Island Opinions

Island Opinions (732)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - I am calling on the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Angel Meyers as well as NV GEBE, to address a situation in Dawn Beach where there is a challenge with street lights.
Currently work is underway in the area where trenches have been dug for the laying of electrical cables and water mains. This is an opportunity to also make provisions for street lighting for this particular area.
Parts of the Dawn Street are narrow and it’s also hilly in certain areas and street lights would provide additional safety for motorists.
All districts should have street lights. This is very important for a number of reasons. It provides safety to our residents and motorists. They are able to see where they are going within their district.
From a security perspective, street lights also serve a very important purpose as a crime prevention measure. A well-lit area would be a deterrent for would-be burglars.  Also when people are out walking they feel more secure as well.

I appeal to the responsible Minister and NV GEBE to take action and with respect to the Dawn Beach area.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Seemingly our (the St. Maarten) political leadership has absolutely no political will for meaning Electoral Reform that will stop or curtail the political phenomena of “ship-jumping”.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - A few weeks ago Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party, Pastor Wycliffe Smith, wrote an Article entitled “Who are you voting for, A minister or Parliamentarian?”

This article sought to clarify and outline the role of the persons to be elected by you the voters of Sint Maarten come September 26th 2016.

While some may or may not know the difference in roles as described in this article it seems to me that a few of our elected leaders lack this realization as well as they try to fill both positions at the same time.

My question to them is simply, who owns a minister? A minister is paid by government (The People of this Island) and is there to perform in the interest of these same persons.

It has left me flabbergasted on numerous occasions where I have seen or read where Parliamentarians assume the role of ministers. In some cases literally sitting in the chair and speaking as an executive administrator and not as a legislator.

Running to the forefront to receive accolades and bluntly saying “My Minister” or members of the coalition saying check with a particular MP as that’s his minister in charge, has become the norm.

With no party being given an outright mandate to govern the next step is to form a coalition. It is during this step that the various partners involved agree that each partner gets a particular amount of say (Choose the various ministers).

My issue with this process is that after all is said and done these good folks carry on like the ministries belong to them. This has proven to be a disaster as it is evident that even while sitting in the Council of Ministers, Minister A knows nothing of what Minister B is doing or Minister A just goes along with what Minister B says so that when his turn comes around the same “courtesy” is given to him.

In order for government to function properly with the level of transparency that is needed this does not and will never work. Everyone needs to be on the same page from the beginning when that governing accord is being put together.

It is high time that our Parliamentarians perform their task and not that of the executive branch. Instead of running to every photo opportunity with a Minister, a Parliamentarian should be able tell us what he/she has achieved as a Parliamentarian. We have all seen the current report cards and the failing grades that come from not focusing on the job they were elected to perform.

Together let us bring back values to our country and to Government. Together let us build a nation that provides opportunity for all, Together let us save Sint Maarten for our children and our children’s children.

This is why we humbly ask the people of Sint Maarten to give us that full mandate by going to the polls and voting for the SMCP. This not only guarantees a stable government but also a government who cares for the people and will begin to work in the interest of all who reside here.

Please note that should this not happen and we are faced with making a choice as to working with another party, that we will insist that all positions be decided on TOGETHER with the people’s well being at heart and that time of “owning a minister” will be a thing of the past.

Keith Peter- J Gittens
Candidate #2, Sint Maarten Christian Party

“Together we can”

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On April 25, 2016 the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Telem Group, Mr. Eldert Louisa, had an aggressive and threatening outburst during a mediation meeting that was chaired by Dr. Gittens.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - It is very disconcerting when blatant untruth is published to instill fear into the community in order to get political mileage.

It is one thing to make empty promises of grandeur and bling to the people during election time in order to try to get votes but fear mongering is going too far. Case in point is the article regarding the new St. Maarten General Hospital published recently by some media, coming from the Vice President of the UPP.

