot-Williams, you’re not going to like this article either, but as you
know, I do not say what politicians want to hear. Chairlady, you don’t’ see it right now but you have made a gross mistake. Your decision will come back to haunt you. Give it time to mature!
Adjacent to Minister Lee is the Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs. This is very difficult to do Minister, but sometimes we have to hear precisely what we don’t want to hear. I’ve watched your performance the first time you were elected back in 2012. In fact, I admired your devotion, loyalty and the tenacity that you brought to your new position. Your approach towards the success of the ministry was different and so a vast portion of the population was behind you, but especially those who worked within the field of education. At that time, I saw an individual that executed her task selflessly; one who was so humble and caring.
Now, it’s the complete opposite. At the press briefings her demeanour is so different when she delivers her address and responds to frivolous comments. All that elegance and tact have disappeared. To make matters worse, the Minister is forever on her phone with absolutely no regard for her colleagues, members of the press and the viewers. Consistently, there is talk of the lack of direction within the Ministry of Education, from early childhood to university level. Teachers are feeling abandoned and this was quite evident when some chose to take their plight elsewhere, rather than directly to Minister.
Each time her performance comes into question the first reaction is a sucking of the teeth, followed by three famous words, “She has changed.” Minister Jacobs, if teachers are not with you on this journey of education, it means that your ministry is going under. Teachers are looking for leadership. You know what is so disheartening Minister Jacobs, the other Ministers of Education had one chance this is your third, and if you cannot succeed with three tries…you can complete the famous saying. Surely, the country is at a crossroad and there is no guarantee that NA would ever have the opportunity to be in charge of this ministry again.
With regard to your comment, “those of you who like to talk about the youth need to get from behind the computer and volunteer.” I would respond by saying that the comment was juvenile. Thank God that some of us are behind the computer because many cannot wait to grab what was expressed in the opinion page and pass it as theirs. Besides, there are many of us who volunteer discreetly and are much more effective than a lot who are there publicly.
Yes Minister Jacobs, I agree with you when you said that it is time to put your money where your mouth is. It simply means that you need to take on the same attitude as the Finance Minister, who has dissected his ministry and is executing his task from the premise of leadership, with a vision into the future!
There’s group of us who meet every so often in a fast food place and sit at a table and visit for an hour or so without actually ordering anything to eat.
Queenie, I’m not sure it’s okay to take up the space. What do you think?—Restaurant Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
Well, it depends. Do you at least order something to take out and visit while waiting for your order(s)? And are you taking up the space while other people are waiting for a table?
In any event, if the manager objects to what you are doing, I am sure he (or she) will let you know.
Valentine’s Day is for lovers. Love is a commitment not a feeling.
We must love all-out and love like we were never hurt. That is how Christ loves his bride which is the church. Love is not just a feeling.
Love is the will to treat your partner to the best of your ability and to give them something special and leave them wanting and asking for more.
Love is not just to buy nice things for your wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend, love is the touch of class that you give that someone special something that you never ever gave anyone else before.
The best things in life are for free, it is time spent and to care, massage and to kiss and make love passionately like today is the last day on earth.
True and real good love makes every day exciting even if your day may have challenges. But the joy for those who are in real love is when you have your man or woman only sharing their self with you and only you. That is the beauty of love. Remember it is to be the only fiddle and not second fiddle. For Christ said you can only love and please one master.
Give love to your mother, father, brother and sister. Live lovingly every day and not only on Valentine’s Day.
In closing let me say tonight or this evening shower your wife or husband not only with flowers or chocolate but give them a lovemaking they will never forget.
Make their body shiver, their eyes roll back then you know you have brought them spiritually and physically to the land of milk and honey. And make them say: Free at last, thank God I am free at last.
To the people of St. Maarten have the most loving and joyous Valentine’s day ever. Remember, love like you were never hurt.
God bless you all.
The Patriot Miguel Arrindell
I have been invited to the wedding of 2 people who both have children from previous marriages. In addition to the usual gift registry, there was one for children’s things.
Queenie, is this something new?—Gift Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
I have not heard of it before, but I suppose it is a good idea for a couple who have all the household items they need, but have growing children who need things they would rather receive.
Give them what you prefer. The registry is a suggestion, not an iron-clad order.
A fortnight ago, parliament convened to debate the unilateral appointment of a quarter master for the non-existent Integrity Chamber of St. Maarten, which the Constitutional Court found to be an affront to the Constitution, and an undemocratic attack on civil and human rights in this country. Our people paid keen attention to what was said and true to their word, emotions seem to be set aside.
