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MP Wescot-Williams: We should finish our own integrity chamber legislation and continue with Sint Maarten integrity projects

PHILIPSBURG – Leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Faction in the House of Parliament Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams in a press statement on Tuesday called on the Government of Sint Maarten to respond to Parliament's recommendations and amendments to the national Integrity Chamber Ordinance as soon as possible and not take its time, given the timeframe of one month that was mentioned by parliament.

“If the whole matter is indeed that we want to establish our ‘own’ integrity chamber, then we should proceed, and proceed with utmost haste. I am concerned that this delay is going to cost our country dearly. This will cost us in terms of the Kingdom Government now having all reason to push through their initial intentions to force upon us an integrity chamber, established, managed and controlled by the Kingdom Government via a General Kingdom Measure.

“Jump high or low, due process notwithstanding, the Kingdom Government can impose their will.  Neither the Minister (s) Plenipotentiary or the Kingdom Council of State can prevent this, if the Kingdom Government is bent on pushing this through.

“Even if we are prepared and equipped to fight the imposition of a Kingdom Measure, if done against our will, the time and energy this will take, will be to the detriment of other local issues that urgently deserve the attention of government.

“The current government since its installation has been primarily occupied or so it would seem with the matter of an Integrity Chamber, which by the way is only one aspect of integrity as a whole. We also have many legislative issues to deal with that also would advance integrity in government.

“We have seen what it took, in terms of time and human resources to get where we are today and we have not scratched the surface yet of all aspects of integrity.  I, for one am prepared to deal with this matter, even if it takes meetings of Parliament during the recess, which starts on July 3rd.

“I reiterate that the DP faction has been and remains a proponent of an integrity agenda for our country. Our own Integrity Chamber with its checks and balances is not against the people as some claim, but rather for the people. So this DP faction is in favor of an Integrity Chamber and our criticism and amendments on the draft that is before parliament does not change this one bit. Furthermore, as Prime Minister I started the entire process, including making the commitment to carry out the recommendations of the several integrity reports.

“I say to the general public that is being bombarded with claims that the Integrity Chamber (our own) is not a good thing: ‘Imagine that the many allegations and claims of corruption, harassment, intimidation, favoritism that are made daily against the government and government departments and individuals can be either validated as facts and dealt with or discarded as rumors and put to rest. Would you say this is a good thing or a bad thing?’

“I conclude with a call to government and parliament. ‘Finish "our story" and finalize our own Integrity Chamber law post haste and prepare ourselves for the fall-out which will surely come,” DP MP Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams said on Tuesday.

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Traffic accident near Kooyman, one injured after tour bus and car collide head-on

CAY HILL - The Police Traffic Department is presently investigating a head-on collision which happened on Monday June 22nd at approximately 07.00.

The accident between a private vehicle with license plate M-9123 and a bus with license plate P-3083 took place on the A.J.C. Brouwers road in the vicinity of Kooyman.

Vehicles in question were travelling in opposite direction when impacted causing severe damage to both vehicles.

The drivers of the P-9123 suffered a light concussion and wounds to his fore-head and arms.

He was treated on the scene and then transported to the Sint Maarten Medical centre for further treatment.The cause of the accident is still being investigated by the traffic department. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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General Audit Chamber Submits 2014 Annual Report to the President of Parliament

PHILIPSBURG - The General Audit Chamber has submitted the annual report for the year 2014 to the President of Parliament.  Each year the General Audit Chamber is required by law (National Ordinance General Audit Chamber – Landsverordening Algemene Rekenkamer) to present a report of its activities of the preceding year to the Governor and the Parliament. 

An overview of audit work and other advisory activities conducted in 2014 is part of the annual report 2014. Auditing government in the broadest sense of the word, is the main task of the General Audit Chamber.

Reports issued by the General Audit Chamber are meant to support and facilitate Parliament in carrying out its supervisory authorities related to government’s budget and public expenditure.

The Annual Report of the General Audit Chamber is required to be presented to the Parliament as well as the Governor prior to July 1st of each year. The document was submitted to Parliament on Friday, June 19th. Subsequently, the document was presented to the Governor on June 22nd.

This is the fourth annual report published by the General Audit Chamber since its establishment on October 10, 2010.

The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).

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ROTARY CLUB OF SINT MAARTEN INDUCTS THREE NEW MEMBERS

LITTLE BAY – The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten inducted three new members at its weekly lunch meeting at the Divi Little Bay Resort on June 17, 2015. 

Club President Danny Ramchandani had the honor, along with President-Elect Jeffrey “Soc” Sochrin of welcoming these new Rotarians to the wonderful family of Rotary International. 

President Ramchandani reminded the new members of their responsibility of service above self and presented Mr. Rodolphe Samuel, Mr. Anil Sabnani and Mr. Sunil Maidasani with their Rotary pins. 

Mr. Samuel and Mr. Sabnani were formally pinned by President Ramchandani, their club sponsor and Mr. Maidasani was pinned by Damu Ratwani, his club sponsor.

For more information about the Rotary Club of St. Maarten, please contact the Rotary Club of St. Maarten Press Officer at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website www.rotarysxm.org.

