Successful fundraiser for St. Maarten media

THE HAGUE–The “Nieuwspoort for St. Maarten” event in The Hague Thursday evening to support the island’s media can be deemed a great success with more than 200 persons in attendance and more than 25,000 euros raised in funds. Rotary International might very well double the amount.

Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops was one of the many Dutch politicians who attended the fundraising event organised by Rotary Club Nieuwspoort. Knops, who was appointed a mere two weeks ago, called the fundraiser a “fantastic initiative.”
Interviewed on stage by Jaap Jansen of BNR Radio and Elles de Bruin of the Max broadcasting company, Knops addressed the urgency of providing assistance to St. Maarten, the elections and the need for a government with which The Hague can do business to start up the Reconstruction Fund.
He did not voice an opinion as to whether the elections should proceed or not, as long as they took place in a fair and free manner. He said it was important for the people to vote for politicians who had the best interest of the population at heart.
Democratic Party D66 leader and former Minister of Kingdom Relations Alexander Pechtold addressed the often-strained relations in the Kingdom. He said he found it a pity that the problems were always highlighted, while the positive things such as the important role of the islands in securing temporary membership of the Netherlands in the United Nations’ Security Council barely received attention.
Pechtold said it was important for any politician to always remember what he or she wanted to achieve for the people. In that sense, it would have been logical to accept the Dutch conditions for the Reconstruction Fund: “In an exceptional case, you could almost blindly sign to these terms.” He said the holding of elections was an internal matter of Country St. Maarten.
Thursday’s event was attended by three members of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament: Joba van den Berg of the Christian Democratic Party CDA, Antje Diertens of the D66 party and Liesbeth van Tongeren of the green left party GroenLinks.
Van Tongeren emphasised that St. Maarten urgently needs help and called on authorities not to forget about the common men and women who have lost their roofs.
The important role of the local media after Hurricane Irma was the central theme of the event. These media have played an indispensable role in sharing information, updating the people on vital developments, not only in St. Maarten, but also for family and friends in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world, the organisation stated in a press release.
The hurricane not only hurt the island and its people badly, but also the local media which are having a hard time keeping their heads above water with an almost collapsed advertisement market. The Today newspaper has ceased its printing operations, leaving The Daily Herald as the only printed newspaper in the Windward Islands.
“The existence of independent, critical and strong media on the islands is crucial, especially in light of the recent political developments. That is why the Dutch media organisations have come into action to assist,” Rotary Nieuwspoort stated.
Thursday’s event served not only to collect funds for the St. Maarten media, but also to form a broad coalition to help get the local media to reach a higher level through workshops and trainings by Dutch journalists and other experts in the area of running a media organisation, marketing and social media.
Also interviewed on stage were The Daily Herald editor Gordon Snow; Dutch Association of Editors-in-Chief Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the NOS broadcasting company Marcel Gelauff; Dutch Government press officer Heleen Haverkort who worked in St. Maarten after the hurricane; Kingdom Relations Committee Secretary Ron van der Veer; journalists Martijn de Rijk of BNR and Floris Sprenger of EenVandaag who both made news reports in St. Maarten after the hurricane; René Roodheuvel of the Netherlands Association of Journalists NVJ; and Rotary Governor Harriëtte Verwey.
Jan-Willem Wits of Rotary Club Nieuwspoort said he was happy to learn that the event had resulted in a broad coalition of the Dutch and St. Maarten media. “This evening is not the end, but the start of a beautiful project,” he said.
Rotary Governor Verwey announced that she would request a grant from Rotary International to substantially increase the amount that was raised for the St. Maarten media. Rotary International has already made significant contributions in the initial emergency relief phase after the passing of the hurricane.

Source: The Daily Herald