The Prime Minister explained that the protocol, signed by the minister of justice, called for St. Maarten to appoint a quarter master and the Dutch to do so simultaneously or in any event before June 31, 2015. He also explained that the council of ministers took the June 31st that does not exist to mean either June 30th or July 01st. The Dutch did not appoint their quarter master, but trying to pull the wool over the eyes of St. Maarten by providing assistance and dictating what they wanted in the ordinance passed by parliament.
As is customary, St. Maarten trying to appease the masters did not veer from what they proposed and all seemed cosy. But the Dutch seemed to have forgotten that in the so-called high councils we had to establish and finance there is the office of the ombudsman, who is authorized to tweak and challenge any and all laws /ordinances adopted by parliament. This was done, and the Constitutional Court threw out the ordinance which it found unconstitutional with too much reach and no guarantees of due process for the citizen.
The protocol a la Dutch calls for a super civil servant (retired) from Holland to come to the island and bring whomever he wants, he nor they have to clear immigration so that local authorities don’t know who or where they are on the island .These super civil servants with allegations of shadiness can enter any office /business or place of residence and demand information. Should you dare refuse, they can have you arrested with no lawyer and for whatever time they feel.
Now, even though the justice system leaves a lot to be desired, at least they seek an order from the judge to search and any suspect has the right against self-incrimination and therefore can refuse to answer. It also affords people the right to legal counsel and to know what they are charged with. Strangely enough the Dutch do not believe our people should enjoy these rights; it’s beginning to resemble the making of apartheid.
Our government has proposed to employ the services of the audit chamber which already has that authority to tweak integrity in the service and report its findings to the prosecutor if necessary. We have stood by for too long and let people, colonial masters or not from 500 miles across the pond, that don’t get a vote here and don’t contribute to our budget, dictate how things must be done. The Dutch have enjoyed the best of both worlds since 1954 with the “Statuut” which permitted them to tell the UN they don’t have colonies and only handle defence and foreign affairs on our behalf. While we know they are doing all within their power to micro-manage the islands and dictate to us to garner support of their electorate.
We need only look at the situation in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Curaçao and deduce their true intentions. It is high time we take our case back to the people in a consultative referendum. People with power are never eager to let it go. Our main concern must be the welfare of our people and the defence of our beautiful St. Maarten land.
We are more ready now than ever before. Give your own children a fair chance; there is nothing the Dutch can do that we can’t. And as always, it’s a lot better for us to govern or misgovern ourselves than to be governed by somebody else. Let’s make use of our unexhausted right to self-determination.
When my mother’s boyfriend’s son stays with us I have to share my bedroom with him and I’m expected to spend time with him and take him with me to whatever I’m going to do. He’s supposed to be visiting his father but his father is usually busy with his work or going out with his pals so it’s up to me to keep his son entertained.
The son is not the kind of person I would normally have as a friend and none of my friends know him, so I get stuck with him and miss out on whatever I otherwise would have been doing.
Queenie, this isn’t fair!—Fed up
Dear Fed up,
You are right, this is not fair to you – or to the other boy involved. Talk to you mother about it, and to her boyfriend if he is approachable. He is supposed to be interacting with his son, not using you as a babysitter.
I’ve been having an affair with a married man that I used to live with before he got married to someone else. I have asked him to leave his wife but he says it would have too many legal complications.
Queenie, if I tell his wife do you think she will throw him out so I can have him?—The other woman
Dear Other woman,
This man will never leave his wife for you. He wants to have his “cake” and eat it too, and it is very likely that even if she threw him out he would soon start cheating on you the same way he is now cheating on her.
Send him home to his wife and start looking for a man who will deserve your love.
After the failed attempt to have the agreement with NuStar on the harbour fees signed on Tuesday, I was waiting to hear who was to blame. This coalition government has a track record of blaming everybody else but themselves for their constant mistakes and shortcoming. Reading the media on Friday morning, I was not surprised to learn about the customary culprits being the Dutch government, the Kingdom Representative and the governor. I was kind of surprised that this time the opposition was left off the hook. For our people to have a balanced opinion I herewith give my take on the events.
