PHILIPSBURG:--- The Board of the United People's (UP) Party strongly condemns the malicious rhetoric and disingenuous statements peddled by individuals willing to deceive the people of Sint Maarten for their gain. It is crucial to address these actions that serve as a distraction from the real issues facing our nation.
The Board has taken note of the various levels of slander, gossip, and dishonesty perpetuated by individuals, some of whom have thankfully severed ties with the United People's Party. The UP Party is a party of inclusion and firmly believes in giving life to truth. We must guide our new and seasoned candidates in their political decision-making. Still, we also respect their ability to make the final decisions, which is a vital aspect of our democratic belief.
As one of the most significant political parties contesting the upcoming election and a party likely to secure the majority of seats in Parliament, we have had to carefully weigh the offers from opportunists and individuals with a genuine desire to work hard to improve the lives of the people of Sint Maarten. Our history shows that we have had former candidates who have served in one of our Cabinets, and we believe in providing opportunities for those who genuinely wish to serve.
During this election cycle, we have witnessed attacks on various individuals, including those holding public office. It is essential to underline that, despite our policy differences, their offices represent the people of Sint Maarten and should always be respected. The United People's Party supports any individual or group that engages in issues that impact the people of Sint Maarten and provides a platform for the voices of the people to be heard. This principle is at the core of the UP Party's foundation.
We cannot, however, condone the blatant attacks on individuals and their families supported by some of our candidates. Unfortunately, some individuals, given the opportunity to serve, have let the allure of power and the offer of thirty pieces of silver cloud their judgment. They have used their positions for personal gain and need to remember their promises to serve the people of Sint Maarten.
The Party takes these matters seriously. Other concerns include allegations that one candidate was caught on camera forging the signature of a Chinese national who had been requesting a vending license. When it was alleged that he was feeding information to a particular individual in the community who was slandering government officials and citizens, we confronted him. When the truth surfaced, and we learnt he had signed a contract with a promise to have the individual as an advisor within a cabinet, we helped him get out of the contract. Only after an attempt to collect money from this individual who wanted to endorse him, when he learnt there was no money, did the candidate try to reverse his position. We said to change your position, you have to make a public statement via radio, and he was unwilling to come clean with the truth and decided to go elsewhere.
Similarly, another candidate who held a political appointment first within VSA lacked commitment to their responsibilities and was asked to leave. We gave him a second opportunity, yet this individual repeatedly failed to report to work for extended periods, citing various reasons, such as sickness and other engagements. On multiple occasions, they called the office to say they were sick while attending Court of First Instance sessions to defend clients, engaging in two jobs simultaneously. He took a vacation and did not return to work and had to be contacted by the office, at which point he asked to be excused for a short period. Four months have passed with him being paid in full without the Minister knowing if or when he will return.
It was only after four months of waiting and noticing his unwillingness to be truthful about his plans that the Minister reluctantly decided to move on from him.
The people who have chosen to resign from the party have done so because the United People's Party did not capitulate to their unreasonable demands. As a Board, we have given the individuals in question opportunities to correct themselves, and we have, in one particular candidate's case, made it clear that as a political party, we are not in support of the slander and attacks against other individuals within our community or government. We are proud to introduce a new generation of leaders and candidates, full of youth and energy. We are committed to promoting honesty and truth as the most essential principles for our candidates. We will no longer permit individuals to join our party solely because it is easier to secure a parliamentary seat only to abandon the people's trust in favor of personal interests.
Our Leader and Deputy Leader have dedicated the past four years to rectifying a decade of inactivity. With the support of the people, we intend to continue on this path, taking Sint Maarten back to the level it deserves - one where everyone prospers and grows.
To the naysayers, we assert that the United People's Party is here to stay, and those who have had deals for months and have been peddling information to "loud mouths" in hopes of money and power are gone. We will not allow anyone to undermine our mission. Running the party is the responsibility of the people who support it. If individuals decide to leave, it will be because they do not align with our party's principles. Our goal is clear - to have electable, hard-working candidates contest the election, capable of delivering on the promise of a better way of life, an improved tourism economy, and enhanced healthcare, education, and social development programs that the people of Sint Maarten can be proud of. We are determined to return Mullet Bay to the people, redevelop our airport into the flagship of the Caribbean, and revamp our harbor, thus reducing our dependence on external forces. Sint Maarten deserves better, and the United People's Party is committed to delivering that better future. We stand with the people, united in our mission to bring prosperity and independence to our beloved nation.
It is time for progress, and we cannot be independent if we cannot be independent as one nation under God, so we must move forward together under the uniting banner of the United People's Party.