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Soualiga News (2888)

DP Women’s Wing Mourns Loss of Patricia Pantophlet

PHILIPSBURG - The Women’s Wing of the Democratic Party of St. Maarten joined the community in mourning the loss of former president of the Windward Island Civil Servants Union (WICSU-PSI) and the Chamber Labor of Unions, Patricia “Patsy” Pantophlet.

“The Women’s Wing of the Democratic Party joins the community of St. Maarten in mourning the loss of one of its great women and social activists; a woman who was the embodiment of courage and perseverance; the voice of the disenfranchised and less fortunate. Patsy was an icon, a woman of valor. Though she has left us much too soon, she will live on in the hearts of those for whom she fought as well as the many to whom she extended her kindness to! May her soul rest in peace,” read a DP Women’s Wing statement.

Pantophlet passed away while in Colombia where she was receiving treatment for a chronic illness. She was 57 years old.

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President Arrindell says Social Formation Program a Step Forward for Prevention of Criminality

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell is very pleased with the cooperation of the Ministry of Justice as it is working diligently preparing the draft ordinance regulating a Social Formation Program for young people between the ages of 16 and 20 years.

“Safety and security of our people and visitors is a critically important aspect of the quality of life of our island.

“Prevention of criminality under our young people is key in working towards this goal.  I requested earlier this year the cooperation of Minister of Justice, Dennis Richardson to work on such a program.

“A draft law geared towards this goal will be submitted by the Minister of Justice shortly to be handled by the Council of Ministers.  Hereafter the draft will be sent to the Council of Advice, before it reaches Parliament for handling in the Central Committee and finally in a public meeting of Parliament,” President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Tuesday.

The main objective of this program is to help those group of youngsters, who may fall through the cracks of society, the opportunity to receive training and support at the stage of their lives when most needed.

These young men deserve a chance to receive training in social skills, discipline. They deserve to have a better perspective to become a law abiding and contributing citizen to our young Country, and this program would offer guidance.

These preventative actions are geared towards the so called ‘risk group’, identified through the different governmental institutions, including the Court of Guardianship, and it also is geared towards the ‘so called ‘first offenders’ the opportunity for a second chance in life.”

“An important aspect of this formation program, is the cooperation between the Department of Justice, the Police, the Voluntary Corps (VKS), Court of Guardianship, the Schools and the Marines.

“A small detachment of the Marines is permanently stationed on Sint Maarten since 2013. Prevention is always preferred above detention.

“To that extent, I applaud the support of the Ministry of Defense in cooperating with the Ministry of Justice in Sint Maarten towards making this Social Formation program a soon to be reality. The program will be provided under the supervision of the commander of the Marines.

“A similar successful program already exists in Aruba and Curacao. I am thankful to Minister Hon. Dennis Richardson for his speedy handling of this draft law, and look forward to receiving it soonest in Parliament.

“More details regarding the draft Social Formation ordinance will be provided by the Minister of Justice, the Hon. Dennis Richardson,” President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell concluded.

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Central Committee to meet on Wednesday to discuss Pensions

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Central Committee of the House of Parliament will meet on August 6th.

The Central Committee meeting is set for Wednesday at 11.00am in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point for the session is the draft National Ordinance to change the National Ordinance General Pension Insurance and National Ordinance General Widows Insurance related to the increase in the pensionable amount and the pension age.

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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Democratic Party of St. Maarten Presents Party Platform on Education and Education Reform

PHILIPSBURG - On Monday the Democratic Party of St. Maarten presented its Party Platform on Education to the people of St. Maarten. The Democratic Party’s vision for education is predicated on the belief that the development of our human resources is vital to the economic development of our island. The focus of the Democratic Party is to, through education, create the national culture and social environment necessary to promote life-long learning opportunities for the people of St. Maarten’ “It is the Party’s belief that all of our citizens have the ability to continuously learn, both for professional development as well as personal enrichment. This belief has led to the successive Democratic Party governments over the years fully supporting the development of a flexible and adaptable education system. A system designed not only for catering to the needs of the local labor market, but also to meeting the requirements and providing the tools to convert our citizens into creative, innovative and thinking individuals. These individuals should participate optimally in all efforts to better themselves and the society in which they live. The education offered to them in our institutions should prepare them participate fully in and benefit from all opportunities available on the island for entrepreneurship as well as employment,” according to the DP Educational Platform.

Thinking schools:

The Democratic Party advocates “thinking schools” as education institutions for our children. Thinking schools are learning organizations in every sense: constantly challenging assumptions, and seeking better ways of doing things through participation, creativity and innovation; “Thinking Schools will be the cradle of thinking students as well as thinking adults and this spirit of learning should accompany our students even after they leave school. St. Maarten must become a learned and knowledgeable society. With the many technological solutions to bridge distances, this goal is a realistic one. The DP administration has set the tone for this line of thought, starting within the Government of St. Maarten as it relentlessly offered government personnel opportunities to train, study and intern both locally and abroad.”

