In The Spotlight
Voice for the children/kids/teens of SXM
As most of you know that I started my business Coffee Lounge for the love of all the children of St. Maarten when I saw someone trying to sell the wrong stuff to a teenager. I realized that we need a nice safe chilled out place for them.
When I went to drop a 17-year-old at 7:00pm she told me that she could walk from the supermarket to her house which was right behind the supermarket. I insisted to take her bags and drop her to the house in my car. It was pitch dark and in an area (Sucker Garden) where there are many houses, but all the road lights were off at 7:00pm. On asking her she says it’s always this dark. I was shocked because these teenage girls are walking up and down and what if something happens to any one of them. Who is responsible? Is this the kind of security we are giving our children walking on the streets?
Secondly, Three Palm Plaza is an area where teenagers hang out after the movies to grab Domino’s pizza and I realised that a lot of them are sitting again in the car or standing in the open and smoking the wrong stuff. Other smaller kids are being exposed and influenced to second-hand smoking.
Can someone in authority please make it a safe better environment for the children since they are our future and next upcoming generation for the betterment of our Country St. Maarten.
I like to make things out of wood, and a friend of mine who stops by to visit while I am working at it often asks me if I’ll make him something like that for a wedding present, and I always tell him, “When I get an invitation to the wedding.”
Well, he got married and I didn’t get invited.
He still stops by sometimes and once when I was making a toy for a child he asked if I would make one for his new baby.
Queenie, I have never mentioned not being invited to the wedding. How should I answer this?—Insulted
Just say, “When I get an invitation to his (or her) birthday party.”
As for the wedding, is it possible that the happy couple had a very small wedding, perhaps family only, possibly for financial reasons that they would prefer not to discuss?
The public has the right to know.
It is incomprehensible how politically-driven decisions hamper progress of our country. The business community and all our citizens are convinced that tourism is our biggest source of income and that a well-functioning airport is the cornerstone of the rehabilitation of tourism and the growth of our economy. Everybody talks about it and sees the urgency to rebuild PJIA.
The Minister of Finance had already arranged for the financing of the reconstruction of the airport. He did so by means of a loan with the European Development Bank, the Trust Fund and the Netherlands. A deal was reached with the bondholders to release the insurance pay-out for the reconstruction. The only pending item was signing of the contracts with the lenders and the agreement with the bondholders and jumpstart the reconstruction.
So not so!
Here is where political games are played in parliament against the interests of the country and the people. The highest political institution that ought to act on behalf of and for the people of St. Maarten, is now boycotting its progress.
First and foremost a motion that was passed against the Minister of Finance prevented him from signing any agreement with third parties, including the lenders for the reconstruction of PJIA. Because of this impasse and uncertainty, the bondholders now required that parliament give instructions to the minister to sign the agreements. Without those instructions they would not be willing to sign any agreement and release the insurance pay-out. Subsequently, a motion was submitted to parliament by MP Claude Peterson to give the minister that mandate to sign all contracts and agreements, in the interest of Sint Maarten.
What happened next is mindboggling and nothing short of sabotage. During the handling of the motion the current coalition MPs played down the motion in a purely political attempt to prevent the minister from starting the reconstruction of the airport. They told the minister that he had already received the mandate when the budget for 2019 was approved. Again, completely ignoring the requirement of the bondholders, that parliament pass a motion that mandates the minister to sign. During the voting of the motion the coalition MPs simply walked out, confirming their self-interest, dishonesty and disloyalty with the country’s priorities and best interests.
As a consequence, the reconstruction is delayed once again for months.
I am appalled with these elected officials in our highest chamber, willingly sabotaging the reconstruction of the airport and the rebuilding of our economy.
Today is a bitter/sweet 30th Anniversary Celebration for my person as a long- serving family member of our local university, University of St. Martin (USM). I have seen the university from its infancy grow into an adult educational institution over the years. I am very passionate to see our local university grow, but it is still to be recognized as our national university.
I am happy to see that our local university has graduated more than 750 alumni who hold key positions in the public and private sectors of St. Maarten. USM has produced some of St. Maarten's top Directors, Managers and Leaders within our community and government. USM needs to aggressively market its success rate through its Alumni Foundation.
