Published On: Fri, Feb 5th, 2021

Who is paying SMN-News?

~ Amateur hour with Bibi Shaw ~

By Hilbert Haar

Freedom of the press and freedom of the right of expression are valuable to me. They are the cornerstones of professional journalism, but these rights are not absolute. Theoretically, the law protects individual citizens and companies against slander. If you are consistently and knowingly violate these principles you are giving my profession a bad name. That upsets me.

Long before he became president of the United States, a nightmare that is thankfully behind us now, Trumpism was already alive and kicking in St. Maarten. For years, the publication of half-truths, insinuations, ignorant stupidities and outright lies have been the bread and butter of blogger Bibi Shaw and her website SMN-News. During all those years I have often wondered why nobody ever took action against this practice.

But now an open letter from attorney Jairo Bloem to Shaw on behalf of utilities company GEBE’s supervisory board of directors sheds some light on the way this cesspit called SMN-News is operating.

First, let’s get some of our ducks in a row. Sharine Daniel, the interim director at GEBE who is angling for a permanent appointment to the top job, is married to Kurt Ruan, the head of New Projects at the Ministry of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (VROMI). Ruan as an advisor reportedly has close ties to Vromi-Minister Egbert Jurendy Doran who is also the shareholder representative for GEBE.

Doran is a relative of the former chairman of GEBE’s supervisory board of directors, Bienvenido Richardson, who appointed Daniel as interim director. Was Richardson following orders from cousin Silvio Matser? That’s what I heard. In any event, the apparent links are too obvious to ignore.

Another ingredient in this explosive mix is that according to a source close to the family, Matser, Patrick Illidge and former Minister Ted Richardson all also function as shadow-advisors to Minister Doran. Some advisors: two of them have a criminal conviction to their name and Teddy Richardson refused to close down the Border Bar brothel after its conviction for treating its prostitutes very badly because he had “other priorities to think of.” And guess what: they are all cousins, so this is a real family affair.

GEBE, as the sole provider of electricity and the sole distributor of drinking water is obviously an important company. But confidential information has been leaking faster from the company than the water it is losing through its obsolete distribution network. And all that confidential information went in one direction only: to SMN-News and its amateur-journalist Bibi Shaw.

This begs the question: Is someone paying Shaw for her blogging work?

It cannot have escaped anybody’s attention that wherever Sharine Daniel is working (be it SZV or GEBE), confidential information ends up with Bibi Shaw. The apparent objective is to steer Daniel towards the CEO-position at GEBE.

But GEBE has had enough of the way Shaw has been presenting information about the recruitment process at GEBE. In a letter dated February 4, Bloem mentions ten statements made on Shaw’s blog that are incorrect. Some of them seem intended to harm the prospects of candidates that compete with Daniel for the CEO-position, such as Robert Jan James and Randel Hato.

Bloem described Shaw’s ‘article’ as “a cacophony of factual misrepresentations about a confidential and ongoing recruitment process.” The attorney also notes that Shaw has refused to divulge through which “objective and journalistically proper process” she has concluded that her information was credible enough for publication.

“NV GEBE holds that you and/or SMN-News have severely violated your duty of care. This constitutes a torturous act and very possible a criminal one also, namely slander.”

GEBE demands though Bloem’s letter an immediate rectification. In it, Shaw has to state that she has published her article without proper fact checking and without following independent and objective good journalistic practices.

Full disclosure: I have not done any fact checking so I have to rely on what I know about Shaw and on the claims Bloem makes in his letter on behalf of GEBE. Years ago, the former editor of the Today newspaper kicked Shaw to the curb after she made the Trumpian claim that the police was about to introduce breathalizer equipment that would check drivers not only for their state of drunkenness but also for AIDS.

Will this story have a happy ending? I doubt it. If you turn against the amateur-hour show of Shaw, she will turn against you with baseless claims. That’s what hapless bloggers do.

So after GEBE, I guess I am next in line for some discriminatory bullshit (He’s Dutch!) together with StMaartenNews.com. Wait for it.


Related articles and links:
Click here to read the Open Letter to Bibi Shaw and SMN-News>>>
Borderline criminal (part 1)