- Date published:
8:23 am, June 22nd, 2010 - 48 comments
Categories: activism, community democracy, democratic participation, greens, human rights, International, leadership, Media - Tags: china, russell norman
I’m not sorry about Russel Norman standing up to Chinese imperialism, I’m proud that he did. While I don’t personally have a lot of time for Norman, I very much respect his willingness to behave like an actual representative of the New Zealand people and voice his opposition to the immoral Chinese occupation and subjugation of Tibet and its peoples.
I am however deeply sorry that in John Key we have a Prime Minister who’s so venal that he’d happily sell-out any New Zealander, be they an MP like Russel Norman or a national hero like Pete Bethune, the moment their principled actions might be seen as impediments to corporate interests.
I’m also deeply sorry that our corporate owned msm act the same way. Imagine a so-called ‘democratic watchdog of the peoples’ interests’ that criticizes an MP for protesting against an injustice! I hope more New Zealanders wake up to the fact that the msm are only lapdogs of their corporate masters – lapdogs that occasionally feign interest in democracy to maintain their ratings and consequent profits. But alas we live in a country that’s still woefully naive about who owns our media and what that means for the interests they really represent.
But if you should be someone like me who isn’t sorry for Chinese goons assaulting one of our representative on our own parliamentary grounds, then feel free to say so. Of course this will never get reported in Chinese media but who knows, perhaps this might even get through the Great Firewall of China so at least some Chinese get to know we aren’t at all sorry – quite the opposite.
UPDATE: Norman on TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning:
“It’s craven and gutless that the Prime Minister of New Zealand would apologise to the Chinese government, a totalitarian regime, because we have free speech in New Zealand.”
Well put Russel. Nice to know we still have at least one party leader with a spine.
I’ve no problem with members of the NZ public expressing their views on the Chinese occupation of Tibet in a peaceful manner on public spaces. In that regard Norman can waste his time as best he thinks fit.
The Chinese security delegation were heavy-handed and by their actions made something of nothing, which was a serious miscalculation on their part which I hope they’ve learned from. The rather pathetic gaggle of protesters Norman was a part of should have been as dismissable from the mind as a couple of Jehova’s Witnesses on your doorstep.
What’s getting up my nose is Norman’s – and others – bleating about his being an MP. In what way is that relevant? Was he there expressing New Zealand Government policy? Was he there representing or pursuant to some resolution of the House of Representatives? Had he sought some mandate from the People of New Zealand to make a fool of himself? Did the Green Party of New Zealand go to the electorate in the last election with a policy on Tibet?
Outside the Chamber of Parliament the title ‘Member of Parliament’ means nothing, or should mean nothing. It give you no immunities, no privileges, no more rights than any other citizen. It certainly doesn’t mean that your views should be accorded any more respect than anyone else’s. Norman’s actions were those any private citizen in New Zealand has a right to do, but his bleating that it is somehow made worse because he is an MP suggests that his job has gone to his head.
The significance of Russel’s MP status in this instance is that he is an elected representative of the New Zealand people, doing his job in our Parliamentary grounds, and was consequently assaulted by a Chinese state staffer. We have an MMP parliament because we think it’s important that a diversity of views should be represented, and they have a right to be voiced. He was doing his democratic duty to represent his electorate.
It’s not that he should be accorded more respect, it’s just a very symbolic disrespecting of our democratic institutions by Chinese authorities, for which they should be apologising.
That Key apologised to them, and the msm are trying to frame Norman as ‘unpatriotic’ defies belief – until you remember Key and the msm are only interested in profits before people.
The other significance of Russel’s status as a MP is that it gives him access to places that other protestors cannot access. There were barriers in place on Parliament’s forecourt on Friday, and the steps of the building were off-limits to members of the public. Whilst I in no way condome what the Chinese security personnel did (and blogged that sentiment accordingly, even before either Stuff or the Herald websites broke the story), I believe that Norman took advantage of his status to bring attention on himself.
I am puzzled too by One News’ comments on the Friday night bulletin that they had two cameras covering the arrival of the Chinese VP; one filming the arrival itself, and one following Russel Norman. Why would TVNZ film Norman, unless he had given them advance notice that something might go down?
