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Soualiga Newsday Features (933)

Public Prosecutors Services Curaçao, Sint Maarten and BES now have Grievance Advice Committee

SIMPSON BAY, Sint Maarten - The Public Prosecutor’s Services of Curaçao, Sint Maarten and BES-islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) has now its own Grievances Advice Committee.

Anyone who believes that he/she was not treated well by a member of the Public Prosecutors Services Curaçao, Sint Maarten and BES can now file a grievance with the Attorney-General (PG). To this end, the Public Prosecutor’s Services of Curaçao, Sint Maarten and BES Islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) have established a Grievance Committee.

The Grievances Advice Committee consists of three members, whereby a representative will be chosen from each country (Curaçao, Sint Maarten and BES) who is also not a member of the Public Prosecutor Service.

It is not possible to complain on legal issues or legal decisions. For legal issues a citizen should apply laws that are in place for these matters.  A grievance regarding members of the Public Prosecutor’s Services should be done in writing (not by e-mail).

It is prudent to mention in the grievance the person or the department you are complaining about. Describe further exactly what happened and when it occurred. For proper handling of your grievance, you must also specify your name, address, telephone number and you should properly sign the grievance. If there are letters or other documents associated with your grievance, then you should make copies of these and attach them to the grievance.

The grievance will be handled within six weeks of receipt of the grievance. The treatment of the complaint may be postponed for up to four weeks. The adjournment in writing shall be given to the complainant and the accused.

A complaint should be addressed to the Attorney-General who will file the complaint to the Grievances Advice Committee. The Attorney-General’s address in Sint Maarten is:  

Parket van de Procureur-Generaal vestigingsplaats Sint Maarten

Puerta del Sol Plaza, unit 37,

Welfare Road 68

Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten 

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EBOLA UPDATE: African Health Ministers Agree on Priority Actions to End Outbreak

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT – Health Ministers in an Emergency Ministerial meeting on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have agreed on a range of priority actions to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  The scale of the ongoing is unprecedented according to the World Health Organization (WHO) which called for the emergency meeting in order to stem the tide of EVD.

Health officials are concerned that EVD could spread outside continental Africa sparking a global health scare, and further global implications that it could have.  There are reports of over 750 cases and 445 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia since March 2014.

In March 2014 Guinea notified WHO about cases of Ebola virus Disease. The cases were initially confined to rural Guinea with the epicenter being Gueckedou. What started as a rural outbreak has now spread to Conakry the capital of Guinea as well as cross border spread into Sierra Leone and Liberia. The current Ebola outbreak has surpassed all other outbreaks in terms of cases, deaths and geographic spread across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In an effort to interrupt further spread of this virus in the shortest possible time, the World Health Organization convened an Emergency Ministerial meeting in Accra, Ghana from 2-3 July 2014 involving eleven (11) countries mostly from West Africa and a number of key international partners involved in the Ebola outbreak response. The aim of the meeting was to discuss how to contain the disease, share experiences and agree on a strategy for an accelerated operational response to bring an end to the outbreak.

In a Communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting, the Ministers agreed that the current situation poses a serious threat to all countries in the region and beyond and called for immediate action. They expressed concern on the adverse social and economic impact of the outbreak and stressed the need for coordinated actions by all stakeholders, national leadership, enhanced cross-border collaboration and community participation in the response.

Speaking at the closing session, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo commended the Ministers and said: “We have adopted an inter-country strategy to tackle this outbreak. It’s time for concrete action to put an end to the suffering and deaths caused by Ebola virus disease and prevent its further spread”.

In spite of the ongoing efforts to tackle the outbreak, there was consensus that a number of gaps and challenges remain. These relate to coordination of the outbreak, financing, communication, cross border collaboration, logistics, case management, infection control, surveillance, contact tracing, community participation and research.

The World Health Organization will establish a Sub-Regional Control Center in Guinea to act as a coordinating platform to consolidate and harmonize the technical support to West African countries by all major partners; and assist in resource mobilization. The delegates also underscored the importance of WHO leading an international effort to promote research on Ebola virus disease and other haemorrhagic fevers.

