Published On: Sun, May 24th, 2020


Karel Frielink

~ 30 May 2015 • Column by Karel Frielink ~

It’s a complaint often heard: the government lacks vision. What really is a vision?

If it is about a country, in our case the Country of Curacao, a vision is an inspiring picture of the future. It’s an attainable dream. This involves ideas about the way in which the Country of Curacao could and should be able to develop in the coming 10 to 20 years: ideas shared collectively. In short, a vision of the future. And this is lacking.

The Country of Curacao was born on 10/10/2010. It is a country with a whole future ahead. But it’s also a country with a past, an inheritance. And this inheritance does not only consist of an administrative and political culture characterized by private interests and nepotism.

There are thousands in Curacao who are poorly housed, who have hardly any income or none at all. They have no money to give their children food to eat at school. They might be addicted to drugs. We are reading in the paper about burglaries, robberies, organized crime and corruption reaching deep into society. And don’t forget the youth unemployment of about 37%.

But where are the plans, the ideas to tackle these and other problems comprehensively and structurally? Ministers of education come and go. A Minister of economic affairs appears to think small-scale and in the short term. We do see the problems, but we don’t solve them. “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision ” (Helen Keller).

Whoever thinks of Aruba, thinks green. Whatever you might think about Aruba and particularly public finance, that country has placed itself on the map with a vision propagated by Mike Eman. It’s a vision whose major feature is that in principle all the inhabitants of Aruba must be involved and that in the end more prosperity and more welfare must be created for the population as a whole.

But where do we want to be with Curacao in 10, 25 and 50 years? What is our future vision? It really should be different. The way we are living now cannot continue. It is short-sighted, petty, inward-looking and contorted with historic frustrations. It’s too nationalistic. There are too many people busy with their own interests.

The interests of the population should again be at the forefront. I mean the entire population, not only that part the politicians like to appeal to. We have to start thinking ‘large’. All forces must be pooled. And we need an integral approach: the economy, social circumstances, the environment, culture and so on, are more associated with each other than is sometimes imagined.

We ought to start doing something soon. After all, we have enormous prosperity in Curacao as well as grinding poverty. There are dangers in this: increasing instability, a dysfunctional society and increasing political and social contrasts. In such an environment political and other fringe figures might flourish.

After the vision comes the approach. Having plans is nice but they should also be carried out. And then the next problem arises. What is lacking is consensus, solidarity and teamwork. Everybody is busy with their own interests and acquired rights, while the big picture has been lost sight of.

Just look at the entire discussion about the location of the new hospital to be built, and the current discussions about the historic monuments which have been or must be demolished. The trade unions come to mind which don’t pool their thoughts constructively enough with regard to a more effectively operating bureaucracy. The magnificent plan for Airport City being put on hold comes to mind. And this is not the only plan that was shot down for unbusinesslike reasons. It is also fine that experts from China are being informed about our refinery, but why are alternatives such as Green Town not being seriously taken into consideration?

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the success story of Singapore. But Singapore was led for many decades by a dictator. We would not want that. But we do need leadership. I mean strong leadership. It should be a man or woman who along with his or her team ensures that we are united in building a beautiful and sustainable future for the Country of Curacao and the Curacao population. But this needs the politicians who have called the shots in the past years to disappear from the political scene. A new, fresh generation with irreproachable behavior should take over the helm.

Could the inspiring, challenging and dynamic leader of the future please announce himself soon? He or she could in any event count on my support!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/karel.frielink/posts/10163927011140553

Column by Karel Frielink (audio version) in ‘Wat een week!’ (What a week!) at Paradise FM (23 May 2015)

[Publisher’s note: We are doing a series of articles starting tomorrow Monday, May 25, about the way moving forward for St. Maarten in this coronacrisis period and in a post-pandemic era. We asked columnist and lawyer Karel Frielink permission to republish his column from 2015. Even though his column is from 2015 and it regards advice for Curacao, readers will agree that his article is still relevant in 2020 and the recommendations are applicable to the situation in St. Maarten.]