Island Opinions

Island Opinions (732)

MARIGOT, St. Martin -

We laid them stone bricks
And we pour your concrete
To build the foundation...
Of this here nation
We Da generation
Of sal pickers
We the well diggers
Your foundation and bricklayers
And we your co-labourors
We your pot washers
We your bartenders
And your cook helpers
Spicing up your delicious
Dinners
So for your guest you could show off
While we work we asses off
To build your economy
Now you just simply
Forget about we
And take we out the
Censors and off your Registry
Now that you can import
Cheap labour
From other areas
You leave we here to suffer
Hoping that dementia
Will eat we memory
So you can thief we pension money
But thank God for we children
That we sent to school
And who your can't fool
And now, contrary
Te we, they can read
And understand your treaty
So no longer can you
Hide Knowledge from we
like a set ah durty crooks
Cauzen now we chilren could read
And they writing their own books
So now we can relate to them we stories
And rewrite we own History
But most of all collect we money

Copyrights 2016
Big Ray

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The good name of St. Maarten once again has been dragged through the mud with the arrest of one of the members of parliament who is supporting the existing government.

Most elected officials and others who were not elected but have bought votes are scared stiff and are hoping that nobody would come forward with proof that they paid for their votes.

No one could have expected an arrest for vote buying after a previous attempt to charge another politician was thrown out of the court. It still comes as a total surprise that this arrest is about voting buying.

Everybody knows that vote buying has been going on in St. Maarten from the days of the late Dr. Claude Wathey and others who were part of his team. In the 1990 I remember many candidates on the Democratic Party list having a book and they were issuing bonds to people to pick up building material and equipment from many hardware stores for votes.

The opposition didn’t have that luxury as they were not in office, therefore they could not match the red machine in those days. The ironic thing was that those suppliers were being paid from the government coffers. Today it has moved from the government coffers to the coffers of the business community. And if that is not enough corruption has become the order of the day to buy votes from those funds. The Vorst Estate was purchased for Nafls 8,100,000.00 while all the appraisal reports are for much less is a clear example of corruption at the highest level. Somebody was paid off and handsomely at best.

The extension of the Checkmate Security contract is another one such corrupt deal with many persons including politicians having been paid off. All those reckless decisions are hurting the ordinary citizens while the elected officials are enjoying their high salaries and collecting big times on their corrupt deals. Those deals are what need to be investigated.

Over the years all the political parties and many politicians from the established political parties have been buying votes. In many cases they have been paying from $ 300.00 to $500.00 or even more for those votes. The phone has become the instrument to prove to those who are paying for the votes. Seven months later many of those voters are walking around with the pictures that they took of their vote. They use this to let those elected officials know that they voted for them in the event they are requesting some service from the government or the politician who they voted for.

Now is just as good as any time for us to purge the entire parliament of St. Maarten and hope that those coming in would really work in the interest of the people. Today the Crime Funds should be used to establish a Reward for those person or persons who still have proof that they were paid to vote.

It is guaranteed that many of those voters who still have the proof in their phones would provide that proof for a fee of U.S. $ 500.00. Those voters that provided that proof must be granted immunity from prosecution this time around.

But a stern warning should be issued for the next election that the vote buyers and the sellers would be prosecuted if caught. It is now or never.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Democratic Party (DP) stand solidly with the coalition in  leaving no stone unturned to get the budget of the country passed in Parliament. Because  if we think the current situation is murky, imagine the following which is a very real possibility. The big difference being, that the wellbeing and livelihood of practically the entire community can be at stake in the following scenario.

The budget remains in limbo, because a 7-7 tie vote goes nowhere!

This means this budget goes nowhere and eventually the CFT will report to the Kingdom  Government that St. Maarten has no approved budget.

No budget is reason for an instruction from the Kingdom government.

Other than was the case with the instructions to the Governor, H.E.  Mr. E. Holiday, a financial instruction is very much in accordance with the kingdom law on the CFT. We have no need or desire to paint all kinds of doom scenarios, but the contents and scope of such an instruction can be anything  from a slap on the wrist to a stop on (certain) expenditures. So it is not only about getting loans to finance capital projects.

