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PHILIPSBURG, St. MaartenMy brief term in office has been an accelerating learning experience as well as one of recognizing that there is an urgent need for Government to restructure and optimize its organizational processes to become more effective and efficient, and above all eliminate waste.

Entering with an energetic team of a tourism expert, a transportation expert, an economist, a junior policy adviser and secretary our hopes were high to accomplish many of the existing, shelved projects and some of our own ideas-one main one being developing a sound strategy to market St. Maarten online using all the various platforms.

Never the less in our 73 days we were able to encourage South Americans to visit our shores, which culminated in a group of Brazilian tour operators traveling to St. Maarten taking stock and publishing their experience in various travel magazines across Latin America.

Along with my professional team, we realized the launch of our very own Bureau Intellectual Properties (BIP), finalizing outstanding matters, ensuring its smooth and structured entry into service. Various previous ministries have worked on this project. This new independent body is poised to be a revenue generating body for Government, and its setup affords us opportunities beyond our shores. 

The Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP), another sensitive matter, we were at the initial phase of bringing parties together to highlight the areas to be rectified based on the findings of the General Audit Chamber report. Steady progress was being made to rectify wrongs of the past, as this department too should also be a revenue generating body. 

Another key area was the attention given amongst others to the Civil Aviation department, which we envisioned along with the governing accord to update structure and personnel to allow us as a country to attain our CAT 1 status once again. Out of this we made both Civil Aviation and the Meteorological Department high priority areas to rectify and finalize. This project is ongoing.

The Gaming Control Board another possible revenue generating entity (a project we met) we were full speed exploring all avenues for the initial financing of this project.

On the tourism front we were months away from having the startup functioning of our very own St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA), but had to halt the project due to limitation placed on us not to commit to any long term project with consultant as Government fell. 

This country still has great potential and can be the success it ought to be, if all those who proclaim their ‘love’ for this island, live up it to the true meaning of the word love


In the end it shouldn’t matter who gets the glory, I firmly believe it should be about the mission our team along with that of the Marcel Gumbs--Council of Ministers entered with, which was to create a better life for all and leave an even better one behind for those who follow. 


While we fight the ‘self stuff’, who gets this or that, we forget the competitive environment we live in. While we fight among ourselves, the surrounding islands are forging ahead full speed in tourism and development.  


All in all, it was a great pleasure and honor for me to serve you the people of St. Maarten with my team of professionals and we wish our successors much success. I could not have done it alone and I thank my team of experts, the TEATT ministry and all those in the administration that supported us directly or indirectly. 

May God bless this nation and thank you once more all St. Maarteners and all those who call this island their home.

Chairperson of Parliament, Members of Parliament

Prime-Minister, Ministers,

Prefet Delegee of Saint Martin and St. Barths

President of the Collectivity of Saint Martin

Distinguished Guests,

Good Afternoon,

On September 30th, a shift in the majority in Parliament took place creating the basis for the transfer of governing responsibility to a new team of Ministers. During the seven week transition period which concluded today I consulted with various persons and named Mr. William Marlin as formateur to form a new government. You have, as a result, just witnessed the transfer of executive responsibility for the governance of our country from one team of Ministers to a new team of Ministers. The path to this transfer was not without challenges. To all who gave their input to the transition and formation process I hereby, also on behalf of the people of Sint Maarten, express my gratitude. And in particular I wish to thank Mr. William Marlin for his work and cooperation as formateur.

As I said the path to this transfer was not without challenges. Today’s transfer follows a period of polarized, complex and tense political actions and constitutional debates. During the past seven weeks a lot has been said and written about our constitution. And regardless of which side of the debate one took, it was evident that our people look to our constitutional principles as the foundation for the handling of their affairs.  Looking ahead it is therefore important that we are reminded of the principles outlined in the preamble of our constitution, which slightly reworded, states:

We, The people of Sint Maarten, are determined to work with each other; We believe in the principle of democracy, We believe in the rule of law; We believe in the entitlement of all individuals to the fundamental rights and freedoms; We wish to create a constitutional order based on an open and approachable government; And We therefore to record our objectives and convictions agree that the provisions of the constitution shall have the force of law.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are our constitutional principles. It is as a result our collective obligation to adhere to these principles and work together to improve the lives of our people. Anything else will go against the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. And that is unacceptable.   

