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Shenella Browne “Determined For Change”!

shenellabrowne19112017Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party announces that Shenella Browne will be contesting the upcoming elections on the slate of the Christian Party. Shenella is “Determined for Change”. Here is her story.
Most people call me “Shenel”. I am a proud daughter of sweet St. Maarten and was raised in Dutch Quarter. I am the fifth of seven kids and was raised in a joyfully large and close-knit family, where individuality and self-expression were encouraged.
Growing up, my mother taught me the true meaning of diligence. She is easy going, but takes every task seriously. To most, she is known as Mrs. Browne for 23 years at the Marie G. de Weever School. My father, now a pensioner, has given 26 years of service in the Ministry of VROMI, and like many of us, has contributed to the growth of St. Maarten. He taught me dedication to societal responsibilities.
My parents instilled in me solid norms and values such as honesty, respect for everyone and resiliency and I live by these to this day.
After graduating from the Dr. Martin Luther King School in 1998 I went to the Sundial School. At the time there was a stigma surrounding the school: that nothing “good” comes from it. But like many graduates then and now, this stigma has proven not to be true. I was determined to work hard and prove that I was capable of much more than just what my grades showed at the time. Hard work and effort made me eligible for consideration to transfer to the M.P.C (Milton Peters College). But just as life hits you a curveball, another student was chosen over me.
Nevertheless, I continued to push. I studied Basic Health and kept busy with various school activities. I also got the opportunity to follow a Jaycees Training Course. Some years later I took part in the 5th annual interscholastic Talent Show and came in 2nd in the Speech Division. After graduating in 2002 from the Sundial School I went to Curaçao and later to the Netherlands to pursue my studies in nursing, where I graduated as a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse).
During my studies, I worked part-time to make extra money. Most can agree that having a side job during one’s studies is KEY! Being dependent on only study financing does not suffice. My side jobs included cleaning office buildings, working at the post office, call centers and care institutions. No job was too little or too great!
Having graduated in 2010 as a Medical Assistant, I was ready for the job market. I attended the Fred Expo in the Netherlands where the need for young professionals was expressed. Students were encouraged to return to Sint Maarten to serve in various areas. I got the opportunity to return home and serve my country with the skills obtained abroad.
I started my career in Sint Maarten as a Youth Health Care Nurse in the Ministry of Health, then moved to medical assistant and now I am a project leader in the field of healthcare at SZV.
I am sure that many young professionals would agree with me that it is amazing to be back home, especially with the intent to give back to the island and assist with the further development of the country.
Like many young individuals, I too had to cope with the “culture shock “of being back home and the challenges of overcoming this shock while staying focused on my goals. Some of these challenges that I faced as a young adult were being able to take care of myself, the high cost of living, housing and transportation and career opportunities. However, despite these challenges I stayed focus, worked hard and refused to give up. This is how I managed to persevere. To achieve your dreams it takes a level of determination, focus, and drive.
Having been approached to participate in St. Maarten’s 2018 election and to be part of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP), I quickly realized that this was an opportunity for me to bring that level of determination, focus and drive to bear championing change in Sint Maarten.
As a millennial, I believe that it is time for our generation to become involved in the reconstruction of the country and in developing a long-term vision for our people. Why the Sint Maarten Christian Party you might ask? That’s quite simple! The Party is built on a strong foundation called Principles! It is a party with a distinct ideology as well as a clear vision for St. Maarten and the people easily understand the Party’s principles and vision. I believe that the party offers me the opportunity to effect change in Sint Maarten. I feel a change coming, which is why I am determined to serve my country and my people for, Change!

Shenella Browne
S.M.C.P. Candidate

We Need A Social Psychological Welfare Team!!!

claudechachopeterson16112017Lately we have seen an increase in violence on our island.
I believe it is a direct result of the hopelessness and post traumatic stress which our people are experiencing.
The level of devastation Irma caused is just like that in a war zone and the mental effects are very similar.
The reality is setting in as people lose their jobs and run out of money.
Early on, after Irma ravaged the island, I wrote many posts on Facebook asking what was Government’s Plan for the Post traumatic stress. While being in the field, I could already see the signs among our people while they tried to survive.
So many people have been displaced and are now living in very uncomfortable circumstances which can lead to high levels of stress.
Why didn't government ask the Dutch for extra psychologists to help our local team.
We needed A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL WELFARE TEAM of psychologists, civil servants, NGOs to go out in the communities to talk to our people in their homes where they are most likely to open up.
Our people are not likely to seek out psychological help.
This team should also include other professionals to assess the person's living condition and could have also been able to determine families needs for food relief as well as temporary roof repairs.
It is not to late and such a team needs to be put in place for the next 18 months.