We need at least 8 votes in parliament to pass the budget legislation. Yes, the budget too is legislation.

As Democratic Party and coalition partner, we  have taken note of the Opposition's demands in order to support the budget.

How convenient! Elections, at the whims of the Opposition can be held immediately or put off until 2018. Forget about "what is good for the goose, is good for the gander".

However, if the Opposition of Seven is sincere about their so called options or alternatives, we would like to know and we would like the people to know, what does the Opposition have in mind?

They should know that already, we hope. What is this so called vision which they want to see reflected in the budget?Where were these "bright" ideas during the first round of deliberations on the budget?

Because remember, the budget in its simplest form is if you add to the expenses, you have to add to the income, and if you decrease income, you have to decrease expenses, at least if you want  to comply with the balanced budget norm.

So again, what are these proposals by the opposition? And please don't give us: "You tell me first that you will hold immediate elections thereafter,  and then I will tell you what I want out of the budget or what I want amended. Do not the people deserve to know?

Any change to the budget at this stage is a delay! Pure and simple. Is this the Opposition's objective?

Of course they know, that changes will take time. The more drastic, the longer it takes. 

Let's see what their choice is going to be. But regardless, let the people know  what the collective Opposition thinks is the way out.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - If this wasn’t so serious it would be funny. The Board of the National Alliance must admit that in most cases, we are somewhat biased towards the party we represent as a board.

However, in the case of the Press release of the UPP leader and the rest of the opposition regarding current events, even the most unbiased person must admit that there is something wrong with the UPP leader’s account of the meeting.

First, the leader of the UPP was not invited to any meeting with the Honorable Prime Minister. He was invited by his opposition colleague. His attempt to make it look as if the PM contacted him, is another attempt at clouding the issue at best or flat out lying at worst.

When one listen to his three options, which we won’t repeat in detail here, one can only conclude that self-interest is his main objective. Imagine wanting control of all government owned companies. Need we remind the public that it was an ‘error’ on the UPP leader’s part that cost the Harbor 10 Million United States Dollars, in order to settle a case. Is this what the UPP leader has in store for the other Government owned companies?

While this government is negotiating a Waste to Energy plant, with no investment from Government or Government owned companies, the UPP leader was negotiating an alleged 700 Million Guilder bond from GEBE to complete various projects including the WTE. The UP leader wants control, to tie GEBE to a large loan, while it was not necessary, to realize the project.

Minister Emil Lee is working in a transparent manner to build a modern hospital, while the UPP Leader goes on the air and claims none of his family members are involved while we all know that a close family member has been involved in medical tourism. Funny how the project supported by the UPP leader included a 30 Million US dollar medical tourism wing, with no aspects of how this would be paid back.

We as a Board have full confidence in the version of the meeting of the Prime Minister. Why would the Prime Minister lie about the UPP leader opting to leave out ALL independents including MP -Marlin- Romeo and MP De Weever? It seems just like the UPP leader to try to sweeten the deal by placing 4 persons in opposition instead of 1. The hastily called press briefing on Sunday by the UPP, only goes to confirm that this was indeed an option. When was the last time the UPP leader had a press briefing? The UPP leader hardly even participates in talk shows on the Southern side, running over to the Northern side on almost every occasion.

The Press release yesterday of the UPP Board was laughable if it wasn’t so sad. To claim that any one of the options presented by the UPP leader was in the interest of the country is an insult to the intelligence of the people of St. Maarten. The only thing that the three options show is the utter desperation of the UPP leader to be in control of Government.

Additionally, for the UPP to actually try to make the claim that somehow this NA led government is ‘holding the nation hostage’ makes us laugh out loud. Again with the lies and exaggerations to the people of St. Maarten. There is no government crisis, the Council of Ministers will continue to work in the interest of all the people of St. Maarten. If there is anyone that is holding the nation hostage, it’s the UPP members who are neglecting their duties and not signing in for meetings.

