In The Spotlight
I have a boy friend (not “boyfriend”) who is gay. One time he saw another boy he thought was interesting and asked me if I knew whether that boy is gay. I asked a friend of the other boy and he said no, the other boy is as straight as they come.
My problem is that now I have got to know the other boy I got to like him and when he asked me for a date I would have said “yes” if my boy friend wasn’t interested in him.
Queenie, would it be okay for me to go out with that other boy?—Undecided
I do not think the “girl code” applies in this case. Because the other boy is straight there is no chance whatsoever that he will ever be interested in your gay friend in that way. However, it might be a good idea to ask your gay friend how he would feel about it before you decide.
Fraud and corruption, it seems to be in the genes of KPMG. Even the construction of their own headquarters in Amstelveen was a fraudulent affair, one that involved millions of euros. KPMG offers its clients customised work. That can be messing with the books, such as with the Vestia housing corporation, or misleading numbers at the now bankrupt, Imtech; Foreign bribes (Ballast Nedam) and the payment of bribes (SBM Offshore) or large-scale fraud (as in Weyl meat processor).
As a rule, the accountant comes away with a settlement, which never teaches them a true lesson. Also in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, I constantly come across KPMG when a business fails financially; even recently, when we had to pull the plug from the new population register in the Netherlands. A terribly expensive ICT project, 100 million euros was discarded, under the supervision of KPMG. The company can provide financial advice and carry out all kinds of constructions. In fact, KPMG can even do research on fraud!
All of those different tasks are at odds with one another, especially in the Caribbean, where I often encounter KPMG's name in scandals. We must now prevent this company from having a role in the economic reconstruction of St. Maarten.
St. Maarten’s gambling boss Francesco Corallo is currently in custody in Italy, where he is suspected of bribing influential politicians surrounding former Prime Minister Berlusconi. The accountant of Corallo was KPMG. This bribery of politicians took place via Fortis Bank, which was controlled by KPMG again. The fact that the accountant seems to do the books of all kinds of gambling bosses is not surprising. KPMG also plays an important role in many government companies on the islands; also at the Curaçao telecom company UTS.
This makes illegal gambling possible worldwide, with a lot of criminal money being laundered. A very large insurance company on the islands is ENNIA, where many people have a mortgage, a pension, health insurance or insurances for damages. Iranian oil billionaire Hushang Ansary just took hundreds of millions of euros out of the company, the Dutch media reported. ENNIA is controlled by KPMG.
The influence of KPMG on St. Maarten and Curaçao is great, in the financial and legal world, but also in politics. These worlds seem connected through shady networks. Regularly I hear of the ‘Grupo Sopi’ (soup group), founded by KPMG people, where bankers and supervisors supposedly do business with politicians over a bowl of soup. Sometimes we tend to forget that KPMG is an accountancy business. This is a company that has to check annual accounts in order to prevent fraud and corruption.
In real life, it seems to be a company that would like to appeal to criminals. On the initiative of the SP and the VVD parties a few years ago, an investigation has been launched into the connection between the upper world and the criminal world on St. Maarten and Curaçao, especially between politics and the (illegal) gambling industry. The new Dutch Government has decided to continue that research in the coming years and to provide a great deal of resources and means.
I fear that we will encounter the name KPMG more often in those investigations. The accountant, of course, also has the task of investigating possible maladministration in his own company, but I never hear anything about that. If I was a Commissioner of KPMG, I would not rest before all the criminals left the company. Unfortunately, I am not a Commissioner of KPMG. Laetitia Griffith (VVD) and Jolande Sap (GroenLinks) are. I would like to appeal to these former colleagues to break the silence and to seriously investigate.
The Dutch Government is currently working on a 100 million euros reconstruction fund for St. Maarten. Consultants have undoubtedly already set their eyes on this fund. It probably has the attention of KPMG which of course would like to be involved in such projects. But we should not do that this time. The Dutch Government puts high demands on the integrity of members of the local government to prevent the money falling into the wrong hands. So I think a boycott of KPMG is in place.
Ronald van Raak is a Member of the Second Chamber for the Socialist Party (SP)
His columns, including this one, are regularly published on ThePostOnline.
