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Motion calls for corruption probe St. Maarten, Curaçao

THE HAGUE--The Dutch Government has no objections to a motion of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament calling for an investigation of the flow of money between criminal organisations and the governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten.

In fact, Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk suggested expanding the motion of Members of Parliament (MPs) Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) and André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party to include drug smuggling and trafficking in women in the investigation.

Van Raak and Bosman requested the Dutch Government to facilitate an investigation into the (illegal) flow of money between the underworld and upperworld in Curaçao and St. Maarten, between these countries and with countries outside the Kingdom. Specific attention was asked for the influence and actions of the (illegal) gambling industry on the islands.

The motion mentioned “increasing indications of criminal money in the governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten.” According to Van Raak and Bosman, “these practices were disadvantageous for the international position and reputation of all countries in the Kingdom.” The motion stated that all countries in the Kingdom were responsible for good governance in the different countries.

Plasterk saw the motion as support for the policy of the Dutch Government which has been to strengthen the justice system in the Dutch Caribbean. He suggested to even broaden the scope of the motion by not only focusing on the gambling industry but to also include drug smuggling and trafficking in women.

“It concerns all parts where the underworld touches the upperworld,” said Plasterk, who lauded the motivation in the motion that the responsibility for good governance was considered a Kingdom affair. “This is where it is supposed to be. I consider this an encouragement to continue what we are doing,” he said.

Plasterk assured the Second Chamber that he was willing to financially invest in strengthening the justice system on the islands, including the Coast Guard, Customs, Police and the Prosecutor’s Office. He said that the additional budget still had to be found and as such he could not give guarantees.

Van Raak, who read the motion and had requested a short follow-up meeting after last week’s debate with Plasterk concerning the level of governance in the Dutch Caribbean countries, said that his objective was to close the faucet of bad money and to make sure that it was eliminated from politics.

Bosman said that various reports had shown that the link between the under and upper- world on the islands was “big.” He said it was even more worrisome that St. Maarten was showing lack of initiative to effectively tackle integrity issues. “The Integrity Chamber should be something to take with two hands, not only in St. Maarten, but also in Curaçao and Aruba,” he said.

Bosman referred to Friday’s Court ruling in the case of Member of Parliament of St. Maarten Cornelius de Weever versus his person in which he was summoned to only make statements that were based on facts. Bosman said that this was why he wanted visible facts. “Follow the money is the most simple system,” he said about the motivation for submitting Wednesday’s motion.

“The flow of money make clear where the interests lie. The gambling industry, money laundering and trafficking in women to name a few. This is the ultimate test of good governance and integrity,” said Bosman.

Van Raak also presented a second motion which called on the Dutch Government to seek permission of the Curaçao Government to arrange a closed door hearing of the Second Chamber with informants about the reported major theft of data from Curaçao Security Agency VDC in 2011. This motion was co-signed by MPs Gert-Jan Segers of the ChristianUnion and Peter Oskam of the Christian Democratic Party CDA.    

“There are informants who would like to speak with us, but that is only possible if Curaçao gives permission,” said Van Raak. He said that he would ask the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations to file this request if the Dutch Government wasn’t willing to do so. He said that he was set on continuing the investigation of this theft.

Minister Plasterk advised against this second motion. He said the VDC was an autonomous affair of the Country Curaçao. The minister displayed little enthusiasm to request Willemstad’s cooperation to have informants meet with the Dutch Parliament. He said that if Parliament wanted this, it would have to make the request itself.

Plasterk said that it would be considered “very strange to say the least” if the situation had been the other way around whereby another country asked him whether he was willing to send personnel or former personnel of the Dutch Intelligence Agency AIVD to that other country for a hearing.

The Second Chamber will vote on both motions during a plenary session next Tuesday.

Indisu dancers take top honours at global dance event in Los Angeles

page1a268LOS ANGELES/PHILIPSBURG--Indisu Dance Theatre of St. Maarten dancers proved that they are amongst the best in the world when they took top honours recently at Dance Excellence, a global dance event in Los Angeles, California.

