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PFP urges creation of a ‘lottery booth’ policy. Informal count reveals 130

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Alarming, troubling, and disturbing. These were the words that 16 members and supporters of Party for Progress (PFP) used to describe the number of lottery booths they tallied in an informal count on a hot and sunny Saturday, November 6, 2021.

Armed with pens, paper and mobile phones, these volunteers drove through every district in the country and marked the names and/or addresses of the lottery booths they saw. They also counted supermarkets and shops that advertised lottery games. After each team’s sheets were counted and cross-referenced, the result was a jarring 130.

These results correspond to an average of a little more than eight (8) lottery booths per square mile, or roughly one (1) booth for every 480 residents, based on the Government’s population estimate of 62,323.

But more than the seemingly exorbitant number of lottery booths, the unregulated nature of the industry is what concerns PFP Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson.

“It was an eye-opening experience, but it still confirmed much of what we can see happening all around us,” said MP Gumbs after participating in the informal count. “Although the law stipulates a limit to the number of lottery licences the country can have, the holders of these licences have no restriction to the number of booths they can build, or where they can be located, or the type of construction and amenities that need to be in place.”

“Unfortunately, we have yet to see any Minister create such a policy. This has led to the situation we have today, where booths can be placed directly outside schools and playgrounds, and where the booths themselves are unsafe and unhygienic for those who work in them,” added MP Peterson.

“The lack of regulation also means that lottery companies can target our most vulnerable citizens,” explained MP Gumbs. “There are many booths in places such as Philipsburg, Arch Road and A.T. Illidge Road, but our teams did not find a single booth in Pelican, Cupecoy, Dawn Beach, and Guana Bay. With a policy, we can stop the lottery booths from preying on those with limited means and opportunity.”

To determine the existence or not of such a policy, the PFP faction plans to request a work visit to the Department of Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication and the Operating Organisation of Economic Licenses.

The PFP MPs want to ensure that, if there is a policy established or pending to be established, that it includes a maximum number of booths per lottery license and per district, as well as a minimum distance of 500 metres between a lottery booth and the nearest school. They also want the policy to set building, safety and hygiene criteria in collaboration with the Ministries of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) and Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), regarding both public and private land. The November 6th informal research revealed that booths found on especially private land do not normally adhere to basic safety and hygiene needs.

Finally, PFP believes that the policy should establish an annual fee for each lottery booth in operation.

“Government currently earns no additional revenue for lottery booths. Companies pay a fee for the licence, but not for the individual branches. In times of economic hardship, we need to be creative in our efforts to raise funds. This is one way that the Government can make some additional income, and all it takes is proper regulation,” said MP Peterson. “But furthermore and most importantly, we believe the amount of booths should be limited to a much lesser amount, no more than 5 per license holder. This would include the small booths that we see within other business establishments, such as booths in supermarkets or small grocers. All of these should fall within the maximum of 5.”

“Our laws often place wide-reaching regulatory and discretionary powers in the hands of Ministers. For us, this puts too much trust in individuals to simply ‘do the right thing.’ In recent and not-so-recent times we have seen Ministers do the exact opposite, being influenced by family, funds and favors rather than the best interest of the country. Especially when it relates to social issues, the law must be there to protect our people and guarantee their rights,” said MP Gumbs.

Although the group tallied some 130 lottery booths, the party acknowledges that their count is not comprehensive. As such, PFP had requested the Social and Economic Council (SER) to conduct research into the socio-economic effects of lottery booths and the gambling industry.

“We carried out this exercise to get a rough estimate of the number of lottery booths in the country. However, we are not professional social researchers and, because we did not look at bars and restaurants that may also sell lottery, our count is likely to be a gross underestimation. We simply wanted to continue this discussion with a baseline. I look forward to reading any report issued by the SER on this topic, as reliable data is an indispensable part in making effective policy and legislation,” concluded MP Gumbs.


Minister Doran provides step-by-step explanation of the Over the Bank Land Ownership

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Honorable Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure Egbert Doran has taken note of two (2) articles that were published recently in The Daily Herald regarding the Over the Bank/Vineyard Heights properties.

