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Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten

Stichting Actief Beinsdorp en Stichting Maatvast organiseren samen op maandag 11 november met de vrijwilligers een activiteit tijdens Sint Maarten voor de kinderen van 4 tot en met 12 jaar.

8th Annual Rotary & Rotaract Spelling Bee 2019 Final


SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Last Sunday the five finalists that had qualified for the 8th Annual Rotary & Rotaract Spelling Bee headed to the Belair Community Center to go head to head to determine the champion.

The five finalists were from the Mac Browlia F. Maillard Campus Jeremiah Cantave and Kushaan Sharma, from the Alwyn Allison School in Anguilla were Mikalia Richardson and Emily Gumbs, and Jansela Bruno from the Valley Primary School in Anguilla. These three girls and two boys were joined by a large crowd of family, friends, classmates and teachers to support and cheer them on.

The 8th Annual Rotary/Rotaract Spelling Bee 2019 was held in three consecutive rounds. The first round, the Preliminary round had 35 participants from 13 schools, the children had to spell the selected 20 words on paper.

The top ten finishers from the Preliminary round went onto the Semi-finals. The ten Semi-finalists from seven schools had to spell out their words into a microphone in front of the judges. The top five highest finishers from the Semi-finals went onto the final Round. All thirty-five participants represented their respective school admirably.

Attending the finals event was Prime minister Wycliff Smith, who thanked all parents and teachers for helping the participants to get to this point. Also thanked were the organizers and judges for a wonderful event and wished all the participants good luck.

Rotary District 7020 Assistant Governor Marcellia Henry congratulated the parents for supporting and motivating their children and being present to cheer their child on. She praised the teachers for their dedication and selfless sacrifice in preparing the contestants to do their best, and for them to be proud of this great achievement. They were told they are super stars and not many persons can do what they have done during this spelling Bee.

The judges were introduced, moderator Amanda Bedminister, Head Judge Vice President Denise Antrobus, judges Rotarian Davy Moree and Mrs. Yvette Hart, the timekeeper was President Aernout Kraaijeveld and logistics tech Rotaractor Tisiana Hart. The invocation was given by Mrs. Yvette Hart and the St. Maarten Song was led by Secretary Grace Linger.

The finish was very close but clear cut. In 1st place receiving a trophy and Apple iMac 21.5” computer was Emily Gumbs from the Alwyn Allison School in Anguilla. The winning school also won a desktop computer with 27” monitor and a WiFi printer. Emily also received a perfect score in all three rounds.

In 2nd place receiving a trophy and an Apple Macbook Air laptop was Kushaan Sharma from the Mac Browlia F. Maillard Campus. In 3rd place receiving a trophy and an iPad was Mikalia Richardson from the Alwyn Allison School in Anguilla. In 4th place receiving a Fitbit watch was Jeremiah Cantave from Mac Browlia F. Maillard Campus and in 5th place also receiving a Fitbit watch was Jansela Bruno from the Valley Primary School in Anguilla.

The school winning the printer for the most supportive school was the Alwyn Allison Primary school Anguilla, who’s supporters came in large numbers for all three events.

Two Smart TV’s were raffled, Rotary Anguilla Secretary Shemica Hodge won the 40” and Davina McAlmont won the 50” Smart TV.

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle and The Sunrise Rotaract Club would like to thank all the sponsors and donors without whose help we could not have held the 8th successful Rotary & Rotaract Spelling Bee.

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay on Tuesdays at 7:00pm. For more information, persons can send an e-mail to or visit the Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle’s Facebook page.


SMMC to host Sleep Apnea and Snoring Public Session on Friday


SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On Friday, November 8th, 2019, St. Maarten Medical Center will host a public session on Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring at the University of St. Martin at starting 7:30pm. The sessions will be facilitated by our very own, Cardiologist Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake, Otolaryngologist Dr. Hubert Faber, Otolaryngologist Dr. Dick Wong Chung, and Otolaryngologist Dr. Maarten Majoor and will cover a wide variety of topics including Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep and the disruption of normal sleep. Common symptoms are unexplained daytime sleepiness, restless sleep and snoring with periods of silence followed by gasps. Other symptoms include morning headaches, insomnia, trouble concentrating, mood changes, depression, forgetfulness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, overweight in children, mood changes, sleep terrors and heavy night sweats.

