In The Spotlight
Today, two months after the new Council of Ministers was sworn in, we still do not have a Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT). The blame for this has been placed on the vetting or screening process. However, in truth and in fact, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of our Parliament.
Now, the USP (United St. Maarten Party) will have to present another candidate minister and the screening process will start all over again. We trust that it does not take another two months. Who is to tell, though, if this candidate will pass the screening, which is shrouded in a cloak of mystery!
With the exception of the Governor and the Prime Minister, no one else seems to know, for sure, what exactly the criteria are for the screening of candidate ministers.
We expect the Prime Minister to be transparent about this issue and to enlighten the candidate ministers, the political parties and the general public about the screening criteria, the procedures and how the final decision is made to pass or fail a candidate minister.
SMCP believes that the screening criteria should be clearly established up front and that political parties should be aware of these before submitting the name(s) of their candidate minister(s) to the Formateur.
The obscurity as well as the insecurity surrounding the whole screening process could have been avoided, if Parliament had taken the bull by the horns and dealt with the law pertaining to the screening some years ago.
Take Curaçao for example. Shortly after 10-10-10, the Parliament of Curaçao annulled their original screening ordinance and passed a revised one, in 2012. Nearly seven years after 10-10-10, St. Maarten is still using the original 10-10-10 screening ordinance which is apparently outdated and full of flaws.
St. Maarten has a very short history, as far as vetting or screening of candidate ministers is concerned. It is unfortunate that the first three Governments of Country St. Maarten never underwent any serious screening. In its Integrity Report of 2014, the Bob Wit Committee clearly pointed out that the screening was a mess and even stated that the then Prime Minister as well as the Ministers were in violation of the law and could be sentenced to a maximum of three years imprisonment.
Seeing that governments were forming and falling so frequently, the Kingdom Government felt that they should step in to ensure, the much needed integrity in the Government of St. Maarten. Consequently, prior to the formation of the fourth Government in 2014, the Kingdom Government issued a directive, instructing the Governor, to ensure that the screening of candidate ministers be done in a thorough manner. I believe that, if the St. Maarten Government and Parliament had taken the screening process seriously from the beginning, there would have been absolutely no reason for the Kingdom Government to step in.
Almost seven years after 10-10-10, St. Maarten’s Parliamentarians are still complaining about the screening, when all the while it was up to them to do something about it. Finally, after five years, a draft of the screening law, entitled “Ordinance Regulating the Integrity of (candidate) Ministers,” was officially submitted to Parliament, on January 20, 2016, by then Member of Parliament, Dr. Van Hugh Cornelius de Weever. If Parliamentarians were really concerned or dissatisfied with the screening, they would have been more zealous in seeing this law move from the Ad Hoc Committee of Integrity to the Central Committee and finally to the Public meeting where it would have been approved.
It is good to note that when this ordinance was submitted, the members of the Ad Hoc Integrity Committee were: Sarah Wescot-Williams, George Pantophlet, Cornelius de Weever, Leona Marlin-Romeo, Frans Richardson, Maurice Lake, Franklyn Myers and Silvio Matser, who did not attend any of the three meetings that the Committee held. Regrettably, neither the Committee members nor the other Parliamentarians did anything with the draft ordinance. They just sat on it and allowed it to accumulate dust.
SMCP calls on Parliament to handle this draft ordinance as soon as possible and ensure that it is transparent and fair to all concerned.
The next ordinance that Parliament should deal with immediately is the Ordinance Regulating the Integrity of Parliamentarians. The Bob Wit Integrity Committee also seriously questioned the integrity of our Parliamentarians and made very pointed recommendations such as: establishing a code of ethics, making public all paid and unpaid side jobs, setting up a public registry to record all gifts accepted by Parliamentarians, determining whether side jobs are permissible and if so reducing the salaries accordingly. The report also calls for Parliamentarians to declare their assets, before and after taking office, as well as for the establishment of an Integrity Committee.
If Parliament had followed up on the recommendations in Bob Wit’s Integrity Report, the screening of candidate Ministers would not be a big issue today and the integrity level within Parliament would have been higher. SMCP is expecting Parliament to work on these two ordinances as soon as possible.
Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party
Years ago I dated this guy for several months until he broke up with me just like that. A couple of weeks later he wanted to get back together but he never mentioned that he was getting married that same week, which I found out later from someone else.
We’ve been seeing each other ever since he got married and sometimes he says he’s going to get a divorce but it never happens. I don’t want to break up his marriage but I love him too much to just give him up.