Key facts

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
  • EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
  • Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

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Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip to open UNESCO Consultation on Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Convention

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Minister of Education & Culture Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip will give the welcome remarks at a two-day United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) national consultation that will commence on Thursday, July 3 at the University of St. Martin (USM) from 8.30am to 5.00pm.

His Excellency Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt will also give welcome remarks at the opening of the two-day consultation that concludes on Friday, July 4.

The goal of the two-day consultation according to Minister of Education & Culture Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip is to involve stakeholders such as communities, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Government Organizations (GOs) in the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Convention.

The consultation will be a policy discussion to involve stakeholders and identify and assess local needs.

The Netherlands ratified the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on 15 May 2012. The Convention will be implemented, in a coordinated manner, after completion of internal legal procedures in the different States of the Kingdom, in all the kingdom’s lands and territories: The Netherlands, including the Caribbean special municipalities of Saba, St Eustatius and Bonaire, and the lands of Aruba, Curacao and St Maarten.  

The differences between territories, the distance among them (Europe, Northern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean), and the capacities available require that specific safeguarding measures are taken in each of them.

Considering the pertinence of the Convention’s Global Capacity Building Strategy, and in order to enable the Caribbean islands and Surinam to participate in a multi-year project tailored to their specific needs, the Netherlands has generously provided a contribution to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund established under the 2003 Convention.

After consultation with the Secretariat of the Convention and in the light of the global distribution of needs and other available resources, the Netherlands has proposed that the totality of this voluntary supplementary contribution be used for strengthening the capacities of Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean islands for implementing the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The project will be implemented by UNESCO-Havana and UNESCO-Kingston, in close cooperation with the UNESCO Intangible Heritage Section in Paris.

“The expected result of the consultation is that stakeholders are well-informed about the benefits of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, its role in local development and its relation with other public policies, including tourism.

“It is also expected that the roles of specific governmental and/or non-governmental entities and of community representatives be clarified, both in terms of implementing the convention, as in ensuring the proper implementation of the project. In all activities, gender-equity must be ensured, as well as full youth participation,” Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip said on Wednesday.

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Water rides, Ice skating rink to feature at TelEm Group “Wet Park” Family Fun Day Saturday

POND ISLAND, Sint Maarten – An ice-skating rink under the blazing St. Maarten sun will be one of the main features of TelEm Group’s “Wet Park” Family Fun Day in the company’s parking lot on Pond Island Saturday. 

The “Wet Park” theme is the third year of Family fun day activities offered by TelEm Group, and organizers say this year’s event will be the biggest and the best to date. 

“All the family favourite characters, such as Mickey, SpongeBob, and Dora will be coming to the event to entertain children along with a host of  clowns and magicians,” said Family Fun Day coordinator, Angel Richardson. 

She said because the water rides and games made such a big splash with previous visitors to the Family Fun Day, organizers have decided to add even more water attractions this time around, including an ice-skating rink on the side of the TelEm Group building, immediately opposite the new government administration building. 

“We will be setting up the ice rink the night before so that it will be ready for use on the day of the event, and we think it will be a great hit, especially with the kids,” said Angel. 

She said since many of the activities involve being in the water, parents and children are advised to bring along suitable clothing and even a change of clothes if necessary since  they can expect to get very wet by the end of the day. 

The TelEm Group Family Fun day is an annual hit with company personnel and members of the public who turn out in droves to enjoy themselves in a family-based atmosphere with Disney characters and other entertainers present. 

There is face-painting, various games, rock-climbing, food and drink – all at reasonable prices. 

“We do not anticipate long lines for the various attractions because there will be lots of different activities for everyone,” continued Angel.

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Governor Holiday’s address at the Governor’s Symposium "EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY" on Monday

DAWN BEACH, Sint Maarten – His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday addressed a cross section of society who attended the Governor’s Symposium which was held at Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa on Monday, June 30, 2014.  Here is the Governor’s address.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the third annual Governor's Symposium with the theme "Education for Democracy". A theme inspired by the bicentenary celebrations of the democratic achievements of the Kingdom of the Netherlands' and grounded in my mission to foster and encourage excellence in governance as a practice to advance the well-being of the people of Sint Maarten in all its facets.