In addition to this, obstructive sleep apnea alters glucose metabolism and promotes insulin resistance. This can result in health complications such as heart disease, increased blood pressure, diabetes and obesity which lead to increased health risks and medical costs for patients.

This public session will be followed by a Symposium for Doctors and other Medical Professionals on St. Maarten and the surrounding islands with the aim of organizing a sleep center on St. Maarten. This is in collaboration with Specialists, Orthodontist Dr. Wissam El Hage and the Sleep & Breathing Disorders Center.

SMMC encourages the general public to attend and learn more about Sleep Apnea and Snoring and its treatment. 


SMMC recruits House Officer Dr. Liqui Lung via Fred Expo


SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently welcomed Dr. Feyemy Liqui Lung who is working as a House Officer at the hospital and was recruited via the Dutch Caribbean Recruitment Expo, FRED.

Dr. Liqui Lung is no stranger to St. Maarten as her mother was raised on the island and states: “I was born and raised in Curacao. When I studied in Europe, I started to appreciate the Caribbean more and more, and also became to realize the big culture differences there is between the place I was studying (The Netherlands) and the place where I was born (Curacao). My mother was raised on St. Maarten and hearing her good memories of the island, I was always curious to get to know this part of the Caribbean”.

As a House Officer at SMMC she will work, examine, diagnose as well as administer general medical treatment in the prevention and control of diseases. In her new capacity, she works in close collaboration with the Medical Specialists to provide medical care to patients on the Medical/Surgical ward.

When asked what her primary role will be as a House Officer at SMMC, Dr. Liqui Lung states: “My primary role as House Officer is to take care of the patients who are admitted to the hospital. With the daily ward rounds, I get to know the patients and find out what is needed to take care of them and finally, to safely discharge them”

Dr. Liqui Lung has worked in South Africa and Panama apart from The Netherlands as an intern and when asked about those experiences, she stated: “I learned that there is no one way to perform medicine. As a doctor you wish and try to do the best you can for your patient. My experiences abroad thought me that the best care for patients variates between cultures. Not only from a social side, but also considering the resources that are available. For instance, in Panama I experienced for the first time how a Cardiologist gave me money out of his own wallet to buy medicine at the pharmacy across the hospital, because the necessary medicine was not available at the hospital. A situation like this would be unthinkable in The Netherlands, where I got my education. In South Africa, I learned that operations are also possible in the heat of 30 degrees Celsius (without air-conditioning). Finally, in Curacao, where I worked at the ER, I learned that (secondary) prevention and education is very important. Especially for people with Asthma Exacerbation and Diabetic comas because of not understanding how to use their medication”.    

Asked what her first impression is about SMMC, Dr. Liqui Lung responds candidly: “Working at SMMC is actually pretty similar to my previous job in The Netherlands. Logistically the work is almost the same. The main difference is the reasons of admissions. From my first impression I expect to have a great and educational time here.

Medical Director, Dr. Felix Holiday states: “With the arrival of Dr. Liqui Lung Another we again emphasize our mission to enhance quality care while expanding the variety of specialties. It also gives great pleasure to be able contribute to young professionals from the Dutch Caribbean to further build their career through SMMC.”

SMMC welcomes Dr. Liqui Lung to its team of Doctors and nurses and look forward to a good working relationship together, serving our patient community with quality care close to home.

SMMC photo2

SMMC’s Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday and Dr. Feyemy Liqui Lung during the 2019 FRED Expo in Rotterdam (The Netherlands).