Mr. Editor, I am very happy to celebrate such a big achievement, but the question that’s still lingering in my mind is the vision of where does USM go from here? Where would USM want to be in the next 5 to 10 years? Is government serious about moving forward to recognize our own national institution of higher learning on the island?
I can't understand why government finds it so hard to recognize and support our own institution. I was very amazed by government’s decision not to run all of the World Bank funded hospitality training programs through USM in collaboration with another foundation. I have seen our own USM family who was very vocal on these same abovementioned issues forget their own university’s struggles. While they moved into government, they just left USM in the hands of the government bureaucracy with no end results.
As a former MP, I tried my best to complete the legislation process to recognize our USM which is just stuck in the long administrative process. I am very disappointed on how we have treated our own local university over the years.
We can't just say we love our local university and have USM struggling for 30 years with their image and to be recognized by government, while still producing the best professionals in the region. Government needs to stop the patchwork and implement a structural solution of funding to our local university. USM has lost over the years some of its best Management Team members because of the lack of vision, seriousness and sense of direction of where we want to take our local university.
USM Board and Management also have a big role to play in revisiting their vision and social responsibility to our community. We need to get back to the vision instead of being all over the place with our curriculum and the future development of USM.
We need to get our successful Alumni Foundation more involved in marketing our university. I find USM is too passive in their approach of marketing USM to the public. We also need to stand up to any government to recognize and invest in their own educational institution.
USM’s Board also has to reactivate their Fundraising Committee to look for donations as other universities do with their Alumni Foundation. USM should get in contact with its Co-Founder, Ambassador Dr. Husang Ansary, and find out why he is donating millions to other universities in the United States and not helping his own local university that he helped co-found with the late Dr. Claude Wathey.
I find it amazing that none of our local representatives, who are close to Ambassador Dr. Ansary, never questioned him why he doesn't care about his own university. We need to stand up for our own local university!
In closing, as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary, let us start thinking of getting back on track of finally making USM the key to a brighter future. USM should be the corner stone to educate our people to become leaders of the 21st century. USM must be a top priority and not just a vision with a lot of talk without action by any government.
Whatever I say to her, my sister finds an insult in it. When I said we would have to wait many years to find out whether a certain prediction would come true, she took it to mean I don’t care whether she lives that long. When I said we should limit our holiday celebrations to immediate family because it’s getting to be too many people, she took it to mean I hate her in-laws and don’t want them there.
Then she complains to our brother about how mean I am to her and stops speaking to me until I apologize.
Queenie, how do I make her understand I don’t mean anything against her?—Misunderstood sister
It seems to me your sister knows perfectly well what you mean to say and do not mean, but is deliberately looking for reasons to take offence.
When you apologise, do not say you are sorry for what you said. Do not even say you are sorry she misunderstood you, because she probably will take it to mean you think she is too stupid to understand what you say. Just tell her you are sorry her feelings got hurt and let it go at that. Then, if she wants to continue to sulk about it, leave her alone to do so.
Dear MP Emmanuel,
Please, show a bit of respect towards the taxpayers of St. Maarten by showing some interest and sit up properly during Parliament sessions. I believe our tax money is paying you well enough to at least do the bare minimal of showing some professionalism.
You are not in your home or on the beach. Stop lounging around during public sessions. This applies for all Parliamentarians. Please, you are a representative of your people. Show some respect and some interest for your job.
A tax paying citizen
I am in college and earn money taking care of some people’s children after school while they are still at work. My problem is that the parents do not always come home promptly after work without telling me in advance and I have missed some evening classes or appointments because of them being so late.
I like these people and their kids, but their lateness is causing me serious problems.
Queenie, what to do?—Babysitter
You are working for these people, not doing them a favour. To begin with, charge them extra when they are late getting home.
Let them know in advance when you have a class or an appointment scheduled for after the time they are due home, and arrange for a substitute (who also will want to be paid) to cover for you if they are late. And tell them you will have to stop working for them if they continue to cause you this kind of problem.
