The Daily Herald reports today that more than one hundred attendants gathered at the Breadline Plaza on Tuesday evening to witness the Saba Labour Party (SLP) present their views on Saba’s progression. Each of the nine candidates held a speech to bring across their views on how to better Saba. Two of SLP’s board members also gave a speech. Born and raised Stewart Johnson, who has been in politics in St. Maarten for some years, is a big supporter of the SLP party and was the master of ceremony for the evening. “I never knew wearing blue would feel so good; when you are true, you wear blue,” Johnson said in one of his fiery introduction speeches.
Each candidate gave a presentation of their views and plans in their own style. Augustino Cirilio Martin spoke his mind on sports. He advocated more sports opportunities, especially for the children of Saba. He expressed his doubts about the interest in sports and physical education by the current government, adding, “when was the last time the commissioners went to a youth sports match?”
Former Commissioner and leader of the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Clyde van Putten was invited as the guest speaker for the night. He mentioned that Saba is at critical cross roads and that Holland has falsely promised the people of Saba, as well as St. Eustatius, heaven on earth. “We are not calling for independence, but we must be the masters in our own house,” Van Putten exclaimed to a great number of cheering people. He stated that many people believe Holland is spending millions, if not billions, of dollars on Saba alone, but according to van Putten, this is not true. “We were better off in the Antilles than in our current situation,” he concluded.
Number six candidate Monique Wilson held a more composed speech where she talked about creating a central developing location for youths in Saba. “We cannot let precious talent go to waste, so we must take a stand now,” Wilson commented. She asked the question why Saba’s culture, that their ancestors had worked so hard to develop, is now going to waste. “We need a government that will fight for its people. We need to either stand for something or fall for everything,” the number six candidate concluded.
Ulric “Steve” Hassell is a veteran politician and showed his belief that with the current elections, the SLP stands steady as a rock. “Some say, why fix the wheel if it isn’t broken? I say why not make the wheel better, faster and smoother,” Hassell explained to the crowd.
Stanley Peterson, SLP’s number two candidate, showed his views on the current leadership and tourism on Saba. “We need leaders that stand up and tell the truth. Subjects need to be discussed openly before documents are being signed,” Peterson commented. He addressed the many opportunities that are being wasted in Saba regarding tourism, where many more activities can be organised to attract tourists. Peterson called this a sign of a failing economy. He mentioned that airlines besides Winair showed their interest in sending more tourists to Saba, but these options are not picked up by the current government. Ultimately, Peterson said, many investors are ready to create new businesses in Saba, which in turn will create more job opportunities. Many of these opportunities are missed out on because of a lack of interest shown by the current leaders. Peterson promised the attendants that when SLP comes to power, these issues will not be overlooked. The number two candidate also mentioned housing and living expenses in Saba: “European Union banking rules have disqualified many people from building their own house in Saba. These issues must be addressed as well.”
Number one candidate Ishmael Levenston, who entered Saba politics in 1975, following in the footsteps of his father, the late John Esmond Mathew Levenston, was the final candidate speaker of the evening. Levenston started off with saying, “This party is God first and then you. With my experience, I’ll be able to help a lot of people because I do it from the heart. I am an old man, but I have many children and grandchildren who can wheel me into the Government Building if needed.”
The crowd reacted with great enthusiasm. Levenstone mentioned his belief in the nine SLP candidates and asked of his candidates to always stay strong. “We have to stick together and always keep listening to each other,” the number one candidate emphasised. “We blamed the Dutch for our current problems, but the fault is actually with the current government. We have to stand up to the Dutch politicians and in turn these Dutch politicians will respect you for it,” he said.
Board members Damaris Barnes and Pamela Meijvogel finalised the evening with a short speech and thank you notes. Barnes concluded by saying, “Saba is not for a select few, but for all of us.”