Some 150 people attended the first public meeting of the Windward Island People’s Movement (WIPM) on Thursday. This reports The Daily Herald. The meeting was held at the Zion’s Hill Community Centre. Master of Ceremonies was former senator of Saba, Ray Hassell. Hassell introduced all nine candidates with great enthusiasm and gave some of his own comments and views as well.
Rolando Wilson, the first candidate on the WIPM list, was first to talk to the orange coloured crowd. Wilson mentioned the construction of the new power plant which is “very important to the future of Saba” and was made possible with the assistance of the Dutch government. “We are working on creating a lower cost-of-living for the people of Saba as well as care for the youth and for the elderly. We are always open to suggestionsfrom the public,” Wilson stated.
Bruce Zagers, current Commissioner of Finance and number 3 candidate, was next to speak. “I am seeking a third term as your commissioner,” he said. “According to the opposition, Saba is a terrible place and the government has done nothing but bad things. I say, don’t just point fingers but come with credible solutions.” “We have always been transparent on our financial house because we have nothing to hide. A dialogue and negotiations for further development of Saba must be maintained with the Dutch government.” Zagers advised the public to vote not on emotions and false promises.
Eviton Heyliger, WIPM’s number 5 candidate spoke of the immigration system’s flaws and the need to keep immigrants coming. Heyliger questioned the way immigrants are treated when applying for a Dutch passport as they pay a lot of money for the application and are then denied.
Number 7 candidate Paula Childs was born in St. Vincent and has lived in Saba for 24 years. She intends to serve the people of Saba, “I may be a new candidate, but I want what is best for Saba. I am a leader, I was born to lead and I am prepared to lead.”
Amelia Nicholson closes the ranks as the number 9 candidate. Nicholson mentioned the recent accident on Lambert Hassell Road. “In situations like this we see how important goodfunctioning police and ambulance services are to us all” Nicholson stated. “The people of Saba are hungry for new ideas, I can make change happen. For 45 years the WIPM party has consisted of doers and risktakers, we will change this island with your help” Nicholson continued.
New candidate, number 8, Sundiata Lake was the next speaker. “I am focusing on careers for the youths of Saba by improving communication between local businesses and government” Lake said. Lake also plans to create a programme where internships for unemployed youths are realised.
Number 6 on WIPM’s list is new candidate Vito Charles. Charles started his speech by saying that it is important to listen to your elders but it is also important to listen to the younger people. “Ask young people what are your concerns, what’s on your mind? Young people should stay involved and be allowed to speak their minds. Education has always been a priority of the WIPM party” Charles said. Charles mentioned that WIPM is involved in all major projects on Saba. He emphasised that many areas still need improvement but questioned the ability of the opposing party to handle these concerns. “Where are their solutions?” Charles asked.
Number 4 candidate Carl Buncamper mentioned the importance of the evaluation process for Saba and said a continuation of the current government is crucial for stability at this time. “We understand our authority to review and fund several programmes, but can we for instance change the old age pension on Saba by ourselves? No, we still need to talk to the politicians in The Hague for this,” Buncamper said.
The last speaker of the evening was Chris Johnson, currently Commissioner of Education. He questioned the ability of the SLP party to handle difficult cases where for instance laws have to be evaluated. He emphasised when negotiating with Dutch politicians knowledge is necessary and Johnson stated that the SLP candidates do not possess these powers as much as the WIPM candidates do. “If you vote for the SLP, you are laying your future in their hands but with no knowledge or experience,” Johnson explained. He ended his speech by altering the saying “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” into “if it isn’t broken, don’t break it”.
After the speeches, food and drinks, there was time to socialise. The candidates took their time to talk to the attendants. The next meeting by the WIPM party is scheduled at the Eugenius Johnson Centre for March 12 at 7:00pm.