Prime Minister, Ministers,

Today, seven weeks after the shift in the parliamentary majority and three weeks since the previous team of Ministers made their positions available you come before the people of Sint Maarten as a new team of ministers. A new team faced with the tasks of addressing the 2015 budgetary problems, of preparing the planned elections and of taking steps to introduce electoral reforms.

As you assume your mandate to govern this beautiful country, I trust that you, in keeping with your oath, will work to fortify our constitutional principles aimed at improving the wellbeing of our people.

Accepting the position of Minister through the taking of the oath today, is a solemn expression of your commitment to perform your duties with integrity. It is your pledge of allegiance to the King and the Kingdom Charter, it is your individual declaration to always uphold the Constitution of Sint Maarten and it is your solemn affirmation to always dedicate yourself to foster the wellbeing of the People of Sint Maarten. Through your oath, you have accepted the obligation to serve all the people of Sint Maarten. The fulfillment of this obligation must be based on the principles of democracy, on the rule of law, on respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and anchored in our determination as a people to work together.

In that regard, there rests on you, individually as Ministers, and jointly as Council of Ministers a great responsibility. Your decisions will have lasting influences on the lives of the people of Sint Maarten. Thus, as you deliberate on taking action on the matters before you during your governing period, I wish you wisdom, individually and jointly, in the conduct of your responsibilities as you seek to meet your constitutional responsibility to the people of Sint Maarten. 

With that in mind, I hereby congratulate the people of Sint Maarten with the installation of this new government and similarly congratulate each of you and your families with your appointments as Prime-Minister, Ministers and Minister Plenipotentiary.

Thank you, God bless you and May God Bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast. 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Fellow Sint Maarteners,

“Where over the world, say where, You find and island there, So lovely small with nations free, …. As thee Saint Martin in the sea? …… Oh I love thy paradise”

Happy Sint Maarten Day. In keeping with the day’s theme I have titled my message: Securing unity, through mutual understanding, acceptance and respect.

Sint Maarten’s Day is a special day for me ….. and that is not because it is a holiday like I am. Sint Maarten day is special because it is the primary symbol of our individual story, of our family story and of our common story as a Sint Maarten/Saint Martin people. It is the symbol of our united bond as a people. I therefore invite you to consider your story, your bond with our sweet Sint Maarten land.

I stand before you as the offspring of people from Dutch Cul-de-Sac and the French side Hope Estate going back some 7 generations. I therefore consider it a privilege and a special honor to speak to you on this our national holiday. It is special because it is a celebration of our common journey, our common achievements and our common destiny as a people. Like many Sint Maarteners I am, in part, the product of the shared story and journey of the people of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. And today our story, our journey continues without guarantees. Sint Maarten Day therefore reminds us that we, like a good family, must remain united to be strong in good and hard times if we are to continue our journey towards more success for more of us. To do that Sint Maarten Day reminds us that we must, in the tradition of our forefathers, accept and respect each other with all our differences and similarities and join forces within as well as across our north/south border.  

My Fellow Sint Maarteners,

The urgency to join forces and unify our resources with mutual respect is great and increasing. We live in challenging times. Times of troubling national debate regarding important developments across our island. Serious debates:

  1. about strengthening our social fabric by combating unemployment, crime and poverty;
  2. about safeguarding our national patrimony such as the use of lands and protection of our natural heritage;
  3. about sustainable finances in the face of budget imbalances; and
  4. about political tensions and instability,

to name a few.

Whatever side of the debate you are on regarding these issues, it is evident that how we resolve these matters, will directly or indirectly affect the lives of our people. And making the lives of our people better is and should be what matters first and foremost. That and only that should be our common focus and cause.