Students left St. Maarten on Thursday, March 26, and returned on Saturday, April 4. During the weeklong festival, Indisu dancers were able to attend the Broadway production of Newsies in Hollywood and dance at Long Beach Performing Arts Center for the International Performance Boards, competing in three categories and winning the highest accolades.

They won first honours in Junior Jazz “City Lights,” first honours in the Senior Jazz “Black and Gold” and second honours in the Senior Modern “Skyfall.”

With more than 800 participants from 27 countries on five continents, the Indisu dance team was able to share in a magnitude of cultures, connect with dance teachers and learn about the industry and how to succeed during the event. There even was an opportunity to audition with the Young Americans, for which some of the dancers will qualify next year.

“This would enable young St. Maarten talent to study with world-class teachers, get a college education and tour the world sharing their art,” Indisu Co-Director Ihndhira Richardson-Marlin said Tuesday.

During the festival the 22 Indisu Dance Theater dancers, who were supported by 15 chaperones and family members, were able to take 20 Master Classes taught by world renowned choreographers who are recognised in the industry and perform on So You Think You Can Dance, the Oscars, Center Stage, Fame, Step Up and on Broadway and more.

“These talented Master Teachers shared their knowledge of Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Tap, Contemporary, Improv, African, Musical Theater, Performance and Auditioning during three jam-packed days of dancing,” Richardson-Marlin told The Daily Herald.

Indisu dancers Dejah Doncher and Shaneisha Gijsbertha were selected to perform in the Dance Excellence Company and “they did us all proud with a performance at the Closing Gala, singing and dancing to some of Broadway’s top musical numbers. They made lifelong friends and were able to connect with current Young Americans dancers and the directors,” Richardson-Marlin said.

St. Maarten also had the opportunity to perform live on stage at Disneyland, exciting the park visitors and other Dance Excellence staff and participants with a mix from the musical Fame.

Indisu Directors were recognised for the choreography and teaching, received many great reviews from other directors from around the world and discussed the possibilities of exchanges in the near future.

“It was indeed a beautiful trip and experience. We did our island proud,” said Richardson-Marlin.

This was the fourth consecutive year that Indisu Dance Theater of St. Maarten was selected and invited to represent St. Maarten in the global dance event. After attending the festival for the first time in 2012, Directors Susha Hien and Richardson-Marlin agreed that this edition could not be missed.

Richardson-Marlin said it had been an expensive venture, costing more than US $2,500 per participant, but noted that with strong support of the “amazing parents” and sponsors the Harbour, utilities company GEBE, Princess Juliana International Airport SXM, Social Health Care Insurance SZV and TelEm, the group had pulled it off successfully.

Dance Excellence is an international festival for young dancers held annually in Los Angeles, California. The finest dancers and dance studios from all over the world are handpicked to attend. The studios are selected by their dedication to dance, performance and education of young dancers.

Hien and Richardson-Marlin thanked the parents for their support, students for shining like the bright stars and all sponsors.

Lions Club lobby Parliament to hike drinking age from 16 to 18

~ To correct discrepancy in laws ~

PHILIPSBURG--The Lions Club, on Tuesday, called for an increase in the legal drinking age from 16 to 18, to correct a discrepancy in the laws and to curb drinking amongst youngsters.

The call was made during a meeting of Parliament's Permanent Committee of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs of Parliament and was supported by all Members of Parliament (MPs) present.

Melinda Hoeve of the Lions' Youth, Health, and Education (YHE) committee spoke of a discrepancy in the Penal Code and in the Licence Ordinance ("Vergunningslandsverordening"), as it relates to the sale of and serving of alcoholic beverages to minors.

While article 475 of the Penal Code prohibits the sale and serving of alcoholic beverages to minors under age 18 with a maximum prison sentence of six months or a NAf. 7,500 fine; the Licence Ordinance prohibits establishments from selling or serving alcoholic beverages to persons under the age of 16, unless accompanied by their parents or guardian. Violating the ordinance can result in a fine of up to NAf. 5,000 or a prison sentence of up to four months. Persons who repeat the offense in a two-year time span will serve a prison sentence of maximum six months.