Queenie, what should I do?—Byside
This guy is a classic example of wanting to have his cake and eat it too. He will never leave his wife unless she gets wise to him and gets rid of him, but he will hang on to you as long as you let him – and very likely you are not (or will not be) his only byside.
Even if his wife does divorce him and he turns to you, you can bet your bottom dollar he will cheat on you the way he is cheating on her.
If you really do not want to break up his marriage, dump him!! Do it now, before you cause his wife and yourself irreparable harm, if you have not already done so.
When a minister consistently focuses on new initiatives, rather than restoring the broken relationship with those whom she is mandated to guide, then the minister has lost her focus and the process is like applying paint to a dirty wall. It is logical, that the success of any ministry depends heavily on the value that a minister places on the team players within that institution. If the members are feeling deserted, it is a sure sign that the ministry is in jeopardy.
This view reflects the course of direction within the Ministry of Education. At present, Minister Silveria Jacobs seems to have lost all authority regarding education. The Minister repeatedly and proudly announces that the buck stops with her, yet there is no evidence to support this claim. The person, who appears to be in total control of education, is the Department Head, while Minister Jacobs looks as if she is the subordinate. Why is this?
Personally, the gravest mistake that the Minister has made was when she chose to be quiet on the disappearance of documents that were sent to the governor regarding the dissatisfaction of the Department Head of Education. Here is where the Minister lost her authority. The Minister had to test the integrity of the governor to the limit; whether the matter involved a family member or not. To talk about it now has no significance because her failure to be assertive and decisive back then has led to the fortification of the status quo.
To illustrate further, a few months ago, some teachers reached their breaking point with the inefficiencies of the Department Head. As the last resort, they tried to seek the Minister’s intervention directly, in order to solve the conflict. Instead of Minister Jacobs enforcing her authority, she sent them flying to the same individual to resolve the problem – the very one, who teachers are complaining about. How sensible was such a decision, Minister Jacobs? Prior to that, some teachers took their grievances to the MP who stood up in Parliament during the budget debate and announced that you are doing a good job.
Minister, this was just a teaser, because UP’s little poodle is the one who feeds her with information about the many deficiencies within the Ministry of Education. And, have you noticed that the other MP (now minister), who stood up in Parliament and commented that it (children from abroad who are flooding the classrooms) is an immigration problem, also attended the meeting in support of teachers? How is it that he chose that route instead of standing with you? Again, his comment was just a leg-puller. Minister, I dare you to tell him how to run his ministry, now that the shoe is on the other foot.
How do you think teachers feel about this spinning-in-mud situation? As it stands, whatever is decided upon by the Department Head is sent to you as a done deal. Minister, are you paying attention to the consistent flow of teachers from these two countries that are swimming in child molestation? Why is this situation so prevalent and how do you plan on stemming this current state of affairs?
Minister Jacobs, I’ve heard your comments with reference to last week’s article and so I know that you are annoyed. Here is something to consider: Oftentimes, the catalyst that drives a new course of direction is when someone points out our defects. But, the success of change depends on how the individual takes the critique. The most appreciative comment I have ever received pertaining to my articles was when Gerard Bijnsdorp told me in this newspaper that I cannot write. His comment stemmed from my reaction to an article that his friend wrote.
Next to Gerard Bijnsdorp is my friend Jacintha Brice, who contacted me shortly after his post and said, “I do not agree with him, but, if you can find something within his article that you can use to your advantage, take it.” I ignored the rest of his comments and focused on the one line that related to me not writing well.
Minister Jacobs, inter-ministerial collaboration is plausible, but the core of your ministry is embedded within the sector of Education. If that is off-track, your entire ministry is lopsided. Teachers and administrators are fed up with issues that you failed to handle, because you have allowed prestige to cloud your judgment. How sad it is to see a Minister that came out of the classroom, one who was so vocal about the challenges that she and her colleagues faced, has now turned her back on the very ones who were and still are part of the same struggle.
Minister Jacobs, this is your last chance to take charge of your ministry. Therefore, you need to go back to the place where you first started, because your lack of decision is hampering not only your effectiveness as the Minister of Education, but the proper functioning of the entire ministry!
Many years ago my husband cheated on me and his byside had a son by him. We managed to keep our marriage together and he hasn’t cheated again (as far as I know).
He always gave his son’s mother financial support and visited his son occasionally. The son also comes to visit us occasionally during school vacations.
