The flag referendum farce – for sheer gall, John Key?

 We should hand it to John Key? No, not our own flag, with its highly relevant cross watching over our skies, far more relevant to our history, traditions and intellectual heritage than a piece of plant. We all know how strangely keen our Prime Minister has been to get rid of our flag, with all its important symbols, its link to so many of our fine colonial antecedents, and to our democratic and Christian traditions.

So keen, that with areas of the economy in desperate need of funding; people removed from hospital waiting lists; our iconic Starship Children’s Hospital having to beg for funds from the community; our apparent inability to afford cancer drugs available in England and Australia even…with the job losses multiplying and shops closing down all over the country – nothing, apparently, has been so important to Key as getting rid of this flag…irrespective of the initial-only, $25 million cost.

Why? He has in almost unseemly fashion shown himself more than willing to accept any other design – provided it’s not our flag, which has historically meant so much to New Zealanders worldwide. And, ironically, the flag which finally “won” the recent referendum to go up against our own flag, wasn’t even the one which got most votes! It was only because of the distortions of preferential voting that the flag which was placed second eventually beat the one the majority voted for.

In a way, this says it all. We have now become a country where the views of the majority have become sidelined. Our political circuses and strong interest groups with the ear of government indulge in inappropriate deal-making – as with the now all-powerful iwi corporations – inappropriately called tribes – which do not represent majority part-Maori, but scramble for self-advantage. Inevitably, this works against the interests of all other New Zealanders.

Too close to this National Party government, they are being allowed to bypass the courts to deal with (in the view of informed commentators) a highly problematic Minister of Treaty Negotiations, when advancing multi-million dollar “compensation” claims. They are also successfully contriving for themselves utterly undemocratic prior “rights” in direct contradiction to the written, and well understood, provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi. That virtual control of the water in this country should be given to these now immensely wealthy corporations of part-Maori descent – often highly attenuated – is not only incredible – but democratically utterly illegitimate. That hasn’t stopped the Key government from proposing this.

So what is happening? And why what some see as the sell-out of our country, both to internal and external, powerful and monied vested interests? Somehow, John Key’s personal dogged determination to get rid of our New Zealand flag symbolises to many something essentially ominous. Are they right?

There’s certainly little doubt that Key is pulling all stops out to try to influence a future flag change when the recent second choice (defeating the one most voted for) will get put up – with its banal, sombre imagery (not yet more black inflicted on NZers!) – against our real flag. His comments on National Radio when the results were announced were pretty much sort of thing we’ve come to expect from a PM who doesn’t seem to know the meaning of inappropriate – or presumptuous. Reportedly, he commented to the effect that when the flag changes, “everyone will wonder what the fuss was about”.

Well, we all know who started to fuss. And not only is his comment arguably inappropriate and presumptuous…it is tarred with a degree of arrogance, twinned with evasiveness, with which we have become very familiar. And the result has been unfortunate. As New Zealanders are almost certain to vote to retain a much-loved flag, his claim has aroused a degree of suspicion about whether or not the result would be able to be rigged. And interestingly enough, some with no interest at all in a flag change voted in this initial referendum simply to make sure that the flag perceived as most politically loaded and divisive, the Koru design, did not get chosen.

The estimated 43% of the electorate who enrolled and voted is not a mandate for change. Moreover, some deliberately voted informally to send a protest message. And that the winning flag attracted only 574, 364 votes does not justify the Prime Minister’s rah-rah attitude.

The downsides to the silver fern choice are obvious. Some countries perceive it as a feather. And not only do several others also have the silver fern, used by our sporting teams, but more relevantly – or ominously – it has a Chinese Communist association. Silver Fern Farms, the now Chinese/New Zealand Milk company, with its new majority shareholder, Shanghai Maling, has not only also acquired the land that sits under the Silver Fern’s plants, but is chasing 50 percent of New Zealand’s biggest meat company. As a start. And it is not irrelevant that under the terms of the TTPA, according to some reports, New Zealanders will be unable to prevent the sell-out of even more of our farmland, housing stock and strategic assets to foreign buyers.

Moreover, the Chinese-owned buyer of Canterbury dairy farms is reporting it got a huge bargain, at $41 million less than they were worth. Milk New Zealand Holdings owned by wealthy Chinese businessman Zhaobai Jiang, through his company Shanghai Pengxin, bought 15 dairy farms around Ashburton in its takeover of Synlait Farms. That’s apparently just fine by the Key-dominated government.

