Good evening. Marie-Louise and I are pleased to welcome you to this New Year's Reception. Tonight, as we gather here, we want to wish everyone present and across our country a healthy and happy 2015.
The celebration of the beginning of a new year is always a hope filled time and Marie-Louise and I are delighted to celebrate the start of 2015 with you. In that regard it is essential to note that freedom is one of our greatest goods. It is against that backdrop that I would like to ask for a moment of silence to express our sympathy with our French brothers as a result of the terrorist attack in Paris. ....Let liberté reign.
The start of this year has special significance because it is the year in which we will celebrate the 5th anniversary of our autonomy as a country. That celebration offers us a unique opportunity to reexamine the direction our country is heading in, to recommit ourselves to the goals and kind of country we aspire to be, and to rededicate ourselves to fulfilling our civic responsibilities to achieve it.
It is against that background that I shall share my thoughts with you on the importance of meeting our civic responsibilities. For if Sint Maarten is to continue to be the beacon of hope and opportunity that it is, each of us must re-commit to our civic responsibilities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Stating that Sint Maarten is a beacon of hope and opportunity, is not to say that we do not have challenges. In fact when we reflect on developments of the past year, we know that the conditions required to keep our beacon lit, were not always as they should be and could have been.
Too much of our time was, as a result of the actions of a few, spent:
1. on debating integrity concerns rather than on taking action to build public trust;
2. on focusing on what is legal and not enough on what is right and good for our country;
3. on domestic and inter-Kingdom political conflict and interests, rather than on solutions that addresses the needs of our people;
4. on budgetary constraints rather than on prioritizing and maximizing available financial economic resources;
5. on proving each other wrong rather than on working with each other to get things right; or
6. on what is in it for me rather than on what is in it for Sint Maarten.
These are all issues that have the potential to eat away at the social fabric of our country. It is thus imperative that such behaviour and attitudes are addressed firmly and eliminated from of our society.
And although those issues dominated the headlines, we must look back on 2014 with the knowledge that they are not representative of the actions of the vast majority of us. For every day the vast majority of our people – teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, pilots, air traffic controllers, artists, environmentalists, firemen, mechanics, cooks, waiters, bus and taxi drivers, social workers, accountants, lawyers, judges and many more – rose to the call of their civic responsibilities and made significant positive contributions to our community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with the knowledge of and appreciation for their valued civic service in 2014, that we can look to 2015 with hope for new opportunities.
Thanks to their contributions we live in a society:
• with institutions that help and care for one another;
• with business organizations that sustain our economic wellbeing;
• with organizations that fight for the protection of our cultural heritage and natural environment; and
• with institutions that defend our freedoms and democracy;
In short, we are fortunate to live in a peaceful and prosperous Sint Maarten; a condition we cannot take for granted.
With our good fortune thus comes the major civic responsibility of all of us to act as good stewards to continue perfecting the quality of life in our sweet Sint Maarten land. And in doing so, continue to strive to realize the most optimal wellbeing for all inhabitants of Sint Maarten. Such Good stewardship:
1. calls for us to foster equal opportunity, for all of us to participate in all that Sint Maarten has to offer;
2. it calls for us to focus on the education and development of our people;
3. it calls for us to focus on providing employment and fair wages for all;
4. it calls for us to offer quality health care for all; and
5. it calls for us to protect our precious environment.
In general, it calls for meeting our individual and collective civic responsibilities anchored in actions that are united in our common cause and purpose: Sint Maarten.
To do so we must work together to make a real difference in the life of our people. This can be achieved by developing the combination of skills, knowledge, values, and dedication that will continue to ensure a safe, secure, just, healthy and prosperous Sint Maarten society.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with that vision for a safe, secure, just, healthy and prosperous society, that we must look ahead to build Sint Maarten for current and future generations. In doing so, I call on all to use this year in which we will celebrate the 5th anniversary of our autonomy,
a. to emphasize the importance of giving; and
b. to give back to our communities and to Sint Maarten.
For it is only through such civic engagement that we can maintain Sint Maarten as a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As your Governor I shall continue to work in 2015 with government and other stakeholders to meet my civic responsibilities. That is to keep the beacon of our sweet Sint Maarten land lit aimed at perfecting the quality of life of our people. And I herewith invite you to join me in that effort.
It is with that invitation that I close and hereby also on behalf of Marie-Louise, wish you and your family a year of peace, health, happiness and growth.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless Sint Maarten.