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Why Does St. Martin Not Have a National Anthem Almost 10 years after 10-10-10?

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - By Dr. Rhoda Arrindell: Chapter 1 of the States Regulation (aka Constitution) of Sint Maarten, in its English translation of the Dutch original states in Article 1.3 that: “By national ordinance the national flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem of Sint Maarten shall be enacted.” 

The coat of arms and national anthem had been enacted by Island Council resolutions before 10-10-10, and Parliament thereafter adopted them in the transition to the present status. So, why hasn’t Parliament to date passed legislation to enact a “national anthem”? A quick look backwards may shed light.

The debate of a national anthem for St. Martin (South) dates back at least to the 1950s. In an apparent attempt to fill a vacuum, a school competition was held to select a song that could be played at public functions. Though the most popular song was reportedly judged to be “Island in the West,” submitted by the Oranje School, the song that was eventually chosen was the St. Joseph School’s submission, “Oh Sweet St. Martin’s Land,” a 1958 composition by Father Gerard Kemps, a Catholic priest residing on the French-controlled part of the island at the time. The song was originally composed in French, then translated into English. 

In 2000, a committee, consisting of civil servants, including the current President of Parliament, was established to work on a national anthem, among other things. According to official documents, because of the “political reality,” the committee surmised that either a new song should be chosen, or the lyrics of “Oh Sweet St. Martin’s Land” should be changed. The committee members also agreed to “put this issue to the public before making decisions by elected officials” and suggested that someone be approached to research and assist with documenting “the existence and the cultural facts thereof.”

In 2011, in an attempt to comply with the constitutional requirement, as then Minister of MECSY, I proposed a national committee to bring this process to a logical conclusion through a competition. Some people, including some current members of Parliament, chose to politicize the issue, thereby creating an unnecessary controversy. The proposed national committee could not get off the ground by the time the coalition government fell, even though while the controversy raged on, a number of St. Martiners had either submitted entries or indicated their interest to participate in the competition, which was being modeled along the lines of the one held to choose an anthem for the now defunct Netherlands Antilles. That competition was won by Zahira Hilliman of St. Martin. 

Today, 9 years after 10-10-10, Parliament has not complied with the very first article of the “Constitution” by passing the necessary legislation. The question, therefore, is why, despite the fact that several past and present members could have made this happen? In the meantime, we have been forced to continue living a lie, perpetuated by the same politicians, that we have a national “anthem,” when they very well know that we don’t. 

If Fr. Kemp’s “Oh Sweet St. Martin’s Land” is their choice, for whatever reason, why hasn’t Parliament adopted it as our official national “anthem”?

When teach our children to sing and stand for a song we call the “national anthem,” while we know that Parliament has not yet done its job to enact one, we too are perpetuating a lie and are de factoteaching our children to repeat this lie. And each time “Oh Sweet St. Martin’s Land” is used in official settings at which our elected and appointed representatives are present, we must understand that they are all committing a fraud because it is not yet our “national anthem”. In other words, every day that passes that members of Parliament continue to ignore this basic legal requirement, they would be, in my humble view, in violation of the same “Constitution” they swore to uphold.

I agree with my good friend Fabian Badejo, who says that the perpetuation of this lie is a betrayal of the people. According to Fabian, “the people elect their representatives; they trust them to abide by the Constitution and to also tell them the truth; not enacting a law that would give us a national anthem as required by that same Constitution is not just a dereliction of duty, it is a flagrant, bold-faced betrayal of the trust the people placed in them.”

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21 students join USM as it marks 30 years, institution sponsors research

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Friday, 11 September 2019, USM welcomed its latest cohort of first-year students in the areas of Business, Education, Hospitality and General Liberal Arts to the Student Readiness Orientation session. The group of 21 students pursuing Associate and Bachelor degrees represents a milestone in USM’s history as 2019 marks the 30th anniversary since the founding of the island’s institution of higher education.