Late last year a first draft of an LOI was presented to the Central Committee. Commissioner Woodley, whose responsibility it is, at that time could not find the time to explain it himself to the council members. His colleague, Commissioner Simmons clearly was not familiar with the matter at hand and many questions remained unanswered. I, therefore shortly after, have sent in writing all my questions, concerns and recommendations to the Executive Council. I have never received any answers (which is rather customary for this government). The end of last month a slightly revised LOI was signed between NuStar and the Executive Council. As an island council member I am not aware of any legal or financial advice to this document.
Monday, February 6, a day before the signing of the official agreement, the island council received an invitation for the signing ceremony. As I wasn’t aware of the contents of the document, I requested a copy before the signing. Up to today I have not received it.
Why should I be interested in the contents of the agreement?
First of all, I believe it is rather disrespectful to invite the island council to a signing ceremony of a document that we do not know the contents of. Apparently, the executive council, with a track record of blunders, believes that the Island Council should blindly show up in support of something they do not know the details of.
Secondly, it is the intention of the executive council to alter or deviate from an island ordinance, which is the responsibility of the island council and therefore needs the approval of the island council. There is no such approval. They appeared not to be aware of this requirement.
Then there is the illegal amendment by the island council of the marine environment ordinance (the DP voted against), which forms an important basis for the levying of the new harbour fees. After receiving protest letters by among others, STENAPA, DCNA and WWF, government already received in August 2015 a warning from the Ministry of Economic Affairs explaining that with this amendment they were violating the international treaty on nature reserves and that the amendment needed to be reversed. By simply ignoring this, our government thought that it would go away, but it did not. By feigning surprise and calling it intervening in their local responsibilities, after receiving a reminder by the State Secretary, they are now attempting to hide their own ignorance and lack of knowledge of proper procedures, laws and regulations. In a quick attempt to convince the State Secretary of his right, Commissioner Woodley didn’t mind throwing in a lie about the non-existing agreement of STENAPA with the amendment.
I have learned that prior to the day of the planned signing of the agreement, Commissioner Woodley did not deem it necessary to share the contents of the draft agreement with the Governor, who not only is the only one authorized to sign on behalf of the Public Entity, but who is also an equal member of the Executive Council. Also, no legal or financial advice was available. Furthermore, the document wasn’t even discussed in the Executive Council and therefore, there was also no official executive council decision to approve the document and to have it signed (or maybe sent to the island council for approval?).
Of course, due to the many mishaps and shortcomings, they were forced to have a ceremony for which the entire population was already invited, without any signing to take place. It clearly must have been an embarrassing moment, the people of Statia present, top brass from NuStar present, but no signing.
I would like to stress on the fact that also the DP party deems an agreement with NuStar way overdue. It should be known, however, that it is this coalition government, headed by PLP leader Clyde van Putten that systematically has obstructed a fair and intellectual dialogue with NuStar. In the words of van Putten: they just have to pay and they should realize that we are the government and not they.
Noteworthy to mention is that although still unclear as to the exact amounts, the expected amounts in fees government is willing to settle for now is more or less what the DP party has already suggested since early 2015. Besides government has wasted a lot of precious time and has caused a lot of aggravation, unnecessary court cases and appeals, in the past two years the delay has seriously handicapped government financially. This has hurt the people of Statia and has stagnated the development of our island, but of course as is customary this government puts the blame on everybody else except themselves.
To the gentleman in the dark red-coloured sedan yesterday at Piscadera, just a hundred feet away from the spot where another reckless driver took the life of three innocent people just a few years back, I would just like to let you know that we are all okay. Even though you almost ran us over or pretended to run us over, screeching inches past us at high speed without stopping or even slowing down to see if we were all right. I would like to inform you that we were able to pull up to the side of the road in time and brace ourselves for the impact that luckily never came.
It doesn’t matter that we were on road bikes and not mountain bikes, which makes it more dangerous to swerve off the road since the tires are not made for uneven terrain, or that there might have been a raised curb making it impossible to veer to the side unless we recklessly tried to jump it. No worries, there was no raised curb side, no surprise potholes and no punctured tires, just the heart-stopping sound of your ill-attempt at breaking; the fast approaching and nerve-wrecking-steadily-growing beam of your headlights and the sense of seeing our lives ﬂash before our eyes.
If you did it on purpose I hope you enjoyed yourself watching us hurling ourselves to safety; and, if you really did lose control of the car I hope you realized, even if belatedly, that three bikers had to jump out of the way for you, that they might have gotten hurt in the process and perhaps you should have at least slowed down and checked your rear-view mirror to see if anybody had a bad fall because of your recklessness.