Norman was doing the job he was elected to do – good on him.
do you think Key would have used his ‘appropriate chanels’ to raise the issue?
not on your life
Agree with everything you wrote.
What Sprout said.
Our opposition parties are also elected representatives, and are not bound by cabinet collective rules around supporting government policy. Of course he wasn’t representing govt policy, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing his job. Quite the opposite.
The Green Party’s position on Tibet is no secret, though I don’t know if they have an official policy on it. It wouldn’t make any difference if they didn’t have an official policy, they are elected for their judgement as much as for a bill of particular policy points.
I think this has what annoyed me most about the comments on Norman- that as an MP he ‘abused his position. Ummmm WTF??? We have a multi party system and an MMP electoral system for a reason. We are not a homogeneous society that needs one smiley, no-values, banker to represent us. We are represented by a variety of people and those people may act differently from each other in how they raise issues depending on the party they are from, their political background, whether they are in Govt etc. It is perfectly appropriate for an MP who represents the types of voters that Norman does (ie idealists who are in opposition) to protest. There are no rules around MPs being little lap dogs when last I check our legislation
Well said Margaret!
Take your rose-tinted shades off and put down your cool-ade. He is an elected member of parliament and tried to assault an invited guest of our country on parliamentary grounds. That is not acceptable on any level.
The free trade agreement with China is of supreme benefit to all kiwi’s. Without them buying our exports in the couple of years we would have been up shit’s creek. It managed to paper over the terrible job Labour did in managing our economy.
“… and tried to assault an invited guest of our country… “
So this is what it’s like in the Bizarro World…
And another one calls Blinglish a liar.
And another one calls Blinglish a liar.
And there I was thinking from the title that this was a guest post by Chris Carter! 🙂
(Sorry, too easy).
I’m long past being disgusted by Key and his boyz for their complete lack of principle and vision. And don’t get me started on what passes for a press in NZ.
I’m proud, not sorry, about Russell’s protest. What China has done in Tibet is just plain wrong. What they’re doing in Africa ain’t too flash either.
What Norman did was a disgusting exhibition of cluelessness which is an embarrassment to New Zealand. There is a place for everything and that was the wrong place. If he wasn’t such a clueless extremist he would have appreciated that fact. It eclipsed his earlier foolishly dogmatic statements about the development of a new variety of the clover plant.
i respect your right to voice a contrary opinion
‘What Norman did was a disgusting exhibition of cluelessness which is an embarrassment to New Zealand. ‘
Indeed. Exercising one’s right to demonstrate and protest because one lives in a democracy is just that.
Apologising to a dicatorial regime about that ‘disgusting exhibition’ is just the sort of dogmatic response needed to show up Norman as the clueless extremist that he is.
I wonder though, if our Governments stance towards Fiji needs amending…surely any sort of protest might possibly offend the dictatorial regime there. And they do buy our corned beef. And we should pull back some from having a go at countries like Iran. We do buy their oil and stuff. Imagine if they took offence at some silly democratic action .Perhaps too, the media might wish to apologise to Israel for carrying some negative coverage of their foreign policy and subsequent treatment of …protesters.
After all there is a time and place for everything and that could well be now lest we all be thought clueless.
Funniest one was that US lawyer who apologised for getting shot in the face by dead eye dick Cheney.
If you recall Duncan Garner did indeed critise the Clark administration for its condemnation of the Fijian regime.
In Norman Kirk’s time, NZ MPs had the effrontory to participate in a NZ frigate’s voyage into the French island waters to protest at the atomic testing in the Pacific.
I imagine that Key would have apologised to the French for intruding on their space.
These pesky Normans are not Norm-al at all!
But wait. Wasn’t there admiration for little old Kiwis for their gesture?
How times have changed.
Perhaps the one aspect that does raise an eyebrow is how the Chinese ‘bodyguards’ assumed control of the Parliamentary grounds. Without a shot being fired. Is sovereignty that easily surrendered?
And I wonder if any of this got past the Great Firewall of China…such that anyone there knows anything about this ‘incident’. Perhaps we should get the SAS back home now…just in case.
Ianmac, more than admiration- pride, righteousness, hope.
We have had at times a proud history for a little nation standing up for principle, from League of Nations times in condemning the invasion of Ethiopia by Italy to Kirk’s withdrawal of troops from Vietnam to telling the racist government of South Africa we did not want to play with racially selected teams.
