Dear Editor,

I have a question of which the answer in my opinion should be a no brainer, but permit me first to make a summation. The majority of our people have been loyal to the same leaders for many years. The same people for many years have been calling the shots. Both government and boards of government-owned companies are like a deck of cards. Same deck been shuffled. There was a time when the word affluent was not strange to us; nowadays more than 75 percent of the population is living below the poverty line.

The majority of our people in government have to think very long when asked what kind of government do we have in Sint Maarten. I still smile at an incident when someone high up in government wanted to know " wha yo mean by dah" when I asked that person that question. How long have we been partners with the other countries in the kingdom, whether equal or not? How long have we been governed by the same kingdom laws, while those in government do not even know how to explain to their constituents what kind of government we have in Sint Maarten?

We just had an extensive explanation about APS and our money (money which our representatives are using to bail out what seems to have been fraudulent behaviour of those who put government in debt) which over the years was constantly increasing in volume, and is now gradually is diminishing. The same people in government are plainly telling us that they take care of each other. They compensate those persons who have been in government and have not been re-elected for two years long to enable them to gradually go back to the lifestyle they had before being elected. This tells me that they are openly accepting and telling us that once you are elected to government, you lead an elaborate lifestyle off our money, and along with that, they have the gall (bile) to tell the pensioners of which the majority have contributed for much more than thirty-five years that our pension money is in jeopardy .

Since 10-10-'10, we have not had a steady government and still do not have a system in place to guarantee a steady government. There is a page in our book, once we rip that page out of the book, all the pictures of ships and busses will not be in that book any more. If you do not believe me, ask Michelle. There are projects like the Causeway of which we are still not clear how and by whom that money was spent. Our people in government are not permitted by their puppet masters to entertain the thought of determining who is a Sint Maartener.

Several people in government including political leaders, still put their country of origin before this goose which continues to lay the golden egg for them. Donald Trump is selling out. The country is getting congested with motor vehicles, which is a complaint being heard more and more from the tourists. That and limited parking spaces. We cannot even combat illegal transportation (gypsies). Several people in government are telling me that it is very difficult to regulate public transportation. They cannot even place bus stops along Nisbeth Road, which in my opinion is government property and does not need permission from anyone to place bus stop signs along that road.

We permit politicians from foreign countries to come here and organize political campaign meetings. People who have acquired the Dutch nationality here feel free to drive around with their country’s national flag with no regard for the kingdom flag, nor the Sint Maarten flag. With cruise passengers not spending like before (not me, worldwide report) for years now we are still exporting those crushed cars. Is not that a type of small industry that can be done here? I can go on and on with observations from many people who for instance would tell you that things they see the Sint Maarten government accept they could not do in their country.

How dare they use obscene language in the presence of government officials? Let us check the nucleus of the people living on Sint Maarten. Do they have the experience of having lived in an independent country? So here is my question of which the answer should be a no brainer. I know that every journey begins with the first step, but who are we taking that first step with? In other words, if we vote for independence for Sint Maarten, when that time comes around, who are we going independent with?

Russell A. Simmons

Dear Editor,

  First let me thank Algemeen Pensioenfonds St. Maarten (APS – General Pension Fund St. Maarten) for putting together an informative pension seminar on May 19, 2017 with the theme “Your Future is Our Day to Day.”

  The conference was opened by Ms. Rachael Geerlings followed by opening remarks by the Honorable Minister of Finance Mr. Richard Gibson Sr. Mr. Gibson opening speech gave a bleak picture of trillions of underfunded pension obligations in various states in America. He referred to an article in the Financial Times with the headlines “US faces crisis as pension funding hole hits $3.85 trillion”.

  The article mentions that for Chicago it has been estimated that they are underfunded as far as pension liabilities are concerned with an amount that equals 19 years of the total tax revenues Chicago expects to receive. Mr. Gibson went on to say that this is a looming crisis that not only Chicago is facing, but it is a looming pension problem that keeps increasing.

The Final act of a Pan man

Playing a last tune on his pan

Caressing his pan

With tender loving hand

Ringing out pan melody

His heart heavy

With melancholy

Playing his heart out

For his mother funeral

Knowing well

That this was his farewell

The last time his hand

Will caress this guitar pan

Just before taking time

Out from the pan

Saying goodbye to his

Guitar pan that he love

To follow his mother

The one that he love even more

Than any other

Caressing his pan

For the very last time

With tender loving hand

Telling his pan softly goodbye

To join his loving mother

In the sky

Goodbye to our Pan Man

Goodbye to our Music Man

Goodbye to a cultural Icon

Goodbye to Neville Chester York

Raymond Helligar

Dear Editor,

Last week Wednesday, the Central Committee of Parliament, once again, invited the Independence for St. Martin Foundation (ISMF) to give a presentation regarding holding a referendum to determine whether the people of St. Maarten desire to become independent or not. This is the fourth time that the ISMF was in Parliament presenting its case. The first presentation was held in March 2016. Hereafter, the Central Committee reconvened, in September 2016, to give the ISMF the opportunity to answer questions that the MPs had posed in the first round in March. The Chairlady of the Central Committee then advised ISMF to submit a petition, requesting Parliament to convene a consultative referendum at the earliest possible date. In January 2017, the ISMF submitted said petition which was debated in March 2017 during a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Petitions. After deliberating whether the petition met the necessary criteria, the Committee of Petitions eventually decided to send the petition to the Central Committee of Parliament for further handling.

