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Embracing Technology.

Dear Editor,

Last week I read an article in The Daily Herald with the headline “Academy focusing on ICT development.” This brought me back to my days at the academy when phones and other electronic devices were prohibited. However, the school seems to have come a long way in embracing technology by implementing an online portal where parents can track their child’s progress and allowing students to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The school also plans to upgrade their Information Technology (IT) infrastructure to accommodate e-marking for CXC exams and implement a BYOD policy.
These changes are welcomed but I believe that more can be done at the secondary education level to prepare students for a career in IT. When students are in the second form, they are given a choice: Business or Science. I believe IT should be one of these choices, Information Technology (IT) is a science but it is not taught as a science at the St. Maarten Academy. Both business and science students get the same IT class. Students are taught as computer users, not IT professionals.
I propose that students be given the opportunity to learn how to repair phones, tablets, and computers along with basic networking skills and security pertaining to IT. As an IT professional, I hold several industry certifications such as the A+ (deals with computer repairs, software, and hardware), Network+ (deals with IT network basics) and the Security+ (deals with IT security basics). These are all certifications that can be done at the high school level.
There is already a vast amount of study material for these certifications, curricula that are updated regularly by CompTIA and this would provide a worthwhile goal for students to work towards while working on their high school diploma . There are several other benefits for students who chose to do IT in high school such as:

• Students would have 1-3 certifications along with their high school diploma after they graduate.
• These certifications would prepare students for a job in the IT field right after graduation.
• If these students choose further their IT studies at a college or university most colleges accept these certifications as credit for certain classes, which would reduce tuition and time spent in college.
• Some businesses consider a certification as experience in the IT industry which would give students a head start in their career.
• Students who chose to study IT in high school could use their skills to open a business after graduating or as a secondary source of income.

This idea is not new, there are many high schools that offer IT in USA and Europe. However, when it comes to technology, St. Maarten has always been lagging behind other countries, even countries we consider less developed. This is evident by the internet speeds advertised and the prices we consider normal. Most people on the Dutch side think 2MB for $50 is a good deal until they find out they can get 20MB for $45 right across the border. Both TelEm and UTS only launched 4G last year (2015), a technology that has been around since 2009. Banks don’t allow customers to pay their utility and telephone bills online and ATMs don’t accept deposits, these are all norms in St. Maarten.
Introducing IT in high school would be a great way to jump ahead and embrace the digital future while giving high school grads a real head start. I still remember my first semester in college, many students came from high schools that offered IT so they came with a bit more knowledge, experience, and a few certifications under their belt. In the end, I graduated at the top of my class but I had a fair amount of catching up to do. If this is implemented students from St. Maarten who choose to study IT will have a much easier transition. Of course, the school will have to do surveys, research, and probably launch this as a pilot program but ultimately I believe it will be worthwhile.

Ramzan Juman


AND THE FLEECING PLOT THICKENS!