In her welcome address, Dean of Academics Dr. Carter encouraged incoming students to always keep in mind the reason they have started this academic journey. She also expressed, among other things, her commitment to supporting them and ended her speech by thanking them for choosing USM. When asked about the significance of Friday’s orientation day, Dr. Carter stated: “Having started my journey towards higher education at USM, it is always humbling and yet exciting to welcome new students to this institution. I know firsthand where a degree from USM can take you and I am happy to see so many decide to begin that journey with us”. In her speech to the students, Dr. Carter encouraged them to keep at the forefront the reason they have started this educational journey. She also expressed her commitment to supporting them on their journey and thanked them for choosing USM.  

The students also got the chance to hear from the representative of the different departments at the campus. Marketing and Admissions Specialist Ms. Mitsha Shobhan Giterson said it is imperative that we prepare our students before the start of their studies, especially as we promise to provide the Key to a Brighter Future.  The aim of the orientation days is to ensure students complete their administrative duties, have the key information prior to their class start and are fully motivated and prepare to concur their dreams. Being fully prepared before the classes actually start is the first step to success”. Ms. Giterson. Went on stating after working with several universities abroad I can honestly say that we take care of our students every step of the way. One of USM alumna Ms. Rochana Richardson, who is visiting the island addressed the students. She expressed how grateful she was to USM and the team as she is now enjoying her studies at Birmingham College in the UK. “I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for USM. The experience that I have gained here at the campus has helped me excel in so many ways”.

One of the new students Ms. K Felissaint said her favorite part of the days was getting to know her Division Head. She was able to share her ultimate goal (to become a psychologist) and already got advice on what her next steps (college) should be after completing her degree at USM. 

USM President Antonio Carmona was happy to announce that USM is sponsoring a business research project conducted by faculty member Catherine Burns, who is pursuing her MA in Education Leadership and Management at Royal Roads University in Canada. Ms. Burns, who is studying the role that USM can play in recovery and sustainable tourism, has organized focus groups to discuss Sint Maarten’s potential. Participants are called to share their ideas, experiences, and expectations for new programmes and tourism training post-Irma.

“This the first of a series of research lines we hope to develop at USM, in service to the business community and government. Our administration continues to believe that USM can play a vital role in sustainable development. In this third decade of our existence, we aim to become the motor of socio-economic development”, said Carmona in written statements delivered to the press on Saturday. As the enrollment for the Summer and Fall semester is now open, the team at USM welcome new applicants to come by the campus, or visit the website to apply online www.usm.sx

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US, Alliance parliamentary factions request urgent meeting on PJIA proposal

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The United St. Maarten (US) party and National Alliance factions of Parliament has requested Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams to convene an urgent meeting of Parliament to discuss the reported The Decision of The Council of Ministers to go with the Dutch government and European Investment Bank (EIB) financing proposal to the tune of US $100 million to go towards the reconstruction of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).

The aforementioned factions requested the presence of the Minister of General Affairs, Prime Minister Leona Marlin Romeo and the Shareholder Representative TEATT Minister Stuart Johnson for this urgent meeting. 

“Considering that the airport plays a vital role in the economy of St. Maarten and its recovery post hurricane Irma and Maria and this decision could have substantial consequences for the company and country, it is important that Parliament be informed of the details of the agreement,” US Leader MP Frans Richardson said. 

“Additionally, the reported decision contradicts previous statements made by a member of the Council Of Ministers and raises additional questions which will further be presented in Parliament during the requested public meeting.”

Richardson continued: “Clarity needs to be provided about what this proposal entails, what the government has agreed to, if they have agreed to anything, why the reverse position on the conditions ect. Parliament needs to know,” Richardson said. 

The US and NA factions also requested for the meeting to be held sooner that the 4x24 hours permitted as per the Rules of Order Article 33, sub 5, considering the severity of the issue at hand. The meeting request was signed by MP’s Frans Richardson, Rolando Brison, Christopher Emmanuel, Ardwell Irion and Jurendy Doran. 

