PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel said it would be a “crying shame” if government allows the Passangrahan Royal Guest House, a recognized monument, to be sold without even an attempt from government to save it.
Emmanuel disclosed recently that the property is schedule to be auctioned around the 10th of December 2020, but the initiators of the auctioned is willing to dialogue with government and debtors to arrange a payment plan of sorts if government is willing to initiate the dialogue. The issue is important enough MP Emmanuel that he even offered to provide the contact information to Minister of Culture Rudolphe Samuel.
“It would be a crying shame if this Minister knows that Passangrahan, a recognized monument by the government of St. Maarten, is up for sale and has done nothing about it. No dialogue, no meeting with owners, whatever. To do nothing would be a crying shame,” MP Emmanuel said.
In this context the MP also asked Minister Samuel what is his definition of a monument. “Because it is impossible that things like this can happen, using an ordinance that obviously needs re-visiting. These things make no sense,” the MP said, further questioning what exactly is the US 30 million reserved from the World Bank funds for monuments is supposed to be used for.
“This same Minister voted in favor of the World Bank and its money that we have yet to see. Will the Minister now admit it was a farce?” In fact, after seeking help from government by requesting a monument permit, the owner of Passangrahan was informed by the Minister on December 4, 2020 that “government does not get involved in the determination of eligibility for sale of privately owned monuments.”
“In other words, forget about heritage, culture, history and meaning to your people. Let others do as they please with monuments and/or the surroundings of monuments that could endanger the monument itself. So why exactly do we have monument protection or even an ordinance,” MP Emmanuel asked.
He went on to stress that the care of monuments is being willfully stagnated. He said it was ironic that the Courthouse received the same permit to execute repairs as others have requested and have been denied. “The Courthouse can get, but a few feet across the road is denied,” he said. The MP also mentioned the old homes on Frontstreet belonging to the Apon and Wathey families which have been denied a permit for renovation.
“What are we doing in this country? Passangrahan is an important heritage piece in Philipsburg. It has been used as a marketing tool for St. Maarten. It is helpful in identifying the background of our country. Infrastructure of such buildings shows the creativity and talent of the labour class people during that time and even helps to know about the lifestyle of the people in that era. It is a tourist attraction on a street that is devoid of historic attractions. But we can’t lift a finger to try and help? It would be shameful and I look forward to the Minister and this government stepping up and doing the right thing,” MP Emmanuel said.