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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Act on behalf of Asians

Lincoln Tan's report raises so many issues. What the Act candidate complains of seems to have some substance, but - just like the Onehunga antics in the infamous recount/challenge of 1993 that National took against Labour - these things primarily stem from partisan paranoia and are difficult to prove even if a fraction of what they suspect is actually true.

Labour have always driven people to polling stations and there must be electorates where National does the same thing. But given the very high numbers of recent immigrants who are not conversant in English - many from fascist countries - there is a legitimate concern that their ignorance of the NZ system could be used to dupe them out of a free choice. Note the reply:

"I said I wanted to wait until June 13, but he told me that it is safer to vote now, because I will be breaking the law if I missed voting on polling day. I agreed, because I didn't want to become a criminal," said Mr Li in Mandarin.

He's wrong. The fact the article doesn't mention this is disturbing. If you are not enrolled it is an offence - but voting is not compulsory. It's compulsory in some countries like Belgium and Australia for example, but not here. Telling fibs to mislead people into voting is a totally unacceptable campaign practice. Then again he may be confused - and because the reporter does not correct Li's mistaken impression it leads me to believe that Lincoln Tan is also confused - and his English is just fine.

The background issues that aren't discussed in the mainstream media remain: why is it that foreigners can vote after only two years residency? It is possible to vote in NZ without having ever experienced or been in the country for a NZ election. It's compulsory for them to be on the electoral roll, but it isn't compulsory for them to be able to understand or communicate in an official language. No wonder some voters are confused.

Why is it that a foreigner, a non-citizen, who does not understand a word of either English or Maori, can after a period of time shorter than a single term of parliament be entitled to vote - having the same voting rights as citizens? Now there is not a single urban electorate in Auckland that has less than one third of its population born overseas. Mt Albert is over 40%. Some electorates over half.

There seems to be little done in the way of encouraging foreigners who live here to communicate in our official languages. But there does seem to be more done in the way of encouraging foreigners who live here to not bother about ever having to communicate or understand anything other than their own language. The government and local authorities are helping as much as they can with this. Went down to the local library and the Chinese language book section was bigger than the Maori subject (English and Te Reo) section.

The Act Party itself - I'm assuming - still has an Asian Chapter. They were the first party that I've seen put Chinese language on their campaign billboards - that was in 2002 I believe. I guess they raised a bit of money, but the top Asian candidate Kenneth Wang (the very thickly accented Chinese man who briefly took over as MP 2004-5 when Donna Awatere-Huata imploded under the weight of her own intestinal realignment) spat the dummy at the last election over his list placing and missed out altogether. Wang was the front man for the Asian Chapter - at least back then.

Act, via the Asian Chapter, once had a petition that called on the government to lower the English language requirements for residency. This petition was in two formats - Korean language and Chinese. It was signed by thousands - many just in Korean or Chinese. Immigrants in the country not long enough to understand English, petitioning the government to change the immigration rules so they don't have to learn English - communicated to parliament in a manner that no-one in parliament (beyond Pansy Wong - at the time) could understand who they were or what they wanted. Was it ever presented, or was it just another cynical (albeit effective) campaign gimmick?

So if Boscawen wants to reflect on any use, misuse and manipulation of Asian voters he should remember his party's own interesting history.



At 28/5/09 2:57 pm, Blogger Graeme Edgeler said...

Don't forget that any Australian on holiday here for a month prior to an election can enrol and vote as well!

At 28/5/09 5:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which Asian countries are fascist?

At 28/5/09 5:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree that it is ridiculous that people who hardly speak a word of English or Maori should vote. Voting should be based on an informed choice - it is difficult to imagine how one can make an informed choice if one does not speak the language.

The simple way to fix this would be to allow only citizens, not PR holders, to vote. Citizenship would be a reasonable filter - on average the immigrant who is a citizen has a higher level of english than one who is not.

At 28/5/09 6:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which Asian countries are fascist?I think Mr Selwyn means any country where the predominant culture is collectivist, not individualist, has zero tolerance for crime, zero tolerance for drugs, does not subscribe to the extreme feminist, gay rights agenda of the West, considers the family the crux of society, enforces high educational standards, does not subscribe to pagan whale worship, and would support the caning of boy racers.

Funny that most of the non-white world, including most Polynesian societies (I am entertained by a Samoan friend's account of how Samoan cops deal to thugs in Samoa - something about clubs and hammers and fingers - also heard similar stories of Fiji) would be defined as fascist in Mr Selwyn's dictionary.

Of course to the bullshit neo-Marxists, the new left, the cool left (who sacrilegiously put Harvey Milk up there with Martin Luther King and consider whale lives more important than human lives) currently infesting the West, only the pot-smoking modern West is non-fascist and cool. Implicit in this assumption of course is non-whites who follow non-white relgions and have non-white world views are fascist and uncool.

At 28/5/09 6:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But there does seem to be more done in the way of encouraging foreigners who live here to not bother about ever having to communicate or understand anything other than their own language.More of a problem for those elderly folk who are here. I admit immigration policy maybe a bit foolish in allowing these non-productive types in.

However, having said that the overall picture is that Asians tend to commit less crime, do well in eduction, and actually underutilize the public health system, compared with all other ethnic groups. So even with the few non-productive types thrown into the mix, Asians as a group are probably using public resources in a way that is commensurate with not only their share of the population, but also their tax dollars and investment.

Younger Asians rarely have a problem with English and are keen to learn the language - they pay big bucks for this. Those schooled here often do better in English than their native born counterparts.

At 28/5/09 7:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Which Asian countries are fascist?"

I think he's referring to Singapore.

Obviously a country with a per captia GDP of $US50K compared to NZ's $24K with almost zero crime, no welfare, a highly educated population and no natural resources has something to learn from us.


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