Queenie, my question is: How do I introduce this boy to strangers?—Puzzled wife
Technically, the boy is your stepson. You can just introduce him by name, with or without adding that he is your stepson or that he is your husband’s son.
Oh sweet Saint Martin they say!
So why are we living this way?
Pure hatred and jealousy,
Is all I can see!
Even the division of the island doesn’t make it easy,
Crimes are increasing, and there's no remedy,
We find ourselves in cells, leaving behind our family,
Please tell me where did we leave the unity?
It’s a shame that a small island like ours is reportedly,
In the rank of the most dangerous territory!
What is this really?
How did we manage to fit among other countries?
I’m lost for words for my beautiful West Indies,
Touristic islands indeed,
But we've got a population to feed.
And the right image is all we need.
End violence, cause we all bleed,
And is that the image we want to proclaim?
Because there is no fame
Just another one to blame!
I love my friendly island that still remains the same,
But we've got to stop taking these criminal acts for a game.
A life is precious, it’s not to target and aim.
It not only affects one person but their entire chain,
Youths are left with one parent, and that corrupts their brain.
Education is the key, but what are we teaching them?
We fail to understand that we all contribute to their progress,
Whether it’s the mother, father or just a friend.
But I still stand here and say lean on my shoulder,
We can make this end.
My wife and her sister are very close and always seem to be together or talking to each other on the phone. We don’t ever seem to get any time alone together, because her sister always seems to be there or to show up soon after we start. It gets to be so much that when she stays overnight with us sometimes I wonder why she isn’t there sleeping with us in our bed!
Queenie, am I making too much of this like my wife says or is this just too much togetherness?—Three’s a crowd
Are these sisters perhaps twins? Twins often do seem to have a special bond.
That said, you are not making too much of this. There is a reason the marriage vows include the phrase “forsaking all others.”
Your wife should not have to give up her sister’s company altogether, but she should be willing to schedule a reasonable amount of “alone time” for just the two of you.
The standard is that when the people placed their trust in persons to govern their day-to- day affairs it is expected that any action on behalf of the people is done within the bounds of the judicial system. Morality, integrity and transparency must be the guiding forces in every action taken on behalf of the people.
Anytime those in power neglect to abide by the law and resort to illegitimate acts they temporarily neutralize these values within themselves and, therefore, forego the trust of the people. We, the people thought that the firestorm which ensued after Mr. Simmons, Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs, went on to illegally sign an agreement with a constitutional experts that the executive branch would have been more cautious in executing its duty.
On the contrary, last week both the commissioners went on to sign an agreement with NuStar regarding the harbour ordinance. One would have expected that the island secretary, as the last line of defence of what is legally allowed, at least would have done his duty and refuse to affix his signature on that document.
This is a sad state of affairs when egos blind persons that they will venture so far off course to believe that they can make their own rules and regulations as they go along. Although, we all agree that the evaluation of the WolBES is a must, this law states clearly who the person in charge is of signing any agreement on behalf of the Public Entity Statia ( art. 173, sub 1 WolBES).
We also understood that the ‘tall’ commissioner displayed a childish antic by getting hyper emotional when the Secretary General indicated that according to The Hague there was no progress in the process of bettering the administration and financial household, and that the supervision will not be lifted.
Little that this rocking horse knows, is that emotions do not have much influence on these European Dutch. By the way, keep the adage of the writer Alfred A. Montapert in mind, “Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving, but does not make any progress.” We are witnessing a rocking-horse governance in which members are jerking back and forth furiously yet there is no forward movement.
It is expected that you the people will be continuously bombarded with misinformation in the coming days in an effort to convince you how wrong and spiteful The Hague is towards the government of Statia, more specifically you the people. This is done in an effort to divert your attention from the truth, namely, they as government are trampling on the laws that govern us. Listen carefully and separate sense from nonsense so you are able to see through the smoke screen of confusion and rubbish.
It is a pity, but with this last illegal act this coalition gives The Hague the confirmation to establish their next step under the umbrella of supervision. The United People’s Coalition again calls upon government to put its egos asides and be smart by seeking honest dialogue in the interest of our people.
Reginald C. Zaandam
Leader of the United People’s Coalition
My husband won’t eat anything but dairy products, bread and pasta. He eats cheese and drinks milk, which are healthy enough, but he won’t eat meat or even try fruits or vegetables or any new dish I offer him
Up to now I have managed by making meals that include both the things he will eat and the healthy things I want – he eats the things he likes and leaves the rest. But now we have a baby and I am afraid he will follow his father’s example and grow up to be a picky eater. I worry about his health and his father’s.
