PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Monday, October 10, launched his party Nation, Opportunity, Wealth (NOW) and signaled with absolute certainty that it will contest the next Parliamentary elections. “The time is NOW,” the MP proclaimed as he addressed a filled-to-capacity hall at the John Larmonie Center.
Emmanuel didn’t choose October 10 because it was Constitution Day, but because it is his late mother’s birthday. His mother Lillian, who was killed at just 38 years old by a speeding driver, was remembered during the course of the evening by Emmanuel’s aunts and other speakers who credited her for the complete and positive influence over Emmanuel’s life. The MP was described as the male version of his mother.
The party launch also featured the unveiling of the party’s colors and logo which has as a rising phoenix at the top of the logo, with the letters NOW emboldened at the forefront. Those in attendance were also first to receive the announcement that MP Claudius Buncamper has found a new political home and has joined the NOW organization. Buncamper was one of the speakers on the evening and made the announcement himself. With Buncamper on board the NOW party is out of the gate with two of the top 15 highest vote getters from the last Parliamentary election.
In explaining the party’s name chosen name, MP Emmanuel said it not only signifies that the country must seek a change and do it NOW, but also that the party is very clear for whom progress, opportunities and wealth should be fought for in St. Maarten.
He said a “reset” is in order and the nation, through new representation, must be built with the people of St. Maarten in mind first. Talk has to be set aside and fixing the standard of living must be the priority “and we will do this in a disciplined and responsible manner, but we will do it! We have the plan and we will fix this,” he said. In this context he received rousing applause when he decried taxing of old age pensions, having to pay 60% of income in utility costs, exorbitant contracts for the airport, hospital and future generations being saddled with debt that they will never be able to pay off.
The MP said St. Maarten needs representation without fear to do what’s right for St. Maarten, which included expropriating Mullet Bay, seceding from the Central Bank and strengthening all government owned companies “so that they can become billion-dollar companies” that can assist the society and the government more.” He said St. Maarten people have to sit and watch “others become millionaires” while being told “we are not good enough. When did we become not good enough in our country? When did we stop taking care of our people first and foremost?”
Regarding independence, the MP stressed that he believes in independence for St. Maarten and that any self-respecting nation ought to have independence as a final destination. “However, I will not drag my people into independence poor. Our country is poor, our people are poor. We will make that move when we are ready to do so and that readiness will be dictated by the standard of living of my people, by the wealth of my people, by the levels of their disposal income and by the strength of our institutions,” the MP said, adding that he will not replace one form of colonialism for another.
Regarding his feelings towards the Dutch, the MP re-iterated that he will always be direct with the Dutch, and sometimes even harsh, as long as “they continue to treat us unequally. I’m saying if you want to really help, let’s talk honestly and fairly about what that help should look like. Do not approach heavy-handed with unrealistic conditions that would force us hurt our people. If we can get to those levels of discussion and cooperation with the Dutch, then we are going somewhere,” he said.
In short, the name of the party signifies three areas that encompass every aspect of daily life on St. Maarten. The Nation for which it will be working, the opportunities for its people that the party will be providing and the wealth for these same people that the party will be creating. The NOW believes that this begins with being unafraid to stand for the people and exploit what belongs to St. Maarten, for the people St. Maarten. The main color of yellow signifies a bright future for the country and the rising phoenix signifies “St. Maarten rising triumphantly from the ashes that the current government has reduced it to.”
The NOW party believe that if wealth is to be built in St. Maarten, the party must relentlessly embrace the conviction that everyone can and should live in a society of opportunity. It is both a moral imperative and the path to economic prosperity to move from practices that extract wealth from St. Maarten, to those that intentionally build wealth for residents.
MP Emmanuel said he chose to launch the NOW party and its underlying administration and plans in phases. The event on Monday night was not a congress for the election of board members, party leadership, committees and so on. The party congress will follow next along with various outreach activities and finalization of the party’s position paper (manifesto).
At the end of the night the MP, surrounded by family and his team members, cut a gigantic cake to officially launch the party. He also gave away some thank you gifts to persons in attendance via a free raffle. “People of St. Maarten the work begins NOW. I am doing this for you because you and your children and your grandchildren deserve better. But I can’t do it alone. I need you. I need you to be bold, unafraid and help me to put you first, help me to get us back to a state we used to be proud of. The time is NOW!” the MP concluded.
The contact email for the NOW party is firstname.lastname@example.org