At times like these it is important that we pause as a people and unite in our common cause: That is to always improve the lives of the people of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. What better day to do so than on Sint Maarten day, our premier national holiday?

My fellow Sint Maarteners,

As a child I remember Sint Maarten Day as a special day when we came together to test our sporting skills, when we came together to participate in traditional family games, when we came together to demonstrate our best as one people. Today when we come together to celebrate Sint Maarten Day we, in keeping with that practice, must come together

  1. to celebrate how far we have come;
  2. to project where we want to be; and
  3. to assess what we need to do to improve the lives of and secure a better future for our people.

My fellow Sint Maarteners,

As your brother I invite all of you to join me and unite in projecting our dreams, our aspirations and our potential to improve our lives.

And as I speak, I know that there are some who doubt our capacity to unite and to overcome our challenges. But I have no doubt that we can and I know that we will. We need only to first re-commit and act according to the principles on which Sint Maarten Day is build. Namely unity through seeking to understand each other, through accepting each other and through respect for each other. These are the principles that have made us the friendly island and the people we are. A people that work and cooperate within and across our north/south border in the spirit of the Treaty of Concordia. Understanding, accepting and respecting each other will secure our unity, strengthen our capacity and make our island a better society for our people to live in. That is because when we seek to and understand each other, we are more likely to accept, respect, love, work and cooperate with each other. And that in turn will positively affect the way we treat each other at school, in the work place, on social media, in our neighborhoods, in business and in government. By doing so I am convinced that we will secure a stronger, more safe, fair, healthy, friendly and happy Sint Maarten.

That, my fellow Sint Maarteners, is our individual and shared responsibility to Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, our home.

My fellow Sint Maarteners,

I trust that all of us will heed this call to secure a unified and stronger Sint Maarten. A Sint Maarten that stands united and prepared to address the challenges we face. And in doing so realize the vision of Sint Maarten Day: to grow in unity, culturally, socially and economically.

It is in that spirit that I trust that you are enjoying our national holiday with family and friends enjoying the achievements, living by the principles and envisioning how to tap into the potential of our sweet Sint Maarten land.

My fellow Sint Maarteners,

It is with this prospect towards a brighter future that I hereby, on behalf of my wife Marie-Louise and myself, wish you a united, happy and safe Sint Maarten Day.

Thank you!

God bless you!

And may God bless our beloved island and protect its coast!

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs would like to wish the nation a Happy Sint Maarten/Saint Martin’s Day 2015, as the island comes together to celebrate another national day on November 11th.

This year’s theme is: “Though Culturally Diverse Sint Maarten – Saint Martin Unity Comes First.”

“I call on the nation, both North and South, to reflect this November 11th on what it means to be culturally diverse.  Reflect on how far we have come, and look at the future on where we need to go and continue to grow as a nation and as a people of this 37 square mile island.  Without a doubt, unity indeed comes first and transcends any border.

“We're soon celebrating our fifth Sint Maarten's Day as a Country. In spite of recent developments, it is mine and my Cabinet's pleasure to mark this achievement with you. We remain committed to serving Sint Maarten in any capacity we can. While the road forward is indeed littered with obstacles, the spirit of you, the people, will carry us through.

“The theme this year is so adequate because it is one of the truest reflections of our joint reality on this 37 square mile island. Though we have different official languages, we are united in a common colloquial tongue. Though we cook it differently, tell me what Sint Maartener on either side does not enjoy fish. Though some methods are different in various spheres, we all share the view on morals and values, that raising children with manners and respect is essential for the future of the island.

“Some may think that our diversity and our celebration of the melting pot which exists here is a fool's journey. But, what they fail to realize is that our diversity is an example for the world. It shows how despite the differences, we find that which is the same, and use those things to build a nation.

“On Sint Maarten/Saint Martin's Day, I am reminded of how Father Kemps marvelled at our island. So much was his wonder that when he penned the Sint Maarten song he placed value on the plurality that exists here; a plurality which makes this one little island a singular gem of the region.  We must cherish what we have; what we have built as a people; and we must cherish what is still to come which will be guided and directed by the generations to come.

