Email Newsletter
Haviser's Orange Movement wants constitutional referendum

By Hilbert Haar PHILIPSBURG - Dr. Jay Haviser is on a mission. With the establishment of the Orange Movement he wants to convince the Parliament in St. Maarten to hold a referendum about the country's constitutional status. Read the full story below.

Read more
Dear Reader

Finance Minister Richard Gibson recently stepped into the shoes of Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher with a passionate address about the needs of St. Maarten’s tourism industry.

"We have to improve our tourism product.” the Minister of Finance said.

Last week Tuesday, the minister already announced in Parliament a provision of 8 million guilders for the training of hospitality workers.

During a press conference on the Wednesday afternoon, he went all out about the changes that are necessary to maintain competitive as a tourism destination.

“For years our tourism economy has shown a downward trend. So what can we do? It is easy to figure out what tourists need and what they come looking for. We have been blessed with sun, sea and sand but so have many other islands in the Caribbean. We need something more. Other islands are offering the same, so people have more places to go to. We need something that excels; we have to be better than others. Tourists want better service and an environment that is attractive from the tourists’ point of view.”

Minister Gibson mentioned “a diverse cuisine as we used to have before” as one suggestion. “You give them what they want and they will come. We have to improve our tourism product.”

Training hospitality workers, as reported, is part and parcel of that improved product. Minister Gibson wants to see that program run for ten months, saying that several hotels will be back in business by the middle of next year.

“But training is not enough,” he continued. The strip in Simpson Bay from the Tropicana Casino to the airport has to be improved. That has to become a showcase of our tourism product. Right now it is shameful. If there is a shower tourists have to walk on the road to avoid puddles. We have to fix that.”

And here is more: “We also have to fix the traffic. Nothing is more vexing than leaving New York City to come here and find yourself in traffic jams that are probably worse than those in New York.”

Tourists also want exposure to local culture and history, Minister Gibson said. “Fort Amsterdam should be a premier location for shows that could attract tours from cruise ships. Peter Stuyvesant, the former mayor of New York, lost a leg in a battle that took place there. I can see the brochures: come and see how Peter Stuyvesant lost his leg in Little Bay.”

In terms of local cuisine, Minister Gibson mentioned Yvette’s Kitchen as a good example.
“All this is what I call building St. Maarten back stronger and better, and making the island more competitive. The cruise industry would welcome all this. We have a lot of work to do and it is not gonna be easy but there are opportunities. With hard work and sound management and decision making I think that we can make a big improvement in the way forward.”

We tend to agree with the minister.

Do enjoy the rest of the newsletter and have a great Saturday.

The Publisher,

PS: Jay... 13 is a bad lucky number. ;-) Headline Story
Governor Holiday requests Sarah to form interim government

Harbour View - On December 22, 2017, the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency drs. E.B. Holiday, requested the fraction leader of the Democratic Party, Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams, to finalize the formation of an interim government as...

Read more Interview
Haviser's Orange Movement wants constitutional referendum

By Hilbert Haar

PHILIPSBURG – Dr. Jay Haviser is on a mission. With the establishment of the Orange Movement he wants to convince the Parliament in St. Maarten to hold a referendum about the country’s constitutional status. His preferred option is controversial: making St. Maarten together with the BES-islands the thirteenth province of the Netherlands.

Why the Orange Movement? Haviser: “After Hurricane Irma I was shocked by the incompetence and the inability of politicians to handle the situation. I talked to colleagues and friends about this and they were in the same frame of mind: this was wrong.”

When he walked down the street after the hurricane, the 62-year old archeologist did not like what he saw: “Gangs of youngsters, actual looting and no sense of security whatsoever. It was like Lord of the Flies.” (For the uninitiated: Google the movie-title to understand this reference; it’s enlightening).

Haviser experienced a breakdown of norms and values and says that it’s a good thing that the marines stepped in to prevent things from totally getting out of control.
But the whole situation put his thought processes in overdrive. Haviser now expresses serious doubts about the autonomous status the island has acquired within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “We have to approach the question whether autonomy works or not rationally and pragmatically, not emotionally,” he said. “And to be honest: the only real solution is re-integration into the Netherlands. We have had six government in seven years; that shows that autonomy has failed. Independence is of course an option but I am cautious about that one.”

Haviser labels St. Maarten’s current constitutional status as “non-democratic autonomy.”

How’s that? “We are ruled by a few families and the politicians do not speak for the people. There is a carousel at the top of power. Always the same group. Instead of a democracy we have an oligarchical democracy where a limited number of families rule.”

The core of the Orange Movement consists of eight people. Among them is Tadzio Bervoets, manager of the Nature Foundation. “Tadzio is part of that generation that has to take these decisions.” Haviser observes. “I hope this movement will help millennials to wake up and smell the coffee.” He emphasized that the Orange Movement is not a political organization. “We want people to speak up. Afterwards, we’ll see what happens.”