Speak truth to power. It’s the key.
Nice post sprout. Not a Norman fan here. Never voted Green. But I applaud his stance and words.
I posted this on Open Mike late yesterday. I’ve slightly modified it to avoid moderation. Hope nobody minds the repetition, but it does seem to fit this post.
Apology to Chinese Government
The NZ Government has today apologised to the Chinese Government for the traitorous actions of notorious left deviationist Russel Norman, self confessed leader of the Gang of Nine. Norman, whose infantilism and opportunism has made him a despised and isolated figure amongst right thinking comrades in the Peoples Assembly, has taken the road of sectarian oppositionism in the face of overwhelming support for the glorious leadership of Comrade John Key Il, the Great Helmsman of the New Dawn.
The NZ Government is pleased to advise comrades that the Dear Leader did no damage to his knees while delivering the apology, though his hair was mussed when Comrade Xi Jinping fraternally patted his head.
The NZ Government hopes that there will be no further incidents of revisionism in the future and warns the running dog Norman that they know where he lives.
Dear Leader John Key Il , currently in South Africa leading the people’s football team, will, on his triumphant return, apologise to the French Government for the appalling destruction of French navy armaments by the so called Greenpeace and their aggressive Rainbow Warrior.
Plans to apologise to Germany and Japan for New Zealand’s naive opposition to the wise and peaceful policies of the Axis nations are well advanced, with comrade David Garrett promising to lend the Great Helmsman his best brown shirt and the gifting of a mini bar sized bottle of saki (slightly used) from the personal collection of comrade Tim Groser.
“John Key Il , currently in South Africa leading the people’s football team, will, on his triumphant return”
Our Fairfax newspaper had photos of the All Whites celebration.
But then there was a Half page photo of John Key celebrating his part in the win, or so it seemed. Riki Herbert was also allowed in the photo for his small part.
Good point, Ianmac. I was chatting with another footy fan yesterday about how dispiriting it is to have people like Key jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve been heartily sick of rugby heads giving me the benefit of their newly found knowledge about soccer, when for most of my life I’ve been accused by similar people of being gay for playing the game.
But, last night, one of them explained it to me. It turns out that Rugby is Fucked. Simple as that. Boring, over whistled, too complicated, too many artificial regional teams, no grassroots funding so provincial clubs are folding and most importantly, no players. Rugby is no longer the number one sport in NZ and if NZ Football consolidate their recent gains, we may never again see taxpayer bucks wasted on tournament like next year’s rugby ‘world’ cup. Instead, the money may go to sports people actually play, which will be very good news for footy, netball, cricket, etc.
It turns out that Rugby is Fucked.
Even a semi-professional coach of my acquaintance tells me that even he doesn’t understand why the whistle got blown about 1/3rd the time.
It was a great game, with a proud history in this country…but something died the day we lost that quarter-final to the French.
Wow, why are you so bitter? Or is it envy? I mix them up sometimes…..
Just stick to the script and don’t worry too much about what the words mean. You’ll be fine.
nice one TVoR 😉
Good on Norman for making a public stand on the issue.
Unfortunately the way that the event was played out by the media may not be good for the green vote expansion. ‘Activist’ is a term that a lot of people don’t want to be associated with.
I’m not sorry.
And for Norman to represent the views I have (about a free Tibet) – regardless of the pros and cons of the delivery mechansim – then he should be applauded. That is democracy and freedom – not supplicating oneself for the so-called economic ‘greater good’ (which, for some reason, reminds me of the village in ‘Hot Fuzz’).
P.S. thanks for the chuckle Voice of Reason – at least we can have a laugh about it too – unlike the people of Tibet etc…
Cheers, Pete. It was fun to write and I might try some more in a similar ‘press release’ style as issues fit for satire come up. As long as it’s OK with our new Chinese overlords, that is.
I didn’t think I would ever see a NZ Govt apologising for the exercise of legitimate right to peaceful protest and democratic freedom of speech on our very own soil in my lifetime.
I am sorry for the health of democracy in NZ today.
For a healthy democracy you need to have integrity. Good stuff integrity, and we are willing to sell what we have scraped managed to scrape together if someone offers us enough baubles of power etc.