“Our 5th Sint Maarten’s Day should be a beacon of a lifetime of determination to forge a path for our country. As a multi-cultural nation, we are an example.  Everyone has a place here.  Our journey in nation building is not complete, because nation building is a forever on-going process and of development that will be continued by present and future generations to come.

“Let us celebrate how we have turned vulnerabilities into strengths.  Despite not having any natural resources, we are a rich nation in human resources.  We must continue to create opportunities in the private and public sectors in order for our talents to thrive.  Because, it is in the talents of the people both North and South, that allows us to overcome challenges.  Our journey ahead may be uncharted, but we as a nation always aspire to be the best.  

“On November 11th, let us rejoice together in the successes; let us pledge to take the island forward by recommitting ourselves to work together as one united people in order to achieve prosperity for all, happiness for all, and a progressive Sint Maarten/Saint Martin nation for all. God bless you all on this Sint Maarten/Saint Martin's Day and may God continue to bless Sint Maarten,” Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs said in connection with national celebrations.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -

Oh Sweet St. Martin Land…..

St. Martin is my home and I’ll do just about anything to make it bloom…

Rumba, Rumba St. Maarten Rumba Rumba …..

Brim, Shoot, Ponum Ponum Ponum Ponum…..

Sin Maatin, soooo beautiful. Sin Maaatin, so wonderful…..

Songs and Poems of St. Maarten conjure memories experienced and bring to life the words of Tan Tan Nez Baly, Miss Yaya, Miss Vivian, Camille Baly, Mother Gath Vlaun, Milton Peters and so many other Icons in our cultural heritage. The words of our elders resonate in my mind, stories of families sharing and caring for each other, working hard to make a living and stressing the importance of education and entrepreneurship, fostering pride in standing on one’s own two feet. These morals and values were taught at our ancestors’ feet and passed on from generation to generation.

St. Maarten/St. Martin Day is a day to celebrate One Island, One People and the unified destiny of us all. Historically we have celebrated this day officially with our brothers and sisters to the North with symbolic ceremonies of Unity and Sharing, while acknowledging that there is much to do to truly unify us in the legal sense. Despite this, I encourage the general public to come together with their families and friends to share a meal, witness the displays and performances and generally to celebrate being a St. Maartener with pride.

Much still needs to be done to truly equalize and optimize opportunities for our people on both sides. Much still needs to be done to educate our youth and the nation about our rich natural and cultural heritage. As a people we must choose and recognize a national anthem that represents us today. Record and preserve our other national songs, poems and dances. We must also decide once and for all if we will recognize a flag that truly unifies us – which does not make us Dutch or French, but St. Martiners. We must also define WHO is a St. Maartener and choose the spelling that identifies us all.

WE have large shoes to fill, in looking back where we were, acknowledging where we are now, and planning ahead to where we would like to be. St. Maarten/St. Martin Day is a day to celebrate, to reflect and to plan on how to do it better together in the future for the benefit of our children, their children and all the others to come. This is our moral obligation, to leave this world better for having been entrusted with its care.

Happy St. Maarten/St. Martin Day 2015 to all people of St. Maarten, including those who love and claim St. Maarten as their very own.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Residents of St Maarten,

The month of November has been designated Caribbean Tourism Month and November 3rd this year, being the second Tuesday of the month, has been declared Caribbean Tourism Day by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

Under the theme “One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean”, The Caribbean Tourism Organization is empowering the countries of the region to plan a better future so that we can attract millions of visitors to our shores to enjoy our beaches, our cultures and our natural environments and by so doing, maintaining our communities, the creation of jobs and the protection of our environments.

In short, this internal focus is geared mainly towards raising awareness among out people about the importance of tourism in our region and its impact on our economic, social and cultural wellbeing.

Caribbean Tourism Month gives us the people of the Caribbean the opportunity to perform the control function on ourselves. That is, we take a serious look at the quality of our product, we review the strategies we employed in managing the sector, we compare our achievements relative to the standards we set and we take corrective action to counter our short falls and implement measures to better our product.