I was shocked by the actions of the post-hurricane looters 22 years ago after Hurricane Luis, but I was even more shocked by the number and boldness of the looters after Hurricane Irma. I was told by a witness that a large number of them had begun looting CostULess during the eye of the storm, that is, before the storm was over. This action was clearly planned in advance. They certainly cast a very dark, irremovable blemish on our beloved island that may take generations to go away.
What does this say about our multi-national population? Some looters were certainly born here, but the majority are obviously from the surrounding English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. Since St. Maarteners are outnumbered by at least seven to one, if not by a bigger quantity, it is safe to assume that the vast majority were not local St. Maarteners, but belong to the multitudes of undesirable aliens our government allows to freely enter our country; enter and stay, that is.
A couple of years ago, the Census Office published information about the many different nationalities residing on St. Maarten. It was mentioned that the Spanish-speaking population – 8,000 plus at the time – had surprisingly surpassed the number of Haitians on the island. They have become the biggest non-Dutch nationality on St. Maarten.
One lady called in to Laser 101 to report that there were people stealing brand-new cars from a car dealer in Cole Bay. She saw and heard the looters in action and remarked, “All I could hear was Spanish.”
Similar words were expressed by a volunteer who was helping to distribute food. He was overheard saying, “I can count the St. Maarten people on my fingers. All I hear is Spanish.”
I think it is safe to assume that a large number of foreigners residing on this tiny island are unskilled and therefore unemployed. Those who are employed are mostly self-employed. I wonder how many, if any, of those self-employed foreigners pay taxes? It has always amazed me how a 37-square-mile half-an-island can support tens of thousands of non-Dutch people, many of whom are undocumented and unemployed. This is no undoubtedly a huge burden on the economy of our island.
The entire burden of running this island lies squarely on the shoulders of St. Maarteners and those who are living and working here legally. How much longer can this go on? Isn’t it high time for those in authority to get serious about cleaning up the chaos we are in? It seems all they ever do is talk. Much talk and little or no action translate into a non-functioning, ineffective government.
The looting in Philipsburg could have easily been prevented had our government learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Luis. I don’t remember hearing about any looters being arrested at that time. Consequently, a much larger and bolder number rose up against the community this time around. This time our police officers, with the help of their colleagues, have done a remarkable job by arresting a large number of them.
However, after all the unspeakable damage they have done to their host country, they are set free and given a few hours of community service. Worse yet, they have been told “to be remorseful and bring back the stolen goods and ‘we won’t search your homes.’” Unbelievable! The Prosecutor might as well have told them, “Just go home and behave yourselves until the next major hurricane comes along.”
If I could have things my way, I would publish and distribute a booklet with the pictures and full names of all those arrested for looting, and also mention the districts where they live. Our people have the right to know who the thieves among us are. The illegals who are not from here should be unceremoniously kicked off the island, put on a black list and never be allowed to re-enter the country. Maybe those who are from here would be so utterly ashamed of being exposed as a thief that even they might leave the island.
But, of course, this is not going to happen. Our lawmakers would rather hide behind the foolishness they call political correctness than muster up the courage to deal with the sad reality. It’s not as if the thousands of undocumented and the now unemployed documented aliens can vote for them.
How far should a country go to protect its citizens from unproductive, non-taxpaying, non-contributing and therefore undesirable “guest workers” who come out of the woodwork during and after each hurricane?
Some years ago, a former co-worker told me about a trip he and his wife had made a trip to a South American country. The immigration officer at the airport asked him, in the hearing range of the other arriving passengers, where he would be staying, how long he was planning to stay, and ... if he had enough money to support himself during his stay. He was caught totally off-guard by the last question.
He told the officer how much money he had on him and was even more humiliated when the officer growled in a not-so-friendly tone, “let me see the money!” He actually had to take the money from his wallet to show the officer. “I felt so embarrassed, Mr. Hodge, I will never again go back there.”
I would never agree with such humiliating treatment by an immigration officer. However, I do think our government is extremely careless when it comes to the admission and expulsion of aliens. This carelessness comes at a very high cost to our local people, our economy, and yes, even our reputation abroad.