Minister Doran would have liked to be given the opportunity to also provide his comments for this to be included in the newspaper article where the community would have had a balanced view from two perspectives when reading about the issue.

“I would like to provide clarification for the community of Sint Maarten related to Over the Bank/Vineyard Heights. In March 2015, a claim was filed against Country Sint Maarten by a presumed Heir to the land. The individual who filed the complaint with the court (complainant) built on properties known under parcels 290/1984 and 162/2014.

“These properties are part of the area known as ‘Over the Bank’. The claim filed was to have the Court declare ownership of the properties known as ‘Over the Bank’ and/or the properties under Certificates of Admeasurements 290/1984, 162/2014, and 290/1984.

“The individual (complainant) also requested the Court, if they agreed to award the properties as described to the individual (complainant), that Country Sint Maarten would be ordered to cooperate with the transfer of ownership to the presumed Heir of the land.

“The Court in First Instance denied the claim. The individual (complainant) lost multiple cases brought against Country Sint Maarten over flawed claims of ownership in this regard. The presumed Heir filed an appeal against the judgment of the case filed in March 2015 and lost that case as well. The properties known as ‘Over the Bank’ as previously described are the properties of Country Sint Maarten.

“On October 7, 2021, a different presumed Heir placed an article/notice in The Daily Herald. In this article, reference was made to the Judgment registered under SXM 201700071, which is the appeal case that the first complainant lost, as the basis for the new presumed Heir's claim that they acquired legal ownership.

“This notice by the new presumed Heir, as it pertains to the ‘Over the Bank,’ is therefore factually incorrect. An article in the newspaper cannot and does not overrule multiple court judgments regardless as to how much the heirs would rather that to be the case.

“On November 9th, 2021, the new presumed Heir placed another lengthy article in the newspaper. This time the critique was not only directed towards Country Sint Maarten, but quite some critique was levied at two notaries, the Cadaster, and the Ombudsman. The article mentioned that the Ombudsman stated that based on the Court's ruling, the 'Over the Bank' parcels belong to Country Sint Maarten. As we can recall, the Ombudsman also mentioned this a few days ago on the floor of Parliament.

“Therefore, it is not only Country Sint Maarten that has taken the position that the properties that are known as ‘Over the Bank’ belong to Country Sint Maarten, but also several institutions, more than one notary, the Cadaster, the Ombudsman, and most importantly, the Court in First Instance and the Appeal Court have all identified that the lands belong to Country Sint Maarten.

“I can understand that the presumed Heirs may not agree with the ownership of the properties in question. However, not being in agreement about the ownership does not equate legally to a legitimate claim of ownership and/or a legal form of entitlement to said properties.

“During the Parliamentary hearings on the topic of these properties, I already explained the incorrect interpretation of the facts and ownership of the property in question. The Parliament of Sint Maarten was also provided with the judgment(s) from the Court in First Instance and the Appeal Court. These confirmed that no other presumed heirs are the legal owners and that any other claims of ownership are incorrect.

“I do hope that this explanation once again clarifies any potential misunderstandings on the ownership issue as it pertains to the ‘Over the Bank’ properties,” Minister Doran said on Wednesday.


MP Grisha: ‘Less talk and more action to protect women’

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Faction Leader for the United People's Party in Parliament, the Honourable Grisha Heyliger-Marten, says by the first quarter of 2022, she will introduce and, where necessary, improve legislation to help eradicate violence against women.

She made the statement in a press release issued Wednesday to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women set by the United Nations as November 25th each year.

One of those goals is extending the amount of time given by law for victims of abuse to come forward and report the crime. “Some people are embarrassed to come forward and by the time they get the courage to do so the law is not on their side,” said Heyliger-Marten.

Heyliger-Marten said she does not want only to acknowledge today but would instead rely on her ability as a legislator to act on behalf of all persons who experience any form of abuse. "We must do more to end the violent acts that are perpetrated against our fellow citizens each year, especially women. We must find ways for them to speak out more and support organizations and Government Agencies who already work with those who come forward."

Violence, which includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, cannot be condoned in our society. Everyone must do their part and speak out against these acts.