“I’m not sorry about Russel Norman standing up to Chinese imperialism, I’m proud that he did.”
And that Chinese imperialism you mention? Is it still imperialism if the majority of Tibetans welcome and welcomed Chinese over the regime imposed by the Lamas and the monks?
Can you please tell me the name of any pro-democracy movement that exists or has ever existed within Tibet that was not controlled or financed by the exiled elites or their pay masters, the CIA? What about an uprising that wasn’t driven by the exiled elites and involved more than the army and privileged sectors of the old society?
If most Tibetans consider themselves better off now than they were before, then where is the freedom and what is the moral justification of the western Free Tibet campaign in seeking the re-establishment of the rule of the Lamas and the Monasteries? And if that is not what they seek, then what is it precisely that the Free Tibet campaign does seek? And where can I access that vision or statement of desire? And what is their strategy that will prevent a great leap backwards to a truly awful state of affairs?
Or do they think that Tibet will step forth into a vacuum and karma will see to the rest of it?
Anyway. Here’s a wee thumbs up to your long finger of thoughtless pride Sprout. Way to go.
“Is it still imperialism if the majority of Tibetans welcome and welcomed Chinese over the regime imposed by the Lamas and the monks?”
Well, yes it can be. The Athenian, Roman, British and, possibly, the American empires have all had instances of ‘voluntary membership’ that allowed the empires to expand. It’s not unknown by any means. (I guess Maori who signed the Treaty were, in a sense, voluntarily ‘joining’ the empire and, apparently, did so because they were aware of the alternatives – but I’m no expert.).
From the point of view of the imperial power it is an expansion of empire whenever some form of dominion over territory is gained. I think what you are probably arguing is that China, in occupying Tibet, was not carrying out “aggressive expansion”? I don’t know enough about the Tibet situation to know. I’ll try to inform myself.
What I could guess, however, is that there was and is every chance that, as you’ve said elsewhere, the China-Tibet issue is not black and white. Typically, in other situations that might be similar, smaller ‘nations’, or whatever, get used, abused and ‘played’ by greater powers who are, by proxy, manoeuvering against each other (plus also in their own interests). Given Tibet’s location and the timing of the arrival of Chinese troops (1959) I’d be surprised if it wasn’t used by the west for all it’s propaganda worth. Also, the CIA, which spends more as a press agency than either Reuters or AP, would, I presume, skew the coverage of the issue as much as possible.
My position on Norman’s protest (which I gave in detail on another thread) deliberately avoids the question of the validity of the protest. That might play into the hands of ignorance, but what really interests me is how the contradictory rhetoric surrounding China – that it is portrayed both as imperialist, expansionist ‘bogey man’ and, almost simultaneously, an ‘almost friend that we should [claim to be trying] to understand’ – gets managed, especially by those on the right.
This ‘have your rhetorical cake and eat it too’ dilemma is the part that most interests me in the immediate reaction. Hearing that Key has apologised, that Rodney Hide now wants Norman to apologise for assaulting Chinese security officers (I’m sorry, I’ve looked at the ’18 second’ moment in the tvnz video and if that’s ‘elbowing the security officer out of the way’ then Norman must be the ‘man of steel’) and seeing the response of some bloggers who clearly want to diss Norman but also diss China, is better than farce.
An aside is this ludicrous notion that protesting is somehow ‘undignified’ and visiting officials need to be shielded from such indignity. So, I guess into the undignified bin we’ll have to put Bertrand Russell, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, just about every trade unionist and early Labour Party politician (here and in the UK), the suffragettes, the abolitionists, the Quakers and Jesus Christ. All of them – and more – were called ‘undignified’ (or words to that effect – common, vulgar, rabble, etc., etc.). It’s so much bourgeois bollocks – as if not making a nuisance of yourself is the ultimate virtue and that, therefore, protesting demonstrates a lack of dignity. Not protesting can just as easily show a lack of human dignity.
And don’t get me on to the equally specious notion that ‘guests’ shouldn’t be embarrassed… (as if visiting heads of state were like visiting next door neighbours – who just happen to bring up over dinner that they’d like you to send your son to one of their wars!)
“So, I guess into the undignified bin we’ll have to put Bertrand Russell, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, just about every trade unionist and early Labour Party politician (here and in the UK), the suffragettes, the abolitionists, the Quakers and Jesus Christ. All of them and more were called â€˜undignified’ (or words to that effect common, vulgar, rabble, etc., etc.).”