In pursuing my mission it is my conviction that governance that results in sustainable democratic development is the highest calling of leadership. As a result, I shall in the next few minutes share my thoughts with you on the topic "Education for Democracy – Challenge and Opportunity".

Since its inception, the overall objective of the Governor's symposia is to promote good governance by highlighting pertinent societal issues through the exchange of information and ideas. My life's journey has taught me that information channels interest which is fertile ground for development and progress. Interest fuels knowledge, knowledge drives freedom, freedom nourishes initiative and initiative feeds development and progress. The purpose of this year's symposium on education for democracy therefore is to generate greater interest about developments, ideas and thinking that affect our lives and to fertilize the minds of our people and leaders towards more decisions, policies and actions which dictate best practices required to sustain a stable and democratic society.

Blessed with natural beauty and friendly and resilient people, our small island nation St. Maarten has over the years been characterized by stability and growth. As a people we attach immeasurable value to that achievement. This is articulated in the preamble to our constitution with the words:, "We the people of Sint Maarten declare that we are a people that believe in the principle of democracy, the rule of law, the principle of the separation of powers, the dignity and values of the individual, and the entitlement of all individuals to the fundamental rights and freedoms".

To live by and sustain our democratic convictions we must support them with real and continued action that maintains and strengthens the realization of our ideals for our society. Such real action should be anchored in the understanding that a stable and democratic society is not possible without a certain level of literacy and a common set of shared values among our people. This implies that education, considering the role it plays in literacy and in enhancing the possibilities to communicate shared values, is the foundation to maintain and sustain our democratic way of life.

The former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan stated it as follows and I Quote:
"EDUCATION IS A HUMAN RIGHT WITH IMMENSE POWER TO TRANSFORM. ON ITS FOUNDATION RESTS THE CORNERSTONES OF FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT". Unquote

It is thus essential that we, like every country should, examine and place achievements in and challenges to education in this broader democratic perspective.

A quick scan of the developments in education on Sint Maarten reveals a history of some 163 years of formal education, starting with the establishment of the Oranje School as a public primary school in 1851 followed by the Catholic St. Joseph School in 1890. Since then a lot has transpired institutionally to the point that only last week a new public school, the Drs. Alma Fleming-Rogers Educational Care Centre was officially opened. The opening of that school adds to the array of Public, Catholic, Non Catholic Christian and Private Schools offering primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Modelled initially after the Dutch education system our school system has been influenced by major reforms in education in the Netherlands, such as by the Dutch Mamoet law of 1968 and the Dutch Foundation Based Education Law of 1993. At the same other educational ideas – Caribbean, American and Canadian – have found a place in our education system. It is thus safe to say that our education system is one of diversity. As a result discussions regarding the Sint Maarten education system has abound for years taking on various forms. These discussions often concentrate on among others the following challenges/issues:

  1. First, this system is superior to that system;
  2. Second, the high level of drop outs;
  3. Third, the curricular is foreign to the realities of Sint Maarten;
  4. Fourth, the curricular does not meet the needs of the job market;
  5. And fifth and most notably, should our mother tongue be the language of instruction or not – English versus Dutch.

Listening to these discussions it seems that we view our education system from a perspective of the glass is half empty. This view is cause for concern given that education is the cornerstone for our democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Parallel with the developments in education, Sint Maarten has evolved constitutionally from an "invisible" dependency in the nineteen century to an autonomous country since 2010. As a result we, like no generation before us, have the opportunity and constitutional authority, to shape the socio-economic, educational, cultural and environmental construct of our beloved island. How we address this challenge and approach this opportunity in regard to the construct of our education system, will determine our success in the discharge of our responsibilities; that is towards maintaining a sustainable democracy based on our convictions as stated in our constitution.