Education in Nation Building:

From the perspective of the Democratic Party nation building is about involvement and inclusion. It is about respect and values and about the future of our nation and generations to come; “We will not shy away from necessary adjustments to our educational system or the implementation thereof to ensure that our children get the best education possible. No educational system should limit our children; on the contrary it should aim to give all our children equal opportunity.

Against this backdrop the Democratic Party during its last governing period was able to deliver a state of the art polytechnic institute, named the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA). This institute caters to a growing student population of 250 students and currently offers certificate programs in several areas. Our vision for the NIPA is that it will evolve into an institution which will eventually also offer Associate Degree programs in specific technical areas. Students with the ability to further their studies in these areas will be granted the opportunity to do so at the USM and abroad. The Democratic Party also envisions that this institute will afford second chance and adult education to motivated students.”                                                                                                              

Education reform 

The Democratic Party administration, cognizant of the fact that the continuous improvement in the quality of education on our island requires periodic educational reform, introduced several forms of education innovations, such as: smaller class rooms, quality control, early diagnosis, early childhood care, community schools, performance evaluation of teachers, the introduction of compulsory education, truancy officers, and emphasis on physical education and the arts. It is becoming more and more evident that many of our students struggle with social and emotional problems, which negatively impact their school performance. In order to assist these students and their parents. The Student Support Services was established within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. Also the recently constructed school in Belvedere has been designated as an Education Care Center, intended to cater to students with behavioral problems, which negatively impact their performance at their respective schools.

Tertiary education

The University of St. Maarten, which was established in 1989, continues to evolve and seek to match the educational needs of our population. The DP believes tertiary education on St. Maarten must continuously strive to elevate the professional skills and training of our society, by offering not only college degree programs but also certificates and opportunities for professional advancement.  If we are to consider the diversification of our economy by providing services such as call centers, e-zones, financial services and the like, even on a small scale, trained human resources will be required,” concludes the Democratic Party Platform on Education. (Courtesy of the DP Party)

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UP Leader and Board Comments on Passing of Union Leader and Fire Victims

PHILIPSBURG - United People’s (UP) Party Leader and Member of Parliament Hon. Theo Heyliger and the UP Board expresses their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Union Leader and Social Worker Patricia Pantophlet who passed away over the weekend.

The UP family would also like to offer its support and prayers to the fire victims who lost their homes in St. Peters on Saturday.

The UP Board calls on the community to assist the fire victims where possible.  The St. Maarten Red Cross organization is a body that members of the community and other entities could make donations too that then can assist those individuals in need after going through a tragedy.

“Let’s come together as a community and support the fire victims who surely need an act of unconditional kindness at this time,” the UP Board concluded.

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Central Committee to meet on Tuesday to discuss Crime

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Central Committee of the House of Parliament will meet on August 5th.

The Central Committee meeting is set for Tuesday at 10.00am in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point for the session is recent criminal activity such as the armed robberies of banks and jewellery stores and crime in general within the country.

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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Prime Minister Goes on Air to Clarify Procedures for 2014 Elections

PHILIPSBURG - During a special broadcast of One on One with the Prime Minister on 98.1 this past Friday, the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams clarified certain matters pertaining to the upcoming August 29th Parliamentary Elections.

The Prime Minister chose to discuss the topics due to much confusion amongst the population regarding what they will be voting for and the responsibilities of Government Towards Parliament; “There has been much confusion created amongst the population regarding exactly what citizens will be voting for during the 2014 elections. All the matters that have to do with elections have to do with the Ministry of General Affairs, which is under my portfolio as Prime Minister.

“This is the first time that we are having elections directly for Parliament and therefore we need to acknowledge that for all the voters on St. Maarten taken up in the voting registry they will be voting for fifteen members of Parliament and not for Minister or a Prime Minister for that matter. There are no Ministerial Elections in our constitution”, emphasized Wescot-Williams.

“Already you hear politicians and aspiring politicians saying that vote for me and I will be Prime Minister of Minister. That is not what the people of St. Maarten are voting for; they will be voting for the fifteen members of Parliament. Depending on the turnout of the voters for every seat in Parliament one thousand votes are necessary.

“The party that gets a thousand or more votes will get one or more seats. At the end of the voting it will be determined that, if for example a party has three thousand votes that party will get three seats with the persons who get the most votes on that particular list getting the seats.

“Many years ago our system was one in which seats were allocated in the order of slates but that has changed: the highest vote getters are the ones that get the seats in Parliament. When elections have taken place the majority in Parliament will talk about forming the Government and who will be appointed as Ministers in the new Council of Ministers.