DCNA convention 2019: Youth participation, nature management and science organizations united at a lively gathering in Bonaire


SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - The DCNA convention on Bonaire was recently the backdrop for the start of a new phase of international nature management in the Dutch Caribbean, with a special focus on the future. The recently held convention was a resounding success, with the protected area management organizations from the six islands leading nature organizations and scientific institutions from the Netherlands, local stakeholders and youth nature ambassadors in closer collaboration. Participants joined forces for "our" nature, the most unique ecosystems of the Dutch Kingdom.


The protected area management organizations of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Maarten and Statia are increasingly working together to enact pragmatic conservation actions in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom. Expertise has been shared, experiences have been exchanged and a great deal has been learned from each other, fulfilling one of the main tasks of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance: the wide-scale collaboration to safeguard nature in the Dutch Caribbean.

This in light of the increasing evidence that the issues threatening nature affect all islands jointly and are interconnected including the decline of the coral, the warming of the sea water, the rise in sea level, soil erosion on the islands, the arrival of invasive exotic species, the nuisance caused by stray cattle and the damage to nature caused by unsustainable tourism.


Unfortunately, the list of concerns and risks can even be further extended and the challenges that lie ahead are significant. However, a serious basis for action has been established during this convention and all parties have set their sight on a joint approach for conservation management This approach has been given more substance through strategic workshops facilitated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-NL), Bird Protection Netherlands and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-NL), which all protected area management organizations and the DCNA board attended.

This highlights another main task of DCNA: bringing the parks into contact with international stakeholders in the field of nature protection and conservation. The Dutch Caribbean Bird Conservation Work Group was therefore established during the Convention.

A common vision and direction have been established and tasks based on a common direction have been assigned. The following applies to all islands: investing in nature and the environment is not a luxury, but a crucial to the future social and economic well-being of island residents.

Valuable nature lessons for the youth

During the DCNA convention there was also special attention for the youth of the six Dutch Caribbean islands. From the youth nature programs of Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba, STINAPA Bonaire, CARMABI on Curaçao, Saba Conservation Foundation, Saba Nature Education (SNE) and Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, four teenagers per island have been brought together. Thanks to the co-financing of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Rabobank and STINAPA, a weekend-long program was organized with overnight stays, field excursions and workshops in the Washington Slagbaai National Park specially organized for the younger generation.

It was a unique weekend where participants experienced and learned a lot about Bonaire's nature, corals, birds and plastic pollution, which they will remember for the rest of their lives. The young nature ambassadors will take this knowledge and experience with them and will spread that knowledge on all six islands with the support of the local nature management organizations. Youth participation will become a permanent part of the annual DCNA program for the six islands. We want to thank everybody that helped organizing this amazing event, and the Warehouse Bonaire for generously sponsoring with groceries.

Coral, NWO and (citizen) science workshops biologists

Biologists from the local nature organizations on all six Dutch Caribbean islands also had the opportunity to get first hand expert knowledge from coral restoration expert Francesca Viridis of Reef Renewal Bonaire, coral scientist Erik Meesters of Wageningen University & Research, (citizen) science platform expert Hans Verdaat and Arjan de Groene of the World Wildlife Fund in the Netherlands.

The knowledge that participating biologists will take back to their respective islands is invaluable. Additionally, important steps have been taken to enhance the working relationship between the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), scientists and local actors. The day ended with a well-attended public lecture about the status of the coral reefs.

Restart DCNA

After a difficult period, DCNA shows with the new developments that it forms a unique network of leading and cross-disciplinary organizations, and a refocus on the actual conservation needs of the parks on the six islands is now a fact. In the coming months there will be a lot of hard work to get the action plan going.

Next steps DCNA convention

One of the outcomes of the DCNA convention is that several joint statements, presently in draft, will soon be submitted to local and Dutch governments. The statements concern the conditions that are necessary to safeguard nature management for the future on all six islands.


