Grid List

THE HAGUE--They are surely not in it for the money. The Windward Islands pre- and post-graduates united in the Unleashed Potential Group (UPG) want to help back home with the social economic development and to get working experience at the same time. Free of charge.

~ Final report on cabinet delayed to Nov. 4 ~

HARBOUR VIEW--The governing programme of the incoming United People's (UP) party/National Alliance (NA) coalition was presented to Governor Eugene Holiday on Thursday by Prime Minister William Marlin in his role as formateur.

However, the final report on the formation of the new cabinet could not be presented by Marlin as the background screening of the candidate ministers is still ongoing. The Governor has now extended to deadline until November 4 on the request of Marlin. The final report was due yesterday, Thursday.

This extension means the new ministers will not be able to take the oath of office before the Governor on November 1, the day after the incoming Members of Parliament are sworn-in for the “Halloween” Parliament.

Marlin, in his meeting with the Governor, updated him on the progress of matters related to the formation. This included a review of the status of the screening of the candidates for the Council of Ministers.

The screening covers a background review of the personal and professional credentials, the financial position, the fiscal (i.e. tax and social security premiums) compliance, the judicial background including possible suspicious transactions, the security background and, if necessary, the health condition of the candidates.

The purpose of the screening is to assess the integrity, independence and solvency of the candidates, as well as the stability of the new government.

The governing programme was worked on by a joint team from both parties under the guidance of NA leader Marlin and UP leader Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger, and assistance of consultancy firm Bearing Point. The programme outlines priority areas for the 2016-2020 governing period. The coalition intends to present the programme to Parliament and the public in the coming days.

There’s an interesting story in today’s paper about the “Unleashed Potential Group” (UPG). It regards Windward Islands pre- and post-graduates in the Netherlands who want to help with the social-economic development “back home” and gain job experience free of charge.
The move followed a June workshop held by Unified St. Maarten Connection (USC) where some 30 participants showed enthusiasm and a willingness to contribute to their place of origin. Goals include providing incentives for more of the students abroad to return when they complete their education, which is currently a big problem that leads to brain drain.
The idea is for UPG’s multidisciplinary team to work on projects that benefit the community “to train our people and give back.” By removing the money barrier they want to take away all excuses for not seeking their input.
How it is all going to function remains to be seen, but Government and the private sector alike would do well not to ignore this commendable initiative by some of the island’s own “best and brightest.” Involving them more in shaping the future of the community they clearly still care about makes all the sense in the world.
Now here’s one thing the incoming Parliament and Council of Ministers can tackle immediately without worrying about major consequences for an already-tight budget. Sure, a few expenses may ultimately have to be covered, but being able to use the group’s acquired knowledge, skills and expertise at no direct cost seems like a heck of bargain.

“Who would do such a thing?” was the main question being asked as news broke of a 12-year-old girl found tied up early Wednesday morning (see related article). An investigation hopefully will provide the answer, because this type of apparent abuse against children obviously cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

The primary school pupil reportedly had disappeared for six hours. Her story about how she got into the situation in which she was encountered should provide an indication whether there was foul play and – if that’s the case – the possible identity of the culprit(s).

Running away from home is certainly not uncommon among the youth, but they usually return or are tracked down by loved ones relatively quickly. During the time in between, however, these youngsters can be extremely vulnerable also due to the state of anger they tend to be in.

Credit the police for starting their search immediately and not waiting the normal period in missing adult person cases. Ultimately the girl was found by her stepfather, thankfully unhurt and in good health.

All’s well that ends well, some might say, but law enforcement authorities still need to take the matter seriously and get to the bottom of it in the best interest of the child, for her family’s peace of mind and on behalf of the community at large. After all, leaving the impression that one can easily get away with something like this would not send the best of messages.

PARAMARIBO--Just two days after a biography about Princess Juliana painted her husband Prince Bernhard as a habitual womaniser, a tabloid in Suriname claims the prince also had a “side-chick” in the former colony.

“He was a true glamour boy. His reputation as a womaniser was known here in Suriname back then. Everybody knew that he had many girlfriends and I knew one of them personally,” Parbode Magazine quoted Ali Farzanalikhan-De La Fuente as saying on Thursday.

The 90-year-old resident of senior citizen’s home Huize Prinses Margriet in Paramaribo remembered that the prince visited Suriname in October 1955 together with Juliana, then the Queen of the Netherlands, and that he opened beer brewery Parbo.

Farzanalikhan-De La Fuente did not reveal the name of the Prince’s girlfriend. “I am keeping that to myself. All I can say is that she was really proud of it,” she chuckled.

Her claim comes on the heels of the release of Juliana, the biography about Princess Juliana in which Prince Bernhard is accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl. According to the 800-page book by Jolande Withuis, which was published on Tuesday, Bernhard groped and kissed a 16-year-old girl who was staying in a spare room at the Soestdijk palace at the time.

The book states that the prince groped the girl under her blouse and kissed her on the mouth. “She managed to get him out of the room and poured her heart out to a trusted staff member, who believed her, as he heard from various other sources about Bernhard’s behaviour.” The biography claims that Bernhard also assaulted a young member of Juliana’s drama club after inviting her to come see paintings in his office.

Withuis based this information on anonymous sources. She told Volkskrant daily that the people she spoke to are reliable and the Dutch Institute of War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies NIOD knows who they are. The underlying material is housed at NIOD and will become public in 25 years.

The Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst – the Dutch Government’s information service – told news website that they will not comment on the allegations.

Prince Bernhard died on December 1, 2004, at the age of 93. Princess Juliana and the German-born prince were married for six decades. Juliana, who abdicated the throne in favour of her daughter Beatrix in 1980, had died in March 2004.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--A guard at a Haiti prison is suspected of helping 173 inmates escape from a prison over the weekend.

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI-- For India's dream of taking the baton of global growth from China, its savings rate is flashing a warning sign.

FRANKFURT-- Cabin crew at Lufthansa's budget airlines Germanwings and Eurowings will stage a 24-hour strike on Thursday, leading to the cancellation of about 380 flights in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

NEW YORK-– 2016 has been an exciting year for horror. From artsy period pieces, to well-done sequels, to excellent foreign imports, there's a lot worth watching... if you don't mind losing a good night's sleep, of course. Here's what's terrified us so far.

"STOCKHOLM- - Swedish pop group ABBA is set to reunite for a "new digital experience" in 2018, more than 30 years after their last public performance together, it was announced on Wednesday.

WINSTON SALEM, N.C.-- U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made her first joint campaign appearance on Thursday with one of her most powerful supporters, first lady Michelle Obama, at a North Carolina rally to urge young people and women to vote.

NEW YORK-- More Republicans now think Democrat Hillary Clinton, rather than Donald Trump, will win the presidency, as their party's candidate struggles with difficulties including allegations of sexual misconduct and his suggestion he may not honor the outcome of the election.

SAN FRANCISCO-- Flying commuters like George Jetson could be whizzing to work through the sky less than 10 years from now, according to ride-services provider Uber, which believes the future of transportation is literally looking up.

NEW YORK-- During his free time on the job as a Google employee, Carl Elkin began tinkering with the company's 3D mapping program, wondering if it could identify rooftops that receive enough sunlight to make installing solar panels worthwhile.

MARIGOT/ST.BARTHS—Multiple champion and Olympian Mitch Booth has signed up for the upcoming St. Barths Cata Cup, organisers have disclosed.

MEXICO CITY- - Red Bull's Max Verstappen has threatened a radio blackout after causing a stir with his comments during last weekend's U.S. Grand Prix.

Dear Queenie,

My son is working on an advanced degree in social work. He is looking forward to having a rewarding career in that field, but when he talks to his friends about it they tell him “that’s too bad” and make disparaging remarks about how he’ll never get rich that way.

Queenie, what can he say to them that won’t be rude?—Proud mother

Dear Mother,

He (and you) can tell them how proud he is (you are) that he will be able to make a significant positive difference in many people’s lives. End of discussion.

Dear Editor,

Since the UP Party is going to have control of Parliament, what exactly is their intention? Do they plan on disrupting the current trajectory, or will they use wisdom and come to a temporary agreement to maintain the present course of direction? When one examines the composition of the incoming Members of Parliament, it is difficult to pinpoint anyone of the UP Party, who has the indispensable capability to administer this highly-skilled function.  

To illustrate further, since 10-10-10 parliament has never functioned on this level that has demanded the attention of the public and with such plausible comments. This is due to the degree of seriousness and passion that Chairlady Sarah Wescot-Williams approached this very critical position. It is one thing to sit as the Chair and recite, but it is quite another to take charge, and deliver from a place of knowledge, understanding and experience.

Now that parliament will be infused with a number of new comers, who are lacking the prior knowledge of how government operates, what would happen to them if the proper support is restricted?

Furthermore, what kind of parliament will exist, if these recruits developed the same lackadaisical attitude that the majority have portrayed over the years? Wouldn’t that situation be construed as a gross form of instability? Hence, in order for parliament to carry out its function effectively, this legislative branch requires a President with a substantial measure of credibility to maintain the desired solidity.

Therefore, an efficient President of Parliament is armed with the knowledge of the working of all three branches of government, but particularly, the executive and legislative bodies. Here is where the Chairperson is well acquainted with the laws and articles that govern these domains. He or she decides how and when to juggle these regulations to keep government in check.

Besides, a well-informed President has a mental blueprint of Parliament. He or she is aware of the past and current status of the Senate, and has a vision of where the organization ought to be. Not where Parliament should be in terms of wishes, but each milestone is planned with a specific timeframe and built-in assessment.

If this incoming coalition is serious about acquiring stability in government, then intelligence would dictate that Parliament must maintain the same trajectory that has been developed over the past 11 months. For this reason, it behoves government to consider extending the function of Chairlady Sarah Wescot-Williams for a period of one year. During this time, she would be charged with not just the task of managing the organization, but, providing training and guidance to Members of Parliament, especially the new ones.

Those of us, who follow politics, can recall a similar situation that took place during the constellation of the Nederland Antilles. In 1984, Roy Markes was the President of Parliament and a member of the MAN Party. Along the way, a conflict arose between him and his own party. This resulted in a change of government.

The new coalition included: PNP of Curaçao, MEP of Aruba, and DP of St. Maarten (along with Saba and Statia). Even though MAN was not a part of the incoming government, Roy Markes was allowed to maintain his position as President until the end of 1985. Then, in January of the following year, MP Jean Francisca was appointed to complete the term.

What this situation has taught us is that the newly-formed coalition rose above party politics and valued the competency of the President of Parliament. What sweet history, if this can be repeated here on St. Maarten, in the benefit of the people that the UP Party has sworn to represent!

Joslyn Morton

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