Published On: Sun, Jul 14th, 2019

Mr. Integrity

Minister Emil Lee 20190714By Hilbert Haar

Politics is a dirty game and everybody and his uncle knows it. So when somebody gets in the way of a hidden agenda, the spin doctors and people who are ready to do their bidding come out of the woodwork.

In St. Maarten, the vehicle of choice for slander and backstabbing has always been the SMN-News blog. Feed the blog a story with scandal written all over it and you are in business. Recently, the radio show of Fernando Clark has fallen into the same trap. Radio shows and blogs are no longer about truth and transparency but about clicks and ratings.

Not too long ago, Dr. Michel Petit, former chairman of the supervisory board at social and health insurance SZV, got the open mike from Fernando Clark. Petit once more claimed that investing money from the Old Age fund is illegal, causing Clark to exclaim that the minister incorrectly held responsible for SZV-investments in the government administration building and the new hospital – ought to be locked up, together with the whole Council of Ministers.

Not too long after this radio interview, SMN-News came with a host of fake allegations against the same minister – Emil Lee. Presented as the truth, with no evidence to back up the story, blog aficionados loved it.

So with two nonsense stories on that blog and with one radio interview, Minister Lee was portrayed as the bad guy to the delight of his political opponents – a group that includes a member of his own party, MP Luc Mercelina.

When the smoke cleared it became quickly evident that there is no law that prohibits SZV from investing AOV-funds. Even better: any pension fund with half a brain does invest its assets with one goal in mind: to make the fund grow and to safeguard the pension entitlements of future generations.

Still, politicians and other pundits like to create the impression that SZV is giving away pension premiums, thereby endangering pensions. The reality: a couple of years ago SZV extended a short-term $10 million loan to the harbor. It was repaid in no time and earned a return on investment of 6 percent. The purchase of the government administration building also earns 6 percent on the invested capital and the same goes for the money SZV puts up for the construction of the new hospital.

So why suddenly the resistance against Lee, a minister with an exemplary record? Lee gave the answer in his interview with Andrew Dick: it comes from fear and jealousy. People do not like change and political opponents do not want to see the hospital project succeed because it would be too big a feather in Minister Lee’s cap.

That is why the spin doctors went to work, finding a willing accomplice in SMN-News, a blog that turned fake news into an art form long before the term became trending on social media.

Minister Lee said that he is concerned about the direction St. Maarten is going. He realized some time ago that bringing about change has to come from within the system. That is why he left the private sector and went into politics.

In my book, Emil Lee is Mr. Integrity on steroids. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong – with solid evidence, not with bullshit stories.


Related articles:
Petit repeats old accusations against Minister Lee
Opinion piece: “Idiot America St. Maarten-style” by Hilbert Haar
Smear campaign comes from fear and jealousy, Minister Lee says