About the Rotary Club of St. Maarten:

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten was chartered on March 17, 1972 as result of a September 1970 meeting to form a club on the island.  Since its formation, the Rotary Club of St. Maarten has grown in membership and has assisted in the formation of new clubs in the District, including Anguilla (1978), St. Martin Nord (1988), St. Martin Mid-Isle (1997) and St. Martin Sunrise (2004).  For more information, visit the club website at www.rotarysxm.org

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TelEm Group organize emotional ‘guard of honour’ to welcome home body of late colleague Stella Aarndell

POND ISLAND – A fleet of TelEm Group vehicles, joined family friends and many company personnel in an emotional ‘guard of honour’ to escort the body of their late colleague, Stella Aarndell, who passed away in Colombia recently following a period of illness.

The guard of honour escorted Ms. Aarndell’s body from the Princess Juliana International Airport to the Royal Funeral Home early Saturday morning.

On the way, they made an emotional and tearful stop at the TelEm Group branch in Simpson Bay, where Ms. Aarndell worked as a Lead Supervisor.  They also made stops at the TelEm Group branch at Le Grand Marche and at the Main TelEm Group building on Pond Island.

Staff organized the escort as a mark of respect to the company’s longest-serving employee with more than 40 years of service.

Ms. Aarndell was the company’s first female employee when it was formerly Landsradio, and was the first Customer Service Manager when the company became the Sint Maarten Telephone Company N.V.

She has been described as a much-loved and dedicated employee who was especially sought out by customers because of the way she interacted with them and attended to their needs.

Close members of the family thanked all the TelEm Group staff who turned out Saturday and did not miss an emotional high-point or the morning when a shower of rain began to fall when the honor guard pulled up at the Simpson Bay Branch.

“She will be happy with the love that is being shown for her from everywhere,” one family member said.

Meantime TelEm Group staffers have set up a condolence book for their late colleague in the lobby of the TelEm Group main building on Pond Island and are inviting customers and friends who have known Stella over the years to pay tribute to her in words.

The condolence book will be presented to Stella’s family at a later date as a treasured keepsake to show that she was much loved throughout the company and also by the many, many customers she came into contact with.

The funeral service for the late Stella Aarndell will be officially announced by her family members.

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Minister Plenipotentiary Fleming-Artsen receives courtesy visit from new Cft Secretary Twisk

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands – Minister Plenipotentiary, Hon. Josianne Fleming–Artsen received a courtesy visit from drs. Manus Twisk recently who was appointed as Secretary to the Board of Financial Supervision (Cft) as of August 1st, succeeding Kees van Nieuwamerongen.

Twisk gave a brief explanation of his new role as secretary to Cft and the tasks of his secretariat. He emphasized that the Cft is meant to be in place temporarily. However, once the countries prove that they are able to consistently handle their own finances in a sustainable manner, the Cft will have fulfilled its task.

The Minister Plenipotentiary and Twisk also talked about future cooperation between the Cabinet and the Cft Secretariat, as well as issues concerning the current planning and control cycle and the sustainability of financial management on Sint Maarten.

In mid-August, the new Secretary to the Cft board will begin his first working visit to the countries and public entities to meet with their respective governments.

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11-year-old that sang in Carnival featured by US entertainment sites

PHILIPSBURG - Eleven-year-old singer Tamillia Chance, whose performance caused a stir during Carnival 2015, is now being featured on various US entertainment websites and social media. A short video of the singer singing her rendition of Ed Sheeran’s Grammy winning song “Thinking Out Loud” is being shared around the internet by celebrities and news sites in awe of her singing ability.

This is the same song that she sang at Zouk Night in Carnival Village after government officials here initially told the promoter of that concert Francois “Cuchi” Hunt that he is not allowed to feature the minor. Hunt was event threatened with imprisonment if he allowed Tamillia to sing. The decision drew the ire of President of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Mike Granger who vehemently argued against this decision.

Granger eventually wrote to the Minister of Culture & Youth Affairs Rita Bourne Gumbs asking her to clarify what exactly is “child exploitation” and if every talented young person who want to showcase their talent will be exposed to a law that was not meant to be applied across the board. The Minister decided to let Tamillia perform before 10:00pm on the night of the concert which she did. 

The YouTube video was picked up by, among others, CBS Inside Edition, Nowsociety.com and shared by celebrities Omar Epps and Marlon Wayans who combined has millions of social media followers worldwide.

Tamilia's mom, Dianique, is also a singer and told Inside Edition that her daughter asked to join her mom on stage when she was only nine-years-old and performed Beyoncé’s song "Halo" to everyone's surprise.  Her mom said, "She has performed and various events such as singing and dancing talent shows, weddings, pageants, concerts and for the President of France, Mr. François Hollande."

Since her impressive performance, she has sung at various events throughout the island all while being a fifth grader with great grades. Dianique said, "Her teachers admirers her capacity to remain humble amounts her class mates and to joggle music and maintain great grades."