The ordinance regulates licences for bars and restaurants; delis and fast food operations; liquor licences for wholesale and retail; hotels, guesthouses, ice cream parlours and vending machines.

Hoeve told MPs that there is need to increase the legal drinking age from 16 to 18 in the Licence Ordinance. She said as of January 1, 2014, the legal drinking age in the Netherlands became 18.

The Lions Club presentation also alluded to statistics which shows that between January and October, 2014, there were 50 accidents credited to persons driving under the influence of alcohol. Some 14 per cent of the cases were prosecuted in a court of law and nearly 25 per cent of the accidents were caused by youngsters. According to the Lions Club said between seven to 10 teens say its "easy" to get alcohol.

Representing the Lions at the meeting were Club President and member of the Lions' YHE Committee Sunil Khatnani; Vice President and YHE member Eldert Louisa; Secretary and YHE member Christ'l Larmonie; YHE Chairperson Chantal Schaminee; and YHE members Richard Boyd and Oralie Boirard.

In a power point presentation on the subject, Schaminee outlined the Lions' public awareness campaign on underage drinking. The campaign is intended to create awareness amongst youths, the public and parents; get government to raise the legal drinking age and enforce the law when businesses sell to minors and to get key stakeholders to pledge their commitment and support.

The club identified stakeholders in this process as being the community, youths and their parents, schools/educators, St. Maarten Medical Center and other healthcare professionals, the police force, Government's Collective Prevention Services/Youth Health Care, social services, Court of Guardianship, liquor distributors, shops that sell alcohol and nightclubs.

The awareness campaign will continue with from April to June, with an essay contest, educational workbooks for primary schools, thoughts of the month, awareness signs at shops, a day at the movies and lobbying efforts to change the law.

While all MPs present supported the amendment of the laws to increase the legal drinking age, several expressed concern about issues such as enforcement and addressing the root of the problem.

Like her fellow MPs, Committee Chairperson Silveria Jacobs expressed concern about the problem and said she felt it necessary to bring this issue to the floor for discussion before Carnival, when alcohol consumption is usually "rampant." She thanked the Lions Club for their presentation and assured that the committee will follow up on the matter.

First floodgates installed, project to be completed by end of April

flood_gatesPHILIPSBURG--Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure VROMI Project Manager Raymond Chittick supervised the installation yesterday of the first two floodgates by Windward Roads and the firm that designed and developed the floodgates in the Netherlands HCW.

Grills also were installed, which will operate to prevent large debris and other materials from streaming through the gates. The remaining gates will be installed during the course of the week and completed by Friday, a press release stated on Tuesday.

The complete structure of the floodgate project exists of four gates, each measuring 2.5 metres in width, totalling a structure of approximately 10 metres wide and approximately four metres high.

Each gate is capable of lifting 1.5 metres high, which will allow a total of 15 square metres of water passage (10 square metres more than previously), in accordance with International Institute for Hydraulic Environmental Engineering IHE UNESCO standards. The existing gates were demolished on December 9, 2014.

The gates are fully mechanically controlled and will be tied into utilities company GEBE's electrical grid and backed up by the sewage plant generator, which is brand new and fully capable of carrying the gates and the sewage plants easily, the release said. The gates also can be controlled manually in a worst-case scenario.

The floodgates will allow some easement in water management from Fresh Pond to Great Salt Pond in cases of torrential rain. The ponds are natural basins for water that streams down from the Cul de Sac basin and surrounding hills. Water flows from Fresh Pond into Great Salt Pond and in the instance of flooding, is pumped out through Rolandus Kanaal and out to the sea through the passage in the Vineyard area.

The floodgates also can allow movement from Great Salt Pond to Fresh Pond under the circumstances of massive flooding as experienced during Hurricane Gonzalo. In such a circumstance water would flow out to the sea through the Great Bay passage until average levels of discharge are reached. This will cause waters to settle and not move anymore

The floodgate expansion project was derived out of the report of IHE UNESCO created a few years ago as an indication to the Government of St. Maarten for proper water management that should be initiated at different stages of torrential rain and/or calamities.