It is with a view of this challenge and opportunity in mind that I organize this symposium.

At this symposium speakers will address you from national and regional perspectives on education for democracy. In doing so they shall address relevant issues, such as, the state of St. Maarten's education, education for social capital, principles and practices of democratic citizenship, and the relationship between education and democracy. It is my hope that their messages will stimulate greater interest for and contribute to the promotion of national dialogue and policy making on education towards the sustainable democratic development of our nation.

Taking the discussions about education into account I wish to leave you with the following thought. Let us, given our geo-political reality, cease the opportunities before us to direct our education system based on our shared values anchored in common standards of excellence. And in so doing guarantee quality education for a stable, safe, fair and democratic Sint Maarten society.

In short excellence in our school benches equals excellence in our Parliament benches and thus in the governance of our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With that I hereby declare this symposium on "EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY" OFFICIALLY OPEN and wish you an enjoyable and fruitful symposium.

Thank You

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What value our national symbols?

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - By Fabian Ade Badejo: Symbols are the sometimes the cryptic representation of a people’s values, ideals, and aspirations. They are the morse codes by which our history, culture, and highest achievements are transmitted. No society can function properly without its own set of symbols because they are the focal point around which the people are united. To the extent to which those symbols are valued, to that same extent would members of that society feel a sense of belonging, of kinship, of even patriotism.

As we celebrate Emancipation Day, on July 1st, it behooves us to reflect on some of these symbols that represent our peoplehood. What value do we attach to our national symbols?

We could begin with the very name of the island, but for expediency sake, let’s start instead with the St. Maarten flag and coat of arms since these are considered among the highest official symbols of any people. How often do we see the St. Maarten flag flying on cars and in front of buildings, (including sometimes, government buildings or those of government agencies), with its colors faded, the cloth tattered, looking uncared for?

And the coat of arms? Not even at the entrance to the Parliament Building is this displayed! Oh, the Parliament! Where else in the world is Parliament located above stores? At least, they say there are plans to erect a befitting building for the people’s business sometime in the future at a yet to be determined location.

Naturally, we have a national motto: “semper pro grediens” (Always moving forward), which many of us do not know about and which has not sunken deep enough into the national psyche, if there is any such thing yet.

One important national symbol we still lack is a national anthem, but we won’t go into that because of the confusion surrounding it and the contentious nature of the matter. So, let’s take a quick look at the other “abstract” symbols. We have a national flower, (the yellow sage), a national tree (the flamboyant or July Tree) which we equate with Emancipation and also a national bird – the Brown Pelican. How do we relate to these symbols? What value do we attach to them?

It was the 19th Century American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer, John Dewey, who famously said: “When men think and believe in one set of symbols and act in ways which are contrary to their professed and conscious ideas, confusion and insincerity are bound to result.”  He could as well have been talking about how we react to and value our own symbols on St. Maarten.

Let’s take, for example, the recent hullabaloo about the bronze pelicans at the airport roundabout. We are talking about three huge bronze sculptures deemed too expensive by certain individuals whose knowledge and appreciation of art is suspect at best. What value should we attach, even in monetary terms, to our national symbols? What value do constitutional monarchies in Europe - such as in the UK, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden – attach to these institutions which are symbols of their national unity? Even at times of severe economic recession as they have witnessed recently, do they ever consider their monarchies too expensive to maintain, even as they question their relevance in this modern day and age?

But perhaps, such analogies are too far-fetched. Perhaps, what best reflects how we value our national symbols can be found at the marketplace in town, just a stone’s throw from Parliament.

At both the Backstreet end of the market, and the Clem Labega Square entrance to the marketplace are structures erected with the name: “Philipsburg Market Place”. At either side of this are stone pillars with the national bird – the Pelican – in concrete. Unfortunately, one of the concrete pelicans at the Backstreet end of the market place has mysteriously disappeared while the other one has been beheaded (see attached photograph). This has remained so for several months, according to some of the market women.