In the HERALD of Thursday August 25, 2016 we read that EX-MINISTER (Ted Richardson) is believed to be one of the TOP CANDIDATES for the SXM AIRPORT CEO POSITION. In Saturday August 20, 2016th Daily Herald we read that Alex Dijkhoffz is one of three new persons to be appointed to the board of the PRINCES JULIANA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (PJIA) HOLDING N.V. In the Herald of August 13, 2016, we read that Rolando Brison is appointed Tourism Authority Director. Question: What do all of these sudden and swift appointments/announcements have in common??? Answer: MP Silvio Matser and his uncertain political future due to the September 26, 2016 Parliamentary elections. The PJIA Holding N.V. is the 100% Shareholder of cash-rich PJIA E (Operating) N.V. The PJIAH N.V. is wholly owned by the Government (People) of St. Maarten. The companies that own the Airport, the Sea port and the Tele port are all owned by the Government of St. Maarten and fall under the responsibilities of the Minister of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications). The Ministry of TEATT was designated to MP Silvio Matser, as his prize for jumping off the UPP ship and forming the coalition of 8. So now just about a month before the September elections we read: 1) Rolando Brison being proposed for STA Director (TOURISM money pot), 2) Alex Dijkhoffz being proposed for PJIAH Board member
(a Board that approves the spending of the SXM-Airport money pot) and now 3) Ted Richardson (with how much airport management experience, you say??) being proposed for the CEO position of the SXM (PJIA) AIRPORT, where the airport money pot actually lives. The one constant connecting the dots between all three persons is MP Silvio Matser. On the Lady Grace 102.7FM Morning show on Wednesday August 24, 2016, Mr. Matser says he “happened” to be in the Government building (on a SATURDAY!! Yeah right!) and was impromptu invited to witness the signing of a one year employment contract for Brison. On the same radio program Matser called out an “older person for blasting this young man”. He also said: Give the youth of St. Maarten chance to grow. So I, Michael Ferrier, the older person referred to here-above, has the following suggestions to MP Silvio Matser and all those that are in a position to DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ST. MAARTEN: Instead of insisting to appoint as Director of the STA a young man who has at least ONE huge blemish on his record, go with another candidate for the STA job, a St. Maarten/St. Martin born and bred bright, articulate, dynamic LOCAL Travel Industry Professional with an impeccable reputation: Mr. TERRANCE REY. And instead of recycling Ted Richardson, who I am sure would forever be in great debt (or is it indebted) to Mr. Matser for getting him that lucrative Airport job, why not push either Michel (Mikey) HYMAN (presently the Acting Director PJIA Operations Division), or Anastacio (Stacio) BAKER (presently PJIA Manager Quality Assurance), both intelligent, articulate and dynamic young local professionals WITH PLENTY OF ACTUAL AIRPORT EXPERIENCE, into the position of Airport Director? Then there is Alex Dijkhoffz, he worked for me, so I have the skinny on him. He also worked for, or with a nice old Canadian man who ended up back in his native Canada with a stroke after losing hundreds of thousands of US dollars. I am not sure if there is a connection there.

Michael J. Ferrier.

The Necessity to Maintain Values in Political Times.

Just like everywhere in the world, election time on Sint Maarten spawns heated debates. Especially in a country that has known too little stability over the past six years, mud-slinging season has officially started who is responsible for what. As every Sint Maartener’s right to an opinion is preserved by our constitution, we are allowed so. Even though I highly underline that freedom to say anything, in this article I will argue that for the sake of our future, we should keep ethical boundaries in place for a workable future for our country.
One of the key mud slinging arenas of the past weeks has been that around the new hospital. As much has been said about that, I want to stick to the facts. Not because the honorable Minister Lee is a fellow party member, but because I myself am a man of facts and figures. In my opinion, and so I feel is the word on the streets, has Mr. Lee made a well-calculated case for creating better health care for Sint Maarten. As a social insurance professional involved in healthcare, both the process and its result are sound.
Having had the support of several of the most highly regarded institutions in a fully transparent process, ten years from now, my guess is there will be no Sint Maartener regretting the decision made by the selection committee. Next to that, depending on who will be governing soon, we might have put the money to worthier use. As a matter of fact, this might have been the flagship of change to the better on Sint Maarten. To go brief, as they sometimes say, numbers don’t lie. As a corporate strategist involved in health and social insurance, I know when the process and numbers are sound, it is difficult to mount a defense.
But, as oftentimes, it appears we are a creative nation. If a reasonable case is made, opposing factions get creative in their irrationality. Unfortunately, a strong and transparent hospital case has led to attacks on a level of slander that fortunately were hitherto unknown to our young country. It is unfortunate, that it had to start at this elections, with the health of Sint Maarteners at stake.
As a principled and religious man, holding values in high regards, a specific situation struck me especially. A postcard sized political handout my ten-year-old daughter recently brought into our family home. Within the Belvedere area, a politician carrying the title of MD appears to be spreading handouts of coffins. It insinuates how Sint Maarten’s government, health care providers, and health insurance provider led or will lead to death, sorrow and destruction if you would not vote for him. Whether it was targeted specifically towards people like my daughter still being perceptive to dangerous assumptions or reached her “by accident”, I think the politician in question has made Sint Maarten politics reach unknown depths.
And with this flyer, Sint Maarten might have even breached ethical boundaries beyond. I am pretty sure that within the Kingdom, no party ever insinuated that another one caused death and destruction amongst its own civilians. Neither do I think in our own Caribbean region a party portrayed this lack of values.
And even if some deviant Caribbean party did so, let’s pray they did not recklessly distribute these in an area with families. With small children barely able to read, receiving a message visually stating a future Sint Maarten hospital, not proposed by his party, will be leading to deaths. Lastly, for that generation able to read and critically think like that of my daughter’s, bringing in the flyer alarmingly, it is a very bad showcase of what apparently is allowed during election time.
I call on the party responsible not to spread these dangerous and highly incendiary insinuations secretively in possibly perceptive neighbourhoods and persons but show the lack of social responsibility and values in plain sight. As a man of principles, I neither support slander, nor lies. But even more, less so, do I support secretly spreading shocking and misleading message amongst vulnerable people, acting differently in daylight. Only by a transparent discussion, people can make up their minds properly who align with their personal principles, and who deserves their vote during these important elections.
Moreover, the values we let go during elections will be difficult to repair after. The more unethical and less adult our political standards get, the less stability we will get back. And the less stability we will get back, even more, less will our country be able to live up to our motto “Always Progressing”.
Yours truly,
Reginald Willlemsberg
DP Candidate No#7
“Because Principles Matters”

