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Building tycoon Dik Wessels, 3rd richest Dutchman, dies at the age of 71

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dik Wessels, one of the most successful businessmen in the Netherlands, who formed construction giant Volker Wessels, has died at the age of 71.

He was ranked third on the Quote 500 rich list in 2017 with his assets estimated at €4bn. Wessels had been in poor health for some time and had recently undergone a bypass operation, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Tuesday afternoon.

‘I never set out to be rich. I got a lot of pleasure out of being a businessman,’ Wessels told the paper in an interview in 2015. Wessels liked to keep things simple, but he built up VolkerWessels to an international construction company with 14,500 employees.

He was also a major supporter of FC Twente, sinking millions of euros into his local football club. Wessels grew up in Rijssen in rural Overijssel province. His father had a building company with three on the payroll.

His older brother had little interest in taking the company over because Wessels senior wanted to keep it small. Aged just 14, Dik got involved.  It was only after Wessels senior’s death in the 1980s that the company really grew.

Dik Wessels brought the company to the stock exchange twice, the second time earlier this year when the Wessels family cashed in 30% of their shares, earning €600m on the transaction. (DutchNews)

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UPCOMING CHRISTMAS CAR SHOW, MARK YOUR CALENDAR

COLE BAY – It’s all happening at Motorworld on December 2.  The public is invited to mark your calendars in order to view all makes and models of automobiles sold by Motorworld.  Check out the details and be ready to make your way to Motorworld in Cole Bay for that opportunity to drive away with your ideal automobile.

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Police retrieve fire-arm after chasing three suspects

DUTCH QUARTER - On Friday, November 17th at approximately 09.10 p.m. a unit from the police department was directed to Manila drive after there were reports of shots being fired in the vicinity of Marina bar.

While approaching the scene the investigating officers saw three men hastily walking towards the back of the bar. The patrol attempted to make contact with these men however they took-off running in different directions.

A foot chase started through the neighborhood streets. During the chase one of the officers saw when the suspect he was chasing threw an object over the wall while he continued fleeing.

After a while the officers stopped the foot-chase. A search of the area where the suspects was seen throwing an object was done. During this search a Glock .40 caliber pistol was found and confiscated. No suspect was arrested as yet in this case. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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The white elephant in your passport: EU borders have never checked a fingerprint

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Eight years since European citizens were first required to include a fingerprint scan in their passports, the technology has never been used to check a passenger crossing a border, according to a Dutch media investigation.

Compulsory fingerprinting was introduced in 2009 across the European Union as part of the new biometric passport, which was intended to improve border security. The measure aimed to stop ‘lookalike fraud’, whereby somebody travels on the passport of someone who strongly resembles them.

Dutch local authorities have spent €32 million installing 4,800 scanners which have taken 20 million prints in the last eight years. But according to an investigation by NOS, border control agencies are still unable to use them to verify passengers.

European nations have not yet agreed on a way to share access to the ‘key’ – the digital signature that allows other countries’ border guards to read their fingerprint information – making the exercise redundant.

No information shared

The Dutch interior ministry admitted to NOS that it had not shared its ‘key’ with any other country or received the necessary information from any foreign government.

Schiphol airport also said that its machinery for reading fingerprints had never been tested for security – and so cannot be used. Biometric security expert Max Snijder said the project had been a comprehensive failure.

‘The fact that we have to supply fingerprints that can’t actually be used is incomprehensible,’ he told NOS. However, the Netherlands cannot opt out of the scheme because it is a binding agreement between the signatories to the Schengen open borders agreement. Within the EU only the UK, Ireland and Denmark are able to opt out.

9/11

Passport applicants who refuse to submit their fingerprints can be refused a passport under a ruling by the Council of State last May, which said that the Dutch government’s obligation to comply with European agreements outweighed personal privacy concerns.

The idea to include fingerprints in passports was a response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Politicians argued that adding extra layers of security to passports would make it harder for terrorists to pass through airports undetected.

Within a month the Dutch government had come forward with a plan to include fingerprints. The measure was also intended to reduce identity fraud. But local authorities said they had only used it in a handful of cases.

A sample of fingerprints in passports also found that around 20% were invalid, either because the quality was too poor or because of an administrative error such as saving the image upside down.

A spokesman for the interior ministry told NOS that it was hopeful that Europe would manage to arrange for the exchange of biometric information ‘within a number of years’. (DutchNews)

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November 20 is Universal Children’s Day. Community encouraged to play a role in making day relevant for children

PHILIPSBURG - The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children and improving children's welfare.

It is a date on which parents, teachers, nurses and doctors, government representatives and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals as well as young people and children themselves are encouraged to play an important part in making Universal Children's Day relevant for their societies and communities.

It is also the date on which the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. Thirty years later the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on that same date.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as any human person who has not reached the age of eighteen years.

The convention defines that children specifically, have the right to equal protection, which means that every child is entitled to the same treatment at the hands of authority regardless of race, gender, disability, or religion.

The Charter of Child Rights is built on the principle that "all children are born with fundamental freedoms and all human beings have some inherent rights".

This in turn is to guarantee the health, well-being, and safety of children and youth.