Suitable foreigners - those who invest their money here, have a job (that cannot be done by locals) waiting for them here, or have services to offer that are not (sufficiently) available on the island should be welcomed and embraced. However, not all aliens are created equal. It takes a catastrophe to distinguish the good from the bad. If only our government would learn from and appropriately act on lessons from the past.
My children don’t like visiting my parents because they say Gramma is always “down” and angry and they don’t like the way she treats Grampa.
Queenie, should I tell her what they said? Do you think it would make her change?—Can’t decide what’s best
Dear Can’t decide,
I would not tell her you are repeating what her grandchildren said. Instead, tell her you can see that she is not happy and suggest (gently!) that professional counselling might help.
Does hierarchy of opinions exist? If so, who gets to decide what's best for us? One of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, Michel Foucault, wrote extensively on Power and Knowledge. He argued that there was a certain relationship between Power and Knowledge and, in order for some things to come to the surface, others inevitably must be suppressed.
Unpacking Foucault's Systems of Thought amounts to mental gymnastics and exhaustion. Foucault wrote almost as if not to be understood, but his ideas, once comprehended, can illuminate one's understanding of the way society is structured.
Some categories of opinions are discriminately placed on a pedestal, preserved and kept there indefinitely in the service and furtherance of certain objectives and ends. Thus far, there is no universal consensus on the superiority of one viewpoint over another. Views are just what they are – views, and the associated images you see depend on which lens you're peering through.
However, an undue confidence in one's opinions at the expense of all others severely reduces our capacity to tolerate and regard considerations and mental surveys of others.
The sources of this excessive confidence are numerous, with some exerting more influence than others on the importance they ascribe to certain opinions. For instance, let's suppose that two minds, one schooled, the other unschooled, are invited to give their opinions on a rather simple matter, something that requires no intellectual training or background knowledge, just a routine, daily occurrence. The observations of both participants are equally insightful and innovative.
Given, then, that all other things are equal, whose opinions, then, get the coveted wink of an eye when our tendency to rank others kicks in? We know all too well where the preference shifts, and understandably so, since the products of institutions of learning are considered morally and intellectually superior to non-initiates. There is a predisposition to hold in esteem opinions that emanate from those who have undergone extensive refinement or improvement of mind by formal education.
Their opinions, like everyone else's, are all based on grounds short of proof, which is what one's opinion actually is. However, quite often their views are mistakenly interpreted as competent enquiry, unfavourably and prejudicially accepted as probable – that which is, or may be expected to happen, or prove true or correct. We continue to witness the devastating effects of this bias across the globe.
Conversely, the creative opinions of those who for varying reasons were unable to acquire, at the very least, a secondary level of formal education are constantly overlooked and placed nowhere close to the top of the pyramid of opinions.
This huge storehouse of opinions and creativity are relegated to the fringes of society, without due consideration, and we observe this unfair practice being perpetrated by other privileged groups in society, too, which is not just restricted to those who have been adequately schooled. This privilege crosses borders to include those who have climbed the social ladder by whatever means, and exert tremendous influence.
The judgment of those whose reservoir of intellectual and socioeconomic capital is greater than the remainder of the whole of society is accorded more weight. Is it by design that the opinions of these groups of individuals are given considerably more importance than others?
There are views that are a threat to the status quo of society and are interpreted as "revolutionary." They operate outside of the "intellectual" and "emotional safe spaces" of the gatekeepers and are not allowed to come to the surface. All available resources are marshaled to suppress and portray these opinions as destructive and inferior.
We seek opinions to gain control over the unpredictable, for in all of us there is a psychological need for reassurance, if we are to create order and sense out of events to give them focus and direction. We champion the views that fulfill this need, and seldom confer meaning and value to those that are contrary, because they bring us "divine displeasure."
The economy of opinions permits only that which ensures order. Any view that attempts to upset and destabilize this equilibrium is attacked and, in some cases, violently too. If we recognize that our opinions are just ideas that are believed to be true, and a propensity to accord a greater value to some opinions and less to others is a basic human tendency, then we might increase our capacity to tolerate, consider and contemplate the views of others.
Every day it becomes more evident that local politicians who sold the Guangdong Zhenrong Energy (GZE) project as a celestial answer to the economic standstill we’ve been confronting for some decades were blindsided by naïveté and even, I suspect, an unhealthy dose of self-interest. News this week about a decision of the Hong Kong High Court, followed by a “by the book” PR to defend the Chinese “noble” intentions in Curaçao, is no surprise.