What is fascinating about this is the fact that practically ALL our members of parliament have to pass in front of it on their way to or from parliament to conduct the “people’s business.” The same goes for our ministers whenever they have to appear in parliament. The same also goes for our government officials and other top advisers who have some kind of business or the other in parliament. It speaks volumes about how much they value our national symbols that none of them has noticed this sad state of affairs with the concrete pelicans.

This brings to mind what the 19th Century French novelist, Joséphin Péladan, said: “The absence of symbols in our life debases it as much as any government can...” Need I add anything to that?

What can we deduce from this nonchalant, disrespectful, and outright disgraceful attitude to our national symbols by those who should be the very first to uphold their integrity? That they believe that the people deserve just cheap and poor representations of their national symbols? That it doesn’t matter what state of care or disrepair such representations may be?

As we celebrate Emancipation Day, maybe we should reflect on these issues and ask ourselves: what value do we attach to our national symbols, and how is this reflected in our treatment of them? After all, as the Victorian philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, a Scotsman once said, “By symbols, accordingly, is man guided and commanded, made happy, made wretched.” May we not be made more wretched by the way we relate to our national symbols.

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UP Concerned about no Confirmed Date Set for New Government Building

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The board of the United People’s (UP) party remains concerned about the opening of the new government building located on Pond Island. A bond was recently concluded via the Central Bank of Sint Maarten and Curacao. 


"We are closely monitoring the latest remarks of the Honourable Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams in regards to the opening of the new government building," remarked the UP Board.

"We are calling on the Honourable Prime Minister Wescot-Williams to clearly define a timeline for the completion of this project as she neglected to do such during a recent press briefing," the UP board added.

"The optimal functioning of the civil service of our country is a priority for the UP Party. Our civil servants should be adequately supported and provided with an efficient work environment.

“Preparations for a smooth transfer from the current Government Building and other related offices rented/leased within Philipsburg where public services are rendered, a plan of action is needed and should be communicated to all civil servants who will be impacted by such a move.

“Proper preparation is necessary in order to ensure that the Information Technology systems are secure and data which is essential to running of the country and government apparatus are properly prepared for the move," the UP board said. 

"The sooner this project can be completed the better for our country and our people," the UP board concluded in a statement on Sunday.

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Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Attends 17th Anniversary of VKS Ceremony

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams attended the 17th Anniversary celebration of the Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten VKS at a ceremony in front of the Government Administration Building on Saturday.

The PM, under whose authority the VKS falls, congratulated the VKS on their more than 17 years service in protecting and serving the community of St. Maarten and those who have been with the organization since the very beginning.

The Prime Minister also congratulated and thanked the family members of those in the VKS who have stood by them as they put their put their life on the line to protect and serve the people of St. Maarten.

“On this your 17th Anniversary allow me to congratulate those of you who have been promoted to a higher rank and those of you who have been recognized for exemplary service to the VKS over the years. Clearly the Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten continues to be an institution in evolution: continuously moving forward and adopting new tasks and also introducing new members into your ranks.

“Every year it is good to stand still for just a moment and recognize your service to this community as well as to contemplate as you move forward. So as we recognize this service it is also a fact that as VKS officers you are acting as role models in the community of St. Maarten. Contributing to the VKS is contributing to the community of St. Maarten and supporting the community of St. Maarten and building this country block by block and step by step,” Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams pointed out.

The Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten (VKS) is a paramilitary organization that conducts emergency services, protects the population and conducts law enforcement services. (Contributed by the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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Urgent Plenary session of parliament for Monday with Minister of VROMI

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – An urgent plenary session of the House of Parliament is scheduled for June 30 in the afternoon. 

The plenary session of the House is set for Monday at 2.00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The first agenda point is incoming documents; second agenda point is the purchase agreement by and between the heirs of the Vorst Family and Country Sint Maarten, represented by Minister of VROMI Hon. Maurice Lake.  

This meeting was requested by Members of Parliament (MPs) Hon. William Marlin, MP Hon. George Pantophlet, and MP Hon. Louie Laveist.

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations.

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 120, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com, and also via www.sxmparliament.org  

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