Queenie, what do you suggest I do?—Worried mother
For the time being you can arrange for your child to eat at a different time than you and your husband, so he does not have a chance to follow his father’s example. You also should consult your family doctor, and maybe a nutritionist, to learn just what elements are necessary for a healthy diet.
There also are cookbooks that specialise in including healthy ingredients in foods for picky eaters, like soups, spaghetti sauces and even desserts.
Finally, your doctor can recommend vitamin supplements – some of which you might even be able to sneak into the picky eaters’ foods, if necessary.
Curaçao chose to govern itself as a democracy, but its constitutions and institutions have turned out to be weak and not very popular. Participation in formal and informal institutions is anaemic and not inclusive. Secretive, closed groups seem to manipulate the society to meet their specific needs regardless of any public concerns.
Democracy means power distributed. In a democracy with checks and balances a big chunk of the society is well beyond the control of government; in effect, the government controls very little. Therefore, a crisis in government should not paralyze social and economic activities of the society.
Unfortunately, the year-long crisis in government, that was unleashed when Member of parliament, Marilyn Moses withdrew her support from the PS-PAIS coalition government, has had an extremely adverse effect on the local economy. Foreign investors are unclear as to what to expect. Laws, rules and regulations are up for change in a murky future. A parliament, where 25 per cent of its members have a criminal record, does not imbue much confidence either.
After the most recent crises of last week, politicians’ responses were, once again, elections. The last elections were held in September 2016. The outcome then was fragmentation, which makes it almost impossible to form a solid majority coalition. New elections should produce less fragmentation, but what the rationale behind that thought is, remains muddled. The positive energy of idealistic politicians, eager to serve their community, is once again turned into negative, destructive campaign rhetoric.
So, Curaçao, unable to forge working coalitions is turning into an electocracy – a fake democracy. Richard Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council of Foreign Relations (USA), warned a decade ago that “an electocracy should not be confused with democracy. Immature democracies – those that hold elections but lack many of the checks and balances characteristic of a true democracy – are particularly vulnerable to being hijacked by popular passions. To have elections without such controls means that the election itself is likely to be flawed and that whoever wins will have too much power.”
Exactly that very scenario played out in 2010 and 2013/14. Schotte, a populist and in the meantime a convicted criminal, became the winner and again, is the favourite for the next election outcome. The island has been in disarray since 2010, chaos prevails. Chaos and insecurity do not stimulate the economy and the society in any way or fashion.
The shadow economy, forged by the ongoing success of narco crime, eagerly moves into the large open weak spots of the social, economic and political fabric of the island. By the time a new government takes power they will be firmly settled and established.
Jacob Gelt Dekker
My boyfriend can’t seem to do anything without talking it over with his older sister – manage his finances, getting a pet, making a doctor appointment, how things are going at work, etc., etc. etc. She even covers for him when he has a problem, like a bank overdraft or late filing a tax return.
He never talks to me about these things, even when I try to have a conversation with him about one of them. Then if I complain that he is ignoring me he says I am making a big thing out of nothing.
Queenie, he’s a grown man! Why can’t he handle things for himself?—Disgusted girlfriend
Apparently your boyfriend has been relying on his sister for so long he never developed the habit of looking out for himself.
Aside from the question of competing with your boyfriend’s sister for his attention, you should be asking yourself if you really would rather have the hassle of taking care of this boy-man’s affairs for him instead of his sister. Or would you rather look for a boyfriend who is mature enough to look out for himself?
Western (Judeo-Christian) civilization is imploding. The crippled vessel is listing heavily; it is sinking. There is nothing we can do about it, so we may as well “sombrer avec élégance,” sink with elegance. Roughly put, that is the message that Michel Onfray has brought us in Décadence, his latest book (subtitled “From Jesus to Ben Laden”). But any such summing-up of the rather complex and alarming arguments in Décadence falls short of the mark.
There are so many things St. Martiners (French and Dutch) may rather be reading about than the dark prognostication of a philosopher in Europe. But ever since I started following Michel Onfray in his work many years ago, I’ve been captivated by his novel approaches, his prolific pen and his golden tongue; by his abilities as a writer-researcher-debater; fascinated by this man from modest origins who attended the public schools of the Republic, and has forged his way to become a veritable phenomenon: an intellectual spokesman, a one-man-political-force to be reckoned with in France, in Europe and the world.