After sitting an entire year in office with nothing to show for it, we should not be surprised that the UPP is afraid that with a balanced budget (something that has been unachievable under UPP leadership), the first since 2014, people of St. Maarten are witnessing how a Government is supposed to work.

It is truly sad how the UPP and its leadership has again insulted the people of St. Maarten with untrue statements designed to de-stabilize this Government; going as far as throwing the independent members supporting the UPP under the bus. (By putting St. Maarten first, those members should vote for this budget thereby doing what especially MP Marlin-Romeo says on the floor of Parliament on a daily basis, “Work in the interest of all the people of St. Maarten.”

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - It is unacceptable that we just can’t get anything right since obtaining the status of country within the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010. Over and over we have to repeat the shame that the established parties (UP, NA, DP, US) are putting this country through. At this moment each one of them are blaming the other. But at the end of the day all of them are to be blamed equally including the independents.

   During the debate of the 2016 budget the Finance Minister made a presentation outlining what the benefits are for the parliament of St. Maarten to support it. We‘ve had members of parliament stating in advance that they would not support the 2016 budget before even having the chance to review it. That was a clear indication that this member of the parliament was not thinking about the future of St. Maarten but was willing to vote along party line even if it meant throwing the country many years backwards. It would be very interesting to see what she would do if the other opposition members come to their senses and support the 2016 budget.  

     But now an even bigger obstacle is the fact that one of the members supporting the coalition government has been detained and no one at this moment knows what will be the outcome of this arrest. Jump high jump low at the end of the day it is the people once again who will be suffering because of this uncertainty regarding the 2016 budget.  

   According to media reports the opposition of seven is planning to sign in to provide the necessary quorum for the meeting to continue. But at the same time some sort of meeting took place with the leaders of the government and the opposition. Unfortunately, the only conclusion that came out of that meeting is who is lying and who is telling the truth. It seems as if our leaders have adopted a page out of the book of the Republicans in the U.S.A. Nobody seems to know what the truth is anymore. Interestingly enough, there were two other members namely, Mr. Richard Gibson Sr. and Dr. Lloyd Richardson supposedly in the vehicle. They must have some type of recollection as to what actually transpired during that meeting. Or will we have to wait and read about it sometime in the future when they decide to write their memoires about their tenure in government.    

       Nevertheless, the people of St. Maarten aren’t taking it anymore and they are mad as hell. They are sick and tired of this back and forward between the established political parties in government who promised them a bed of roses during the last election in 2014. But each time they seem to come up short for the people but plentiful for themselves, the elected representatives. The people of St. Maarten hopefully have come to realize that it is not about them. It is about the elected officials running the daily affairs of the government to be able to plunder the coffers of the government and those of the government owned companies.

       The OSPP feels that time after time the people of St. Maarten have had the opportunity to elect people who will look after their wellbeing all the time. It is time that our people become conscious of the fact that the established parties (UP, NA, DP, US) are taking them for a ride. It is only left for them to say, we can do what we want with the people and they will continue voting for us. In other words we can walk all over the people for the most part of the term and they must support us at the end of the day anyhow.

       The OSPP is calling on all citizens of this country to contact your representatives in parliament by phone or emails and demand that they show up to work to debate the 2016 budget in the next four days. Demand that they vote on the 2016 budget and that you will not accept them abstaining from voting. Demand from them that you are not paying them to walk out of the meeting. Demand from them that you expect them to submit proposals during the debate that would improve your quality of life by lowering the cost of living, increasing the minimum wage and pension, establishing a general pension plan, constructing low income affordable houses, reducing the crime and to submit new ideas to generate more revenue for the coffers of the government of St. Maarten. Anything short of that you will punish them during the next election on September 26, 2016. Let them know that you are mad as hell and you are not taking it anymore.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Hey Olivier,

Rumor has it you requested to get WINAIR'S recent financials for "research purposes".

If this is true, I can only deduct that the amount of dead-end walls you walked into in Curacao on your "new-Airline tour" have  turned you into a comedian, or have otherwise negatively affected your brain.

I recommend you check with doctors dealing with head injuries in the NFL. You may be at risk.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Déjà vu we must say. This is nothing new for our people.