Laville meets with SER to discuss reports on poverty alleviation


SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Romain Laville former Member of Parliament (MP) and candidate contesting the 2020 elections met with Mr. Gerard Richardson, the Secretary-General of the Social Economic Council (SER) on Tuesday November 5th, 2019.

The purpose of the meeting was for Laville to receive a presentation on the institution, work method, and role of the SER, in particular where it pertains to previous research conducted by the SER on poverty alleviation.

Mr. Laville who has always stood by the people of Sint Maarten, is once again planning to promote a social agenda which places emphasis on the vulnerable groups within our community such as children, single parents and our seniors.

As a Member of Parliament (2010-2014), Laville brought a number of motions in Parliament consisting of law amendments to combat poverty on Sint Maarten. Examples are the Rights of employees to transfer from one organization to the next without losing their accrued benefits, mandatory Employer/Employee pension plan, Free Primary Education, etc.

Another important instrument Laville brought in 2014 to alleviate poverty on Sint Maarten was the Healthfast breakfast program for our public schools. This was done in collaboration with the airport and Goddard catering.

“While all my motions were passed unanimously in Parliament, Governments have not carried out their responsibility in executing these motions that would have alleviated the needs of our people. It is for this reason that, this time around my team and I have chosen a different approach to combat poverty on Sint Maarten.

“We have analyzed different reports, policies and legislation that deal with the matter of poverty and have drafted what we consider a solution to the poverty situation on Sint Maarten. Currently, we are in the process of sharing our proposal with institutions within our community that either conduct research and report on Socio-Economic matters such as the SER, organizations that defend the rights of the vulnerable groups within our community, labour organizations and groups that are living within poverty. This with the goal to gather their critical feedback on our proposal to combat poverty on Sint Maarten”, stated Laville.

Mr. Laville thanked the Secretary-General of the SER for his presentation and elaborations given on previous reports on poverty alleviation produced by the SER. While the views expressed by the Secretary-General, were his personal views and opinions and might not represent the opinion of the board of the SER, the former MP was grateful for the fruitful discussion on poverty alleviation for our people.

Laville intends to meet with a few more institutions and groups within the next weeks prior to finalizing and presenting his proposal to the people of Sint Maarten.


Plastic Surgeon Dr. Buncamper to have consultations at SMMC


SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) – The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is pleased to inform the general public that during the week of November 11th to November 16th, 2019 Plastic Surgeon Dr. Marlon Buncamper will be working at SMMC and will be available for consultations.

Since completing his medical education, Dr. Buncamper has worked in both private clinics and hospitals performing plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries. Despite this being his first work visit to SMMC, in 1997 and 1998, Dr. Buncamper worked on the island as an Accident & Emergency Physician before returning to The Netherlands to advance his career.

SMMC looks forward to welcoming Dr. Buncamper back to St. Maarten and urges patients interested in a consultation to make an appointment by calling the Outpatient Department at: Tel: +(1-721) 543-1111 ext. 1300 or 1378. Appointments can be made from Mondays - Fridays between 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. SZV patients are requested to obtain a referral letter from their family doctor.


Parliament unanimously passes MP Brison’s Mullet Bay inquiry


SINT MAARTEN (MULLET BAY) – Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison made Parliamentary history again on Tuesday when his proposal to conduct a Parliamentary into Mullet Bay was approved by Parliament by a unanimous vote. All members of Parliament present voted FOR!

It was the first time the Parliament for St. Maarten voted to initiate a Parliamentary inquiry into any subject. As he has been stressing for a few months already, MP Brison re-iterated that the people of St. Maarten has waited nearly a quarter of a century to see any kind of action on Mullet Bay. The time to act is NOW. "24 Years is long enough. We need answers and we need them NOW. Then we can see how we will proceed on Mullet Bay," MP Brison said.

MP Christopher Emmanuel said in voting for the inquiry: history will show that a few members of Parliament would have done something good for St. Maarten today.

The only MP not casting a vote for or against is MP Frans Richardson of the USP faction who was in Parliament but was not present for the vote.