Listening to Michel Onfray, watching him debate and defend his positions is like looking at the frigate bird in flight competing for prey with dolphins below and other seabirds above; ill-matched quarrels, amazing uneven contests! He is the envy of all of us teachers, scribblers and stutterers, more envied in France than anywhere else, I presume.
Onfray rails against “L’État Jacobin: le Jacobinisme,” (the centralized, administrative, bureaucratic role of the French state “where truth resides in Paris only.” He champions regionalism (traditional, regional, and rural cultural values, particularly the culinary specificities of the various regions of his country); I take it this includes French St. Martin. Some 15 years ago he resigned from his job as a high school teacher to work toward establishing “L’université populaire de Caen,” the People’s University of Caen in his native Normandy.
Like his contemporary, the novelist Michel Houellebecq, Onfray espouses the views of Samuel Huntington that civilizations clash; that they are clashing. He forecasts “le métissage,” race mixing, a multiracial western society: “The white man is an old thing that will soon disappear...” (Interview, Europe 1: 18/01/2017). In keeping with most of the above, he argues that France should exit the European Union, and he is stanchly against Marine Le Pen’s National Front, the national conservative political party. He is an atheist who is respectfully critical of all religions.
In Décadence, Onfray contends that the imminent signs of decline and sure death are all around us, everywhere. Key among them is nihilism (absence of values, nothing worth dying for). “Westerners, today, rely on paid soldiers who do not wish to die defending dead values they do not believe in [...] He asks: “Who would give up their life for gadgets that are now cult objects of the religion of capital [of capitalism]? One does not die for an iPhone.” Other key signs are “tribalism” [Kind of hostility to diversity and multiplicity.], and a domination of gloom, “une domination des passions tristes,” particularly “ressentiment” [Form of resentment: a kind of scapegoating that involves assigning blame on others for one’s failures, discontent, frustration, jealousy, feelings of inferiority ] (Le Point, 05/01/17).
To those who reproach the author of being, himself, an agent of gloom, of hopelessness and defeatism, Onfray replies: “I’m like a doctor who has diagnosed a cancer in his patient; you do not accuse a doctor of wanting the death of his patient or of promoting cancer: you should not accuse me of promoting defeatism or of willing decadence” (Europe 1, 17/01/2017). He explains that he studied this decadence “dans la longue durée,” that is by concentrating on long-term conditions and gradual change.
Indeed, how else could one seriously reflect on the rise and fall of a civilization? And so the sinking is not for tomorrow, or in five, 10 or 20 years; but we are, Onfray insists, experiencing the last phases of decay: “Judeo-Christian civilization is a power that has run out of steam [...] there is nothing that can be done to save a civilization that is dying [...] our boat is sinking, but we need not despair: we must neither laugh nor cry, but understand “Ni rire, ni pleurer, mais comprendre.” And we can also choose to sink with elegance ... (Interviews: Le Point, 5/1/2017; Europe 1, 18/1/2017).
In Sagesse (Wisdom), one of several other books planned for this year, Michel Onfray will set forth the wisdom that would seemingly help his readers to “sink with elegance,”
Some of us need not be troubled; neither by Onfray’s dismal prognosis nor by that of a number of other contemporary French doomsayers – prophets of decline and decay. Indeed, old-timers like me need not worry at all, our battered ship is too far gone, sinking is much too imminent! Moreover philosophers come and philosophers go and the rains keep marching down Marigot Hill. Besides, all of us readers may elect to ask ourselves: “What shall we gain by being wise? [...] Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
Gérard M. Hunt
The Prime Minister and Ministers of Vromi and Justice are doing great, as you all know our police are always doing their best but those that are responsible to change the laws must wake up and change the laws.
Government must continue focusing on the East side of the island, the light poles at Dawn Beach and Oyster Pond; we all appreciated this great performance of our Government; thanks, keep up the good works and don't forget the side-walks.
Although we are seeing how well Minister Christophe is doing, many people still rather he should remain in Parliament to help get the laws changed and bring in some new laws to move this Island forward.
And l will like to remind Minister Christopher the clients of CKC credit union still waiting for the promises you did during your campaigns how you will help them get back their money from the Central Bank.
It is really discouraging to see so many ministers for finance not doing enough to give the people back their money, it’s very sad when a Government doesn't listen to the voice of its people. It's very sad when a Government doesn't listen to its senior citizens; they were the ones developing this Island when these Politicians were students going school both in St. Maarten and abroad.
Why Government keeps distancing itself from the people cries such as a small claims court is needed, increase the minimum wage, house rent on the island is too high, help the pensioner, legalize gypsies, let them pay a fee every month to help build community centres in every district.
