Dutch Quarter: --- The National Alliance has elected a new board, while most of the members on the board has changed party leader William Marlin remained unchallenged. Marlin told reporters that the post for vice president was a close call and that commissioner Frans Richardson out run Senator Rudolph Samuel by one vote to secure the seat of vice president. Marlin said this shows that there is democracy and most importantly that the supporters of National Alliance embraced all their candidates. The three candidates that postulated for the vice president seat were Senator George Pantophlet 37 votes, Frans Richardson (39) and Rudolph Samuel (39) due to the run off a second round of election had to be held between Samuel and Richardson.
Marlin said they are thrilled with the congress since they had a packed house and mostly importantly because young Darren James son of the late Vance James thrilled the crowd and inspired the gathering with his keynote address.
Marlin said with the new board in place the candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections were also selected and will be revealed on postulation day later this month. Marlin confirmed that the candidates are revved up and are ready even though they are not in favor of having an election.
Marlin said one of their objectives is to continue the constitutional process especially since government has a responsibility as island government to continue the process. Marlin said even though they are charged with other responsibilities, those that would be elected to parliament will have the responsibility to over look the dismantling process.
The following is the full text of the speech given by James.
Leader of the National Alliance and Leader of the island Government of St. Maarten, Commissioner William Marlin, Commissioners Frans Richardson, Hyacinth Richardson, and Xavier Blackman, senators Rudolphe Samuel and Patrick illidge, former state secretary of health, chairman of the central committee, Mr. George Pantophlet, Members of the National Alliance, District leaders, Congress delegates, friends and supporters of the National Alliance… Good Afternoon.
Let me begin by congratulating the entire party on this historic occasion - the first congress of the National Alliance. It is truly an honor and a humbling experience to have been asked, then selected as the key note speaker for this event.
The National alliance a few months ago, was given the opportunity to take over the government of St. Maarten when the Democratic Party government imploded.
It is a most strenuous challenge to educate masses of people in a short time frame. It is a most difficult task to change the minds of those who support others and assist those with no opinion or preference to formulate one during a brief campaign, when you most have their attention. It is a daunting task to fix what others have left broken and then to get the wheels working right. In my short 20 years of life and my own “political” experiences in my campaigns for office, I have found those experiences to be true.
But ladies and gentlemen, it is challenges and tasks such as these that the National Alliance of St. Maarten has taken up with a passion and with the conviction that at the cross roads of island-nation St. Maarten and country St. Maarten we will move forward, together!
Growing up here on this beautiful island, with its rich folklore, it was easy for me to become a true believer in the wisdom of “what the old people say”. it should come as no surprise then, that I am A strong believer In the old adage “you must know where you come from, in order to know where you are going”.
Let me take you back to 1979 - when this party was started as a simple movement - a Patriotic movement of the St. Maarten people. As with any movement or initiative, progress comes with a great deal of hard work, of determination and the uniting of people under the common cause that they have identified. Progress comes with the vision of getting them to the place where they want to be and where it will benefit all.
the movement of patriotic St. Maarten people knew, too, that identifying strong leadership, forming partnerships and the education of the masses were then and would forever be the keys to a successful movement and progressive St. Maarten society.
As this movement of patriotic St. Maartners made forward strides, their leadership seldom suffered from realizing the scope of the party’s possibilities. As such, they grew in size and their vision expanded in order to encompass the needs of so many strong supporters. along the way, allies were made and the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance was born in 19___.
The St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance - a group of St. Maarten people, comprised of members of the initial movement and of newcomers from other arenas with the same great intentions to move St. Maarten forward came together in “true blue” and ploughed forward steadfastly in their initiatives for a stronger, better St. Maarten.
Never losing sight of the array of possibilities and strengths that could be obtained by utilizing their allies, the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance made it through to the 21st century and in 2002 evolved once more into the party we see here today - the National Alliance.
What is the National Alliance? - a strategic partnership between the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance and the national progressive party created to better serve and benefit the people of St. Maarten.
The national alliance is a group of passionate, educated, visionary men and women with St. Maarten’s best interests at heart - working together for St. Maarten!