The floodgate expansion project is one of three components of the complete water management proposal of the greater Philipsburg and Cul de Sac basin. The first components were the storm-water pumping facilities. Three new pumps were placed in Great Salt Pond in the span of three years.

The pumps have a worst-case-scenario capacity of approximately 87,000 gallons per minute and at highest capacity, which would be at a maximum of two hours of pumping at high speed, they can carry approximately 140,000 gallons of water per minute. Each pump has an amount of water capacity over a sustained period of one hour or more.

The second phase of the water management proposal was the expansion of the floodgates, which is the current project under execution. The expansion in accordance to IHE UNESCO now will create 10 square metres of water passage, which is in accordance with the standards for the requirements of a 100-year storm (storms of particular severity averaged at 100-year turnaround, according to recorded historic data).

All of the water that travels down in the Zagersgut channel behind the ball field under the Zagersgut bridge will be directed to the floodgates. The project is constructed in such a way that the water speed will not exceed the danger limits of more than three metres per second. The accumulated water from the hills through that channel is controlled by this new system not to surpass the danger limit.

The third phase is the extension of the Zagersgut trench all the way under the Zagersgut bridge behind the bird lookout. The trench will make a 90-degree turn towards the floodgates. This phase will be tendered shortly and proposed for construction during 2015, budget permitting.

The completion of all three phases will present a fully-functioning water management system in compliance with IHE UNESCO criteria for Fresh Pond and Great Salt Pond.

The floodgate expansion project began in November 2014. The total estimated timeframe of execution was set at approximately 3.5 months and was extended by about two months to include the extension of the discharge trench by some 40 metres.

"Now that the floodgates have arrived and are being installed, the balance of the project is predicted to be completed by end of April, which still falls within the proposed timeframe," the release said. "The project area has not raised any environmental concerns or served any environmental hazards."

The project has a price-tag of approximately 2.1 million guilders, including the extension.

West Indies bundled out for 182 against India

Defending champions India were heading for the
quarter-finals of the World Cup after dismissing the West Indies for just 182
all out in their Pool B clash in Perth.
India, who'd won all three of their previous group games, ripped through the
West Indies' top order after losing the toss at the WACA ground.
The West Indies were bowled out for just 182 in their World Cup Pool B match
against India at the WACA Ground on Friday. AFPThe West Indies were in dire
straits at 85 for seven before a fighting 57 from captain Jason Holder - no
other batsman made more than 26 -- and some shoddy Indian fielding saw them
rally to score 182.
It didn’t look enough, but at least gave the West Indians bowlers a total to
Holder’s highest score in one-day internationals was just 22 until the West
Indies’ previous match against South Africa, but he posted consecutive
half-centuries with some clean hitting.
He was the last man to fall, caught at long-on by Virat Kohli off the bowling of
Ravindra Jadeja (two for 27), having faced 64 balls and hit four fours and three
Holder’s recovery mission was assisted by India also dropping four catches,
including two simple chances.
Opener Chris Gayle’s ugly innings of 21 at the top of the order set the tone for
a number of the West Indian batsmen, who were seemingly content to gift their
opponents cheap dismissals as India’s title defence continued to gather
Gayle appeared to hold the key to his side posting a big total against India,
and there were danger signs when he struggled to get bat on ball early, playing
and missing repeatedly against opening bowlers Umesh Yadav (two for 42) and
Mohammed Shami (three for 35).
Despite losing partner Dwayne Smith for just six, continuing his lean
tournament, Gayle reverted to type when he tried to hit his way out of trouble.
He played a couple of big shots, but was also dropped on the boundary twice in
quick succession.
Another near chance ended with the run out of non-striker Marlon Samuels (two),
after big left-hander Gayle didn’t respond to his partner’s call for a single.
Gayle’s own luck ran out when he lofted another shot high to the boundary, where
Mohit Sharma completed the catch from the bowling of the returning Shami.
His departure left the West Indies reeling at 35 for three and Denesh Ramdin was
bowled by Yadav from the very next ball.

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