And it is time for St. Maarteners to stop protesting on radio and television and put their two feet on the streets and let Government fulfil their demands; always stand in solidarity with your pensioner at all times, tomorrow you too may be a pensioner.
Think tank, think tank, did you hear about Curaçao Government? Oh yes, I heard of the situation BUT read my lips, for all the former Antilles nations to move forward and to be more successful, all the territories should have a political party.
As the MFK party and UP party both the leaders of MFK party and UP party are the people, Nelson Mandela and with Aruba great things can happen for the people.
I am recently divorced from my (ex-)husband. There’s this couple we were friends with and used to go out with regularly and I have developed feelings for the husband.
Queenie, how do I go about breaking them up and getting together with him?—Lonely divorcee
Obviously you do not read my column regularly. If you think I will advise you how to interfere in someone else’s relationship you have another think coming!
My answer to you is: YOU DO NOT DO WHAT YOU ARE ASKING ME ABOUT!!! If you are so lonely, start looking around for someone who is not otherwise attached.
What is inflation? Well to the best of my knowledge, although I am not an economic guru, inflation is an increase in the average level of prices of goods and services.
I feel as though this topic is long overdue for discussion. I do not intend to proffer solutions to the ever growing problems of St. Maarten but to highlight the problems we face daily on the island. I am provoked to write on behalf of everybody whether local or foreign, concerning our daily challenges and frustrations!
1. Dollar has very low value in St. Maarten! You want proof? Try hiring a mason to work for you. Don’t get me wrong, it is not the mason’s fault, it is the way things are naturally in St. Maarten. There is no price control, from the top, which is government establishments to the bottom, which are local businesses. I am sure that even the rich people in St. Maarten will agree with me that GEBE is quite expensive and very unaffordable. Again I do not blame GEBE, you know why? It’s the general situation in St. Maarten. You make all the money and spend all the money whether you like it or not.
The prices of regular items (not ostentatious goods) are out of control compared to everywhere else around St. Maarten, which is why most goods are imported because they are affordable; but as soon as they get to St. Maarten, they are sold expensively. Look around you, there are so many goods coming in from nearby places, for example, alcohol and a lot of hair products, plus furniture are imported from the Dominican Republic, Dominica and Haiti and some other places bring in agricultural products, toys and clothes, candies, confectionaries and many more come in from the United States, packaged sea food mostly from Asia, etc.
The list is endless. St Maarten is a land that collects from everybody and gives out nothing. What does this mean for the economy – DOOM!!! Things will never work out this way, no matter what we do. Our relationship with other countries is one-sided, it is supposed to be a symbiotic relationship. We are spending more than we are earning! I really hope that an economic guru would look into the situation of SXM and tell us exactly where we are at this point.
2. Wages are very low and everything is imported: I often wonder how people survive on such low wages. Let me tell you how this works, if I earn 1,500 dollars a month and spend all of it, how do I survive? And you all wonder why so many adults still live with their parents on the island despite having jobs? The norm is to wait to acquire from your parents to enable you to step up to the next level of owning anything because, it is almost impossible to own anything from your monthly remuneration, which is totally wrong! You can barely survive not to mention save for the future.
The older generation are very quick to blame my generation for having no incentive to attain greatness; how would you be motivated when there is barely anything around to motivate you? I am being very sincere. Most people who are doing well in St. Maarten first of all, most likely got their college education from a foreign country, saved up from a foreign country and then brought all of their money home to set up businesses and try to keep the business afloat.
Often at times, they are only able to maintain that business for as long as they can and they are barely able to expand, which is why so many locally owned businesses aren’t doing very well compared to their foreign counterpart, because most foreigners (who are from countries with less currency value) have the connection to purchase their goods cheaper and from certain places.
Everything needed to run a business including food products is imported in St. Maarten!!! I have lost count of how many times my friends have a tool that needs replacement on their car and they wait for weeks to get it, because it is imported. A friend of mine once imported an item that was about 10 dollars but he paid the cargo company more than the original price of purchase to pick it up! Do we then blame the cargo companies? My answer is NO! They have salaries to pay and are employers of labour as well, living with the situation of St. Maarten.
3. Poverty is the order of the day! There are barely high paying jobs but so many avenues to spend! Yes crime is on the increase! We all need to brace up! Before you start to judge me for predicting doom, realize that I am a realist. We are all suffering and smiling. Even the so called rich people can feel the pinch of constant and forever living inflation on the island. There are hardly any industries in SXM, often at times only low paying jobs are available, well unless you decide to become a politician but hey you need money to campaign right?