As time passes and the world around us evolves physically, technologically, socially, and otherwise… one thing must be realized - the leadership should be able to keep the country in pace with these evolutions and have the vision to foresee and realize where we must evolve not only to keep pace but to be a front runner in our industry and a leader in our region.
It is clear that the St. Maarten Patriotic Movement, turned St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance, turned National Alliance possesses the qualities to lead the people of St. Maarten.
It is clear that a party which can embrace and utilize its physical, human, intellectual and other resources to evolve itself along the way will undoubtedly share this ability to help St. Maarten evolve with the world around us and provide the necessary visionary leadership.
the right choice for Country St. Maarten is a progressive party, it is a diverse party, it is a culturally sensitive party, it is party designed as a grass-roots movement for the people, to serve the people and to advance the people. It is the party that we know, love and support today - it is the national alliance.
The theme of this, your first congress is “Together, moving forward”. St. Maarten’s motto is semper pro grediens - always moving forward. I think that the national alliance marketers have something going here!
The national alliance is synonymous with the country - always moving forward. Yes, you have been hearing me right, with the country - not with the island nation or any variation of such - because if we’re going to become a country, then we have to start thinking like a country and regarding ourselves as a country.
Together moving forward… young and old, native and non-native, men and women, our respected senior citizens, our productive adults, our brilliant young adults and our promising children - working together to move forward.
To our current Leadership, I have seen so often how you are appreciated. But when you stand at the threshold of the history of country St. Maarten - I see and recognize the immense workload, the pressure and the scrutiny that you come under. St. Maarten needs you now so much to take us out of the promise of Country St. Maarten and into the reality that is country St. Maarten.
Country will immediately need you - to cast light on the unknown and give guidance in unchartered waters. Let no man, woman, or organization tell you otherwise - it has been 9 years, 4 months and 23 days since our referendum to become a country within the kingdom of the Netherlands.
And in that time frame we have been there - whether we were the St. Maarten patriotic alliance or the national alliance - we remained a strategic partnership created to better serve and benefit the people of St. Maarten.
We comprised delegations, we hosted information sessions, we formed think-tanks and held talks and had just as an integral part in the formation of what stands before us as anyone else who was there.
Ladies and gentlemen, kindly join me in expressing my own appreciation for the leaders of this party and every supporting member.
Ladies and gentlemen, together moving forward. We have looked at the elements of togetherness and where they have brought us thus far, we have looked at the movement of the people and the party to where we are today.
So, now let us focus on “forward”.
as time moves on, knowledge is shared, experiences are documented and the torch that burns so brightly must be passed on in order to keep its flame.
The young people of St. Maarten today - whether on-island or off - are some of the sharpest, most well-trained minds in our country’s history. We need to get them back to this country where we can fully utilize their abilities. Easier said than done though, right?
Let me express, here, that I have every intention of returning to St. Maarten once my studies are complete and my experiences abroad mold me to that pivotal place where I am confident and feel able to come back and better serve my country.
While traveling to the island here, yesterday, I was “playing tourist” and picked up a copy of destination St. Maarten. Within its 240-page spread of everything that excited me about coming home for this brief 48 hour stay was an article about persons abroad who came to St. Maarten years ago, and have since made it their permanent island home.
As a well-loved tourist destination, we have learned to do one thing very well - market ourselves. It is such strategic marketing that has us in the upper-tier in tourism destinations in the Caribbean and the world.
Yes, there is a seemingly “better” life elsewhere for young St. Maartners while they are offshore. But, there is an island paradise here - which serves as a beautiful place to live, to raise a family and a great place to work and to advance in various fields as the economy continues to grow in this developing market.
If we can market to and have traffic in the millions of tourists here every year - if we can market to so many tourists to purchase and develop real estate across this magnificent landscape - then why not to our own? There is another market to which we need to focus our efforts, and that is our very own St. Maarteners living abroad - not to come for a brief visit that benefits the tourism sector but to come home for a lifetime of opportunities and to contribute to the society which shares the values which helped mold them into who they are and where they are today.
Here’s a concept for you… the first black governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, in 2006 introduced legislation to the state senate that would encourage young professionals and working couples exiting graduate school, or currently on short-term employment to stay in Massachusetts by offering them a “settlement package”. this package provided them with “easy money” up front to make a down payment on a home or other residential property where they could settle and establish themselves, as well as plan for a family.