It gives me some sort of solace to think that just maybe those three souls were looking after all of us; safeguarding us from you and protecting you from yourself. I am, in any case, extremely grateful to still be here for another day… maybe we will run into each other again tomorrow morning, a honk and wave will do just ﬁne thank you very much!
“If you refuse to convert to Islam, then the only thing between you and us is the sword.” (Muslim leader in Trinidad, Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi, proclaimed this fatwah repeatedly to all Christians, and again on February 3, 2017).
In our world of radical uncertainty, the religiously faithful are certain. Devotees of any God believe in their Almighty Divine Entity and whatever related gospel that Entity may preach. To them, it does not matter that none of the statements, stories and events can ever be verified, or tested. No matter how delusional, utterances proclaimed by their God are the Holy Truth and nothing but the Truth.
Presently, about 3,000 gods are worshipped around the world, not counting a large array of demigods and adjuncts. All faithful followers are equally convinced that only their God is the One and Only True One, and all others are false prophets. Since none of the faithful are open for rational debate, any conversation is a waste of time and effort, so leave it for what it is. Anyone has the right to believe whatever he, or she, wishes.
That peaceful tolerance changes when non-believers have to face aggressive evangelizing, intimidation and terror by fanatics. In today’s world, many non-believers are forced by the sword to adhere to the ethical and religious values of one or another fanatical religious group.
ISIS displayed the horror of intolerant and of radical, Islamic Jihad on the world stage, for all to witness. Executions in public, often broadcasted via the media, are to intimidate as many as possible. In the meantime, tens of thousands died in the fervour of religious delusion of ISIS.
But the ISIS’ case is neither unique nor exclusive for Muslims. Jahin or John Calvin (1509-1564)---no, not today’s Calvin Klein, the underwear designer but the Protestant leader and Potentate of the City-State of Geneva, in the 16th century---was much on the same footing as today’s Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
Calvin was set to convert Geneva into the first Kingdom of God on Earth, just like ISIS was preparing Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State for the Mahdi to return. The Anabaptist, Jantje van Leiden, had tried to establish his Kingdom of God in Munster, in 1634-1635, but he failed.
Calvin reigned over Geneva with terror. He had no desire that others should love him as a brother. Calvin was a ruthless dictator who did not hesitate to burn his adversaries in public, alive on the stake, over unimportant theological disagreements.
Infamous became the case of Servetus (1553), a Spanish, Protestant leader, who disagreed with Calvin on such obscure theological issues as child baptism and the Trinity. Servetus was arrested after Sunday church services in Geneva, imprisoned and, after a fake trial that did not allow the accused any defence, condemned to death.
Death-at-the-stake by roasting with a slow fire is the most agonizing of all modes of execution. Even in the Middle Ages, famous for cruelty, it was seldom carried out. Servetus was only one of thousands who was labelled a heretic and met a horrible death in the name of the One-and-Only-God and his Holy Word.
The horrors of the Inquisition, of Tomás de Torquemada (1420–1498) a Castilian Dominican friar and the first Grand Inquisitor in the late 15th century may be well known, even today, but the Protestants were no better. Tolerance of deviating ideas about the interpretation of the Holy Scripture could not exist, not even with Protestants who claimed that each faithful had the right to have a direct and unique relationship with his God. Calvin was certain, only he was right, as right as ISIS-Baghdadi is today.
In Calvin’s Geneva, cheerful and unconstrained enjoyment was sinful. To give humanity precedence over discipline was inconceivable. Calvin had a father thrown in jail for smiling in the church at the baptism of his child. Ethics patrols searched houses and frisked citizens in the streets of Geneva for the correctness of dress, colours, food, church attendance, prayer and searched for any possible glimpse of frivolity. Unsympathetic severity was fundamental in Calvinist doctrine.
Calvinism still rules a large number of Protestants in Northern Europe, especially Holland, the former New Netherland in the USA, white South Africa, and South Korea. The lifestyle, as Calvin preached it, is still dominated by asceticism and literalism of every word in the Bible. Abstinence from worldly pleasures, identical to that of ISIS today, still goes to extents of absurdity.
Religious fanaticism, no matter which God you pick, remains extremely dangerous to peace and happiness in our world. Would not you rather suffer from radical uncertainty than being certain with blood dripping from religious intolerance?
Jacob Gelt Dekker