This period gives us the opportunity to remind the rest of the world that though we are one Caribbean and we have the same sea, sun and sand, and though we compete for the same markets, we are diverse in many ways and each country offers unique experiences to its visitors.

This period gives us the opportunity to reflect on where we are as a Caribbean force and where we would like to go as a brand in positioning ourselves as the world’s most desirable tourist destination. This involves lots of collaborative efforts and initiatives, some of which, though more beneficial to some countries than others, collectively benefits us as “one Caribbean”.

As we in St Maarten prepare to celebrate Caribbean Tourism Day and Caribbean Tourism Month, let us reflect on where we are as St Maarten people and the product that we offer, where St Maarten is relative to the rest of the Caribbean and where the Caribbean is positioned relative to the rest of the world in our quest to attract visitors to our shores in a manner that meets and surpasses their overall expectations.

As we prepare for the upcoming tourist season, let us all as industry workers and partners take time out to celebrate our achievements and accomplishments over the last year. Let us then ready ourselves and our respective teams in terms of knowledge, training and development so that we can effectively face the challenges before us with one voice in one Caribbean.

Have a Happy Caribbean Tourism Month.

My fellow St. Maarteners,

I hereby, in observance and celebration of the fifth anniversary of the birth of Sint Maarten as a country extend warmest greetings to you.

Five years ago on October 10, 2010, during my acceptance speech as Governor of Sint Maarten I said: “Today we stand at the portal of our new Country Sint Maarten. From personal experience I can inform you that the road to this moment was not smooth. But we made it. With the knowledge I acquired during that journey I can equally inform you that the challenges ahead are immense. ….. We will have to build critical institutions for the functioning of our parliamentary democracy, institutions like this Parliament,” the Council of Ministers, “the Council of Advice, the General Audit Chamber, the Ombudsman and others from the ground up. We will have to improve our financial management and strengthen our judicial organizations. These institutions and their proper functioning are intended to maintain and safeguard the basic rights of the people of Sint Maarten as embedded in our Constitution. Building these institutions will not be easy, …. In that regard, there rest on us a great responsibility; a responsibility to build and nurture a stronger Sint Maarten for future generations. With that great responsibility we also have a great opportunity. Effective today, we like no generation before us have the opportunity and constitutional authority, to shape the socio-economic, cultural and environmental construct of our beloved island. How we address this challenge and approach this opportunity, will determine our success in the discharge of our responsibilities?” As we commemorate our fifth anniversary I believe that it is important that we reflect on these words and take stock of how far we have come in the discharge of our responsibilities.

My fellow Sint Maarteners,

Today five years later we have the benefit of five years of governance experience. All of our public, corporate and civic governance experiences – good and bad – hold within them significant lessons. As a result I call on each of you to evaluate your experiences of the past five years and establish your lessons learned. In doing so, we will find lessons regarding the importance of fostering the common good that provide relevant pointers as to how to move forwardin the discharge of our responsibilities. Lessons that should prepare us for our journey in the further building of our nation during the next five years and beyond.

By identifying and building on the valuable lessons of the past five years, it is my conviction, now as it was five years ago, that a bright and positive future lies ahead through a united rally around our common cause: Sint Maarten. By doing so I am convinced that that we will secure a stronger, more safe, fair, healthy, friendly and happy Sint Maarten.

Thus as we observe and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the birth of Sint Maarten as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I hereby congratulate you and wish you a most pleasant and safe Constitution Day Celebration.

Thank you, God Bless You and may God Bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As citizens of St. Maarten, it is of utmost importance to preserve our tangible and intangible heritage, which would help us to identify clearly who we are as a people, St. Maarteners!, which can inspire positive change, stability and unity during a time of crisis.

If we do not bring awareness to our community about our history and culture, we are all missing out on an accurate view of our society and successfully building our Nation. We also need to continuously educate our young and old, why we as a people can celebrate Constitution Day and ensure it becomes a part of the curriculum in all schools.

Significant positive change in St. Maarten; has become a burning desire in the hearts and minds of our people.