Heyliger-Marten said many changes are needed across all government ministries, and laws to "End Violence Against Women Now!" as the United Nation's theme for 2021 states are urgently required.

We can start by changing the way we think about our women who are victims of abuse. Change mind-set that says, "It’s the victim's fault." When it comes to violence, the responsibility lies with the perpetrator.

We need to make perpetrators accountable for their actions and not just punish them. Create proper programs to encourage behavioural changes and protect families so that survivors of domestic violence can feel safe. Make it a condition that the abusers help fund these programs, especially in cases where the victim was dependant on the income of the abuser. These measures will encourage people to come forward and will save lives.

The goal is to combine the recommended measures with more education about identifying and reporting abuse. These measures will make it easier for women to leave abusive relationships.

Heyliger-Marten said we must also recognize that our young children who live in homes where abuse exists are often victims themselves or witnesses of the abuse. "We must start now to educate our new generations about their rights and how to stand up for themselves."

Protecting our women also means ensuring that there is legislation to provide equal pay and treatment for them on their jobs. This will make them feel safe at work and empower them to speak out against violence at home.

"There is a lot to do. Together with everyone doing their little part for all women, I stand committed to all the women of St. Martin also known as Oualichi the land of brave women," said Heyliger-Marten.


MP Buncamper fires off questions to Minister of Justice

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP), Claudius Buncamper on Wednesday fired off a number of questions to Justice Minister Anna Richardson, who was in parliament to give her ministry’s views on the country packages, the MP said in a statement on Wednesday.

MP Buncamper inquired if additional funds have been allocated to the ministry to ensure that security and stability of public order are maintained as stipulated in measure H1 of the country packages. The MP emphasized that a rise in crime usually follow during and after social disorder.

The MP also questioned why is it that under measure H2 of the country packages the reform aims only to enhance the government’s revenue when it pertains to physical and online gambling, instead of also addressing the possible gambling addictions and other social issues that come along with gambling.

MP Buncamper expressed that he is confused by the demands of the Netherlands obligating parliament, through the country packages, to approve a consensus law. The MP stated that he was under the impression that the integrity of the members of parliament would not be put in jeopardy when having to vote.

“The takeover is clear to me”, MP Buncamper stated on the floor of parliament “I can recall various members of the Dutch second chamber stating that when it comes to agreements, all autonomous countries must decide and fend for themselves. So why must a data protection law be enacted by the means of a consensus law?” the MP asked.

“Why can’t we establish our own data protection agency here instead of a regional body holding our information somewhere else?” The MP went on the question why our privacy laws are not equal to those in the Netherlands to ensure that we receive equal protection as the citizens in the Netherlands. MPO Buncamper also questioned what benefits St. Maarten derives from the agreements made with the Netherlands pertaining to reinforcing border supervision and the KMAR educational programs to upgrade our immigration officers. The MP queried which department head is responsible for controlling the reinforcement of border supervision.

MP Buncamper went on the question the justice minister on the appointment of an independent organization to monitor the funds for compliance with the recommendations of the Law enforcement council and went on to query which independent entity was appointed to manage the crime funds and how much funds are presently in the crime fund.

MP Buncamper also delved into the matter of the minister’s letter of November 5 which stated that water jugs, pest control, health and dentistry care were provided for the inmates at the Point Blanche Prison and enquired from the minister if this was part of the improvement measures that the Netherlands are financing. The MP wants to know which improvement measures for the prison, besides the personnel matters, are presently on the books to be completed by December 31, 2021. And, what is the status of measure H21 goal to build a new prison for St. Maarten. The MP asked the minister to give a breakdown of the delays in building a new prison. Lastly, MP Buncamper questioned the possibilities of using VKS officers to assist in securing the prison.


WYCCF calls out for local sports associations to sponsor clients

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S ESTATE) - The Sister Basilia Center (SBC) of the White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) calls out to all persons and local sports organizations to help facilitate a client's sports dream.

The Sister Basilia Center specializes in care for persons with disabilities. Its clients have various interests when it comes to sports. We can all agree that sports are essential for our physical and mental health.