After reading about the arrest of MP Silvio Matser and the fact that the budget meeting, one of our most important document that has to be approved by our Parliamentarians was postponed because of a lack of Quorum, the Concordia Political Alliance (CPA) is wondering if our elected officials are serious about the positive advancement of our country or just about their own selfish desires.

Having to postpone the 2016 Budget Meeting when there is a deadline to have our budget approved, we believe is a very irresponsible act.

The CPA would like to know from our Honorable Prime Minister William Marlin and His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday what is next for St. Maarten and its people.

The people need to know that they could rely on the word of these two very powerful positions and leaders of our country as oppose to being lead by rumors that they are confronted with whenever there is a political crisis on our island. Who should we turn to for answers? Where is St. Maarten heading. Like a lady in one of our local newspapers wrote, is St. Maarten truly being governed similar to a banana republic where everyone can do whatever they wishes to do without any consequences.

Can we rely on our justice system to treat our citizens and elected officials in a fair manner? Can we expect that our leaders will be transparent enough to tell us the truth and nothing else but the truth because that is what sets us free, or do we just use words to appease our people to make them believe that we have their best interest at heart when we full well know that we are all about self and big egos which keeps us in bondage.

This Government calling themselves an Open and Transparent Government is that a fallacy. In addition to that, could we rely on our newspapers to truly bring us information that has been properly researched and not mislead our people so that even if our leaders do not bring accurate information at least our newspapers could be a buffer to represent sound information? Sad to say that our people are all confused because of the feedback that we are getting from them whenever we are out on our Weekly Tuesday Neighborhood Visits.

We hear the cries of our people and we keep on telling them that they should not cry but make the difference because they have the power to stop their cries by supporting and ensuring that St. Maarten be represented by persons that has their best interest at heart, especially the best interest of our next generation, our Youth.

Should they inherit a country without integrity and moral values? Is this fair to our children that we all say that we care so much for or is it that we are misleading them as well by making them believe that we really care.

What message are we sending our own local youngsters when we see that immigrants from far away can be appointed in political positions while our own are being neglected and left behind. What kind of leaders from any country will ever put others above their own? According to the CPA, St. Maarten should not have such leaders in power.

St. Maarten you are the judge and jury. You have a secret weapon in your hand called the ballet not the bullet, which can bring about a radical change. Use it to your advantage to make a difference.

The CPA encourages and supports the empowerment and protection of our people and especially of our next generation. What is next for St. Maarten and its people? The answer is: Together we can by being the solution to all the many challenges that we have. St. Maarten will live on!

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) took note of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority’s (SLAC) two page ad in the Daily Herald newspaper on Tuesday March 1st. 

The SMMTA stated: “To be clear: SLAC itself is not the problem; the manner in which the executive team of the Port St. Maarten Group of Companies (Port) manages SLAC is what concerns the SMMTA.

The actions taken by the Port’s executive team, who control not only the Port but also all of its subsidiaries including SLAC, should be of major concern to the Government of St. Maarten and all of our Country’s citizens; after all the Port and its subsidiaries collectively represent some of St. Maarten’s most valuable assets.” 

The SMMTA explained that “in SLAC’s response to the SMMTA they [SLAC – read: Port] used their normal strategy of providing a lot of information that may on the surface seem reasonable, but in reality has little to do with the issue at hand and in most cases is misleading, or plain wrong.  The representatives of the Port also like to use buzz words like ‘truth, transparency and integrity’ while in practice they uphold none of the virtues of what these words actually represent.” 

The SMMTA has always maintained that the Port should not be allowed to directly compete against the private sector as long as they control SLAC, the entity that has been tasked to oversee the Simpson Bay and Simpson Bay Lagoon in the broadest sense of the word.  The Port tries to discredit the SMMTA’s position by stating in its response that “SLAC does not operate a marina in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.” 

This indeed is a fact. SLAC does not currently operate a marina in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, but its parent company, the Port, does in fact operate mega yacht slips in Great Bay that do directly compete against marinas in the lagoon; some of which the Port has recently tried to purchase.  The fact that Management of the Port does not consider this as a direct conflict of interest is exactly the problem.