"I want to give a special thanks to all of you for very humbling outpouring of support that I have received for the Mullet Bay Legislation. Thanks to all and my work will continue unabated for the people of St. Maarten," MP Brison said.

The document outlines four research objectives:

  1. Legislative shortcomings allowing for this problem to exist, and the effects of jurisprudence that may have resulted through litigation, particularly in regard to the ownership of conflict zones such as the beach and the pond, and how these short comings should be addressed (New legislation, amended legislation, budgetary amendments, instructions to government by means of an amendment in the governing program).
  2. What actions government can and should take to ensure the property is used in the best interest of the people of the country, being proactive ahead of potential irrevocable actions, such as auctions and/or settlements by the Central Bank, which may or may not be in the best interest of St. Maarten.
  3. Finding a fully sustainable, environmentally friendly solution to the development of Mullet Bay, and continued protection of its natural resources – zoning, expropriation, assigning monument status.
  4. The lack of economic activity for the area over 24 years and what this has cost the country, and what economic benefits could be derived from the country if it were developed in a sustainable manner.

The proposal calls for the inquiry to be executed in four phases: The preliminary information gathering Phase, Verification and Hearing Phase – the phase where the commission will be able to verify information, hear witnesses and seek advice from external entities for possible solutions, the Reporting Phase – The information is placed by the commission into a report and Conclusions and Actions - the conclusions from the report are delivered and debated by parliament, actions agreed, and the commission continues to follow up to ensure action is taken after the report is debated by Parliament.


Sint Maarten is Still Broke!


SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – By Adonis Cyntje) - Dear Editor, During last week’s press briefing, the Minister of Finance informed one of the reporters about Sint Maarten’s current liquidity status. Sint Maarten currently holds between 25 to 30 million guilders in its coffers.  

Our annual budget is about 450 million guilders, and we have difficulties balancing our budget. Furthermore, we know that the government has been relying on adhoc payments such as the sale of its shares in UTS to cover expenses. As a result, we have no budget for capital expenses.  

Many have been asking why our neighboring countries have been receiving financial aid from the Dutch and other international organizations without conditions. That is because they are in more deplorable conditions according to international standards when compared to Sint Maarten. But don’t worry, Sint Maarten is heading there to deplorable conditions at this rate. We’ve been having a declining economy since 2014 as all the cabinet changes has been costly for Sint Maarten. 

We cannot blame the Dutch or CFT for a deal we accepted since 10-10-10. When we’re told, we shouldn’t accept the world bank’s bureaucratic procedures or conditions from the Dutch, we should question what was the alternative as we’ve been spending so poorly for the last 7 years before Hurricane Irma. 

We became a country that could not take care of its own people in times of disasters. The truth is, we lack long term macro-economic planning by the Sint Maarten Government and that is partially due to political instability. 

The good news is however, that there is a viable solution and it starts with putting people like me and your readers at the forefront of any policy making process. This will ensure that hard working families are able to afford what they need, that we give our entrepreneurs a head start, that we strengthen and diversify our economy and we alleviate poverty in our society. 

People say things hasn’t changed over the last 10 years, but it has. Only, the changes have not been for us!

Adonis Cyntje

COMMENTARY: The comments here are the sole responsibility of the author.


Anti-smoking campaigners want ban on too-toxic cigarettes


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Anti-smoking campaigners Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd , Amsterdam city council and 18 other organisations are going to court to demand a ban on cigarettes with too much tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide, the AD reports.

Tests carried out by public health institute RIVM have shown that many cigarettes contain more of the harmful substances than is flagged up by the official measuring method used by the Dutch product safety board NVWA.

An earlier request to NVWA to ban the cigarettes by the Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd, which focuses on preventing young people from smoking, was rejected, as was a petition to the health ministry.

The next port of call for the campaigners is the administrative court in Rotterdam which will look at the case on Monday, the paper said. Cigarettes can contain no more than 10 mgs of tar, 1 mg of nicotine and 10 mg carbon monoxide and all brands claim they are keeping to the norm.