We have been coming to St. Maarten/St. Martin for about 16 years and we’re writing because we want to see the island succeed and continue getting stronger. Thank you for publishing “Of National Interest,” an editorial drawing attention to the exceedingly long time that it took for visiting passengers to get through airport Immigration last week.
We were in that crowd at the airport that your paper photographed last Friday afternoon. The line wound from the tarmac and around the building, stacked eight deep in a rope line slowly snaking toward only three Immigration booths that were available in a small, unwelcoming space inside. Each booth had two officers each, and one of the booths was devoted to residents until all were moved through. There were no welcoming or informational signs or explanations for the delay.
For us, the process took one hour and 20 minutes. We know the Princess Juliana Airport and The Friendly Island can do better than this because we were here four months after Hurricane Irma. Devastation in the formerly beautiful roof-damaged airport was worse at that time, but arriving and departing passengers were moved through separate large tents with relative efficiency. Last Friday, the airport arrival situation was off-putting, especially for new visitors, and it is disappointing to read that it is not an unusual occurrence.
Another concern that needs to be addressed: Lack of lighting at night on the beachside boardwalk. Nothing bad has ever happened to us on the beach, even before the boardwalk was built and extended around the bend toward the boat docks. But for new visitors, the lack of lighting deters people from visiting restaurants – some of which have closed, unfortunately, in recent months. In our state, Michigan, our current governor won the election by promising to “Fix the damn roads!” I hope that voters in the next snap election will find and support new leaders who will “Fix the damn lights!” This should not be difficult or expensive to do.
While we’re on the subject of making visitors feel welcome – what’s with the wrecked vehicles, trucks, and now a dilapidated green passenger airplane fuselage on the walking path from the cruise ship dock? Bobby’s Marina, we’re looking at you. Please get rid of the wrecks, fix the fence, and clean up the walking path a bit. First impressions matter.
St. Maarten/St. Martin is now competing with large island parks, such as Labadie (Haiti) and Perfect Day at Coco Cay (Bahamas), built by international cruise companies with Oasis class ships. Those experiences are fun too, but this island has hills, varied beaches, wonderful restaurants, shops, two unique national cultures and other attractions that the other islands do not have. Some creative island promotion and signs directing people to things like the two new zip lines and other attractions would help immensely.
We are very pleased to see all the progress that has been made since Hurricane Irma. And it was good to see the St. Maarten/St. Martin Day parade down Front Street, the 12 Metre Regatta racing with three boats again, fresh paint everywhere, new shops and even the yellow classic car replacing the Irma-smashed one that was sitting in the middle of Old Street last time we were here. Please continue the progress, St. Maarten/St. Martin – our Land of Sun & Sailboats. We love you and will be back again soon.
Elaine and Terry Donnelly,
Livonia, Michigan, USA
My brother’s wife always refers to him as “my husband”. She never says “your brother” or refers to him by his name.
Queenie, is this bad manners, or am I just too sensitive about it?—His sister
This is not a matter of etiquette, but of your sister-in-law’s personal habit. She probably does the same thing no matter whom she is talking to. You could ask her why she never uses his name and it might make her think about and possibly change her manner of speaking – or maybe not.
The administration of the Trust Fund by the World Bank continues to generate much discussion and tension. And while the recent report by the Ombudsman, titled “Home Repair – A Revelation of a Social Crisis” zooms in on deeper social issues than solely housing, that report as well highlights the dire circumstances of several persons in need of urgent help with their homes.
It could be coincidence that not too long after this report by the Ombudsman was presented, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) organized a meeting for applicants in the home repair program.
What matters most to me is whether these applicants have received any definite word as to their status. Are they all eligible? When will they get the help? What percentage cannot be assisted?
While in my opinion this project is one of the most important social projects of the Trust Fund, there are other questions regarding Trust Fund projects and programs.
On October 24, I therefore requested a meeting of the Committee of General Affairs of Parliament to receive this update from the NRBP and the respective Ministers.
Another topic of concern are the funds available to St. Maarten in the context of the European Development Programs. There seem to be some serious bottlenecks and it is not clear if the deadlines for these projects will be met.
Member of Parliament
I will try to keep this article professional and simple as possible.
Respect to all the new faces and people who may have good intentions that postulate themselves on a political party.