When reading the article it is clear that whomever drafted this article did not know the facts or purposely chose to misconstrue and misinform the general public. The true and correct facts will dispel what is being claimed. I leave it up to you the reader to discern the truth from myth and come to your own conclusion.

It is true that SMMC has been losing money mainly because the tariffs the SMMC charges have not been adjusted to keep pace with the cost of providing the medical services and the unpaid services to undocumented at the health care institution. Notwithstanding this situation the SMMC has not received subsidy from government for over 10 years.

This has put the SMMC in a difficult financial position that was resolved partly by adjusting the budget and tariffs but also by expanding the services being provided. To be specific services that have to be provided are those for which thousands of patients are being sent abroad to receive treatment.

An average of 26 -30 million guilders is spent each year on medical referrals abroad by the SZV, this does not include medical referral by private insurers. Expanding the hospital and its services will result in less patients being sent abroad and being treated closer to home, at least 40-50% of what is spent abroad will be redirected to the local economy. Ultimately this will result in an improved quality of health care for the citizen of St. Maarten and a better management of the health care cost in general.

In order to make this a reality the Tripartite Committee has been established where Government, SMMC and the SZV take part and work together to find balanced solutions for the issues of the SMMC. Based on the concerted effort by the Tripartite participants we have tackled the prevailing issues such as new tariff structure, care demand, proposed partnership with regional medical care facilities abroad, telemedicine solutions, cooperation with the French side hospital, new general hospital and the transparent bidding process for the build, finance and maintenance solution for the new hospital.

In coming up with solutions not only did we look at what has to be done from the health care perspective but also what has to be done on the income side of both the hospital as well as the SZV. Instead of going for the easy solution of increasing premiums it was chosen to work on the compliance side regarding the registration of businesses and collection of premiums. The SZV has taken steps to increase compliance by delinquent businesses and we already are seeing the fruits of the steps taken with an increase of contributions collected in comparison to the previous years of at least 20%. In this way we prevent having to increase of premiums.

Work is also being done to make and implement health reform policies in order to expand the insurance coverage to those uninsured groups and measures to manage health care expenses better by eliminating waste.

As to medical tourism solutions that others imply that they had or have to increase the client base for health care in St. Maarten, the following. Why would St. Maarten entertain groups that profess they can bring medical tourism to St. Maarten while expecting that St. Maarten has to put up all the financing to build facilities for these groups to rent for a limited time while not bringing any equity to the table. So they will reap the profits but St. Maarten has to make all investments.

In a report based on a research of a team of British researchers led by the University of York of 2013 Dr. Neil Lunt says “Our message is: be wary of being dazzled by the lure of global health markets, and of chasing markets that do not exist.”

By having a larger modern hospital locally owned and managed we can attract qualified specialist as well as other specialism that presently are not being offered, but are highly necessary, in such way making it possible that our population of St. Maarten/St. Martin as well to our neighboring islands can get improved health care service.

You are urged not be fooled by fairy tales and too good to be true stories. Solutions to solve our problems have to be pragmatic and do not have to take into consideration self-interest and nefarious agenda’s.

Reginald Willemsberg,       

Democratic Party Candidate # 7

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Board of the National Alliance has once again taken notice of the now somewhat childish claim (people know the truth) of several members of the UPP that this coalition is only finalizing projects that were initiated by the UPP led coalition. Though we understand the continuity of Government, we do not consider mentioning something on a stage during the 2014 or quietly mentioning it to a friend as initiating a project.

The truth is that when listening to both the leader and deputy leader of the UPP, one would think that the 2014 - 2015 term was the very first time that both men had been in Government. It seems that both men have forgotten that they were both Commissioners, Island Council Members, Ministers and Members of Parliament for the better part of the last 20+ years.