According to a trusted source in Singapore, Titan Petrochemicals, which is owned by GZE, announced recently that GZE has been ordered for winding up by the Hong Kong High Court. It seems these proceedings were started in 2016 in the Hong Kong Court of First Instance. In an official statement released on September 27, 2017, Titan recognises that: “the order of winding up of GZE may have material adverse impact on [Titan] and that it is seeking legal advice and further evaluation [...].”
Titan, a Hong Kong-listed company with headquarters in Hong Kong, is due to conduct the LNG-Terminal in Bullenbaai. Titan has recently expanded its business activities to broaden income. Unaudited figures show that during the first half of 2017, this company lost NAf. 15.5 million. No wonder Titan is nervous about the state of affairs of GZE.
That the Chinese try to do as if these disconcerting reports regarding GZE are somehow just fake news is worrisome. Let’s not forget that in China, the Communist Party (CCP) precedes any state-owned company (SOE). This was clearly the case with the GZE’s representatives and CCP Members responsible for the press release this week.
In China, SOE managers concurrently occupy party’s positions and are also expected to display political rectitude. A look into the charters of GZE and Zhuhai Zhenrong Company, the largest shareholder of GZE, shows that party’s leadership is the most important principle. “And this principle must be insisted on,” according to the Chinese President as reported in The New York Times, October 13, 2016.
Because communists have yet to show they can successfully run capitalist companies, most of the SOEs, which operate as monopolies, are in dire straits. So far, the best idea Beijing had was to lump smaller inefficient SOEs together. So, whilst the quantity of SOEs may have dwindled, now there are much larger inefficient SOEs. There are no indications that the CCP will be able to ensure competitiveness and efficiency. A major stumbling block is that SOE regulators are outranked in the party by SOE executives.
We must also carefully watch the huge China’s debt, expected to rise to 300 per cent of GDP. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), this may soon lead to a financial crisis. Another IMF warning is that “China’s sustainable economic growth –growth that is achieved without excessive credit expansion – was much lower than actual growth over the last five years.” Complicating matters, debt in China is handled in a complex, non-transparent way of interbank loans and bonds.
What are the implications for Curaçao? We will face serious challenges if politicians keep assuming that GZE can fix our economic problems and use it as an excuse to further delay needed reforms in, among others, labour market and immigration policies. Another huge mistake is to assume that China’s SOEs will manage this project in Curaçao according to the arm’s length principle.
Fact is that the Chinese do not have a proven “record of allocating resources efficiently,” even at home. Let us consider these details as relevant information in dealing with the Chinese.
I suggest China drop the act that it is here because it somehow fell in love with the island. We know all about this kind of love in places like Zambia, Angola, Laos and Jamaica. Curaçao must seriously do its homework and use all resources available here, in The Kingdom and elsewhere to get the most out of this project. We have been warned.
By Alex David Rosaria
Former Member of Parliament
Before we got married my husband used to treat me like a queen, lots of presents, going out to fancy places, etc.
Now he hardly speaks to me. If I am doing something in one room he gets up and goes to another room.
Queenie, do you think he just married me to get an unpaid housekeeper?—Frustrated wife
Have you tried asking your husband that question? If not, you should, possibly with a professional counsellor as mediator if you can get your husband to go with you to one. If not, go by yourself for help in handling your husband and the situation he has put you in.
Please help the homeless, This is going over one year now that I am begging for help. I am backward and forward asking my Government for help. We are now year later and we have so many people homeless.
All we are hearing is looting, people going to jail. Now, what they have done is very wrong, but you have to feed them, make them clean up St. Maarten. When you steal you going to work now. Locking them up, the work out here still has to be done.
One hundred persons you have to feed every day. Put them to work and start helping the people who can't afford to build back their home. Like I say, I am homeless all over the place.
You know what is so good about the Lord is that I am holding on to His hands and He is holding me. To the people: give your heart to Christ, He is going to see us through, not today, when is in trouble at the time. Good times and bad times. Stop our wicked ways, turn away from that.