However, when you live with a disability, that's not always as easy as it would be for you and me. Within the SBC, the clients enjoy various forms of games and exercises. However, to do an actual sport, including training and playing competition, is difficult to organize due to the numbers and different levels of physical skills. 

Therefore, the SBC would like to request local Sports associations to help out and sponsor one of our clients for just one year. This means trying to facilitate it so that the client can join in their own way.

Maybe this could be with gear, transportation to/from training, and/or covering tuition, or however you can help! Persons or organizations willing to sponsor a client can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call/WhatsApp 1721-5874912.

The idea is to facilitate the sportive dreams of our clients and break the taboo that lies on persons with disabilities. Through this project, our clients will feel part of the community and have the opportunity to go out more, learn social skills by interacting with others, and create new friendships.

Teamwork, respect, and the feeling of responsibility will also be influenced. 

Disabilities is unfortunately still a topic, which is more often than not ignored instead of embraced. This project aims to break the stigma and show the many unique qualities that people with disabilities have and be a valuable part of society.


Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance facilitates platform for investigation of marine protected areas in the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The 2021 Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Convention began with a workshop on climate change resiliency. The workshop served as a platform for knowledge sharing between researchers from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), and Dutch Caribbean experts. The participants discussed the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems in the Dutch Caribbean and related issues.

Different perspectives

This workshop is part of a pilot project that aims to unpack the impact of climate change on marine protected areas in Indonesia and the Caribbean. To get an accurate understanding of the key issues and challenges, listening to experts from various fields within and outside academia is key.

Yvonne Kunz, main postdoctoral researcher at KITLV notes that “if we want to understand the impact of climate change on marine protected areas, we must engage with those who experience this impact firsthand. This is our main motivation to obtain information from as many sources as possible.”

Collaboration with DCNA

David Kloos, project lead at KITLV, further explains that “DCNA has been involved from the very beginning of this pilot project. They represent a key stakeholder in the Caribbean.” The project is a comparative analysis, and the stakeholders are taking care to ensure that crucial comparisons are made from various angles.

Kloos says that “policy versus actual operations is one aspect, but also the number of years of existence of the marine protected areas. We have chosen to investigate protected areas in Aruba and Bonaire, where there is a difference in years of existence. By comparing Indonesia and the Caribbean, KITLV can analyze yet another aspect.

Whereas in the Caribbean the need to protect marine areas takes on a ‘bottom-up’ approach, in Indonesia the initiatives are more government-led. In addition, these contrasts facilitate the comparison and analysis of different conservation narratives.”

Climate change impact

For some, climate change is seen as a theoretical issue, even though the Caribbean region has already started to experience its effects. Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern of DCNA states that “we have observed a deterioration of our coral reefs.

The majority of our population may not be aware of this, but if we do not stop this decline, we can end up with green water, instead of the crystalline blue seas that we know today. If we can only become more aware of the economic value of these coral reefs, we will soon start to realize that further decline will have a direct negative impact on tourism, one of the main economic pillars of our islands.” Everyone can and must contribute to mitigation of the impact of climate change.

This pilot project is being conducted in partnership with the Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO), the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS), and various partners in Indonesia and the Caribbean. More information about this pilot project and practical tips can be found on DCNA’s Facebook page: DutchCaribbeanNatureAlliance.


First Six-Ship Day for the 2021-2022 Cruise Season will leave Guests with Memorable Experiences

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Wednesday, November 24 will mark the first six-ship day for the 2021-2022 cruise season, a scene that will be very much welcomed by the country’s business community.

The two cruise piers that allows for six cruise ships to berth at one-time at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facility, will see more than 7,500 passengers and crew disembark to explore the ‘Friendly Island.’

"It's with great pleasure that we welcome our guests and crew with a warm St. Maarten welcome on Wednesday. After 20-months we are able to accommodate six vessels to our piers.

“This is a great indication of the direction we are heading. To return and maintain our status as a leading destination we must continue to collaborate with our partners and offer service excellence,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Roger Lawrence said on Tuesday. 

“This is once again a milestone for the destination. The #1 destination in the Northeastern Caribbean will welcome for the first time in more than 20-months six cruise ships in one day. 