Claude Chacho Peterson

Encouraging messages.

budslabbaert05102017Statistics have a sort of magical appeal and are a bit like mathematical enchanted tricks, aren’t they? The worlds of business and politics are littered with statistics. Some individuals using statistics are like the diplomat who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age. They are selective about the dates they choose, and about the numbers, that they do not want to use in order to keep their audience happy.

Statistics can baffle and excite an audience. They can be a calming remedy. Take stabilizing statistics. They are like looking through the glass of the oven while baking a soufflé; it may hold but with a little draft of opening the oven door, it will still go puff and fall together. With statistics, one can also tell one positive truth while silencing the negative other half. This tactic is mainly used to prevent that the messenger himself gets hurt. However, it may work on the individual in question like using a silencer on a gun that shoots oneself in the foot, because at some time the truth will come out. It is a tactic of propagandists using their communication like an equivalent for beauty cosmetics; cover-up that is not waterproof.

Even if facts are tough, a message can still encourage the listeners. Like the general telling his troops who were completely surrounded: “we now have the opportunity to attack the enemy in any direction” or the other military leader who once said: “we’re not holding on to our positions, we’re not going to hold on to anything, we’re going to move ahead”. True leaders don’t use propaganda or statistics; they are in the frontlines to charge and actually and actively make things happen. There was a romantic time when officers pulled their sabre, loudly yelled “Attack, follow me”, charged in front of their men and they were willing to take the highest risk of being injured first. In politics things are different, “Attack, I follow you!” is the essence of the common slogans of politics from behind. The bugler is also taking a backseat next to his politician; of course, for better communication they have to be close together.

Recently I met a politician and I asked him whether he was resilient. “Like a Jo-Jo” he responded. I was puzzled, and I wondered what to think of the meaning of the word ‘resilient’ because I’m hearing it more often lately. So, I looked it up in the dictionary. The politician was right. Because the first synonym it showed was ‘flexible’. Typical for a politician, I thought. From a populist leader, I would rather have heard that he would have used words indicating that he is persistent or tenacious like a bulldog.

Performers and their coaches know where to set the bar that should be jumped; always higher than the previous mark. They always try harder to come out on top and avoid the agony of defeat. As for high hopes, I’ve also heard about doping and drugs addicts saying that they like being high; unfortunately, they belong in the category of helplessly hoping victims.

Some people love to use the half-empty and half-full glass comparison. They think that it is clever way to perplex audiences. If the glass is half either way, it just means something is wrong with the brew or there is a lack of commitment to consume it. This half-half stuff may have been well explained by George Carlin, a five Grammy Award-winning stand-up comedian and social critic, who once said about average persons: “Think about how stupid the average person is; now realize half of them are dumber than that”. I don’t think that anyone will take this personal; after all they considered Carlin only to be a comedian. Plus, even the average person usually thinks he isn’t.

The concluding question is, who and what is right? Maybe the pioneers are right. You know? The guys who you can recognize by rolled up sleeves and the first two buttons of their collar open which is their way to dress for success. When they start a business, they don’t even have time for statistics. They work hard and give it all they have in themselves. Those forerunners are typified by the virtues of being persistent and tenacious like a bulldog. Their attitude is about accomplishment. Growing or improving their activity regardless of statistics either way is not about comparing with the colleagues or the competition; it is about outdoing them, working harder to get new business, and also about finding different ways to increase revenues.

If you absolutely insist on some humble guiding statistics of encouragement, I personally don’t consider things encouraging unless growth is stable and consistent, and higher than 5%; and an investment is not an investment unless it yields more than 10% net. Even those percentages should be ballpark minima. Anything more than those numbers is just encouraging, anything less is not worth considering seriously unless one wants to run things as a hobby or to keep other people busy. In the worst-case scenario, the latter is the direction towards a breakdown, be it a nervous one or a financial one, or... both.

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert


claudechachopeterson16112017Recently, the Caretaker Prime Minister decided to play tit for tat with the Parliament and invoked Article 59 of our constitution to dissolve Parliament and call new elections. I have been contacted by many people who wanted to know whether or not I would run.
After discussions with my family, close friends, my team and the Party, I decided I will be a candidate once more on the SMCP slate for the upcoming Feb 26, 2018 election.
While I had hoped we would end up with and pushed early on for a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WITH A PROFESSIONAL CABINET OF NON POLITICALLY AFFILIATED MINISTERS to handle the reconstruction process while being supervised by a Unified Parliament, the older Party leaders once again demonstrated their inability to show humility and work in the best interest of the PEOPLE AT A TIME OF GREAT CRISIS AND UNCERTAINTY FOR OUR ISLAND.
On a daily basis, I see the despair and frustration of many persons.
People are talking about leaving the island and many have already done so. So many are trying to cope day by day with their damaged homes, unemployment and uprooted lives. I fear that many are already showing signs of depression and post-traumatic stress.
More than ever, I feel the need to stand up and try to be part of the CHANGE which is needed for Sxm, Sxmners and Sxm people.
If we have elections on February 26, 2017, I sincerely hope the voters will vote their future and elect 15 Parliamentarians who will put COUNTRY ABOVE SELF while we work together on rising up from the devastation Hurricane Irma brought upon us.
SMCP, under the Leadership of Mr. Wycliffe Smith has kept our promise to the people in 2016 to stay engaged and continue, not only highlight the functioning of Parliament but also that of Government. As a party, we are very ENERGIZED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE FOR A CHANGE.