Look, my sister just passed away on September 18, just after the hurricane, and I was begging her to give her life to God, but the world is better so now she is gone.
Please, my friends and family, stop and look at what we are doing. God is coming, nothing is going to get any better. Give your life to the Lord. Come out of our wicked ways. Look around us and see what happened.
I am begging our Government for help. I gave 45 years of service to them, now can't they give me a home to rest my head at night?
Even if I have to pay, I need a place. If ANYBODY has a place and hears my cry, please help me. My phone number is 524-3137.
Please, people of St Maarten, come back to the Lord Jesus where we used to be, I am begging. We all have sinned, but God is willing to forgive us. Humble yourself at His feet like I did, give your life to Him.
People hold on to the hands of God, because I am not letting go.
Rosalinda Avril Gumbs
I’m going with a middle-aged man who still lives with his parents. As far as I know he has never lived anywhere else. He says he likes it this way and sees no reason to move out
Queenie, is there something here I should be worried about?—Just wondering
Dear Just wondering,
This is indeed an unusual situation. It could be as simple as your boyfriend makes it out to be, or his parents could need his help financially or as a caregiver,
Unless there is something else you have not told me, I see no reason for worry unless you are looking for a closer, more permanent relationship with this man, in which case you should try to have a serious conversation(s) with him about your and his future.
The elected officials of our island must understand that it is a privilege and an honour to serve the people. They have the responsibility to portray themselves exemplary because they represent all of us. The United People's Coalition (UPC) felt the need to emphasize the following, after listening to the ignorance uttered by Mr. Clyde van Putten last week in Curaçao. First of all he introduced himself as the prime minister of Statia and spoke on behalf of Statia and her people in a borderline delusional way, addressing a gathering of Kursou Fuerte I Outonomo.
This brings to mind the Dunning-Kruger effect. A person of low ability suffering from the illusion of superiority mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is.
The UPC had hoped that with the passing of Irma and Maria that he and his cronies would have had a semblance of understanding to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric and make use of this nature given opportunity to really engage in talks with The Hague, without losing face, in an effort to finally get the development of the island going.
What is sad and surely an offence to our people is for this island council member of the ruling coalition in antagonizing, lying manner and with much fanfare, perceived to tell The Hague that if they send people to Statia to take over government backed by marines, he and his followers will hunt them down, burn them and drag them in the street of Statia. Now, in the state our island is in, these types of provoking statements are unbecoming and not in the interest of the people.
As the UPC pointed out already in previous articles this delusional quest of him for more autonomy is only championed because he so eagerly would like to be the first prime minister of Statia. We hope the people are paying attention to what is going on and understand that this fight for more autonomy has nothing to do with them, but only is pushed to feed this “gentleman’s” huge ego.
Taking the above-mentioned into consideration the UPC condemns in the strongest terms the statement coming from this council member and also feels the need to tell the world that our people are resilient, but also a friendly people and will not be incited to violence by this deranged politician.
Reginald C. Zaandam
Leader of the United People's Coalition
The Central Committee meeting of Parliament, convened on October 12, 2017, to discuss hurricane preparedness, disaster management and the recovery of St. Maarten, was closed based on an erroneous ruling. As the Prime Minister, the Honourable William Marlin was unable to attend this meeting Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Raphael Boasman, together with the Honourable Ministers Jacobs, Doncher and Lee substituted for him.
My son is entering the same profession as mine and sometimes he cones to me for advice. A colleague says I should not be helping him because he has to learn to stand on his own two feet.
Queenie, it’s not like I tell him what to do, I just try to lead him into figuring things out for himself. Am I doing something wrong?—Proud father
It is normal for people who are just entering a profession to consult with experts. In this case the expert is a close relative, which makes things a bit tricky. Just make sure you are not feeding your son the answers to his questions/problems rather than pointing the way toward finding them for himself.
Having been involved with the consequences of hurricanes in the marine sector for many years, I can say without any doubt that the damage that will result from Hurricane Irma will be disproportionate due to the slow reaction by those wishing to minimize losses to their vessels.
When a vessel is sunk, deterioration occurs as a result of batteries being underwater, fuels being present, acids in the polluted lagoon bottom, high salt content and stray currents. The longer the submersion, the worse the damage.