What projects have they initiated and finalized during those multiple terms in Government? Voters should be keen not to be fooled by false claims by the UPP in order to try to diminish the work this coalition has done over the past 9 months. Minister Gibson was able to for the first time since 10-10-10 present a balanced budget that was approved by the CFT. Something that the UPP could not achieve. Instead of putting their nose to the grind and accomplishing this feat, the UPP felt it necessary to just sit back and complain about the Dutch. Everything is the Dutch fault but from where we sit it seems more like UPP incompetence.

They also want to lay claim to the completion of the Government building which is another false claim. Not only did the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister manage to negotiate the completion of the government building such that Government can save Millions paid in rent all over Philipsburg but they were also able to significantly reduce debts built up over the years that both UPP leader and deputy leader were in Government owed to SZV and APS. Under the watchful eye of the UPP leader and deputy leader our very pension system was under threat of not being able to pay pensions.

MP Meyers, all of a sudden, has solutions for the dump fires as if this is the first time that the dump has been on fire. When in the past the Dump was managed by a large company, where was his advice then? Didn't the foam exist then or was it that MP Meyers is only concerned with the health of the people of St. Maarten because we are in an election cycle. We feel the latter to be the truth!

For MP Meyers to claim that our leader Prime Minister William Marlin is concerned about taking credit is laughable to say the least. Lest we remind the MP that is wasn't William Marlin that made campaign posters with achievements of others claiming to be his own in past elections.

In conclusion, the people of St. Maarten need to remain vigilant and throw their support and vote behind this present National Alliance led Government as they can clearly see who really has St. Maarten best interest at heart. The choice is between one party who’s many years of incompetence and ignorance has led to many of the problems the island now faces and a party who was able in just nine months to achieve what others couldn’t achieve over many years. It’s time to put St. Maarten first and vote for a part that accomplishes!!

Board of the National Alliance

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - I listened to all of you wonderful people on your radio station tonight making me the "bad guy" and turning Rolando Brison into the poor victim. More power to all of you.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As the word state is not applicable to the Sint Maarten context permit me to use the word “government” instead.

The Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) believes that neither the church nor the government should have any form of institutional control over each other. In other words, government should not dictate what the church should do, neither should the church dictate what the government must do. Of course, the church, like any other institution in society, must be subjected to the laws of the land.

We cannot deny the fact that, over the years, the church, as an institution, has played a major role in the development of Sint Maarten. The Roman Catholic and Methodist churches started education in Sint Maarten. It was the Roman Catholic Church that pioneered health care and care for the elderly with the establishment of the St. Rose Hospital and the Sweet Repose respectively. The Adventist church has also contributed to a more health conscious society with its health care and nutrition programs. Churches with food programs and soup kitchens mitigate a social need in our community. The Methodist Boys and Girls brigades as well as the Adventist Pathfinders, have done tremendous work in preparing our youth to be valuable, God fearing citizens in our society. It is clear that the church has played and still plays a significant role in our society and as such the relationship between government and church is considered inseparable but distinct, a phrase coined by the late PM of Jamaica, the honorable Michael Manley.

The Sint Maarten Christian Party is definitely not a church. It is a duly established political party, with the intention to govern according to Christian principles such as respect for others, accountability, honesty, integrity, transparency, respect, compassion, etc. This is what the word Christian in the name of the party stands for.

The SMCP is of the opinion that it is not possible to separate God and Government. One just needs to take a look at the opening statement of the Constitution of Sint Maarten which reads: “We the people of Sint Maarten [confirm] that we recognize the guiding principles of Almighty God as the core of our values”. In other words, the values that the people of Sint Maarten hold dear are based on Godly or Christian principles. So there should not be a problem with the SMCP going into Government with its sole objective being to govern the country based on the same Christian principles and core values that are anchored in our constitution and which the people of Sint Maarten hold so dearly?