Nevertheless, Haviser acknowledges that politicians are the problem. Unfortunately, under St. Maarten’s constitution, those same politicians hold the key to any referendum. Unlike in the Netherlands, where a civil initiative has to present 300,000 signatures to force a referendum, the population of St. Maarten depends on the willingness of its elected representatives for a referendum.

To put this in perspective: 300,000 signatures represent roughly 1.75 percent of the Dutch population (currently 17,186,360); If St. Maarten had similar referendum-legislation with a proportionate requirement for signatures, it would take (based on 40,000 inhabitants) only 700 signatures to force a referendum – less than the number of votes needed to win one seat in Parliament.

“The first option is to hear the people’s voice.’ Haviser says. “If politicians have nothing to fear, they will let this happen.”

But the Orange Movement is also prepared for a scenario whereby politicians will not go for a referendum. In that case, Haviser says, the Orange Movement will call on article 51 of the Kingdom Charter. This article gives the Kingdom the option to issue a general measure of kingdom administration if a body of St. Maarten does not, or insufficiently do what it has to do based on the Kingdom Charter, an international regulation, a kingdom law or a general measure of kingdom administration.

The Orange Movement wants, if it comes to that point, use article 51 to convince the Kingdom partners to pressure the Parliament of St. Maarten to hold the referendum.
In the referendum, the movement wants to present three options: the status quo, independence and ‘Status Netherlands’. The third option is Haviser’s favorite. It would create a Dutch province, consisting of St. Maarten and the BES-islands. The status would offer social benefits and administrative and logistical responsibilities based on the Dutch model.

Haviser is passionate about this initiative, yet he is realistic enough to say that, when it comes to a referendum, the majority would probably vote for the status quo – St. Maarten as an autonomous country within the Kingdom.

“I would not have reacted so strongly if Irma had not happened.” he says. “Irma has exposed our vulnerability. We are too small a country to deal with these responsibilities. We are not only talking about local issues here but politicians are only looking inward for themselves and only a small percentage of the population benefits.”

According to Haviser the Dutch model is efficient and more productive than the autonomous status St. Maarten currently has. “Look at the airport; a typical example of incompetence and nepotism. The World Bank said that it could have the airport up and running again in four months and they said that three months ago. Look where we are now; we are not handling this properly.”

Haviser does not fear any backlash from this initiative. “Call me what you like.” he says. “Call me neo-colonial, but give the population the opportunity to decide. After the storm racial tensions on the island have increased. If they want to make this about me – fine. Marcus Garvey has said: an earnest man does not fear consequences.”

The you-not-from-here-argument will not work very well against the Florida-born archeologist. “I have lived the majority of my life under the flag of the Netherlands Antilles and I believe in the unity of the islands; that is better than a division. I am also a Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau. Being knighted is not just a pretty title. It comes with the responsibility to stand up for the right decision, also when that decision is not popular. I love St. Maarten and I want the best for our island.”

While the Orange Movement’s core group consists of just eight people, Haviser says that he is amazed how many business people and community leaders agree with his initiative. “But nobody has to courage to stand up for a controversial position like this.” Poll
Poll Responses (13): " Are we facing another gang war? "

Yes - 38.5%
Too early to tell - 30.8%
I hope not! - 30.8%                     

Poll sponsored by, you order online, we deliver offline.
Here are the Orange Movement referendum options. What is your choice?
Status Quo
Status Netherlands Cruise News
Five ships in port Christmas Day and Boxing Day

PORT ST. MAARTEN - Five cruise ships with over 10,000 cruise passengers and crew will be visiting the destination on Christmas and Boxing Day. The Marella Celebration and Independence of the Seas will be in port on Monday, December 25 and...

Read more Dutch News
Reconstruction of Sint Maarten starts with 7 million euros

The Hague - It is now possible to start immediately with the reconstruction of Sint Maarten. State Secretary Knops wrote this in a letter to the Second Chamber. Now that Sint Maarten has agreed to the establishment of an Integrity Chamber and the ...

Read more
Low-income areas face most difficulty to rebuild

PHILIPSBURG - "I give clothes and food to the elderly man who lives here", community police officer Arcella Leonard gestures towards a torn-down home. Within the demolished structure one can see a small room, no larger than 6 m2, which is...

Read more ABC Islands News
The Netherlands should not forget Maduro attack ABC islands

THE HAGUE - The situation in Venezuela has not been the best in recent years. Food scarcity, an economic and political crisis and great popular uprisings are the problems that the country is currently struggling with. According to the government...

Read more
Drowning Nicolas Maduro clutches at a straw

It could not have been clearer this week that Nicolas Maduro -once a well-mannered Caracas bus driver- doesn't have control of his country as he steers this formerly rich democratic country straight off a cliff. Mr. Maduro's claim that the...

Read more News Stories
Logistical challenges prevents NV GEBE from restoring...