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SMMC Medical Center requests rectification on medical waste story NTR

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has requested an immediate rectification from NTR - Caribisch Netwerk for the story published on their website today in which it is claimed that the hospital “for years has been disposing of amputated limbs, organs, fetuses at the Dump”.

“NTR-Caribisch Netwerk has been urgently requested to rectify the story and publish the facts which is that amputated limbs, organs, fetuses have never been disposed of at the Dump. That type of medical waste has always been transported to the crematoria for proper disposal”, stated Kees Klarenbeek, SMMC General Director.

Klarenbeek continues: “In order to provide clarity on the other medical waste (non- bodily materials): SMMC medical waste (non-bodily materials) disposal was being processed by the Ministry of VROMI and incinerated at the St. Maarten Landfill until recently. 

“Due to the developments at the Landfill involving coming to a permanent solution for the constant fires, authorities have abruptly halted the incineration of medical waste at the landfill. As such, SMMC had to pursue alternatives one of which being, using the incinerator at the crematorium at a funeral home in Sucker Garden as a temporary solution. 

“Discussions are ongoing with the government officials in order to come to a final solution. These also include working with the French side hospital and authorities for joint medical waste disposal”.

Klarenbeek reiterates: “At no time was there any burning of human parts, organs etc. originating from SMMC being done at the Dump!”.

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Minister De Weever calls on Motorists & Pedestrians to Adhere to Road Safety

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever is offering condolences to the bereaved family and friends of the driver who lost his life in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 12thon the A.J.C. Brouwers road in the vicinity of the Osbourne Kruythoff round-a-bout.  This is the first traffic fatality for 2019.

There was also another tragic incident involving a three-year old toddler who tragically lost his life over the weekend in another vehicle incident which is currently under investigation.  The Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever extends his condolences to the family of the young victim.

According to a Saturday police report, three vehicles were involved in the accident, and as a result of the aforementioned, one driver lost his life.

There were two victims in one vehicle and according to the police report based on the preliminary investigation, the driver and passenger were not wearing seat belts at the time of the impact.

Another driver from a vehicle involved in the accident according to the police report seem to be under the influence of alcohol and was arrested on the spot and detained for further investigation. The police continue to investigate to determine the exact cause of the accident.

Minister De Weever is appealing to all motorists and other road users to adhere to the laws of the land with respect to road safety for pedestrians and other road users.

Driving under the influence is definitely a violation and can be considered careless driving whereby the driver of a vehicle on the road does not give due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road.

Always buckle up.  Seat belts are there for a purpose and they are mandatory.  By wearing a seatbelt, one reduces the possibility of serious injury during a vehicle crash.  

Everyone in a vehicle, including back seat passengers and children should wear seat belts properly. Lap and shoulder belts must be worn, and shoulder belts must not be placed behind the back or under the arm. 

Young children should be placed in a child car seat. Persons riding a motorbike should make sure they wear a helmet and the same for their passenger.  

Drivers should not be distracted while driving. Drivers should not be using a hand-held cell phone while driving, nor read, write or send text messages, email, or use the Internet while operating a motor vehicle.  This place the safety of other road users at risks.

“For the New Year, we need to all practice safe driving habits.  There is no need for speeding, slow down, don’t be in a rush, safety first for all road users. Don’t take risks on the road because you put other innocent people’s lives at risks.

“Everyone including pedestrians and those riding a bike on the road must remain vigilant and must adhere to safety rules.  Life is too short to drive too fast and it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Life does not have a reset button, so never be careless,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Sunday.    

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IPKO discussion on Venezuela concluded. Dutch delegates to query Dutch Government

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO) on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, continued, concerning the Migration Issues of Venezuela faced by Curacao, Aruba, and Sint Maarten.

Leader of the National Alliance (NA) and Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs was applauded by the Tripartite delegation for her statements made during yesterday’s meeting, where she expressed her opinion on the Dutch delegation’s attitude towards creating a solution together, the NA parliamentary faction office said on Thursday in a press statement. The viral video of her statements on Tuesday on the National Alliance Facebook page was met with the same admiration as the delegation yesterday. 