From the present political parties to all new political parties, they cannot define what makes them different.
Lesson number 1: To understand any problem you must identify the problem or else you cannot tackle or rectify it if you do not know where and what is the problem.
Lesson number 2: How you approach and how you tackle the problem defines how you see it. (That is what makes political parties different).
The difference is called ideology. In social studies, a political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.
Lesson number 3: Your political party should explain how you would like St. Maarten to be, and why your ideology is the ideology to make St. Maarten successful.
Lesson 4: Your platform (manifesto) should explain how your party ideology plans to rectify the financial issues and social issues and define your party’s patriotism to St. Maarten.
Lesson 5: The members of the party should in principle agree with at least 80 percent of the party platform or else you do not have a political party. This is the key to avoid ship-jumping.
Lesson 6: Every member should explain him- or herself to the party if their intentions are to serve in the executive branch (Council of Ministers) or the in the legislative branch (Parliament of St. Maarten).
Lesson 7: Every member should sign an agreement that loyalty is to the party and not their personal goals, and every party should present that agreement to the voters of St. Maarten.
Lesson 8: Every party member should study the constitution and explain to their party which part of the constitution they feel can be amended or what can be added to provide a better quality life to the people of St. Maarten. Why this is important, this defines who you are (character) as a person.
Lesson 9: Every party member should make clear to his party if he or she believes St. Maarten should stay indefinitely with the Dutch Kingdom or should it set a goal to be independent with a specific time frame.
Lesson 10: What is your party’s view of the definition on who is a St. Maartener and does your party intend to prescribe it in St. Maarten constitution.
The main 2 political ideologies are Conservative or Liberal. Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, organic society, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Liberalism combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy.
Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional values and a strong national defense. Conservatives believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Liberals believe government should provide more services to the less fortunate (like health care) and increase taxes if necessary. High-income earners should pay a larger percentage of their income as taxes.
The conclusion, it is the party’s responsibility to convince the electorate why their ideology is better for St. Maarten and point out the differences between their party and other parties. This gives the reason why your party is needed. Choices have consequences, political parties choose people with same value and ideology.
The Patriot Miguel Arrindell
We’ve been married for almost 30 years but my husband never pays me a compliment or gets affectionate in public, although he has no problem kind of flirting with other women. He also keeps busy with a lot of outside activities, so we don’t have much time together at home.
Queenie, I don’t want to nag him to spend more time with me. What can I do?—Feeling neglected
Dear Feeling neglected,
It is easier for some men to pay a compliment to a stranger than to someone they are close to. As for spending time together, try to find outside activities that your husband is interested in and try to get him to go with you.
You might also consider marriage counselling – and try to get him to go with you for that too.
Sixty years ago, the founding fathers of St. Martin Day – Dr. Hubert Petit, Claude Wathey and Clem LaBega – conceived of this day as a celebration of the people, by the people and for the people. Alas, that whole idea has been hijacked. This is what Dr. Hubert Petit had to say about what happened:
“… Gradually, they (the colonial authorities) took over the celebration of St. Martin Day and they changed everything. We St. Martin people believed we had a day belonging to us, but in reality, they took it back from us. … The spirit that existed at that time does not exist anymore. At that time, it just had a small population and we all were St. Martin people; we knew each other and we celebrated happily.”
Dr. Petit was speaking on a televised interview with Elton Richardson of the St. Martin In Retrospect program many, many rains ago. But his words apply just as much today, or probably even more so.
It is very clear that originally, St. Martin Day was a people’s fete. Unity is what we are supposed to be celebrating, not the division of the island.
The true spirit of St. Martin Day should therefore not die after we have delivered all the sweet-sounding speeches on November 11. This ritual needs to be rooted in the very dreams and aspirations of our people for a St. Martin that belongs to all of us.
If we were able to see ourselves in this manner, no decision would be taken in Great Bay without consultation with Marigot and vice versa. Let me give a concrete example.
The controversial PPRN affects not only our brothers and sisters in Sandy Ground, Grand Case and Lamijo, but also several St. Martin people in Great Bay, Dutch Quarter and Simpson Bay who have family ties that stretch across the artificial borders.