The majority of the populace are living from hand to mouth. You can barely satisfy your daily needs not to mention save for the future unless you are fortunate enough to own land and properties that were most likely acquired from your forefathers (and were developed) years ago. Why do you think that most locals sell off their properties? They sell most likely with the intention of maybe, establishing a business but in the twinkle of an eye, the money is gone!
I know some of us are very careless with our expenses but the truth is that you are forced to live measly to save up anything on St. Maarten. The rich have been rich from many years ago and it will remain that way unfortunately! Visit the supermarket and pick up a few items, by the time you get to the cashier, you would be shocked at the amount you are charged. I don’t even know “what the St. Maarten is going on.”
4. Most educated “St. Maarteners” decide to stay abroad despite coming from a beautiful country like this. Because, those of them in developed countries see that it is absolutely cheaper and better. They earn more salaries, have better health care, better insurance, better pension plans, cheaper water and electricity bills, better infrastructure and less stress. The few of them that try to come home to set up businesses are mostly not prepared for what they meet. The endless “hidden laws” and the way money flies off of your hands leave you poor and frustrated.
5. So many people on the island are poor because the cost of living is permanently high, but you cannot tell them that though! Some people don’t even know that they are poor, that’s how bad it is! Most people work for several years and drive big cars that they get through a bank loan and they really think that they are equivalent to Bill Gates! Even the government cannot keep up, which is why they are also looking for ways to make more money. The problem isn’t for money to be made, it is for prices to be controlled. But how can you control prices when you do not produce anything!!! Meanwhile the borders are opened to all to bring in everything including shark meat!
6. Prices cannot be controlled, irony of it all right? Well you are able to control prices when you have products that are made in the country I guess or what do you all think? Because it seems complicated to me. Again, because of the high cost of living, as a matter of fact, locally made products are going to be far more expensive than those that’s are imported if you ask me. Most of the products are imported from all over the world without proper checks to trace the origin and rules concerning importation from certain countries but guess what, try exporting from St. Maarten “legally” and you would be met with a huge wall of rules and regulations that are sometimes irrelevant to what you do. Our boarders are opened to everything. How can the infant (local) businesses be protected?
I really don’t understand how people survive on this Island, I don’t even know how I survive, but I know one thing for sure, we are not having it easy, from business owners to employees and even the government. I hope this stop soon because the worse it gets, the more criminality will be recorded on the island and when that increases, tourism would decrease. We all pray it doesn’t get to that. I am afraid for the future of my kids who are from here. What can be done? This is getting out of hand; we are all just suffering and smiling really! Can any economic guru tell us the present economic situation of the Island and how this situation can be curbed since it is impossible to eradicate at this point?
After my husband died his brother and I comforted each other on our loss and after about a year we realized we had romantic feelings for each other and we began dating.
Queenie, is there anything wrong with this relationship?—Doubtful
The two of you are not related by blood, and no longer by marriage – there is good reason why marriage vows include the phrase “until death do us part.”
I wish both of you all the best.
The press briefings have become tasteless and are almost on the same level as the discussions in Parliament. This is mainly due to the attitude of two returning ministers who act as if the ministries are their personal domains. The funny thing is that they begged to resume their respective positions prior to elections; yet, they have not displayed any form of maturity nor expressed any tangible progress. Instead, there is a continuous flow of juvenile behaviour and repetitious information.
I often wondered if the UP Party did not address the issue of a new hospital, what exactly would be the focus of Health Minister Emil Lee. He has become like a broken record regarding his explanation of the proposed new hospital. He has completely ignored the rest of his portfolio. Throughout his tenure he hardly addressed the labour situation nor has he shown much concern about matters affecting the youth. This is why no business owner should be assigned the portfolio that deals with labour affairs. They could never approach the situation and regulations from an impartial standpoint.
Besides, when the Minister took office for the first time he stressed the need to be transparent when he advertised the positions within his ministry. I challenged his decisions, in writing, because I didn’t believe that this was a value that he holds most dear. At the time, one member of his cabinet went in as a volunteer and then to a paid worker. Was the vacancy advertised? This time around members of his cabinet were made public during a press briefing. How come the procedure is different this time? Minister Lee, people can change their outlook on certain prejudices, but not their values.