MP Sarah Wescot- Williams (acting chairperson) on the other hand did not express the same sentiment, as she promised the Dutch delegation in Wednesday's closed-door meeting that nothing like what happened Tuesday would happen again and that all members would surely be able to contain their ‘emotions’.

The discussions on the topic of Venezuela came to a head, where two members from each delegation were grouped together behind closed-doors to discuss the way forward on the Venezuelan Immigration/Migration challenges affecting Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten. 

The groups discussed what the grievances are, the experiences and some of the needs in each country. The information was recorded, and specifics were mentioned as to what other information would be needed from the respective governments, prior to an official request being submitted to the Dutch government.

The Dutch delegates stated they now have a list of the issues, which they claimed they didn’t before. Curacao delegates clearly stated they sent letters with the issues before and were turned down by the Dutch.

The Dutch delegates will be presenting to the Dutch government the clear needs of the tripartite countries, what has been done and in what areas and aspects the islands can receive assistance. 

The National Alliance faction does not appreciate its representative's statements being relegated to emotional statements or statements made by other delegations. The MPs statements, as well as those of the others, were expressions of truth from their individual delegations' perspectives and opportunities for transparency in open and honest deliberations should never be minimized.

No public statements have as yet been concluded on the topic, however, a compilation of notes from both committees was compiled by the secretary generals from the various countries and made available to delegates.

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Caribbean Queen Alison Hinds to perform at Heineken Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - As famous for its legendary parties as its world-class racing, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has today announced its musical headline act for Friday March 1, 2019– The Caribbean Queen, Alison Hinds.

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Production Director, John Leone, comments, ‘Over the past 38 years we have been, and always will be, committed to creating an environment for Serious Sailing, and Serious Fun at our regatta, this year is no different. We are thrilled to get the party started by announcing Alison Hinds as our feature act to perform on Friday, March 1, 2019.

‘She truly is a Queen of the Caribbean and we’re overjoyed to have her back on board for the famous St. Maarten Heineken Regatta parties. Sailors can make land and party into the night enjoying live music performed by top acts. Stay tuned for more artist announcements!’

Now in its 39th year, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has become a must-see annual event in the global sailing calendar, set against the dazzling backdrop of the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean. 

The fun continues on land and well into the night, with the famous “Heineken” parties lighting up St. Maarten’s Regatta Village at the Port de Plaisance Resort, Casino and Yacht Club over each of the four nights of the regatta.

Taking to the stage for the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Alison Hinds – also known as a Queen of SOCA – will bring a flavour of the Caribbean to regatta competitors and spectators. 

Alison released her first album ‘Soca Queen’ in 2007 and is famous for collaborations with Richie Spice and Shaggy such as “King and Queen” and “Can’t Let My Love Go”, and for her global smash hit single “Roll It Gal”. This will be Alison’s second time performing for the event and she was invited back due of the demand from her fan base.

Alison’s powerful, emotional vocals and high-energy live shows are legendary in Caribbean music. Her message of love and upliftment for one and all and a mixture of high energy and soulful ballads has cemented her popularity in the hearts of audiences worldwide. 

Alison is a major force in the eruption of innovative urban-influenced Caribbean-based music, alongside artists such as fellow-Bajan popstar Rihanna, Sean Paul, and Shaggy, who are changing the face of music worldwide.

With more than 80 entries already confirmed so far, the event is sure to be a legendary experience. Find out more about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, St. Maarten and island life here:www.heinekenregatta.com

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Lucky winner of Weekend Getaway to Santo Domingo at Maduro Travel

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - To celebrate moving to its new office, Maduro Travel organized a raffle for travelers that purchased their tickets, vacation packages or cruise vacations during the month of December at the new Maduro Travel office at Emmaplein 2 in Philipsburg. 

As a Dominican Republic travel specialist and General Sales Agent for Dominican Airline Air Century it was decided to offer the winner a Weekend Getaway for two to Santo Domingo. 