In her role as Chairperson of the Central Committee and as a member of the Committee of Petitions, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, made it very clear that to be able to convene a referendum, Parliament must approve a national ordinance regulating referenda. She mentioned that, there are only two ways by which such a national ordinance can be presented to Parliament. Either, it is initiated by one or more Members of Parliament, or it is proposed by government to Parliament.

Prior to last week’s meeting with the ISMF, Members of Parliament had three occasions to deliberate the matter of holding a referendum. Hence, one would have expected that, when the Central Committee met last Wednesday, Members of Parliament would have been able to discuss and deliberate strategically on the way forward as far as holding a referendum is concerned. After all, the Central Committee should be the body that gathers pertinent information and then submits its recommendations to Parliament, so that the necessary preparations can be made for a public meeting of Parliament where binding decisions are taken.

The ISMF’s petition was simply requesting Parliament to hold a consultative referendum within this term of office, thus, no later than 2020. However, instead of dealing with the topic at hand, our honourable MPs, once again, felt the need to deviate from the subject and to grandstand and give lip service to the topic of independence.

They should have known by now, that, for a referendum to be convened, the first thing that must happen is the drafting of a national ordinance. The draft then will need to be reviewed by the Council of Advice before it can be presented to Parliament for approval. The only way for the draft national ordinance to get to Parliament is if the government prepares such a draft, or if one or more parliamentarians take the responsibility to have the ordinance drafted.

In the Central Committee, members of parliament are expected not only to grandstand and to give lip service but also to ask pertinent and critical questions. Questions such as: will Parliament initiate the draft ordinance or will Parliament pass a motion charging the government with the drafting of the national ordinance? What about an awareness-campaign to enlighten the people about the pros and cons and what independence would mean for St. Maarten, so that they can make an informed and intelligent choice? How much will such a campaign cost? How much will the referendum cost? Is their money on the 2017 budget to cover the cost of the awareness campaign? Will Parliament allocate money on the upcoming budgets for the campaign and for the referendum? Do we need a referendum steering committee? What role will the ISMF play in the preparations leading up to the referendum? What is the target date for the referendum? What is the anticipated trajectory leading up to the referendum?

These are the issues, questions and concerns that I expected our parliamentarians to discuss during this meeting with the ISMF. Instead, Members of Parliament strayed from the topic of the referendum and repeated what they had already said about independence. Only MP Rodolphe Samuel came close to raising the critical questions.

Are our Members of Parliament serious about holding a referendum or about St. Maarten becoming an independent country? I do not think so for the following reasons: The first meeting between the Central Committee of Parliament and the ISMF was held in March 2016 yet the parties of the MPs, who now boast about being long-time ardent advocates and supporters of independence, did not include the topics of referendum or independence in their 2016 manifestos. The very comprehensive 2016-2020 governing programme “Stability for Prosperity” of the current Red, White and Blue coalition is also totally silent on the issues of referendum and independence.

During the 2017 budget debate, not one Member of Parliament requested that funds be allocated towards a referendum awareness-campaign or a nation-building campaign or for the planning and organizing of a referendum. Furthermore, during the meetings in the Central Committee with the ISMF not one MP volunteered to accept the responsibility to initiate the required draft national ordinance that would lead to parliament eventually approving the convening of a referendum. Consequently, SMCP concludes that Parliament is not really serious about Sint Maarten convening a referendum or becoming an independent country in the near future.

Wycliffe Smith

Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party

(Curaçao Chronicle)

"Here I stand; I can do no other,” is the side script on a red pair of “All Star” knock-offs. It is Luther Year in Germany and everything sells. A candy shop has a special a grand selection of Praline in a deluxe box in shape of a Gutenberg-Luther Bible. Tetzel’s money boxes play a song when souls are released from Purgatory and jump into heaven.

Transparent umbrellas with built-in speakers will provide you with a divine “voice” from above when you go through a storm. And a replica book press à la 1600 is geared up to provide you with your favourite Biblical text. Ah, what would the world be without magic and marketing!

Hardly two weeks ago and 500 years after Luther unchained the Reformation, the Pope canonized three shepherd children in Portugal, who 100 years ago were jailed and threatened with being boiled alive in olive oil when they claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them. The Fatima children’s reported visions would go on to strengthen the faith of Portugal's persecuted Catholics and make the small farming town of Fatima one of the world's foremost pilgrimage sites, with around 6 million visitors a year. It is one of the best “money bags” of the Church and Luther’s Reformation seems to have had no effect in Portugal.

As long as people are into magical thinking, they will throw their money and support at anything to satisfy their hocus-pocus fancy. Harry Potter, only a hardly disguised resurrection story, became a world success and spooks in all young minds of today.

President Trump, with his Papal Corporate Culture of grand fanfare and who rejects humanism, takes the world for an Abrahamic religious tour along centres of magic, from Mecca, or nearly, to Jerusalem and Rome. His ecumenical religious magic and the Fake News that it produces is not likely to have much success.

Magic is very competitive as any Potter child knows and the problem in the Middle East is not one of religion but one of inequality and horrible poverty. While Princes live in magnificent splendour, the man in the street dies from malnutrition and maltreatment.

ISIS and Al Qaeda had easy recruiting amongst millions of illiterates, not because of religion, but because of poverty. And once again in history, the USA is found on the side of the usurper, not on the side of the suffering masses.

The collective allied power of the new Trump coalition will simply wipe them off the face of the earth, like nasty flies. And the masses will cheer the Trumpists on, like many fascists and magicians before him.

Luther’s Reformation failed miserably.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker

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