However, the RIVM tests showed that 43 out of 100 cigarettes exceed the norm for one or more of the toxic substances. Because there is a margin of 20% none of the producers has ever been fined, with the exception of Lexington.

The size of the fine is unknown, the AD said. The Dutch term for a cigarette that ostensibly complies with the norm but doesn’t is ‘sjoemelsigaret’.



No more money for schools, education minister tells striking teachers


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Teachers will continue to strike until the government comes up with a structural increase in funding to pay for more staff and to boost salaries, a spokesman for the Aob teaching union said on Wednesday.

‘This cabinet has to invest in education on a structural basis so that we can start work on reducing the pressure on teachers,’ Kim van Strien is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS.

Some 4,300 secondary and primary schools were closed on Wednesday as teachers took their campaign to the streets. There were demonstrations in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Leeuwarden, Enschede and Eindhoven, while in The Hague protestors were able to watch the parliamentary debate on big screens.

However, education minister Arie Slob said that he does not intend to release any more money for schools. Slob told MPs before Wednesday’s debate on the education ministry budget that he understood that teachers are finding things tough.

‘That is why we have put these new proposals to parliament, which includes structural measures,’ he said. On Friday the government said it would allocate an extra €460m to schools, but only €363m of that is actually new money.

‘We are being given a very expensive present, but it will do nothing to solve the biggest problem facing education: we will not get more pay or more teachers,’ Jan van de Ven, of campaign group PO in Actie told the NRC.

Because most of the money is not structural, schools will use it to buy new computers or sinks for the washrooms, he said. ‘The money will disappear into a black hole and then the minister is going to ask what was done with it.’

Campaign groups argue that only a structural increase in funding will allow schools to permanently increase pay and take on more teachers.



Dutch bankruptcy lawyer survives gun attack near his home in Germany


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A Dutch lawyer who specialises in bankruptcy law has been shot close to his home just over the border in Germany while out walking his dog.

Philippe Schol, 43, had a practice in Enschede but lived in German town of Gronau. He was fired at from a passing car and was taken to hospital for treatment. His injuries are not life-threatening, but he was hit in the leg by at least one bullet, broadcaster NOS said.

One witness said he heard three shots directed at Schol. The gun was fired from a white car with Dutch number plates which drove off at high speed. According to German police, the car had several occupants.

Website says that the Dutch counter-terrorism unit NCTV was aware of the risk to Schol and that he had been the subject of a risk analysis. And according to local paper Tubantia, the attack could be linked to complex and acrimonious bankruptcy proceedings surrounding a gym club in the town of Losser.

The attack on Schol is the second on a Dutch lawyer within six weeks. On September 18, criminal law specialist Derk Wiersum was shot dead outside his home in the Amsterdam.

He was defending a crown witness in a major drugs and murder trial.



Schiphol security alert is a false alarm, military police alerted by mistake


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A major security scare at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Wednesday evening has turned out to be a false alarm.

Military police said shortly after 7pm they were investigating a situation which, Dutch media reported, involved an Air Europa flight due to leave for Madrid at 19.10.

Pier D was closed to all passengers and prime minister Mark Rutte said he was being kept in touch with developments. Dutch media also reported that a member of the crew had pressed the button to report a hijacking, sparking the security scare.

Shortly after 8.30pm, the military police issued a new message stating that ‘passengers and crew are safely out out of the plane’. ‘The investigation is continuing at the location,’ the Twitter message said.

It then soon transpired that the incident was a false alarm and that the pilot had pressed the emergency code by accident. In line with airport protocol, the emergency services were then alerted.

‘We deeply apologise’, Air Europa said on Twitter. Among the rumours circulating on social media were that three men armed with knives were on the plane, that heavily armed special service police officers had boarded the plane to evacuate the passengers and that Utrecht central railway station had also been evacuated because of a security issue.