Then just last week one of the journalists asked him a personal question, which he could have answered with a simple yes, if believes so much in the integrity of the Medical Center. Instead, he chose to insult her. When I heard this response, it reminded me of the reaction of grocery owners of the same ethnic background who publicly declared that they are not here to solve the labour situation on St. Maarten. Minister Lee, this is the behaviour of a chameleon and so you do not have my attention anymore!
Chairlady Wescot-Williams, you’re not going to like this article either, but as you
know, I do not say what politicians want to hear. Chairlady, you don’t’ see it right now but you have made a gross mistake. Your decision will come back to haunt you. Give it time to mature!
Adjacent to Minister Lee is the Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs. This is very difficult to do Minister, but sometimes we have to hear precisely what we don’t want to hear. I’ve watched your performance the first time you were elected back in 2012. In fact, I admired your devotion, loyalty and the tenacity that you brought to your new position. Your approach towards the success of the ministry was different and so a vast portion of the population was behind you, but especially those who worked within the field of education. At that time, I saw an individual that executed her task selflessly; one who was so humble and caring.
Now, it’s the complete opposite. At the press briefings her demeanour is so different when she delivers her address and responds to frivolous comments. All that elegance and tact have disappeared. To make matters worse, the Minister is forever on her phone with absolutely no regard for her colleagues, members of the press and the viewers. Consistently, there is talk of the lack of direction within the Ministry of Education, from early childhood to university level. Teachers are feeling abandoned and this was quite evident when some chose to take their plight elsewhere, rather than directly to Minister.
Each time her performance comes into question the first reaction is a sucking of the teeth, followed by three famous words, “She has changed.” Minister Jacobs, if teachers are not with you on this journey of education, it means that your ministry is going under. Teachers are looking for leadership. You know what is so disheartening Minister Jacobs, the other Ministers of Education had one chance this is your third, and if you cannot succeed with three tries…you can complete the famous saying. Surely, the country is at a crossroad and there is no guarantee that NA would ever have the opportunity to be in charge of this ministry again.
With regard to your comment, “those of you who like to talk about the youth need to get from behind the computer and volunteer.” I would respond by saying that the comment was juvenile. Thank God that some of us are behind the computer because many cannot wait to grab what was expressed in the opinion page and pass it as theirs. Besides, there are many of us who volunteer discreetly and are much more effective than a lot who are there publicly.
Yes Minister Jacobs, I agree with you when you said that it is time to put your money where your mouth is. It simply means that you need to take on the same attitude as the Finance Minister, who has dissected his ministry and is executing his task from the premise of leadership, with a vision into the future!
There’s group of us who meet every so often in a fast food place and sit at a table and visit for an hour or so without actually ordering anything to eat.
Queenie, I’m not sure it’s okay to take up the space. What do you think?—Restaurant Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
Well, it depends. Do you at least order something to take out and visit while waiting for your order(s)? And are you taking up the space while other people are waiting for a table?
In any event, if the manager objects to what you are doing, I am sure he (or she) will let you know.
Valentine’s Day is for lovers. Love is a commitment not a feeling.
We must love all-out and love like we were never hurt. That is how Christ loves his bride which is the church. Love is not just a feeling.
Love is the will to treat your partner to the best of your ability and to give them something special and leave them wanting and asking for more.
Love is not just to buy nice things for your wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend, love is the touch of class that you give that someone special something that you never ever gave anyone else before.
The best things in life are for free, it is time spent and to care, massage and to kiss and make love passionately like today is the last day on earth.
True and real good love makes every day exciting even if your day may have challenges. But the joy for those who are in real love is when you have your man or woman only sharing their self with you and only you. That is the beauty of love. Remember it is to be the only fiddle and not second fiddle. For Christ said you can only love and please one master.
Give love to your mother, father, brother and sister. Live lovingly every day and not only on Valentine’s Day.
In closing let me say tonight or this evening shower your wife or husband not only with flowers or chocolate but give them a lovemaking they will never forget.
Make their body shiver, their eyes roll back then you know you have brought them spiritually and physically to the land of milk and honey. And make them say: Free at last, thank God I am free at last.
To the people of St. Maarten have the most loving and joyous Valentine’s day ever. Remember, love like you were never hurt.
God bless you all.
The Patriot Miguel Arrindell
I have been invited to the wedding of 2 people who both have children from previous marriages. In addition to the usual gift registry, there was one for children’s things.
Queenie, is this something new?—Gift Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
I have not heard of it before, but I suppose it is a good idea for a couple who have all the household items they need, but have growing children who need things they would rather receive.
Give them what you prefer. The registry is a suggestion, not an iron-clad order.