The reverse is also true; whatever the fate of Princess Juliana International Airport may be, it would affect all of us equally because it is the international gateway for the entire island, employing people from both sides of the island.
This island is ours because we built it with our blood, sweat and tears; it is ours because our forefathers and foremothers worked it from salt pond to salt pond; from valley to hilltop; from sun-up to sundown; a chant of freedom on their lips; salty sweat on their brows, dripping down their bodies with the sun as the promise of a better day for us their offspring.
We should therefore not allow anybody, no matter where they come from, to divide us and take over what is ours. St. Martin is ours by history and heritage; it is ours by dint of hard work and by divine destiny.
We stand on this Rock we call home and shall not be moved from it, so help us God!
Happy St. Martin Day!
Chairman of Parliament William Marlin
My daughter and her fiancé planned a small wedding with just their parents and her sister, and invited all the rest of their relatives for a big family get-together to celebrate after they got back from their honeymoon.
However, one of her cousins showed up at the wedding ceremony.
Queenie, how does my daughter get over having her wedding ruined like that? And what does she say to the cousin when she sees her again?—Angry mother of the bride
Dear Angry mother,
Unless the cousin misbehaved at the ceremony in some way, I do not think she “ruined” your daughter’s wedding.
And if word gets out that the cousin was there, just explain to anyone who asks that she showed up uninvited and let them tell her what they think of such rude behaviour.
I would like to congratulate University of St. Martin (USM) on its upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration on November 16. Our local university came a long way in its thirty years of existence. USM has graduated more than 750 alumni, who hold key positions in the public and private sectors of St. Maarten. USM has produced some of St. Maarten's top Directors, Managers and Leaders within our community. I am proud to have been associated with USM and a faculty member for more than 25 years.
USM’s major strength is its students who can go anywhere in the world from here and excel at top universities, and Ivy Leagues around the globe. I find it amazing for a non-accredited university, that our students can go anywhere from here with their credits and excel at other top universities as the best in their class. That's a fact!
Mr. Editor, all USM wanted in its thirty years of existence is for our local government to recognize its own national institution of higher learning on the island. I can't understand why any island/country would not recognize its own institution of higher learning, and put a structural solution in place for funding, instead of injecting bits of funding which can't finance the curriculum and educators to run a full accredited university.
What happened to the long overdue draft tertiary ordinance to recognize our university? The first question any outside business would ask USM while marketing abroad is, "Are you recognized by your local government?" which they can't answer.
Education should be legislators’ and government’s top priority. The educational system of a nation is the foundation for building any nation.
We need to reignite the vision of the founders of why USM was established, such as the late Dr. Claude Wathey and Ambassador Dr. Husang Ansary. We need to get back to the vision, instead of being all over the place with the future development of USM.
I also would like to know why our co-founder, Ambassador Dr. Husang Ansary, is donating millions to other universities in the United States, instead of helping to further develop our own local university that he helped co-found? USM should be the future corner stone to educate our people to become leaders of the 21st century within our community. Education must be a top priority!
In closing, I pray to God that the sooner the better, we get it right with the right vision and put a structural solution and funding in place to recognize our own local institution, USM.
Travelling with Winair from Bonaire to St. Eustatius an experience I would like to share through this medium.
I was at the airport from 6:15am on the morning of November 2, 2019, to be checked in for 6:30am.
Unfortunately, that never happened. At 7:00am, I was the first person to be checked in at the counter. After reading my boarding pass, which said 10:40am boarding time, I immediately returned to the counter and was told the flight is delayed until 11:50am. This for a flight that should have left Bonaire at 8:30am.
We never departed from Bonaire until 11:50am. We departed Curaçao at 12:55pm, the flight lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. During this time, I should have checked-in in St. Maarten for my connecting flight to St. Eustatius.
After my arrival, I went to Winair check-in counter where my connecting flight to St. Eustatius had already departed. I was professionally helped by the clerk of the counter, who gave me a boarding pass for a flight 541 to leave St. Maarten at 5:20pm with stipulation “standby”. At that moment, I realized it was eight passengers from that delayed flight to receive a boarding pass with the same information.