Machinery exports soar, generate most for the Dutch economy


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands earns most from exporting machines and machinery parts, according to new figures from national statistics office CBS.

Machines for making micro-chips and for the food industry – such as slaughterhouse systems – top the list of high-earning exports, generating added value of €16bn last year, the CBS said.

This is up 25% on 2017. Next on the list was metal, such as steel and steel products, with €6bn, followed by the ornamental flower, tree and bulb industry, which added €5.5bn to the economy.

Gas, high-quality plastics, meat, dairy products, pharmaceuticals and chemicals also generated significant sums, the CBS said.



Diemen man investigated for illegal abortion after two bodies found


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man arrested two weeks ago after police found two bodies in a house in Diemen is suspected of carrying out an illegal abortion and of manslaughter, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday.

The man, 48, was the tenant of the house where the bodies – that of a woman and a child – were found. He was remanded in custody for two weeks by judges in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

The public prosecutor has declined to give further details about the case and said the investigation is continuing. The Parool named the suspect as Dennis van E, and said he was a pension expert who had temporarily stopped working in the financial sector because ‘he had enough money’.

Neighbours told the paper that Van E had lived in the Diemen apartment for some time and that a younger woman had moved in recently. They also spoke of police finding a blood bath when they entered the apartment on September 18.



Primary teachers’ strike on November 6 to go ahead after unions change tack


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A strike by primary school teachers on November 6 appears to be back on after unions reversed their decision to call it off. The largest union in the sector, the AOb, withdrew its support for the strike on Friday after the cabinet agreed a €460 mln funding package with unions to close the pay gap between primary and secondary teachers over two years and relieve their workload.

However, teachers’ group PO in Actie, which organised mass protests earlier in the year to press the government to invest in education, said it would continue to seek a long-term pledge.

The organisation said a poll on its website showed teachers almost unanimously wanted to go ahead with the strike. ‘Less than one per cent of more than 11,000 teachers who voted were in favour of the deal,’ said a spokeswoman.

‘Teachers feel they are not being heard, so why has the union not consulted its members?’ On Sunday the AOb and the other major teaching union, CNV Onderwijs, changed course and backed Wednesday’s strike.

AOb’s chair, Liesbeth Verheggen, stepped down with immediate effect during an emergency meeting after colleagues accused her of going ‘beyond her mandate’. CNV admitted it had been a mistake to call off the action and teachers who stayed at home would receive strike pay.

‘Substantial sum’

The decision about whether to join the strike will be taken by individual schools. Some are closing their doors on Wednesday while others, such as Basisschool Baardwijk in Waalwijk, are staying open but teachers will not be giving lessons that day.

Education minister Arie Slob said the investment would still go ahead and insisted it was a good deal for teachers. ‘It is a substantial sum,’ he told AD. ‘Everybody acknowledged that on Friday.

We are doing this for 2020 and 2021. I can’t make any promises beyond my own term in cabinet, but look at the politicians and see what political parties have been saying in terms of their wishes for the next cabinet term.’

Labour party leader Lodewijk Asscher said the strike was necessary at a time when four in 10 schools say they have no emergency cover if teachers fall ill. ‘The teachers’ shortage is not an incidental but a structural problem,’ he said.

‘Teachers don’t work on a one-off basis. The wage gap is not temporary. So we need a lot more than the one-off investment that the cabinet is offering.’



Dutch set aside €110m to combat organised crime, set up special drugs unit


SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The cabinet has set aside an extra €110m to combat organised crime, some of which will be used to set up a special anti-drugs unit, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus confirmed on Monday.

The cash comes on top of an earlier €100m to head off criminal interference in local government and €291m to strengthen the police force across the board. The minister first said the Netherlands will get a new ‘narco brigade’, similar to America’s Drug Enforcement Administration, in September.

The news came in the wake of the murder of laywer Derk Wiersum who was defending a crown witness in a complicated drugs and murder trial and was himself shot dead.

