PARAMARIBO: President Santokhi: New year, new beginning

PARAMARIBO: President Santokhi: New year, new beginning

PARAMARIBO: The speech of the president,
Suriname and we Surinamese, is unique in the world.
As a people we have a strong bond with each other and with the country.

We are saying goodbye to a very turbulent year. The Covid pandemic has taught
us several lessons. We have been pressured to the facts that we, as humans,
cannot do anything about circumstances that are beyond our control. A tiny tiny
virus that we can’t even see with the naked eye controls the whole world,
controls humanity.

Here in our country, too, we have lost family members; have we seen our economy
go into hiatus; and we have had to strongly adjust our behavior. “You have to
take advantage of a good crisis”; British politician Winston Churchill said.
That’s the other side of this pandemic. We are all “back-to-basics”.
Back to taking care of each other, giving more attention to each other, less
material things, but above all letting your feelings speak.

Initiatives have been launched, where our own citizens have taken
responsibility, to help where necessary. Our own tourism has been rediscovered
and yes, we have all had to stop and that will have to continue in 2021 and we
will gradually have to make steps forward. Because there is a vaccine, but we
don’t expect it until the first quarter of the new year. Until then, we have to
watch our own behavior and be patient. Tonight we think in particular of our
frontline workers who continue to care for us despite the risk to their own
health. Even on an evening like this. I would like to thank them all again for
their efforts and I ask you to do the same by sticking to the measures so that
they can have a quieter time.

In my first New Year’s speech, as president of the Republic of Suriname, I want
to focus mainly on what lies ahead. Our future. The New Year should be a year
in which we mainly focus on “faith-in-ourselves”. In strengthening our dignity,
our independence and the realization that we, as Surinamese, live in one of the
most beautiful countries in the world and I know we are human, so it is not
always easy to hold that belief. That we are concerned about realizing our
ideals and promises. About the daily worries, about the struggle to get food on
the table every day.

But I ask you today not to
underestimate what role we can play ourselves. And by we mean, you, your
neighbor, your friends, your colleague and I as your president. Let’s not
underestimate our own strength. We are a strong people. We’ve been through a
lot, we can endure this too. We must move towards a positive view of our
future. To the idea that we are all one and together have one goal.

Freedom, equality and fair
opportunity for all of us. That we strive for a life that is not defined by
fear but guided by hope and pride. A life that does not distinguish between
citizens, but gives equality. A life in which the wealth of this country
benefits everyone and not just a select group. Because although many people
think that government alone is responsible for creating conditions, I am
telling you today it is a teamwork. A combination of government, citizens and
social and business life.

Together we will have to do it.
Let’s use this new year to make a fresh start. A start, in which we plan our
future together. As a country we need all citizens, we need to join forces
together. We are going to work together on good healthcare, good safety and
together also ensure that our education stands for quality and together we are
also going to ensure that everyone has prospects for a job, with which you can
build a life.

We can do this. I have every faith
in it. We come out of a dark hole and there is only a view of more light. I
have this conviction that a bright future is possible. Provided we hold faith
in ourselves and in each other. We cannot do everything together. But a lot.
Like many of you, I was raised as a child by the neighborhood where I lived and
not just my parents. As a child, we took into account that the neighbors would
approach us if something was not right. That they take care of us when needed.
There was always plenty of food, even when others had to eat with them. The car
was big enough, when we went out of town, and three or four neighborhood kids came
along and yes, we always celebrated the highs together or supported each other
at the low points in our lives.

That time, the circumstances, and
the people around me, they shaped me, so you too. And although I realize that
times are changing, this is still the standard we know as Surinamese. We are a
people who care about each other, and we know that life consists of trial and
error, and give and take. Let’s not lose sight of that. We must maintain this
standard, even in difficult times. Because this is the standard that makes us
who we are.

Dear people,
I realize better than anyone that change will not happen overnight. There is a
reality that we have to take into account. A reality that we as a government
have stepped into. But when I took office I made a promise to you, and anyone
who knows me knows that I will only do that if I know that I can keep it. We
are going to get this country out of trouble together. We are going to build
this country together and we are going to develop this country together, with
the resources of this country, which are intended for the whole population.

Wans ope tata komopo, wi mu siti kondre bun. This is a sacred commission. My
belief is that the interests we share are greater than the forces that separate
us. I know many of you wonder if we are really going to make that new start.
There is so much mistrust in politics and in government. But if we choose to
hold on to the past, we will get no further. This country has a young
population and I especially want to say to them: you have the ability to build
this country for you and the children who will come after you. And yes… according
to some, it may not be going fast enough. But it’s not always about the speed
but more about the road you follow, to get to the point where we all want to
be. And that is a better future where all Surinamese can live happily in unity
and togetherness.

It is up to us to decide whether to
spend this time focusing, on what separates us, or on what unites us. We
determine what we are committed to and do what is necessary. Only then will we
find common ground with a focus on the future we want for ourselves and for our
children. We have to do it together. And believe me, it’s easier to make war
than to fight for peace. It is easier to blame others than to examine yourself;
it is easier to point out what sets us apart, instead of paying attention to
what we have in common. But if we stick to the principle that we give what we
want to receive. That we forgive in order to be forgiven ourselves, that we
treat each other as we want to be treated. Then the biggest hurdle has been
taken.We have the strength to build this country that we strive for, but we can
only do that if we make that new start together.

Have a nice and happy New Year.
Bun nyun yari,
Subh Naya Saal
selamet tahun baru
xin nian kuai lo

God bless you, God Bless Suriname.

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