Winner of the raffle is Mr. Calcano Perez who will be enjoying a weekend stay for two at Santo Domingo at one of the renowned Hodelpa hotels, Hodelpa Novus Plaza, in the heart of the Colonial Zone and will enjoy transfer to and from the hotel and a City Tour offered by Maduro Travel’s partner Colonial Tours. The comfortable one hour and ten minute roundtrip flight is offered by Air Century. 

For information about Air Century tickets, hotel stay and excursions in the Dominican Republic or any other travel packages or cruises, interested persons can visit the new Maduro Travel office at Emmaplein 2, Philipsburg (on the parking lot behind Jump Up Casino), email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call 542 34 10.

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Motorcycle rider injured in accident due to car driver not giving preference

MIDDLE REGION - The Police Traffic department is presently investigating a traffic accident between a private vehicle with license plate M-1134 and a motorcycle without any license-plate which took place on Tuesday January 8that approximately 2.15 p.m. on the Middle Region road in front of Win Li Supermarket. 

According to the police report the M-1134 coming from the direction Defiance road was making a left turn while the motorcycle coming from the opposite direction and did not give the motorcycle preference causing the vehicle to collide head. The impact threw both the motorcycle and the rider in the air. The rider landed on the ground and the motorcycle landed on top of him.

As a result of the accident the rider suffered a broken right leg and the motorcycle had quite some damage. The rider was treated on the scene by paramedics and then transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. The driver of the M-1134 did not suffer any injuries however the vehicle had damage to the front and a shattered windshield. (Sint Maarten Police Force) 

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Minister Johnson calls for removal of Containers from the roadside

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The increased number of containers along the Island’s Main Road, particularly in Sucker Garden and on the "Ring Road" and Walter Nisbeth road, is of great concern to Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister, the Honourable Stuart Johnson, who says a "container jungle" along the roadside is not what the island needs at this time.

Johnson said the containers posed a safety risk and pointed to many cases where vehicles utilise some areas where the “container jungles” are growing for unknown purposes at night. He also noted that the unsafe manner in which some containers are stored also puts motorists at risk.

Minister Johnson said he would be sending a letter to the Principal Importers/Shipping Companies, asking for their assistance in reaching out to their clients who utilise the roadside as a staging depot, admonishing them to begin the process of removing these containers. 

He will also be asking for updates on the progress made to repair warehouses, which will eliminate the need to store containers on the roadside. After the principal importer/shipping company releases a Container, the responsibility falls on the business to ensure that they offload and store their goods. 

“I am aware that there was a need for businesses to find alternatives to stock and offload containers in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, as many warehouse facilities utilised by local businesses were destroyed,” said Johnson. He said, “However, we have now seen a huge increase of containers along the roadside, and besides being an eyesore for the tourism destination; the situation has created some security concerns that simply cannot be ignored.”

Johnson indicated that repairs to over 4000 square meters of critical areas at Port SXM’s Cargo Facility are completed. This was necessary to ensure that the Port could properly manage container arrivals after the hurricanes. 

Johnson also expressed concern over the length of time containers will be stored in these areas stating, “With St. Maarten being prone to hurricanes, we cannot wait until we are closer to the hurricane season to start asking people to remove these containers.” 

This according to Johnson is also in keeping with the need to ensure that “we clean the island” in the aftermath of the most devastating hurricane in the island’s history. 

Johnson expressed these same sentiments several months ago after taking office. He reiterated his earlier comments stating, “The cleanliness of St. Maarten is and should remain a concern for everyone.” 

“What may have been a temporary solution simply cannot become the standard practice. Leaving this issue unaddressed, will only serve to increase the already high number of containers stored on the roadside,” said Johnson. 

Johnson said his ministry was working diligently to attract tourists back to the destination and suggested that a collective effort from Government with the support of the public and businesses is needed to give the destination the look and feel of an island that is ready to welcome guests. 

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