Cordial dialogue creates mutual respect

Dear Editor,

  Who was the first Minister of Justice for St. Maarten?

  And how many ministers of justice have we seen since then? And also: How many Head Commissioners of Police have we seen since 10-10-10 and of what caliber?

  I can remember around 2013/2014 when the then chief of police said that there were no statistics to be able to evaluate the performance of the police. So, there cannot be any pointing of finger, because none of them have done anything for the police over those years.

  Sorry, yes they did, they transformed that respectable looking police officer dressed in navy blue and light blue uniform into a riot police officer without a cap. We went from one of the best dressed to the worst.

  In Dutch there is a saying “De kleren maken de man” (fine feathers make fine birds). I wonder … Yes, if the caliber of service by the police has gone backwards, nobody else is to blame but those who took pleasure in constantly toppling the government of St. Maarten and bragged about it among themselves.

  If over just about 11 years there are at least seven different policies from personalities who knew nothing about the directing of a police force, and how the justice system works, what should you expect? The only words I have for that is “They did not care”. I did not agree when the police took to the street in protest, but when nobody listens and demonstrates not to care, strange things happen.

  I strongly believe that the current Minister of Justice did not and most probably still does not have an optimal team around her and is honestly trying her best. Because it is common for people to give extra life to the bad, it drowns out and overshadows the good. I agree with Mauricia when he stated, “Be the first to encourage your people Do not blindly follow rumors, look for the facts and trust your …,” but if I can recall when the present Minister of Justice, after being made aware of the protest, invited a delegation of the police to come to her office to be able to have a discussion, they refused.

  I remember clearly that I told an ex-colleague, “In the days of Leo Chance, this would not have reached this far. This is the result of all of those different governments.”

  I am not sure if the present minister had time to get to know all the players. Fact remains that too often even coalition partners attempt to intervene in matters not concerning them just because those implicated are from a family which supported that politician or political party. Too often trying to avoid the appropriate steps to be taken against whoever is involved in that situation.

  Because of this kind of an atmosphere those representing parties (in this case the police) already have a preconception of what they think the results will be. Reason why these meetings often result in loggerheads is because of a lack of cordial dialogue.

  Because the policeman is the only person in the world who can arrest everybody, the first reaction of anyone when approached by the police is fear or hostility. This at times causes unacceptable reaction and can escalate the situation. I can remember very well when I applied for the job. I was still in school and the police came to my home to get information about me. My mother told me she almost dropped down when the police came to the door and asked if I lived there? She thought something bad had happened to me. And yes, I have experienced similar reactions when I went to get information concerning the person who had applied for the job.

  So, it is always going to be hot and cold between the public and police but Internal Affairs have to know the integrity of the members of the force and act according to that intelligence, along with the facts, and not solely on what comes from the outside.

  People constantly ask me how to go about making a complaint against the police? I have a standard answer: “I will not do that.” So, I know that the complaints against police are increasing.

  Because of what I hear about the police behavior and what I definitely know about the behavior of the people in the traffic here on the island, I would advise the police to make use of the ideal road infrastructure of St. Maarten. This would oblige every driver to pull up their socks and stop using the traffic on St. Maarten as a free-for-all.

  Mister Chance was a boat captain, but those who know would tell you that he was one of the most respected and fair ministers of justice in the Antilles. He once told me that he found out long ago that people usually tell that part of the story which is in their favor. He also said to me, “I lasted as a politician that long with difficult ministries because I made sure to be fair to the voters. There are only 30 people in government but approximately one quarter of the population are voters and they are the ones who will elect you, not the members of Parliament or the Ministers.”

  I honestly believe that the police should welcome that “complaints committee”, because it will ensure the public of their right to be able to voice their concern. This should serve as a deterrent for all.

  I am aware that airing one’s dirty laundry in public is not advisable. I also understand the saying, “You are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don’t”, but the police are expected “to do”. And we should be aware that one cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. It’s a good horse that never stumbles, I accept that there is nothing wrong with keeping an eye on things.

  Let me mention this. Many years ago I told Mister Blackman that he should try to accomplish that one of the requirements for every Windward Islander (Saba, Statia, St. Maarten) who applied for the job of a policeman is to be prepared to be in Aruba, Bonaire or Curaçao for at least four years before coming back to serve in the Windward Islands.

  I believe, because Justice is still of the Kingdom. this should be implemented.

  I would suggest with all due respect for all who are involved in unionism to be in solidarity with the police in their quest, but do not encourage them to fight from the outside. This is not what we do. Cordial dialogue creates mutual respect.

  Now this. In your editorial of September 7 you cited the judge’s ruling, stating that although COVID-19 measures can be an infringement on individual rights, in some cases the latter is outweighed by employers’ obligation to provide a secure working environment for all, and then you continued to elaborate. Who were the experts whom this judge consulted? And what proof is there to ascertain this ruling? I believe that this ruling is biased because COVID-19 measures are infringements on individual rights, the ruling is questionable and premature.

  Fact is that doubts, disputes and protests concerning the validity of the whole COVID-19 saga, with its so-claimed necessary multiple vaccines, have emerged from all points of the globe. On September 9 I read your editorial and asked myself, “Where is the fundamental difference?”

  What remains a puzzle to me is that those who accepted to be vaccinated have had to sign a disclaimer not holding the pharmaceutical companies nor the government liable for any adverse effects as a result of taking the vaccine. Is this not absolute proof that that vaccine is not reliable, neither to cure or not to cure?

  I believe that this is the third letter in which I state that I will not try to persuade anyone whether to accept the vaccine or accept the vaccine. All I wish is for government to tell the people the truth. Or just like we usually say, “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

  I am baffled that a usually “matter of fact” Dutch judge could make such a ruling. What I would have desired or actually expected is that people of the Caribbean (and we have them from every island here) would have been able to concoct a “COVID-deterrent bomb” and just like they spread gossip via the social media do the same with that local “COVID deterrent bomb” and prove to the world that as long as you keep your immune system up to date and maintain that social distance COVID-19 would have been kept in check.

  By the way, what do the COVID-19 statistics really prove to us? I would like to know who are the first people that these persons, who are involved in making those strange decisions, see in the morning, and what do they think?. And most of all, when they are leaving their homes, do they look up and say “Guide me Lord,” and mean it?

Russell A. Simmons