She is fluent in both French and English and wants to be just like her favorite artist, Beyoncé when she grows up. But she is also interested in being a surgeon. “You cannot stifle talented young people, you have to let them shine when positive opportunities comes along. Not just in the case of Tamillia but all of our talented youngsters who simply want an opportunity. You simply never know who is watching as Tamillia’s case proves,” Granger said.

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Dominican Republic called upon to refrain from deporting stateless people

SINT MAARTEN/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – The Dominican Republic must ensure that people whose citizenship was thrown into question by a 2013 ruling of the Constitutional Court will not be deported, the UN refugee agency said today.

“The Court’s ruling and the subsequent regularization plan which gave individuals born in the Dominican Republic until mid-June to regularize their status, impacts tens of thousands of people”, explained an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, during apress conferencein Geneva. “Most of them were born in the Dominican Republic and are of Haitian descent,” he added.

“With a stateless population in the Dominican Republic estimated at more than 200,000 people, the consequences of expulsion could be devastating,” he warned.

UNHCR is concerned about the human rights considerations for people who may be expelled and end up being pushed into Haiti, even though they are not considered as citizens of that country. “This would have serious repercussions for all who are affected and be a serious setback to efforts worldwide to end the problem of statelessness.”

It is of the utmost importance, Mr. Edwards emphasized, that the Dominican Republic takes necessary action to prevent any expulsions of stateless Dominicans and to avoid creating a new refugee situation. In this regard, UNHCR has offered its support to the Dominican authorities to identify and register these individuals.

While the Dominican authorities have announced that they will conduct screenings of all individuals subject to deportation, UNHCR has recommended that for people who claim to be Dominican but do not have the required documents, the authorities can use other screening approaches, such as knowledge of Spanish – “in order to allow a reasonable determination of whether people are likely to have been born and lived all their lives in the Dominican Republic,” the spokesperson added.

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Minister Plenipotentiary Fleming-Artsen Signs OCT Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Sint Maarten in Brussels

BRUSSELS, Belguim - A delegation from Sint Maarten was in Brussels to attend the Summit of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) Energy Ministers from June 16 to 18, 2015.

The OCT Sustainable Energy Roadmap was signed by Minister Plenipotentiary Artsen on behalf of Sint Maarten.

At the Overseas Countries and Territories Ministerial Conference, held on February 26th, 2015 in Tortola, sustainable energy was identified as an essential area of cooperation.

During this conference OCT governments agreed to support the development of an OCT Sustainable Energy Roadmap to help reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and improve their energy efficiency.

The Summit of the OCT Energy Ministers was the setting for the adoption of this OCT wide Sustainable Energy Roadmap, facilitating and supporting the path towards lowering fossil fuel dependency and increasing energy efficiency to further assist OCTs in the transition to sustainable  energy.

During the Summit, Sint Maarten as Regional Authorizing Officer (RAO) for the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Program (€ 40 million) presented an update on the progress made during the programming phase and outlined the proposed actions and way forward for the coming four years.

In addition, a selection of the identified sustainable energy priority areas for the Caribbean OCTs and a proposal for a possible joint project were shared with the participants.

The Energy Summit also gave OCTs the opportunity to provide guidance regarding sustainable energy priorities for the Thematic Program (€16-18 million) under the 11th EDF.

The Sint Maarten delegation comprised of the Hon. Minister Plenipotentiary Josianne Fleming-Artsen, Olivia Lake, Policy Advisor Donor Coordination and EU Relations, Claire Hooft-Graafland, Senior Policy Advisor Nature and Environment and   Carol Voges, Sint Maarten Representative in the Netherlands for EU Relations.

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ST. MAARTEN LIONS CLUB GIVES $2200 TO ART, THE ELDERLY AND THE PHYSICALLY & MENTALLY CHALLENGED

PHILIPSBURG - This 2014-2015 Lionistic year, St. Maarten Lions Club President Mr. Sunil Khatnani came up with the idea of budgeting $200 per club member to be spent on an individual community service project of their choice. Club members have given to projects of their church, to service projects of the Leo’s Club, and to projects involving children and the elderly, ranging from eye-glasses to contributing to home-repairs of the less-fortunate.

This week 11 members of the club joined forces by putting their $200 together in order to donate to a joint individual project focusing on art, the elderly, and the physically and/or mentally impaired. Local saxophonist Mr. Connis Vanterpool was invited as a guest to the club’s last social event of this Lionistic year, where he received a check to go to the replacement of the vintage saxophone which was stolen from his car in May of this year.

There was one condition, the 11 Lions’ club members asked Connis to provide a service to his community in return by giving a 30-minute concert for our elderly in the St. Maarten Senior Citizens’ Home and a 30-minute concert to the clients of the Sister Basilia Center with Ms. BettyV.

Both Connis Vanterpool and BettyV were more than willing to give the concerts and are currently in discussion with Mrs. Brechje Boetekees of the White and Yellow Cross to set up the date of the two concerts, which will take place within the next three weeks.

Vanterpool had already accumulated about half of what is needed to get a new saxophone, and thanks to the donation of the St. Maarten Lions Club he now has approximately 80% of the funds needed to purchase his replacement vintage saxophone. 

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