“This signifies our resilience and hard work by our staff and stakeholders throughout the year in preparing for the return of cruising,” Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer Alexander Gumbs said on Tuesday.

Gumbs added that the Port team will also be working two cargo vessels on Wednesday. “We will capture the significant and well-timed movements via timelapse to be shared with the wider community.  It is important to highlight the meticulous work Port St. Maarten staff do and the extent of the full scope of the operations. 

“Our team has also been in contact with local stakeholders in terms of being prepared for this influx of passengers that may seem all to new once again.  It is also noticeable that the vessels occupancy percentage is also increasing as the season began around 30 per cent and now, we are seeing vessels operating above 50 per cent occupancy,” Gumbs said.

The ships that will be in port on Wednesday are Sky Princess from Princess Cruises, AIDAluna, and AIDAdiva ships of AIDA Cruises, Marella Discovery of Marella Cruises, and Explorer of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas. 


Domestic Abuse is a Crime. Police to Improve Operational Response

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The increase in the number of reports of domestic and family violence incidents over the past year is seen by the police and other community agencies as evidence of a greater awareness about this type of crime in the wider community. This strengthens the notion that this form of abuse should no longer be a private matter.

All sectors recognize that abusing a person(s) in a relationship is "criminal" behavior and punishable by law. The Sint Maarten Police Force KPSM is committed to actively improving its operational response to this type of crime.

Police officers are actively involved in providing better support and referral for victims through collaborative partnerships with a range of government and non-government organizations.

Contrary to other crimes committed with personal violence, KPSM will identify who you are if you commit acts of domestic violence, and you will be held responsible for your actions.

A victim of domestic violence bears no responsibility regarding your behavior. Only you are responsible for your actions when it comes to domestic violence.

KPSM will continue to improve its understanding of coercive and controlling behavior in cases of domestic violence, will make investments in training for personnel and provide guidance on domestic violence. (KPSM)


Police: Use caution while driving during this busy time of year

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Police Traffic Department had to handle several vehicle accidents over the last weeks in which individuals suffered minor injuries or extensive damages were done to the vehicles.

The accident being investigated by the Traffic Department happened on the following road: A J C Brouwerd road Rhine Road and A.Th. Illidge Road.

The traffic accidents being investigated by the Traffic Department took place on the A.J.C. Brouwerd road Rhine road and A.Th. Illidge road.

Given the amount of material and personal damage that has been recorded over the last period, the police force of Sint-Maarten (KPSM) is appealing to the community of St. Maarten to be responsible and drive carefully.

It is important to note that the roads are particularly busy at this time of year and drivers therefore need to take extra precautions while driving. During the holidays, driving defensively helps take away the element of surprise.

The idea is that drivers who are mentally prepared and alert will know how to react in an emergency with quick decision-making, which can be essential when driving during these busy days.

The Police Force of Sint-Maarten continues to warn, scooter, and motorcycle riders, motorist about their behavior in traffic, especially during the busy hours of the day.

“Since serious accidents keep happening and because of the severity of the damages caused this may eventually result in the death of the rider or someone around them.

“We are still noticing the risky behavior by certain groups of road users, on the island which is causing concern for the safety of the general public,” KPSM said in a statement on Sunday. (KPSM)

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Driver of the Governor Certified in Defensive Driving Skills

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In an attempt to stimulate cooperation between the various government agencies and to strengthen the quality of service, the Sint-Maarten Police (KPSM) on Friday, November 18, 2021, awarded a certificate to one of the chauffeurs of His Excellency the Governor of St. Maarten for defensive driving skills.

The course of advanced driving skills was conducted by one of the certified instructors, Police Inspector E petty. As a result of the training, drivers can learn techniques to more safely navigate traffic, look ahead and assess situations on the road, and avoid the most common types of crashes.

Through defensive driving, an individual can anticipate potential problems and respond in advance, thereby safeguarding themselves as well as others.

The Management Team of the Police Force of St. Maarten KPSM wishes to express their gratitude to the Cabinet of the Governor of St. Maarten as well as to everyone else who facilitated and made possible the training. (KPSM)

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