Published On: Thu, Sep 29th, 2016

The Emil Lee Effect


That Emil Lee has run an effective campaign, no one can deny. The results are there to prove it. I saw his video interviews on Facebook the weekend before election day and they were personable, informative and very convincing. He touched on all the basic topics in his 7-clips series and answered all the common questions everyone were asking. Who is Emil Lee? Why did you enter politics? Why the DP? Do you feel accepted by the people? What are your accomplishments? What are your most memorable campaign moments? He was so sincere and credible, I was damn near ready to vote for him after the last video clip about his discussions with a handyman in one of the neighborhoods he visited on the campaign trail.

As a marketeer and a campaign manager, having ran two successful election campaigns so far, I want to analyze Emil Lee’s campaign. First of all, his little real-estate signs along the roadsides made a humble but very strong presence known to drivers. The subtle approach proves effective in securing a memorable impression in people’s mind.

His track record is clear to everyone who is involved in the tourism sector, in government and in politics and he was above reproach having had a successful career thus far in business, in the hospitality and trade sector and in serving on a number of boards, including the SHTA and SMMC.

Mr. Lee is also very eloquent and has successfully expressed his thoughts cohesively during interviews, in public presentations and during press conferences and effectively defended his position and policies on various occasions as minister of VSA.

He was obviously not afraid to tackle the confrontations head-on when he was personally attacked due to his ethnicity. Many had tried to make it clear that Mr. Lee did not belong here nor should be involved in St. Maarten politics, much less be a minister or a member of Parliament.

Yet, his accomplishments as a minister proved that he can bring fresh new ideas and concepts to the table and a different approach to doing things and getting projects done. Looking back at his short term as minister of Health, one can’t shake the feeling that this man actually got things done and could have done so much more had he had the opportunity.

However, the Emil Lee effect, as the title of this opinion piece indicates, has more to do with the emotional rant that took place on a radio station broadcast with the UP number 2 candidate, Franklin Meyers, going head to head with Emil Lee as the DP number 2 candidate in a Deputy Leaders debate. Meyers stated that he does not believe a Chinese or an Indian should be allowed to come to St. Maarten and tell St. Maarten people what to do. Basically, Meyers did not believe that a Chinese like Lee should be allowed in the Parliament of St. Maarten. I strongly believe that rant had as an effect that voters sympathized heavily with Lee and catapulted him into the first place position in the DP party election results, making him the 4th highest vote getter in the top 15 vote getters list with 667 votes, placing him well ahead of Franklin Meyers, who scored 5th place with 610 votes.

All in all, I commend Emil Lee for the effective campaign he ran and for standing his ground in the face of direct confrontations about his ethnicity and his constitutional right to be elected to Parliament like any other citizen with Dutch rights. Future candidates would do well to study the Emil Lee Effect and implement his strategies in their campaigns as well.

By Terrance Rey
Opinion Columnist for TODAY Newspaper Online