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Nov 26th
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Proposed Integrity Project Bureau.

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'Do not fail our benefit of the doubt'

In the wake of the recent 'instructions' handed down by the Dutch Government to St. Maarten, the island experienced a crisis of major proportions, which could have had - and still can have far-reaching consequences for all within the Kingdom, as never before.
One thing became very clear to all, after the last elections and since the issued instructions.
The St. Maarten 'body politic' has lost about every bit of trust- and confidence – not only from the Dutch Government, but also from the majority of St. Martin people, residents and institutions on the island.
The response of politicians and their political 'operatives', to also call 'the Dutch kettle also Black' - meaning to level similar accusations of corruptions against Dutch politicians, also proved futile with the majority of people on the island.
It is very clear that, based on the track-record of our politicians, the 'Dutch' – and many others felt 'empowered' to slabel and to define 'everything- and everybody St. Maarten' as corrupt, incompetent and un-trustworthy.
Because this very negative reputation/label, also affected our young people, students and potential political leaders, who were not responsible for such, we took the initiative to bring them together in an effort to clear- and protect their own future careers, reputations - as well as to regain the trust, confidence and hope of our own people in a future St. Maarten.
The response to our call was incredibly positive and we had started preparing the first meeting.
However, with the setting up of a so-called Integrity Project Bureau, we are willing to postpone our initiative for the time being.
The main reason is that we appreciate the fact that our Government at least has decided to accept its own full responsibility for what happened in the past and the willingness to DEAL with such.

This in total contrast to having become engaged in non-constructive , ridiculous 'tit-for-tat' accusations- and in silly, opportunistic 'marches' against 'colonialism', simply aimed at winning over public support- and sympathy.
For taking this step, we are willing- to at least allow for this bureau to prove itself.
To be exact - that it will be managed and manned by independently minded professionals, who take an oath to uphold its commitment to contribute towards transparency, open Governance and to expose, report and sanction proven cases of corruption, nepotism, cronyism etc.
In addition, this Bureau should also be tasked with educating our young aspiring politicians in good governance for which they should be able to earn a certificate.
In fact - it should then be made mandatory for only thus certified persons to be able to hold public office.
With the abovementioned- and with other considerations in mind, the St. Martin Grassroots people Movement is prepared to put its plans for the training of the 'New Guard'- politicians, as was planned, on hold for the time being.
We sincerely hope, that this envisaged bureau does not make the very regrettable mistake of allowing for the same (integrity-) problems and the same corrupt politicians to return through some 'back door' to hold elected positions as ministers and/or as members of Parliament.
One person recently said on Facebook something actually to the effect of; 'It is to be hoped that the Bureau does not become the 'Banana that minds the monkey'....
In the meantime, the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement, will remain open to meet with all interested 'New- Guard' politicians in order to assist them in defining themselves and to make sure that their reputation and future careers are not 'contaminated' with the label of corruption, for which our politicians- and island in general have become infamous abroad.
We also express our willingness to work along with the newly established bureau and to commend it where possible, as well as to criticize it when deemed necessary as well.
In ending, while we have been and continue to be extremely watchful of our politicians, we hope that our record will also show, that we can humble ourselves, be fair and say – ' Integrity Project Bureau - a step in the right direction Bureau – but still a very long way to go'.

Leopold James
President St.Martin Grassroots People Movement

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 November 2014 19:44 )

 

LANGUAGE BARRIER, A CRIME?