Let’s face it. Given that our ill-spoken, egoistical PM, who has in many respects been a national embarrassment, thinks that because he himself wants a new flag, everybody else should be made to pay the probably hundreds of millions of dollars eventually such a move would cost – (so that he can have his own way) – there’s one potential choice which it might have been relevant to see put up against our real flag.

So that we can remember him, after he has chosen his next career move, and remember how he presided over the selling out of our country…that our farmland was gradually bought up, hectare by hectare by foreign buyers; that our children could no longer look forward to one day being able to afford their own houses; that multimillionaires from around the world – with this Prime Minister’s connivance – snapped up our best scenic assets as boltholes, so that New Zealanders became second-rate citizens in our own country – it might have been arguably relevant to have had a potential flag design of an outsize black key, centred on a gold background, representing what, in the eyes of many, New Zealand is being sold out for – and the politician who has allowed this to happen.

And from Australia, where they are predicting a landslide win by New Zealanders voting to retain our own proud flag – rather than a new mere branding image – see the December 12 piece on https://www.facebook.com/acmnorepublic/ arguing that the process has been shoddy indeed.

A fair dinkum comment.

*

© Amy Brooke – Convenor, http://www.100days. co.nz – author of The 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians –  available on Kindle or through any good bookstore.

 

Repression, arrest and death, today’s Communist China

Repression, arrest and death – today’s Communist Party’s China.

Well, John Key?

NEWSFLASH: The Chinese police arrested ten women in Beijing on March 8, the International Women’s Day. Their crime? Distributing anti-sexual harassment leaflets!

The Chinese Communist Party leadership has adopted an absolute “zero tolerance” policy on any public action.

This super police state, with its deep pocket of money, is now exerting a great deal of influence outside its boundaries. A million Chinese are reportedly now in Africa; Chinese interests have been buying up the Bordeaux vineyards. And closer to home, why is our Key-led government so determined to avert its eyes from what is happening – and why –   with the unprecedented largesse China is lavishing on our Pacific neighbours – and with the buy-up of New Zealand?

Among the immigrants to our country in the late 18th and early 19th century, none were more hard-working than those Chinese who came here, slaving away in horrendous conditions – in freezing cold and close to starvation – to mine the gold fields and send money back to their people in China. Their descendants, with the same unequalled work ethic today – (which puts to shame that of many iwi constantly claiming special importance and clamouring for special recognition – simply as a result of prior arrival) set up market gardens and shops, with parents, children, and grandparents all contributing. Their loyalty to family meant all worked towards helping any family member with the potential to become a doctor, a teacher, or any other professional – pooling their resources and financial contributions. Too often discriminated against at the time, they remain among the New Zealanders we can be most proud of.

They were followed by other immigrant Chinese, highly intelligent and equally hard-working. Some of these today are now very concerned at New Zealand’s over-close accommodation with the country from which they may have fled. There are publicised cases of individuals targeted for victimisation if they wish to return to this Communist Party-controlled country in order to visit aged parents or relatives. With considerable courage, and, in some cases, with name changes to protect a family, they very much keep in touch with what is happening in China.

It has been a privilege to know one very highly educated Chinese individual who protested as a young man at Tiananmen Square, before he worked at prestigious universities in England and the US, and settled in New Zealand.

We all know that the Key government has been making no effective public protest at all in recent years about the continuing abuse by the Communist Chinese Party of so-called ordinary Chinese who have had the courage to make a stand against oppression.   Ai Weiwei, China’s most renowned international artist, formerly imprisoned for his own criticism of the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression, states “Right now, in China, we are living in conditions that no other generation has ever experienced – of great economic growth and expansion, but also great oppression of freedom of speech and human rights.”

The current president Xi Jinping, with whom John Key apparently feels “comfortable”, is very much part of that oppression. According to The Guardian and other sources, China’s repression of political activists, writers, independent journalists, artists and religious groups who potentially challenge the party’s monopoly of power has intensified since Xi took office nearly two years ago. Moreover, the persecution of Christians is now well underway, with the CCP reportedly feeling unsettled by the fact that there are now more Christians in China than there are actual members of the party.