PHILIPSBURG - NV GEBE stated in a press release that progress continues to be made to restore power to customers who were affected by Hurricane Irma. "However due to logistical issues in several districts power will not be fully restored before...

Read more
Click here to buy a subscription today...


Read more
Princess Port de Plaisance Hosting Sponsor for the 38th...

SIMPSON BAY - The 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was destined to be a special edition from the moment hurricane Irma hit the island on 6 September. The outpouring of support from the racing community has been overwhelming, and it was clear...

Read more
EPIC plants 300 mangroves in the Lagoon

SIMPSON BAY - Over the last two weekends, staff, volunteers, and partners of the foundation Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) planted 3...

Read more

PHILIPSBURG - Two devastating hurricanes slowed down but could not derail the fundraising momentum of the region's largest cancer care and awareness event. Hurricanes Irma and Maria curtailed fundraising activities and caused the cancellation of...

Read more
Vessel towed back to port

SIMPSON BAY - The Coast Guard recently responded to an emergency call from a boat that was located offshore of Sint Maarten which has suffered some form of mechanical problems. Due to the fact that the Coast Guard and Sea Rescue Foundation's...

Read more
Advertise Here

Email today and request our advertising rates for 2018.

Read more
Central Committee meeting upcoming Wednesday

Central Committee meeting of Parliament about Draft National Ordinance to amend the 2017 Budget in connection with changes to the ordinary service, on Wednesday morning PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten -...

Read more
Armed robbery suspect faces 4 years in prison

PHILIPSBURG - Darius Edvar Ricardo A. is looking at a possible 4-year stay at the Pointe Blanche prison for his role in an armed robbery at the Gold Star jewelers on August 17 of this year. the court will pronounce its ruling on December 27.

Read more
Counterfeit dollars and a firearm could cost suspect 2,5 yrs

PHILIPSBURG - The Public Prosecutor demanded 30 months of imprisonment against Karim L. on Wednesday. The 34-year old suspect was involved in a shooting in the parking garage of the Westin Resort in Dawn Beach on May 29, 2016. Investigators found ...

Read more
Advertise Here

Email today and request our advertising rates for 2018.

Read more
Presidents of the First and Second Chambers to visit islands

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The Presidents of the First and Second Chambers of the Parliament of the Netherlands, Ankie Broekers-Knol and Khadija Arib, will pay a joint visit to the Caribbean Netherlands from January 7 th till January 13 th, 2018.

Read more Community News
Chuchubi Foundation presented two donations

Philipsburg - The Chuchubi Foundation together with The American Protest Church of the Hague, Netherlands, have presented two donations to the St Maarten Home (Stichting Zorgverlening Wit Gele Kruis) and the St Maarten of Tours Catholic Church...

Read more
SXM DOET team hopes for a strong participation in 2018

Philipsburg -On March 9 & 10, 2018 SXM DOET will be back for its fourth year in a row. The SXM DOET team; Fleur Hermanides, Melanie Choisy and Laura Bijnsdorp are hoping the community comes out in full force for the largest volunteer event in the ...

Read more
Rotary Club of St. Maarten focuses its efforts on children

PHILIPSBURG - Since the passing of Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten has spent its time, effort and financial resources with a direct focus on the children of Sint Maarten. According to the Rotary Club of Sint...

Read more

View the photos of the #SXMSTRONG Christmas Parada 2017 on Facebook.

Read more Holiday Wishes
Season's Greetings from the Parliament of Sint Maarten

Happy Holidays

Read more Advertisements
It is going to be a busy Holiday Season

Ladies and Gentlemen, This week no column from me. I doubt that anyone would be interested in reading the serious issues that I bring up, during a festive season. I could have waited another 3-4 days with this, but then everybody get stacks of...

Read more
Book AirSXM
With the high season upon us and more and more airlines are resuming flights to and from St. Maarten, we are also open to take your flight bookings to and from St. Maarten as well.
Cancel your present free Newsletter subscription first if you wish to upgrade to a paid subscription with either a Daily, Monthly or Yearly subscription.

We welcome you to our growing community of readers. Those of you who have not done so yet, can do so online at You can choose to pay immediately online with your creditcard or request to receive an invoice from us for manual payment processing.

We will be putting more and more of our recently published articles and archived news articles behind the paywall. Therefore it will be important for you to eventually purchase a paid subscription. Register today online at

If you wish to discuss a corporate account for your company, organization or department, feel free to drop us an email to discuss your needs as well.

If you have any questions, comments or if you also wish to advertise with us, email us via

We will continue to bring you reports and articles via this email newsletter. But for the latest news, updates and photo reportages keep an eye on our website online at  or follow us on Facebook, where we will also post community billboard notices, government announcements and urgent public notices as we receive them via our news desk.

If you also wish to receive news headlines, alerts and breaking news via Whatsapp, email us your whatsapp number via

Thank you for your attention to our email newsletter. Your readership is very much appreciated.

Sincerely yours,