The new unit will involve the police, tax ministry inspectors and the military police. ‘It will focus on exposing and tackling criminal company processes, crime bosses and their networks,’ the minister said in a statement.

The minister hopes the plan will be completed in spring 2020 and that the unit will make society better able to resist the ‘poison’ of the criminal drugs industry, criminal money, intimidation and murder.

This February an influential police union labeled the Netherlands a narco state and at the end of August, a new report commissioned by Amsterdam’s mayor said that the city is unable to tackle drugs-related criminal activity.

Behind the scenes, the report said, the big drugs bosses have no trouble amassing large fortunes in what the Telegraaf called ‘a golden age for the Amsterdam drugs criminals’.



ODM: Tuesday marked World Tsunami Awareness Day


GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – National Disaster Coordinator/Fire Chief Clive Richardson said on Wednesday, that Tuesday, November 5 marked World Tsunami Awareness Day.

In the last century, Tsunamis according to United Nations (UN) figures, have claimed more than a quarter of a million lives, killing on average, around 4,600 per event, over the course of 58 recorded instances.

To mitigate disaster risks, the UNs Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) put forth a 15-year framework outlining seven clear targets to achieve substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, known as the Sendai Framework, adopted in Sendai, Japan, in 2015.

In 2019, the Day promotes the Framework’s target to reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, including hospitals and schools. 

Over 700 million people live in low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States, are exposed to extreme sea-level events including tsunamis, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Investing in resilient infrastructure, early warning systems, and education is critical to saving people and protecting their assets against tsunami risk in the future.

By the year 2030, an estimated 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes a tsunami as a series of ocean waves generated by sudden displacements in the sea floor, landslides, or volcanic activity.

“In the deep ocean, the tsunami wave may only be a few inches high. The tsunami wave may come gently ashore or may increase in height to become a fast-moving wall of turbulent water several meters high.

“Although a tsunami cannot be prevented, the impact of a tsunami can be mitigated through community preparedness, timely warnings, and effective response.”

For a destructive force such as a tsunami, the only way is to be prepared. The Caribbean Region is a seismic zone and there are exposed coastal areas.

Fire Chief/National Disaster Coordinator Richardson added that Sint Maarten at the moment is in the process of adding additional resources to its disaster management system.

Additional funds Richardson said would also go towards disaster-proofing critical infrastructure, adding that the rebuilding and reconstruction process should be based on the primary principle of ‘build to last’ and ‘resilience’.

While tsunamis cannot be prevented, the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) would like to offer a source of information – visit - on things you can do before a tsunami that could save your life and the lives of your family and friends.  Go to the ‘hazards’ tab and select ‘tsunami.’  Prevention web is a knowledge platform for disaster risk reduction.

When a tsunami warning is issued, ‘take action!’ Move to high ground; stay out of the water, away from beaches and waterways.

According to the NOAA, a natural tsunami warning may be your first, best or only warning that a tsunami is on its way. Natural tsunami warnings include strong or long earthquakes, a loud roar (like a train or an airplane) from the ocean, and unusual ocean behavior.

The ocean could look like a fast-rising flood or a wall of water. Or, it could drain away suddenly, showing the ocean floor, reefs and fish like a very low, low tide. If you experience any of these warnings, even just one, a tsunami could be coming.

Some additional preparations that you should have in place are: Make an emergency plan that includes a family communication plan and put together a portable disaster supplies kit that is easily accessible and contains basic items you and your family may need in any emergency.

Include your pets in all your preparedness efforts. Since you do not know where you will be when disaster strikes, prepare kits for work and your car, too.  Meet with your family to discuss the plan and why you need to prepare for a disaster. Practice your plan and keep it up to date.

Be a role model. Share your knowledge and plans with friends and neighbors so they can prepare themselves and their loved ones.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was adopted by the UN Member States on 18 March 2015 at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

The Framework aims to achieve the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries over the next 15 years.

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