Undoubtedly the slowness of the reaction to this hurricane was made worse by the lack of a functioning airport that kept away decision-makers and a following hurricane also slowing things up.
But the marine sector had a big shock when it was declared by the Government that all salvaging of vessels needed to be approved by a Ministry.
If there had been a declaration defining measures that needed to be followed that minimized environmental damage, nobody would have been shocked.
This declaration was by the same Ministry that said all building reconstruction needed their approval, which was quickly corrected.
The big difference, of course, is that whilst the Ministry of [Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure – Ed.] VROMI has numerous professionals with appropriate qualifications that have the expertise to evaluate building plans, to the best of my knowledge they do not have the same level of expertise when it comes to marine salvage.
The declaration was quickly posted on social media and all around the world there was reaction that concluded that here was another case of regulation without expertise and heavy-handed control without understanding of the challenges. This could have been easily avoided with communications that dealt with the results that the Ministry was attempting to achieve (environmental protection?).
The Marine Sector has been professionally measured to constitute the drive behind 15 per cent of our Sint Maarten economy. It was also the sector that could rebound the fastest and attract outside capital in this critical period where getting the economy going is critical to the entire country. It is a sector that has a high tax contribution and minimal expense by government in facilitation.
Should we not be smart and strategic about retaining this sector?
Recently I met up with this guy I used to date in high school and we started going together again, He had gotten married and then divorced in the meantime but he says he was always in love with me and now he wants to marry me.
However, up to now I haven’t even met his children, let alone got to know them. He is very close to them and as far as I can see he is a great father. They must know about me because he has a picture of me on his nightstand, so why can’t I meet them?
Queenie, what do you think?—Impatient
I think you are being too patient. It is time to start wondering if this guy is really divorced or just stringing you along.
My boyfriend is a very religious church-goer. I believe in God and I’m of the same faith, but I don’t go to church very often.
Queenie, is this a deal-breaker?—Worried girlfriend
It could be, if your boyfriend cannot accept your attitude toward religion. You and he need to have a serious conversation (or more than one) on the subject.
Major disasters and stressful situations tend to bring out the best and the worst in people and the organizations managed by them; public and private and even volunteer. The indiscriminate nature of Hurricane Irma means that no one has been spared.
A good Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations is a clever man who lets government run smoothly, working silently in the background. You can say a lot about Ronald Plasterk, but this isn’t one of those things.
In ancient times natural disasters were always blamed on the politicians. And in this case with Irma I agree full-heartedly that I believe the same today.
The frustration over the pretentious governments on both sides of the island that has angered the people to the max has finally exploded in a disaster so big that it will unite the people and the small businesses. The politicians better help them as real as they can, or they will end up as the aristocracy under the blade of the guillotine.
Politicians need to have certain virtues, abilities. It was figured out in the same ancient times. Then some entities spoke of the “Wise Men” who made the laws. The “wise men” needed to have certain skills, or they would not be able to fulfill their functions.
Here are 9 virtues as they gave as advice to the Emperor, the Supreme and Sacred Ruler. Such rulers do not exist today, or they are the men behind the controls of HAARP. If they had any of the 9 virtues we would not be in the mess we are, read on to the end.
Virtue Nr. 1: Affability coupled with dignity.
Nr. 2: Liberality with Standfastness.
Nr. 3: Hard Frankness with respect.
Nr. 4: Ability to reign with dedication.
Nr. 5: Docility with boldness.
Nr. 6: Honesty with Friendliness.
Nr. 7: Easy unconstraintness with discrimination.
Nr. 8: Boldness with sincerity.
Nr. 9: Braveness with righteousness.
If one person has three of the virtues He is good to lead a group.
When he has 6 he can manage a business of State.
And one who has all 9 virtues will be honored for appointments in the highest places.
Do some soul-searching, cabal of ruling elite: Do you have even one or two of these virtues?
Keep studying thyself.!
My son’s wife is constantly busy doing something on her cell phone when she is visiting us. The last time her children got into a fight and she didn’t even notice and I had to calm them down.
When I spoke to her about it later she told my son I was being rude.
Queenie, was she right?—Angry mother-in-law
Cell phone use, especially the Internet, can be addictive, but that is not excuse for neglecting one’s children.