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PHILIPSBURG–Former public health and labour minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus has thrown her cap in the race for the August 29 Parliamentary Elections. She will be a candidate on the United People’s (UP) party slate headed by Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger.

The announcement of Buncamper-Molanus’ candidacy for a parliamentary seat did not come from her. It was made public via social networking site by her husband, senior civil servant Claudius Buncamper. He wrote on Saturday: “We READY for the road my FB friends. Maria is running UP and I’m counting on everyone’s support. Time to get her back into government where she belongs.”

The Buncampers attended the UP’s Drive Up event in Cole Bay on Friday afternoon. She and Heyliger are both former DP members who served as commissioners for that party.

Buncamper-Molanus has been off the political scene since resigning as minister in December 2010 after just over two months in office. She resigned due to concerns over her and Claudius Buncamper’s dealings concerning a parcel of land on Pond Island that had been given in long lease by government.

The authorities have not levied any misconduct charge against the Buncampers so far and neither Maria nor her husband has ever been called in by the Prosecutor’s Office to answer any question pertaining to the sale of the economic rights of the long-lease land.

The sale of economic rights is not illegal or prohibited.

Her chief opponent in the land sale saga, National Alliance (NA) leader MP William Marlin, had said during his stint as Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure in 2012 that there was nothing wrong with selling economic rights of government long-lease land. This was a vast change from his stance when he argued in 2010 that the Buncamper’s had committed wrongdoings.

Marlin said in Parliament on December 10, 2012, that a request did not have to be submitted and government permission was not needed for the selling of economic rights.

Buncamper-Molanus had maintained throughout the embattled weeks at the end of December 2012 that the sale of the economic rights was legal and she had done nothing morally or legally wrong. However, she resigned hours before Christmas Eve, following which the NA-led opposition withdrew the motion of no confidence it had tabled against her.

While off the political scene, Buncamper-Molanus has been active socially, serving most recently as president of Rotary St. Maarten as well as in other capacities in the past years. She has assisted her husband in his role as District Governor of the St. Maarten Lions Club and has been involved as a civil volunteer in the formulation of the National Development Plan (NDP) for the country.

She was one of several graduates of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) democratic dialogue course associated with the NDP.

She also has trained as a volunteer facilitator for St. Maarten AIDS Foundation’s Real Talk Programme and has conducted various sessions in the country’s high schools with other volunteer facilitators. The programme aims to help teenage boys attending high school to make better life and health choices.

Another prominent member of the community, former long-time St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) president Emil Lee, is set to announce his candidacy and with which party he will be contesting the August 29 Parliamentary Elections at a press conference at Holland House today, Monday.

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