The question remains if children know what their rights are. Among the fundamental rights of the child is a right to non-discrimination, whereby kids should be allowed to be who they are and be treated equally to everyone else.

Then there is the right to life, survival and development.

In St. Maarten, numerous entities look after and advocate child and youth rights in daily life. The Court of Guardianship is one such organization. Another one is the department of Youth Affairs, which is charged with the monitoring and reporting on the Rights of the Child to the United Nations.

For St. Maarten, Universal Children’s Day can additionally be an opportunity to further look at the plight of children, particularly in the wake of the passing of hurricane Irma and María in September of this year. 

As could be remembered, discussions about children in St. Maarten was recently at the forefront, among others, because of serious damages sustained to schools, in addition to the thousands of home structures.  Many parents opted, among other things, to evacuate children to Curacao, Aruba, and Holland to attend school.

But discussions about the country’s children have been ongoing for some time. This is visible in the various laws and policies that are in place, such as the Law on Compulsory Education, the Integrated Youth Policy, that is presently being updated, and the National Early Childhood Development Policy, that is now being drafted.

The passage of the storm has cemented the need to review all policies in order to update them to include areas pertaining to disaster, amongst others. Research and reading up on these policies will help the community to better meet the needs of children as the most vulnerable among us.

Around the world, many schools and other educational institutions make special efforts to inform children of their rights according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Teachers are encouraged to stimulate their pupils to think about the differences between themselves and others and explain the idea of “rights”.

Every year on St. Maarten, the Department of Youth Affairs in collaboration with the Court of guardianship, St. Maarten Youth Council, the St. Maarten National Commission for UNESCO, St. Maarten Early Childhood Development Association (SECDA) and the Department responsible for youth affairs on the French side of St. Maarten organize activities (like presentations in song, dance, poetry, debates, panel discussions) to inform youth of St. Maarten about their rights. Events are also held to commemorate this international day.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like the Millennium Development Goals before them, are playing a significant role in determining the global approach to international development. Though goals focus on sustainable development, they are inseparably linked to human rights generally, and the rights of children specifically.

When asking ourselves what we can do for children, we can look at the SDGs, whether poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2) and find targets and indicators which can help us to support and monitor the children rights situation on Sint Maarten, starting by making children and parents aware of those fundamental rights.

In the current context of St. Maarten recovering from the September 2017 hurricanes, November 20 should be seen as an opportunity to give consideration as to how to continue giving content to promoting and protecting children’s rights. Points for discussion can always vary, but can include topics such as social protection and support for children as well as prevention of overweight and obesity among children through healthy weight-programs in districts and schools.

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Man arrested in shooting incident Saturday evening

MIDDLE REGION - One man identified with initials F.S. was arrested by police on Saturday November 18th shortly after 6.30 p.m.

According to the reports the Emergency Dispatch received a call informing them that man had fired shots and threatened to shoot someone in the vicinity of Bobby’s Bar on Middle region road. Immediately police patrols were sent to investigate what had taken place.

On the scene the investigating officers learnt that the suspect was hiding in his home to avoid being arrested by police. The home of the suspect was surrounded by police and shortly after the suspect surrendered to police and was immediately arrested.

The suspect admitted to have fired a nail gun. The reason for doing this is under investigation.

The suspect remains in custody for questioning and further investigation. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Be aware of Trucks with Ministry VROMI sign on the windshield

POND ISLAND - The Ministry of VROMI would like inform the general public that trucks with a VROMI sign on the windshield are no longer working for the Ministry.

If anyone is approached by a truck operator informing them they are working for the Ministry, please inform the Department of Infrastructure Management as soon as possible.

The Ministry of VROMI thanks the general public for their cooperation. 

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UTS Saturday openings continue

PHILIPSBURG - UTS will continue to open its doors on Saturdays for the upcoming three weeks. This after a series of Saturday openings in October and early November, to offer customers the convenience of handling their telecom business on Saturday.

The openings started on October to cater to the steady flow of visitors since reopening after hurricane Irma. The UTS store in Philipsburg will be open on Saturday November 18, 25 and December 2, from 10AM to 2PM. The expanded opening hours will allow customers who are not able to come in during the week to handle their business.

“The previous openings on Saturday have allowed us to connect with our customers and recommend the best telecom solutions to fit their needs.” Says UTS Marketing & Communication officer, Ivy Lambert.

“We know that during the week might not be an option for everyone to come in to our store, so we added additional openings on Saturday for the coming weeks. If you’ve lost your phone or need us to re-issue your number on a new chip or if you need assistance troubleshooting settings in your phone or anything else, we’re happy to oblige. We’re working hard on getting things back to normal and if we can assist our customers in achieving the same, we are here to help.”

“Our goal is to provide our customers with the mobile solutions that they need and can rely on. The amount or messages, emails and calls that we receive daily is a testament to how busy our customers are at this point and time.

A visit to our store may not always be necessary to handle what is needed. Our customer service can also be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., at UTS EC on Facebook and by telephone at the regular hours of 8am to 8pm,” Lambert continues.