An article in the Australian News Weekly, RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION – Beijing fury as Christians outnumber communist in China – see http://www.newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id= 56808 – details how several Catholic bishops are under house arrest for rejecting the authority of the Chinese Patriotically Catholic Association (PCA), a front organisation set up by the Chinese Communist Party to monitor and control Catholics. These include the Bishop of Shanghai, the right Rev Thaddeus Ma, who has been under house arrest at the Shehan seminary for over two years. Bishop Ma used his ordination Mass to announce that he was resigning from the PCA. His announcement was greeted by the 1000 member congregation with thunderous applause, which is not surprising, given how much the Catholic faithful despise that organisation.

And this is all fine with Prime Minister John Key, and his National Party yes-men– and women?

However, mainstream New Zealanders want to know why we are making no protest at all about China’s repression of those who dissent from the ruling party line.

And why has there shamefully been no report in Western media of the recent death in prison of Shi En Xiang, a Vatican appointed Bishop who has died in prison at the age of 94. A report from a Chinese language website only reached me from the former protester at Tiananmen Square. Headed “The Death of a Martyr” if has reported that “Shi En Xiang, a Vatican-appointed bishop, died in prison at 94.”

 During his long life, he spent altogether 53 years in Communist China’s prison or a hard labour camp because of his Catholic faith.

He was arrested in 1954 as he refused to sever links with Vatican and join the Communist Party-sponsored “Patriotic Catholic Church”.

“Released in 1980, he was secretly appointed bishop of Yi Xian in Hebei Province in 1982. He was immediately harassed by the police, until Easter in 2001, when he was arrested and was never seen again.

“On 1 February his family was informed by the authorities of his death and told to get ready to collect his body. But nothing has happened after that.

“The following link is to Radio France International.  So far all the information has been in the Chinese language.”

https://zh-cn.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10155196050570273&id=155677885272

“Though an atheist”, says this brave, former protestor at Tiananmen Square, “I take off my hat to this great human being for his resistance to bowing to an evil power.”

He also recently wrote, with regard to my concerned comment on what is happening to this country, given Prime Minister John Key’s airy dismissal of the concern of New Zealanders – (now felt right thought this country) – about what is regarded as a sell-out of our birthright, our land and heritage, our housing, and much else.

“I agree with your sobering assessment. As a footnote to what you’ve said, the Pope may have decided to keep mum over Shi’s death. The death may come at an inconvenient moment for the Vatican as it’s engaged in “negotiation” with Beijing. Alas! ”

I am by no means the only New Zealander shocked at the Key government’s amoral kowtowing to such a brutal régime. Its culpable silence lets down the “ordinary” Chinese people, and those brave souls who stand up to oppose it – who are then bulldozed by the brutality of the CCP.

Extracts from the following exchange between this former youthful protestor and a friend of his in the US (names withheld from concern for their and their family’s safety) cast light on the plight of the Chinese people as a whole. It is not they, but the immensely wealthy “princes” of the CCP – or those connected with it – who are buying up our country – while the Key government decides to look the other way.

“I totally blame our naive leaders in my country – Kissinger, Nixon, Clinton, etc.  The list is long.”

“You know why? Mainly because you Americans allowed China so much in the way of trade surpluses for decades, turning a blind eye to its unashamed, mercantile export-led trade policy. Have the grand men who promoted Globalization as a holy article of faith foreseen such a day?

Let’s see if the Pope takes note of his death.  His life and death are just one example of a human being standing up to the CCP. There are many more like him, and I count you among those who have sacrificed much.

“I am always trying to figure out what might make the CCP really change track, but it seems little does.  Millions of people have died at its hands. and yet it still stands strong.  I feel the CCP is now at the point of no return, and that there is nothing that can stop them.  There is actually nothing to stop them.  The only thing that could stop them is the people of China themselves, if ever they all rise up together, but again, the CCP has put all the stopgaps in place to prevent such an incident.

”The US alone cannot do anything to the CCP, and anything it does would hurt the average Chinese person.   I don’t see any big changes except for the Chinese model gaining more ground – since it is frankly easier for governments to operate that way than democratically – UNLESS the world unites against the CCP after Russia and Iran come to their senses, and the pressure builds within China for change.

“That is the only hope. Stephen Hawking maintained recently that aggression is the world’s worst enemy and I see how the CCP is the kingpin of our demise.”

The question now facing New Zealanders is whether or not, in the face of government indifference, the CCP, underpinning supposedly private Chinese investment on this country, and gathering more and more momentum, is also going to be the kingpin of our demise.

 © Amy Brooke. Convener – the 100 Days – Claiming back New Zealand – www.100days.co.nz   Join us to help win back this country…