Tired of Bad Services at Scotia Bank.

Dear Editor,

Good afternoon, I'd like to start off by making it clear that I am not involved in politics, I had zero experience with Checkmate security until today & I do not engage in the street hearsay that consumes the island unless I have had an incident myself that has struck a nerve. I am simply a client of Scotia Bank here in St Maarten who was disrespected & I don't believe in letting things slide as that's how the ignorance continues generation after generation.
I had zero complaints all of these years with the bank itself nor the security.
Today I was forced to use the bank machine at the Philipsburg location, as usual, the machine was out of service on Bush road.
The parking lot was full, vehicles & 2 bus size vehicles parked right up to the gate. 1 of the vehicles was busy dropping off food & the security guard was pleased to assist in it. Thus taking up a customers spot.
I circled around 2 times to wait for an opening. On my 3rd drive around, in traffic, the lot had cleared up. There was only 1 vehicle parked in the manager's spot giving me ample space to run in & use the bank machine. When I approached the gate the security guard looked at me & continued to socialize with the individual sitting on the steps. Keep in mind, this is outside of a bank, on an island where crime is on the rise. Very secure...loitering outside of a bank. This I may add never happens outside the Simpson Bay location as the doors are kept locked & free of loitering with an attentive security guard.

I honked my horn & he refused to open the gate for me. I then pulled close enough to the outside of the gate, turned off my car & walked into the machine. When I asked him why he was being difficult with me in particular when he just had the parking lot completely full. He had no answer. However, he & his friends found it humorous. Was it my gender, race, or the fact that I'm pregnant that he just felt I had no right to enter the parking lot? Shall I just chalk it up to well I guess that's how that generation was raised & excuse it?

I proceeded to obtain my cash & also went into the bank to make a complaint. At this point, there was a parking lot of angry people wanting to get out, however my car was blocking them from the outside. The supervisor began to pacify the situation as she just wanted me to move my car. No concern for me, the Scotiabank customer.
I left, drove around again (4th time in traffic) & was able now to pull into the parking lot for a proper spot to proceed with speaking to a manager about what just happened. I took the time to explain the situation to the operations manager as it seems they no longer have a manager.
I then proceeded to Checkmate to make a complaint. I was told that the supervisor was on the road & I'd have to complete a form. Well no thank you, I can make an appointment. Finally, a woman came out. I explained the situation & her response was priceless. "I will have to call the security guard to find out what REALLY happened" What really happened? Seems I was just making up a fairytale to her? When she finished speaking to the security guard on duty she had nothing worthy to say, she actually shrugged her shoulders at one point. She asked why I wanted to take it further. Well, I, as well as this entire island have the right to lodge complaints when we have encountered disrespectful treatment by any business. I had every right to enter that parking lot today, going about my banking business as any other person wanting to enter that parking lot to socialize or drop off food.

I proceeded in telling her to have a nice day & it was obvious that all that we've been reading about Checkmate security seems true considering my own personal experience with them today.
This so called supervisor , a very "professional" woman responded : "I don't give an F what the general public thinks because they don't know F'n S about us".