“I’d like to also remind our postpaid customers that their Chippie bills can be viewed anytime through our e-invoicing portal at www.miuts.sx. After a quick online registration, customers can access bills online, anytime, anywhere.

You can even handle your bill payments from the convenience of home or the office if you make payment with online banking. Don’t forget to register for your miUTS account on www.miuts.sx.”

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MP Wescot says signing of border control agreement egoistic. Awaiting Integrity Chamber Ordinance

PHILIPSBURG – “The signing of the border control agreement reveals an egoistic and self-serving fight over the backs of the people of St. Maarten,” Leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams said in a press statement on Thursday.

“All is well, that ends well, one could quickly say, following the news that the government of St. Maarten finally signed the agreement with the Netherlands on the border control. However, we are not at the end of this “stand-off” that started with Prime Minister Marlin’s blunt refusal to even discuss the preconditions set by the Dutch government to the release of reconstruction funds. A lot of valuable time has been lost.

“And the government continues to spend money it does not have. On paper it might sound good, but in reality St. Maarten is facing a crisis. All around us, we are seeing the results of the government’s lack of perspective.

“The people of St. Maarten during these difficult times were being called to rally against what the Prime Minister called blackmail. Anyone who stood up against this stance of the Prime Minister was reprimanded as anti-St. Maarten.

“The Prime Minister coerced the Finance and Justice Ministers against their better judgement to “play along”, over the backs of our people.  It was not about the conditions set by the Netherlands, it was a chance to put up an egoistic and self-serving fight.

“It took a stance by members of parliament to say “enough is enough”. Could it have been solved in the Marlin coalition? No, because the lines were clearly drawn. You were either for or against the conditions and thus for or against the Dutch aid. From day one it was clear that there would be no compromise.

“Opponents of the stance taken by the Prime Minister were accused of “selling their souls for a few pieces of silver”. Imagine!  And then to add insult to injury.

“Because the government’s actions were disapproved of by Parliament, the government saw it fit to dissolve parliament and decree elections. The inconsistencies and outright illegalities of this decision are as glaring as can be. And then to blame it on the laws not being in synch with the constitution?

“While the notorious article 59 of our constitution in the mind of the government (when convenient) is untouchable, the government changed the election date and said it was “due to practicalities”.  But better yet, if parties would agree to a national government, then the election “could be canceled all together”, the Government leader claims. How convenient.
“The Parliament is still awaiting the Integrity chamber draft ordinance from the government. What game will now be played? If Parliament does not receive this draft, it can’t handle it and this will create another road block.

“Today the Justice Minister proudly announces the signing of the border control agreement. That’s his responsibility, clearly, but does he not at least owe the people an explanation?

“All that sabre-rattling was but a sick game. I want to see how the Integrity Chamber ordinance will go, also in Parliament. Will games be played there too?  2 months and 10 days after hurricane Irma we are where we are, stressed, anxious, mad, faced with unwanted elections because the Prime Minister decided to act out his imaginary battle for autonomy against the Dutch, when we could least afford it.”

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St. Martin Day Celebrations in Recap. St. Martin Day for the People by the People’

POND ISLAND – The St. Martin Day events began with the traditional ecumenical church service at the New Government Administration Building. The church service was filled with praise, worship, dance, poertry and a thought provoking sermon was delivered by Rev. Brissett.

The official ceremony began thereafter with speeches from his Excellency Governor E. Holiday, Prefet Anne Laubies, Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams, President du Collectivité Daniel Gibbes, Prime Minister William Marlin, 1st Vice President Madame Valerie Damaseau and Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Silveria Jacobs.

Minister Jacobs and 1stVice President Madame Damaseau, addressed the attendees with a joint speech, as a symbol of their collaboration and unity in planning and execution of the St. Martin Day celebrations and representing the unity among the two governments.

The intention was to celebrate St. Martin’s day on a cultural level. The wreath laying ceremony, is to be held on March 23, 2018, which represents the date the treaty was signed between both sides. The focus of this year’s St. Martin Day was to focus on the unity among the people, rather than the celebrating the separation.

Minister Jacobs intends for the St. Martin Day celebration to continue as a unity celebration between the northern and southern part of the island. A toast was made to signify the ending of the ceremony, and a brunch was held for the dignitaries thereafter.

The tribute to seniors kicked off at noon, with music catered to the elderly. The cultural parade, organized by Mr. Urmain Dormoy, began at 2pm with various groups portraying the folkloric handmade costumes. The cultural parade was displayed throughout the streets of Philipsburg and included the sounds of the Generation New Status and Dow’s Musical Foudation Steel Pan.

The cultural manifestation tribute for cultural icon, Neville York began at 7pm, with music by various cultural and legendary icons in St. Martin’s musical history. The #SXMSTRONG concert began at 8pm with sounds of Control Band, Big Bad XP Band, Sigma Defence and Don Emmanuel, Dj Patrice, King James, King Rumer, Sean Jay, Perci Rankin and 4M Band and the like, which ended after midnight.

The St. Martin Day celebrations were centered around events for the people by the people. A children’s corner was also available with bouncy castles, cotton candy machines, and arts and crafts. The hope is that the St. Martin Day celebrations can be continuously done on a cultural level between both sides of the island.

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