In the opinion of the SMMTA, the Port’s executive team is systematically trying to control the St. Maarten marine sector by leveraging any influence they may have, including collaborating with key government officials to support their agenda.

The SMMTA concluded that “There are many issues that have been misrepresented by the Port in SLAC’s ad in the Daily Herald on March 1st.  The SMMTA will address SLAC’s statements in multiple press releases going forward, as the concerns raised are complex and somewhat difficult to understand and relate to without a bit of history and knowledge of the St. Maarten marine industry.

Each statement by SLAC will be analyzed and commented on, so that the general public has the opportunity to better understand what is really going on with the Port and those who control it. This is no longer an issue that just affects the marine industry. In our opinion, what is happening at the Port is a prime example of how corruption is allowed to breed and flourish within our community.

The executive team of the Port has been allowed to control and operate one of St. Maarten’s most valuable assets with utter immunity during a period of ever-mounting evidence of the Port’s questionable dealings.

The SMMTA as the representative body of the largest group of St. Maarten marine industry stakeholders has therefore officially requested the Council of Ministers to thoroughly investigate the Port and its executive team and to have the results of such an investigation made public in the interest of real transparency”.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As a party that believes in and supports the creation of our state institutions, our first reaction to the prospects of a national bank was, "Oh, good, our own".

The DP sees our own state institutions as a deliberate part of nation building, which we believe is an indispensable path to our future development.

In fact, it can be stated here that the aspect of nation building for the Democratic Party following the transition to country in 2010, is Priority # 1. Nation building from our perspective is one of stimulating national unity, a national identity and social cohesion, and in this context there is no place for divisiveness.

However, we are extremely concerned about developments in the regional banking sector, of which we are part and parcel.

We have already in Parliament raised the issue of the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act) and will continue to monitor this.

However, the more ominous issue of the so-called "de-risking" by the correspondent banks of local and regional banks is real and quite unsettling.

In essence, several correspondent banks are refusing business from local and regional banks.

Just imagine the effects of these actions by correspondent banks in the USA and Europe. With our open economy, this could have disastrous effects for every citizen!

CARICOM has mobilized all its forces to address this matter at the highest levels.

In this environment, we believe a national bank should be put on the back burner.

Note as well, that we have to "clean up" some of our acts, to restore confidence in our country. Again, the over-used words of transparency and integrity come to mind, because a lot has to do with the image of our country, real or perceived.

An all-together other matter is the establishment of a national DEVELOPMENT bank. While this is nothing new and there are different ideas for its seed funding, we are yet to come to concrete action in this regard. I advise government to make some serious efforts to break this cycle of inaction, due to differences not on the topic of a development bank, but rather on the approach.

By the way, I think it is as far back as 2012/2013 that the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten proposed draft articles of incorporation for a development bank for St. Maarten.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Showing thankfulness to others has minimally two outcomes. The person being appreciated feels encouraged to keep doing what they're doing. And the person being thankful, increases seeing positive things to be thankful for.

As a parent, being appreciative towards our children, by celebrating their individuality strengthens them, makes them happy and improves their own view of themselves.

Saying to your child that "I am happy to be your parent", "You are so special", "You know you are great at…" builds relationship and When you work for and work with others, showing appreciation to them for the (extra) effort being done by a team member increases the likelihood of there being more triumphs to celebrate together.

The gift of thankfulness is in my opinion, not valued in a proper light. Some think that it takes much to say "thank you", and "you did a great job" in situations that aren’t mandatory.

For instance proper protocol will be followed when a dignitary is in attendance at a function.

The dignitaries in attendance will be welcomed and thanked for their work or support. Being appreciative by holding and speaking of others in high regard (intangible), showing gratitude in gift giving (tangible) are honorable things to do.

However, though honor is a part of being thankful, it shouldn’t just be left for those who are in office.

The gift of thankfulness is best unwrapped and enjoyed daily. We should not let one day go by without grasping how good we have it. And thereby be moved to say "Thank you" to the Divine, and to others we come in contact with.

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