“And Ministers do not have to necessarily be running on a list in order to be appointed into a Ministerial Position. That is why it is so important for people to understand this fact. The people on St. Maarten rely on their representatives in Parliament to appoint the ministers. The Prime Minister’s, or any Minister for that matter, appointment is an agreement between parties in Parliament that supports the next Government. It is part of that agreement where it will be decided who will be what. And Ministers are appointed by National Decree based on parties that come together to make an agreement,” emphasized Wescot-Williams.

The Prime Minister also clarified the questions the electorate were having with regards to Parties being awarded the remaining seats in Parliament; “The question of a Remaining Seat, or a Rest Zetel in Dutch, is as follows: if a party for example received 3200 votes and another party 4500 votes, after allocating the full seats -so three seats to list one, and four seats to seat number two- then it is looked at what does every party have in terms of votes above the seats that they have. 200 votes for list one, 500 for list two and the highest amount of seats above the required seats will get the seat remaining.

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams also explained the concept of Ministerial responsibility towards Parliament, highlighting that Parliament nominates persons to become Ministers of Government; “Ministerial Responsibility means that Ministers are responsible to Parliament since it is Parliament that nominates them to be a Minister.

“If someone who received a seat and is put forward to become a Minister, then that person will become the Minister and the next highest vote getter on the slate will get the Parliamentary seat. It is important to realize that those who have postulated themselves on the list, no matter in which position, can end up in Parliament.

“Parliament cannot fire or dismiss a Minister; the dismissal of a Minister takes place as part of the National Resolution from Government. Parliament can not issue a decision on dismissing, it can issue a no-confidence and then it is up to the Minister to do the right thing; that is part of the democratic bedrock of our system.

“If the Minister does not there will be a political dilemma but it would be politically correct for a Minister to draw that conclusion. We have seen where St. Maarten itself has had to grapple with a Parliament deciding it has no confidence in the Government resulting in stand-offs etc. despite me as Prime Minister applying the law,” concluded Prime Minister Wescot-Williams. (From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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DP to Hold First Public Meeting at the de Weever Property in Dutch Quarter

DUTCH QUARTER - The Democratic Party of St. Maarten is inviting the residents of Dutch Quarter, Belvedere, Middle Region, Defiance, Oyster Pond, Dawn Beach, Sucker Garden, Guana Bay, Madame Estate and French Quarter to come out to its first public meeting this Friday, August 7th starting at seven pm at the de Weever property.

The Board, membership and candidates invite the public to come out to listen to the red thread and hear what the DP plans for its vision bringing St. Maarten forward. Candidates will also have the opportunity to interact with the candidates, board members and DP membership and exchange ideas and information.

DP Leader and Prime Minister the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams will also be giving an update on the neighborhood development program already underway for the Dutch Quarter District.

Wescot-Williams has been engaged in wide scale negotiations with the European Union to fund the improvement of the Dutch Quarter District, which will greatly enhance the infrastructure and social upgrading of the area. The European Union will provide 4.750.000 Euro for the project. 

The execution will also include the upgrading of the main roads, side roads, drainage system, lighting, sidewalk construction, the expansion and the upgrading of the sewer network and the building of a thousand cubic meter drinking water tank.  The projects will work very closely with the Dutch Quarter Community Help Desk. (Contributed by the DP Party)

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UP Candidate Martis-Romou Endorses Mix & Mingle for Christian Singles Event for August 1

PHILIPSBURG – United People’s (UP) Party Candidate Angelique Martis-Romou on Thursday endorsed the Mix & Mingle for Christian Singles Event that is scheduled for Friday, August 1.

“I think this is a very good initiative.  I would like to commend the organizers for organizing the first and only singles retreat and game show for Christian singles.

“This social event is one way of bringing people together and should be organized more frequently.  I encourage young people 21 and over to come out to the event

“These types of activities are very important for society.  It’s approach from a religious perspective and there is nothing wrong with that.  Religion is very important in all of our lives and we should embrace,” Angelique Martis-Romou said on Thursday.

The game show is organized by the Youth Development Center Foundation.  It will take place at Carl & Sons Conference Room in Cole Bay from 7.30pm.

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Ministry VROMI announces road closure behind Greenfingers in Cole Bay

PHILIPSBURG – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), hereby announces there will be interruption to the traffic flow on the side streets behind Greenfingers in Cole Bay.

The side streets to be affected by civil works are: Dr. C.A. Levendag Street, Dr. C. Shaw Street, Dr. L. Lashey Street and a section of Dr. de La Fuente Street.

Telecommunications company UTS will be carrying out trench works and road crossings in order to install new lines.  This work will commence August 2nd up to August 4th.

Street repairs will be on August 4 and 5th from 7.00am to 5.00pm.  Hot asphalt will be applied on August 6 during the same timeframe.  The street closures are in connection with road repairs for the area.

Residents should take into consideration that if there is inclement weather, the civil works will be postponed by a day or two.

Motorists and pedestrians are requested to be vigilant and observant for the traffic directional signs indicating what works are underway in the respective area, and that heavy equipment will also be in use.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.

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