I foresee 2017 as a very challenging year for St. Maarten in which it is going to define the future of our beautiful island and our Leaders. We are right now in the eye of the storm which is January where there is calm before the storm.
Mr. Editor, this letter is not to scare our people but to prepare them for the hard and uncertain times we're living in. These are times where we have to stay strong for the tough times that lie ahead of us. The good thing about going through the eye of the storm is that the tough times don't last forever because we are resilient people that rise above these times. But as good Leaders we have to prepare our people and trust God during these difficult times. No matter what is going on, we need to remember what Jesus said" the things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke18:27)
As good Leaders, we have to prepare our people for the challenges ahead and the only way we can get out these difficult times are by us working together as French and Dutch people and as one island.
St. Maarten is at a cross road and this year will determine if we are moving forward or backward as an island. If we don't get our act together and our Leaders and Elected Representatives don't step up to the plate in the general interest of our people then we need to buckle up our belts. The only way to move forward is by Government making firm decisions and addressing the priority issues with their Governing Program and a plan of action for 2017.
Parliament also needs to get active and start back legislating laws which is lacking tremendously as new elected Representatives of the People. It is about time to start doing at least something this coming week by updating the people of the recent concluded IPKO meeting of why the Kingdom Government endorses their version of the Dispute Regulation proposal while the proposal by the Dutch Caribbean islands was not handled. Simply Amazing way of working together by the Dutch.
The Dutch has a master plan for this island in which some of us brought upon ourselves and they are going to continue to embarrass a lot of our Leaders and local people in 2017 through the Justice System and tarnish our image internationally to divide and conquer St. Maarten.
Mr. Editor, I was doing some research and reading about the Dutch Tax Office Chief who resigned after reorganization failures to revamp the Dutch Tax Office which collapsed into chaos after thousands of staff signed up to leave the service. Imagine the Dutch who pride themselves on Integrity appointed the same person as Quarter Master to lead the non-existent Integrity Chamber in St. Maarten. This is simply amazing.
Imagine we are fighting each other and arguing over the petty issues while the Dutch are strategically planning and looking to see how they can take over the hub of the Caribbean St. Maarten and reposition their people here to lead and do their pirates of the Caribbean works in St. Maarten. When one of their own breaks the law they repositioned them with a good pay or send them to one of the Dutch Caribbean islands. Imagine the Finance Ministry of Holland who pride themselves on integrity issues said in a written press statement that the job no longer match his expectations.
I have never seen anything like what is happening now in St. Maarten among us as Leaders of this island. Some can't pass the screening or owed taxes but want to lead, Parliament on a stand still, the French and Dutch Governments are playing this power struggle among themselves while their people are suffering. Where is the unity and working together for the people?
Our late ancestors and deceased Leaders such as Dr. Claude Wathey and Dr. Petit are turning over in their graves the way our current Leaders are behaving and acting as representatives of our people who should be living up to the Concordia Treaty by displaying harmony and togetherness between the two sides of the island. St. Maarten is unique, I am born French and Dutch and I will continue to represent the interests of the people on both sides of the island as a member of our island community.
Mr. Editor, we need to do a study to see how many residents are living on the Dutch side of the island for us to build the necessary infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, improve our tourism product, tax system, safety and Security system and quality care for our people. We also need to get serious with Immigration control because our districts are over populated and become a major burden for Government and certain districts are in a deplorable state and needs to be upgraded for 2017. Government needs to change where the upgrading and beautification of Front Street and Back Street which falls under the Minister of VROMI. This is not the time to play politics and games with our livelihood and tourism product. We need to start putting the right professionals in the right positions with the right checks and balances to get the job done to move St. Maarten forward.
In closing, we need to wake up and smell the coffee and plan and lead our people better for 2017. We need to start making firm decisions in the general interest instead of self-interest of our people.
Our ancestors paved the way for us with Integrity while our parents brought us up with similar qualities and principles but my generation (including myself) the 40 plus needs to step up to the plate and lead and be a better example for the future generation to follow. Today’s generation needs to get away from the adopted culture of slander through social media, bad talking and self without contributing anything back to our community.
We become a complaint society where everything is Government problem instead of theirs and self-society rather than what our Grandmothers taught us of working hard with Integrity, pride and respect. Our ancestors (which are our original culture) are different than the adopted culture we teach today's generation. We need to start teaching the future generation our history and culture in the schools for them to know their destiny. We need to start believing in ourselves and our own professionals by giving them the opportunity to grow.
We have a long way to go for 2017 but let us start getting our act together and clean up our mess with integrity and come together as one nation for the difficult times which are ahead of us. God bless St. Maarten.
Former MP Maurice Lake