Now imagine, for 1 second, if the security guard had done his job properly, I would have been in/out in 2 minutes & this whole situation would have been avoided. Common sense would have any intelligent individual doing such. Unfortunately, it seems this particular security guard lacks common sense, no intelligence & portrayed racial/gender biases towards me. Seems the management's attitude is how the guards are also trained. Lack of training by management who also needs customer service training.

There we have it St Maarten, that's 1 class act security company from management to guards that are guarding a major bank..don't you feel safer now? Onward, let us keep the bad cycle going as this island is going to pits.

Tired of bad service

Open Letter to the Government of Sint Maarten.

Dear Honorable Council of Ministers,

The St, Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association –S HTA, the largest private sector representative, has been closely following the media reports about the upcoming development of the Pearl of China/Caribbean. While the SHTA realizes that there could be a need for foreign Direct Investments and job creation, but lacking proper statistics there is no way to be sure. At this point we feel that we do not have enough information about the project in order to form a proper opinion. It would be a shame if one of the largest projects to reach our shores for many years doesn’t happen because of a lack of information.

A project of this magnitude, which will impact the entire island should, besides broad community support, also enjoy broad political support. The only way to achieve that is through an open and transparent process. As an example the SHTA would like to mention the Indigo project where many rounds of consultations were held with the stakeholders before plans were finalized.
The SHTA considers it of the utmost importance that the community at large is properly informed when it comes to large developments.
In order to be able to assess the impact of this development we, as representatives of the private sector, have a few questions. Not asking these questions would make us poor representatives.

1. What are the credentials of these investors? i.e. How will the community be guaranteed that these investors have the capital and the ability to bring this project to fruition in an equitable and sustainable way?
Was an environmental impact study performed and if so can it be made public now?
This should, besides the effects on nature in the area, also include impacts on infrastructure, utilities and the surrounding residential communities.
Has an economic impact study been done? If so, can the results be made public?
2. Does this resort plan to offer all-inclusive packages?
3. Will this resort receive a casino license if they request one?
4. Did Government make any financial, fiscal or other commitments, like, but not limited to;
Tax Holidays, permits for foreign employees skilled and unskilled, special utility rates, permits where it concerns concessions like i.e. watersports or beach chairs?
5. Has this project been looked at from the perspective as outlined in the carrying capacity study as well as the draft development plan for the little bay area?
6. Is there a plan to expand the airport in order to deal with the increased arrivals of long haul wide body jets?
7. Is there any additional information on the “water source” mentioned? If so can we please have it?
8. What is the intended location and scope of the “eco-city”?
9. What measures will be taken to prevent harming current businesses that already handle Chinese products on both a wholesale and retail level, like clothing, electronics and other consumer goods?
10. To what extent does becoming a “hub” impact government revenues when increased direct imports erode the TOT base?
11. Will the, to be established, “competition authority” and “consumer protection” also apply to the Chinese showcase?
12. Will this showcase be open to anyone or only to businesses active in particular market segments?
13. Has advice from the SER been sought about the implications of this type of resort? If so can we review the request?
14. Is there an actual business plan that indicates how many jobs will be created post construction? And how many of these jobs will require Chinese speaking employees?
15. What type of business licensing will be required of the companies using the showroom?
These are just some of the questions that arise from the limited information available at this time.
In the interest of transparency, Government should provide more information. The good, the bad and the ugly, so that the people and taxpayers of Sint Maarten can decide for themselves whether this is an economic development that fits our community.
The SHTA has read and shares many of the concerns as expressed by the Nature Foundation and other vocal personalities in the community. The SHTA also appreciates the Prime Minister’s concern that the opposition to the project, may scare off the investor.
This is, in the opinion of the SHTA all the more reason for some additional clarity. If this project is to be successful, buy-in from the entire community is required, and that can only be achieved once all the information is provided and the community at large is able to discuss the pros and cons in an open and democratic way, with due consideration for everyone’s needs and concerns.
We look forward to receiving the requested information and constructive dialogue.

Sincerely,
The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association - SHTA

c.c. The Council of Ministers
c.c. Parliament of Sint Maarten
c.c. The Ombudsman
c.c. The SER
c.c. Sint Maarten Media

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Radio from voiceofthecaribbean.net

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