I think we’ve learned over the years that simply attempting to take a concept from another part of the world and applying it in some similar raw form is ineffective on St. Maarten. But the key there is that there is incentive for our young professionals to not only come back to the island, but to stay on the island.
Another strong initiative that needs to be encouraged is the formation of small businesses on our island, owned by our very own. Every economy in the world has its major power players - but the bulk of the employment comes from small businesses that employ so many and provide financial wealth, and emotional strength for so many.
It’s not only about the money, however, ladies and gentlemen. It is about the encouragement, the knowledge and the know-how that will ensure the success of so many.
As such, I propose a series of seminars - open to all and encouraged and marketed to all that will provide members of our community with the information, the resources and the networking opportunities to grow. most importantly, an aspect that must be included is follow up sessions that will assist in the maintenance of their business.
Furthermore, tracking the success of businesses achieved, stabilized or that experienced growth in this market through such a program - which could be coordinated in conjunction with small business development foundation - would allow for further marketing, as we would have a system proven to work.
There is no sure-fire way to get back scores of St. Maarteners. However, as with anything in life, when we take the necessary series of small steps, we can accomplish anything with due diligence.
Young people… just like when we are in school - the teacher can teach….but the student must learn - not just hear or physically be there. To you my fellow young people, I say, let us learn from our leadership - both in flaws and in victories.
As we move forward, together, never undervalue the advice they provide, never undermine an initiative that they have started, refrain from the arrogance of “I know more so I know right”. remember, that experience is your best teacher. Follow-through on good things started and learn from their experiences that were not as successful as initially anticipated.
We are the future of this country St. Maarten. We are the torch-bearing youth running to light ablaze the magnificent landscape with our intellect, our innovation and our success. We are country St. Maarten!
I want you to take a moment and look at the logo of the National Alliance. All logos are designed to depict a particular message - but with many, another message is left up to one’s interpretation. As we talk about visionary leadership and moving forward - realize that the light from a lighthouse can only be seen up to a certain distance, but the light of the sun is cast over everything on the earth and encompasses everything and everyone - it even manages to cast light into the smallest cracks and crevices, illuminating the darkest spaces that are left and seemingly forgotten.
National alliance - from this congress, you will select your leadership, you will delegate party tasks and responsibilities and through such means you will continue to formulate a contingency plan for country St. Maarten with a vision for the people that will evolve as country St. Maarten draws ever nearer! We believe in our national alliance and the strength of the people who comprise it - we are together!
Leaders - continue to cast your light on these 16 square miles and don’t ever neglect or minimize the potential of one of our greatest partners - St. martin north - where 21 square miles of beauty abound. Remember many cultures, one island, one people. I know the task of handling what you have on your plate now and focusing on passing on such great information to the future is a difficult task - but it is not an impossible one. We are moving now - continue to move us.
Young people - appreciate the older generations - leaders in politics, in business, in the church, grandparents, parents, and siblings alike. Respect their journeys in life and the experiences that they have had.
don’t wait simply for them to spoon feed you years of valuable information. Take the initiative…read, listen, converse with them and all their allies. Observe and get a feel for what is happening around you, formulate and share opinions, stimulate your minds by attending public seminars, information sessions and panel discussions. Knowledge is power, experience will be your own best teacher, as well, but never try to reinvent the wheel.
In closing, ladies and gentlemen, let me express my sincerest gratitude to all the members of the st. maarten patriotic movement, the st. maarten patriotic alliance and the national alliance who have over the years stuck with the party through thick and thin - through good times and not so good times - through periods of evolution and of apparent stagnation. It is with your determination and love that we are where are today and your experience and passion that will help propel us forward into tomorrow.
As we move into the next phase of history for our country, let us “Follow the white line” as we jam, celebrate and appreciate our cultural heritage. Let us follow the white line, as we forge forward our constitutional change and exercise our democratic rights, let us follow the white line as we stimulate our economy with a host of programs that will not only attract foreign income, but generate and reinvest our own money for our benefit
Let us follow the white party and the white line of our country that has been kissed by nature with white sand beaches and a culture of inclusion to a National satisfaction and progress.
We are together, moving forward - let us follow the white line down the road to country St. Maarten and national success!
Thank you and have a wonderful congress!