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I traveled to the Dominican Republic a few years ago and found out the acceptable language was Spanish. You couldn't even live comfortably in Dominican Republic if you couldn't speak Spanish. They have a way of forcing you to learn their language by speaking it to you whether you understand it or not. Same with when I worked in Paris, I had to attend French classes to be able to relate with the French people. It was almost a crime for you not to be able to speak the French language. I wasn't wholeheartedly accepted if I could not communicate in French. I have traveled to many African countries and even worked in Africa and in all my experience, I realized that in order for me to be able to relate with the people in the community and be generally accepted, I had to either learn their language or learn their culture. While I worked in Saudi Arabia I had to dress conservative and respect their culture and religion. In Bangladesh I had to do same thing.
Unfortunately back home in St Maarten everything goes. Everywhere you go to drink on Sundays the only music you hear is Bachata. You go out to order food and some of the restaurants have their food written in Spanish. You can hardly visit a bar without being forced to listen to the Spanish music.
St. Maarten is a Dutch Caribbean Island! Sometimes I almost forget that I am on a Dutch Island. All you hear is Spanish! Don't get me wrong, I do not hate Spanish people. I just think that it is wrong for anybody irrespective of their culture or language to force another person in their own country to speak their foreign language. My grandmothers was Spanish but she trained all of us and taught us to speak Dutch. She spoke fluent English and could also write in English Language. As far as I am concerned, I believe that she did that to prove her love for her husband's country.
It kills me each time it seem like I have to try really hard to impress the Spanish speaking population in my country to be accepted. I didn't realize how terrible this problem had become until I had the following experience.
A few months ago, I was in the hospital when I heard a Spanish lady insulting a nurse. The reason why she was mad at the nurse according to her was because the nurse couldn't speak Spanish. Therefore she deserved the insult. Again, during the last election, I attended a rally and one of the candidates of the White Party was a Spanish lady, I stood there in amazement when all she did was speak two sentences in English Language and carried on with her Spanish language as if to say "the vote of all the Spanish people in this gathering is all I need. I don't care if you understand me or not, I will just fly my country flag in your country." As if that's not enough, I visited the government building last week to pick up an official document and the security guard at the front desk gladly attended to the Spanish lady in her language, gave her all the help she needed before attending to me in a rather sad mood. These experiences are just a tip of the iceberg. The straw that broke the camel's back was this last experience. I visited a restaurant, while I waited for my order to be taken, since there were two customers before me, the Spanish waitress took the order of the first two customers who spoke Spanish, she turned to me and said something in Spanish, not sure what she said, I tried to explain to her that I didn't understand Spanish. The waitress's facial expression suddenly changed and before I could even finish my sentence, one of the customers quickly snapped, "You are in a multi-cultural country, you should speak Spanish". She was so upset, the second customer joined in, she said "I speak five languages and I am was born here". They said it was very wrong of me not to speak Spanish since I grew up here. I was so embarrassed and angry at the same time.
Wait a minute, the last time I checked, St Maarten was a Dutch Island! From my past experience, when you are a visitor in a country, you learn their language and culture so that you can relate with the people. You cannot be resident in a country and not be able to relate. I shouldn't be the one striving to learn a language to be able relate with a foreigner, it should be the other way round. You can ask me to speak Spanish when am in your country.
I think that the people of St. Maarten need to wake up and stop allowing themselves to be downtrodden. If the Spanish are smart enough to protect their language and culture in another country, we should be able to protect ours in our country. St. Maarten may be a multicultural country as they claim but we do have the original language and culture of the owners of the country and that should be first on the list no matter what. That language and culture should be respected and protected. Very soon am sure Spanish schools will start to operate just to cater to the Spanish population if care is not taken.
This beautiful Island has people from over 100 countries living here peacefully. How do you think we can all live peacefully if every foreigner tries to enforce their language on the people of St. Maarten? How would you feel if you are required to speak Chinese whenever you go to a supermarket to shop or Hindi when you visit a jewelry store in St. Maarten? Everybody has a language but they speak English to be able to relate with other people. You cannot convert somebody else's country to yours. If the Spanish can be so proud of their language that they are not willing to learn any English or Dutch, we should also be proud to speak our language wherever we communicate with them, maybe that way, they will understand how it feels.

Cecil Scott

Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2014 22:31 )

Grassroots movements & Grassroots movements.

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'Pro-active versus re-active – make a pick'

Never mind that first there was the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement, known to all...
Never mind that others later joined that movement....
Never mind that some later broke away to start their own movement....
Never mind their so-called motive was to be more 'active' and to organize more 'actions'...
Never mind that they first tried to hijack the original name......
Never mind that once that failed - they assumed another , mimicking name, creating confusion....
No- never mind all of that and much more, that is all their perfect right....
But, if nothing else, they deserve much credit for at least continuing along the very same track - firmly laid down by the original grassroots movement.....
Alas, there is one major difference.
One is based on true vision, originality, creative intelligence , forward thinking and - in particular on being PRO-ACTIVE.
Not so much the other one – it excels in being re-active and blaming others 'after the fact'...
Recent point in case.
The leader of the re-active, copy-cat movement, recently in a radio-program came out blasting the Collectivity for having invited 'foreign' entities to participate in talks regarding the planned revival of Marigot.
Just for the record.
It was Leopold James, who first mentioned that idea in a conversation with Bill D. in the studio of radio 95.9 F.M. in the presence of Albert aka 'Jesse' Adams.
To start working on this concept with others, Leopold invited a number of people on at his home in Friar's-bay.
There were several meetings held on the topic – all documented in minutes.
Present were among others; Jean Maccow, his brother Louis Maccow, Jesse Adams, X Rey, Freddy Richardson, X Rey and Miguel Arrindell and others.
During these meetings , Leopold James brought up a plan to be presented to the Collectivity in terms of making a contribution towards how native St. Martiners could be involved in this process in a very creative, 'win-win' manner.
Although, Leopold was the one who had come up with and had developed the basic concepts , he turned the initiative over to Mr. Horace Whyte, because the latter seemed more than interested to be in charge of the concept-project.
One of Jjames's basic and very strong caveat was – 'Guys, while everybody is complaining about the decline of Marigot, let us be PRO -ACTIVE and take initiatives BEFORE others do it and we again are left with no other choice that to RE-ACT.
That all happened in August 2013.
Since then, the silence was completely deafening.
Just in the event, anyone wants to dispute what is being stated here, I Leopold James am more than willing and prepared to publicly prove my statements here with witnesses and documents.
Now - all of a sudden, that the Collectivity has decided to invite 'foreign' groups, 'Mr. Man' has come out 'swinging', demanding that his 'RE-ACTIVE' movement should be invited as well in these talks.
Wattating.
The question should be raised WHICH Grassroots Movement should the Collectivity invite actually ?
The reactive, follow-fashion, RE-ACTIVE one – or the original, PRO-ACTIVE one ?
We will respect whatever decision the Collectivity takes in this case.
However, perhaps a letter that I wrote back then on the issue to the former president, Mr. Alain Richardson could be of some help in this situation.

Drs. Leopold JAMES,
President of the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement

Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2014 22:26 )