In order to bring about that significant change, it is essential for the strong leaders in our different districts, to see past party lines, assemble the people in each district together in large numbers, assume leadership seriously and form groups that will work together to start building powerful beneficial principles, on which that district will exist.

We will eventually have a wider range of ideas, customs, and wisdom to solve problems and enrich community life, and that way of living, will certainly affect the quality life.

Each group, whether cultural or not, will have unique strengths and perspectives, that the larger community, St. Maarten, can benefit from. I encourage all of us to work towards building St. Maarten, because we are a people of perseverance and courage.

I wish all the citizens of St. Maarten a Happy Constitution Day.

May God Continue to bless St. Maarten.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On this Constitution Day, we mark five years of St. Maarten having obtained country status within the Kingdom.

As we reflect on the experiences that have helped to shape the country we are today, it is important that we all acknowledge our continued role in building a St. Maarten we can be proud of, a nation that is an example to the region. Building a nation is no simple task; there are countless factors to consider.

There is a path that we travel on as our little country continues to grow. Along the way, we have and will continue to encounter specific challenges and enticing opportunities that will serve to either move our country forward or set it back.

These are not bound by their definitions; they are interwoven with one another in that our challenges can double as opportunities.

Political instability, for example, is a long-standing issue plaguing our country, yet it represents a specific opportunity for government to improve the country’s record on integrity and accountability. Our financial situation, indeed a priority concern for Government, gives us the chance to be fiscally responsible and prosperous if properly and responsibly addressed. With these tackled, we unlock key opportunities afforded to us by our country status.

We have the power to improve our presence on the international plane, with the benefit of a rebounding world and national economy behind us. However, opportunities that cross our path can be hidden obstacles that challenge us to do the right thing when presented with an opportunity that in reality is not in the interest of the people.

How do we achieve all this? By recognising and working together to fix what is in my view our greatest challenge: a culture of not truly making positive change. As I have said since inauguration day, our progress towards greatness begins and ends with us; there is no other way forward. And we will get there, through tranquility, civility and stability.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – World Teacher’s Day (WTD) 2015 which is observed internationally on October 5, will be held under the theme “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies.”

WTD 2015 is about highlighting the importance of empowering teachers to achieve inclusive and sustainable global development.  This year’s WTD highlights the need to empower all teachers through the provision of decent, safe and healthy working conditions, trust, professional autonomy and academic freedom.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), despite the global recognition of the importance of teachers in changing children’s lives and building sustainable and prosperous societies, they are all too often undervalued and under-empowered, particular in the area of Early Childhood Education.

Worldwide there is a growing shortage of quality teachers and inadequate professional training.  According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, estimates that to achieve universal primary education by 2020, countries will need to recruit a total of 12.6 million primary school teachers.

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (Ministry CYS) Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, says that it is recognized that teachers are not only a means to implementing education goals; they are also key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.

“World Teacher’s Day is a special time to show appreciation to our teachers for their dedicated service to our school-going youth.  Our teachers are the foundation of our society where it concerns the advancement of our children who are the future of this country.  They are the future business leaders and politicians who will chart the way forward for generations to come.

“The role played by teachers is essential to our national development as a nation and society.  As a country we are confronted with challenges and changes where educators have to adapt due to changing times.  As teachers we must stand firm, work together, and help each other grow professionally and support one another so can continue to move our nation forward with confidence in building a sustainable Sint Maarten society.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank every teacher and educator for their hard work.  Let this day be a reflection upon what has been achieved over the years, and let us support each other as we continue to grow our teaching fraternity from strength to strength as we equip our young pupils and students with the skills for the future.  I wish you all Happy Teacher’s Day!,” Minister of Education Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs said on Sunday on the eve of World Teacher’s Day. 

The Incheon Declaration at the World Education Forum in May 2015, clearly recognized the importance of empowerment.  At the forum, 1600 participants from 160 countries committed to ‘ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.’

The Oslo Summit, ‘Education for Development,’ held in July 2015, highlighted the need for further investment in teacher education.

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