It is impossible to rule God out of government when the concept of God is entrenched in so many ways in our governmental system, starting with our constitution. On the sides of our one and five guilder coins we have the inscription “God is with us”. Parliamentarians, ministers and government officials, when taking the oath of office, can choose between making a promise and saying the words “So help me God, Almighty”. Did you know that blasphemy is still punishable by law in our penal code? The Sint Maarten government has decreed five ecumenical services per year and it also happens frequently that Government calls on the clergy to pronounce a blessing at groundbreaking events, inauguration of government projects and the like. One of our current parliamentarians always begins her deliberations in parliament with the words “To God be the glory!” From these observations we can conclude that it is very difficult to separate God from Government.

We must also bear in mind that most of our elected and appointed officials have a Christian upbringing and as such their decision making is often influenced by their Christian values and belief system. The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May who is a devoted Anglican, puts it this way: “My faith is part of me, part of who I am and how I approach things”. In other words, her governing the UK is guided and influenced by her faith in God. Unfortunately, many of our elected and appointed officials seem to put aside their Christian principles and values the moment they get in office. Principles and values such as honesty, integrity, transparency, caring for others etc. are soon forgotten and replaced with dishonesty, greed, wheeling and dealing, bribes, self-enrichment and the like. Even doing “the honorable thing” is no longer considered the honorable thing to do. This is why we have so many ship jumpers and government falls because parliamentarians in conflict situations no longer do the honorable thing. Even though most people in Sint Maarten are not frequent church goers they still believe in God. They still value Godly or Christian principles and they still expect that the people who they elect to parliament to represent them would govern the country according to these Christian principles as well. In conclusion, it is possible to separate the institution called the church from the institution of government but it is impossible to separate God from government.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - While certain parties are claiming that they accomplish things, the only things that they actually accomplished were UPP initiated projects. Recently a solution was offered to contain the fires at the dump at a reasonable price.

While Minister Lee was open to the solution, Prime Minister Marlin was dragging his feet and is holding off the solution that actually tackles the very costly fires at the dump which are damaging to our citizens’ health”, Member of Parliament Frankie Meyers said.

Referring to a Class-A foam that has been proven effective on many deep-seated Class-A firessuch as tire fires, paper fires, coal fires, structure fires, and wild firesMP Meyers continued: “The product does not destroy or retard new greenery growth, and will not harm fish or wildlife; it is biodegradable in soils, aquatic ecosystems, and sewage treatment facilities.

This product provides excellent penetrating, wetting, cooling and blanketing characteristics. In a 0.1% to 1.0% solution, this Class A foam can be applied using a variety of methods including portable discharge devices, compressed air foam systems or aerial drops.

“To explain a little more about the product in question, some of the firefighting mechanisms in effect when using this product are: reduction of the surface tension of water, which provides the product with superior wetting and penetrating characteristics, this renders Class A fuels less combustible and allows the product to penetrate past the char to control deep seated fires; extended drain time provides longer surface wetting, reducing the risk of ignition/re-ignition.

Also, the product creates a foam blanket which provides an insulating barrier between the fuel and air. This Class-A foam suppresses combustible vapors while cooling the fuel and the brilliant white foam reflects heat.

“It is beyond my comprehension that when literally the entire island is screaming for a solution to the fires on the dump, someone can just ignore a solution that is offered on a silver platter.

It is high time that PM William Marlin gets of his high horse and embraces a solution to the many dump fires.” MP Meyers concluded: “Not because election is near and someone can’t take credit for the solution to the disasters on the dump, it should be ignored. It is clear that this NA-led Government doesn’t care about the people.

My advice: Jump over your shadow and accomplish the containing of fires on the dump.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On the front page of The Daily Herald of Saturday, August 13, 2016 we see a Member of Parliament with a criminal conviction (sure, his case is still in appeal) broadly smiling as the Minister of TEATT (the Ministry assigned to this “upstanding” MP when the Coalition of 8 was formed some months ago) signs a one year Employment contract with Rolando Brison, a young St. Maarten professional, who, as per his own admittance in writing, embezzled a substantial amount of money from the Government owned airline WINAIR, one of his previous employers.

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