Claude CHACHO Peterson

Constitutional Chaos.

wycliffesmith08022017Hurricane Irma destroyed our country, displaced our people and exposed our government. Governing now appears to be dominated by politics. Decisions that should be made in the interest of the people seem to be solely politically motivated. Take for example the decision to hold elections at a time when people are roofless, homeless and suffering. Apparently, the coalition members knew months ago that if parliament gave government a vote of non-confidence, due to ship jumping, government would retaliate by dissolving parliament. This was purely a political choice and had absolutely nothing to do with what was best for the people of Sint Maarten at this time. In the eyes of the government, calling for snap elections may have been a smart political move, but from the perspective of the people, it was a very bad governance decision.

Limited space in this paper will not permit me to chronicle all the details leading up to the vote of non-confidence and the retaliatory decision by the Council of Ministers to dissolve Parliament. Neither will I be able to detail the process of tinkering with the constitution by our Governor in order to accommodate the political decision to have snap elections.

In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, one could clearly observe the buildup of political tension in the
NA/DP/USP coalition. In Parliament, DP Members, Sarah Wescott-Williams and Perry Geerlings, were very critical of the Prime Minister, the honorable William Marlin, and his government. Consequently, the DP stepped out of the coalition together with another member of the coalition and joined with the UP Party, to form a majority coalition of eight members of Parliament, the so-called Magic Eight. On November 2nd, 2017, the Magic Eight, made use of Article 33 of the Constitution and passed a motion of non-confidence in the government. That same day, Prime Minister Marlin tendered the resignations of his entire Cabinet to the Governor and simultaneously submitted a draft national decree to dissolve parliament.

One week later, November 10th 2017, the Magic Eight passed another motion discharging Prime Minister Marlin of his duties with immediate effect and resolving to install Acting Prime Minister Rafael Boasman as the new Prime Minister. Popularly speaking, parliament fired the Prime Minister twice and then requested the Acting Prime Minister, in whom, one week prior, they had no confidence, to become the new Prime Minister. What makes this matter even more ridiculous is that parliament has no authority to enforce their decision or motion to dismiss the Prime Minister or to appoint a new Acting Prime Minister. According to article 40 of the constitution, Prime Minister Marlin has to prepare his own dismissal decree as well as the appointment decree of the proposed Acting Prime Minister after which, he would then have to send these two documents to the Governor to be co-signed. You can imagine Prime Minister Marlin thinking “what chaos, they haven’t a clue of the power of the Prime Minister.”

Since 10-10-10, article 33 of the constitution has become a very controversial article. It states that “if a minister no longer has the confidence of Parliament, he SHALL resign. SHALL is the operative word and is subject to various interpretations. However, article 33 need not be controversial or disputable because the constitution allows for parliament to enact further rules to regulate this matter. Isn’t it strange that despite the regular contention caused by this article not one of the past parliaments or parliamentarians have done anything to ease the execution of this article! We surely love chaos!

If Prime Minister Marlin and his Cabinet had refused to resign then parliament had one big stick in reserve. According to the explanatory notes of article 33, if a minister refuses to resign “he will be acting beyond the rule of constitutional law”. This means that Parliament could then take the matter to court and eventually be able to evict that minister using the strong arm of the law. But is our Parliament up to this?

The motion of non-confidence triggered government to draft a national decree to dissolve parliament. It must be noted however, that the constitution does not oblige the government to dissolve parliament. Article 59 of the constitution reads “parliament MAY be dissolved by national decree”. The operative word here is MAY. Two years ago, then Member of Parliament, William Marlin, condemned Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs for dissolving Parliament but two years later he does the said same thing.

Furthermore, we did not have to be in this constitutional chaos because the Governor is not obliged to sign the dissolution decree. Seeing the damage done to the island and the resulting social circumstances he should have refused to sign it or he should have sent it to the Kingdom government for annulment according to article 21 of the Governor’s Regulation. Moreover, if he had consulted with the institutions involved in organizing and facilitating the elections, such as the Main Voting Bureau and the Post Office, he would have known that elections at this time was not a good choice. But no, the Governor upheld a bad government’s decision, seemingly motivated by politics and retaliation and signed it into law within 24 hours without considering the hurt and suffering of the people. The fact that ten days later the Prime Minister and the Governor modified their decision goes to show that it was not a carefully considered decision!

Wycliffe Smith
Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party

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