I then returned to the counter and asked would we get an extra flight, seeing the number of passengers that were there. I was told to hang on upstairs, so I did. Putting in an extra flight would have to be a supervisor decision.
After waiting from 2:45pm until 6:00pm and no word, I returned to the counter and was given a voucher to have something to eat. We stayed calm and were told it is more likely that we would be put up until the next day. At 6:15pm we were called for immediate boarding, we were all happy about that. However, to our great surprise this flight was actually destined for Antigua for but three persons, while we were eight.
After all that long stressful wait, Winair was flying from St. Maarten to Antigua to carry three passengers with a stop in St. Eustatius for the eight of us. A flight that would have been more costly to fly three to Antigua.
I am calling on Government and all stakeholders to stop allowing Winair’s decrease in good service to the Golden Rock and the increasing of prices.
After all, aren't we entitled to the same good service as the other islands? We are also one of the few that make use mostly of Winair; shouldn't we be able to connect with our family and friends from the other islands for an affordable fare?
I am asking Statians to stand united in a positive manner towards the service we pay for, like any other Island that pays for their services.
I would like to thank the captain and his co-pilot who brought us safely home that evening.
From the days of slavery
All emphasis was given
To the economy
No one ever care
Whether we live, whether we die
We only existed te satisfy
The massah's greed
And every breath we breed
Te was te answer te his need
Picked he cotton, planted he corn
Cut he sugar cane
Reap he salt
While we were treated
We grow their economy
To make them rich and wealthy
But nobody ever
Care ’bout we
But nothing did change
The exploitation continue
Just the same
Nobody caring fo we
The politicians more interested
In balancing the budget
And developing the economy
By caring fo the tourist industry
But nobody caring fo we
All they have fo we
Is some underpaying task
Or ah position at ah lower
With no health care
No pension fund
In not even ah vacation
’Cauz fo we they just
Fo their wealth with we
They wouldn’t share
So we move from cultivation
On the plantation
To tourism and leisure vacation
But still remain the servant
To the massah
And we are consider the children
Of ah lesser God
Carriers of water and hewers
So nobody care about us
As they should
So we are refused our share
In the pie
And our only promise
Is to have a better life
When we die
Up in the sky
Nobody care about us
Raymond Helligar aka “Big Ray”
Wow! Election again.
From 10/10/10 still no stable government and the people not even brave as those St. Maarteners that fought for their freedom during the days of slavery.
So, they can have another referendum soon and chose an option to better govern this island, because coalition governments do not work well here in St. Maarten.
There’s a lot needs to be done since the passing of Hurricane lrma. One-party rule with a total of 10 seats or more can easily bring the island forward.
During last week’s press briefing, the Minister of Finance informed one of the reporters about St. Maarten’s current liquidity status. St. Maarten currently holds between 25 to 30 million guilders in its coffers.
Our annual budget is about 450 million guilders, and we have difficulties balancing our budget. Furthermore, we know that the government has been relying on ad hoc payments such as the sale of its shares in UTS to cover expenses. As a result, we have no budget for capital expenses.
Many have been asking why our neighboring countries have been receiving financial aid from the Dutch and other international organizations without conditions. That is because they are in more deplorable conditions, according to international standards, when compared to St. Maarten. But don’t worry, St. Maarten is heading there, to deplorable conditions, at this rate. We’ve been having a declining economy since 2014 as all the cabinet changes have been costly for St. Maarten.
We cannot blame the Dutch or CFT [Committee for financial Supervision – Ed.] for a deal we accepted since 10-10-10. When we’re told we shouldn’t accept the World Bank’s bureaucratic procedures or conditions from the Dutch, we should question what was the alternative, as we’ve been spending so poorly for the last 7 years before Hurricane Irma.
We became a country that could not take care of its own people in times of disasters. The truth is, we lack long-term macro-economic planning by the St. Maarten Government and that is partially due to political instability.
The good news is, however, that there is a viable solution and it starts with putting people like me and your readers at the forefront of any policy-making process. This will ensure that hard-working families are able to afford what they need, that we give our entrepreneurs a head start, that we strengthen and diversify our economy and we alleviate poverty in our society.
People say things haven’t changed over the last 10 years, but they have. Only, the changes have not been for us!