Aye, but all those people and movements were speaking against a domestic abuse of power…something that impacted on them personally and so left them vulnerable to the velvet/iron or whatever fist/glove reaction of the domestic power base.
The ‘Free Tibet’ campaign is something altogether different.
It dovetails with the official ‘enemy’ rhetoric; is informed by official/orthodox/governmental propaganda and threatens no reaction being visited upon any advocates of said position by any relevant power base.
In other words….is a have.
And as a response to the endless nationalistic nonsense being spouted…is everyone forgetting that NZ was an outlier of British imperialism? And that NZ culture was a pastiche of ‘British’ culture that had no truck for Maori culture? Are people forgetting that the pastiche (with a race horse, pavlova and L&P added on top) readily adopted the shift to a more American culture when the time was right, so that the British pastiche became complimented and somewhat supplanted by the culture of the new global power?
All this Anglo-Saxon bravado and self righteousness in the middle of the Pacific is kind of quaint in a way I guess…when the hypocrisy isn’t bringing on a gag reflex.
Last thing. Anybody bearing in mind that the Pacific Peoples…the ones who preceded the white colonists…had and continue to have, roots that extend back to what is present day China?
Shit. Did I say that was the last thing?
I lied. This is. What is the logic or purpose of all you who get so puffed up in the defence of Anglo Saxon imperialism in the face of some imaginary Chinese imperialism? These things exist for elites. Not me or you. Do you really think that one master is preferable to another? You going to get all jingoistic and cheer on a generation of cannon fodder in the event that the various trade antagonisms between China and the US + allies degenerates and gets a wee bit out of hand in the future?
Do you really think that one master is preferable to another?
It may be a close run thing, but on balance, better the white devil I know than….
And still baffled why our resident anarchist Bill is so keenly defending the new imperialist kid on the block though. Am I the only one thinking that someone is revealing some crypto-colours here?
That surely is the same for you in regards to you and rental property when quite often you have posts deploring speculation etc and foreign ownership.
Fair question gc.
1. My rental properties are not speculative. I intend them to be a retirement income, I do not intend to sell them in the foreseeable future. Their capital appreciation is only of relevance should I be crazy enough to increase my debt exposure at this point in time.
Moreover they are just modestly cash flow positive, in other words the income covers the mortgage and costs. That is not a speculative investment which hinges entirely on capital gain for it’s profitability.
2. I’ve no real problem with foreign ownership if it comes to this country and creates something new. The best example I can think of is Juken Nissho, a Japanese company that has built two new timber processing mills and employed many New Zealanders. By contrast most FDI simply buys up existing local assets and then exports the profit overseas, rather than recycling cash in the NZ economy.
I’ve actually built (hands on) five of the six units I own, and as a New Zealander, banking with an NZ bank, all my cash flow is cycled within the local economy…as far as I have any influence.
That’s not an excercise in self-justification. It’s a fairly well-thought our position. If I had the option to sanely invest elsewhere I would actively consider it…but only a fool puts money into the den of thieves that is our stock market or finance industry.
Red: …but on balance, better the white devil I know than .
Can’t believe you just wrote that.
Nor Bill…defending the new imperialist kid on the block…
Is he? Is it? Flick us off the top of your head a quick list of all the countries China has invaded ever, Red, and compare that to, oh say, your “better white devil” the US (currently presence in 70-odd, soldiers in 20-odd from memory)
Puddlegum seems to sum up a lot of commenters with China, in occupying Tibet, was not carrying out “aggressive expansion’? I don’t know enough about the Tibet situation to know.
And leaving aside the validity of the cause, Puddle, sorry, but dignity, mana, gravitas – call it what you will – does matter – a lot. Christ, Ghandi…..Norman? Puh-lease. (what’s the opposite of Godwinning….?)
what really interests me is .. the contradictory rhetoric surrounding China…..especially by those on the right
Me too. From Yellow Socialist Peril to bland and chummy economic saviours in a few short years. As dramatic as their shift of support from Orewa One to F&S Mk 2. An anomolous serendipity screaming for exploitation.
A pity the left is still dazed, confused and looking for its flag. When its standard is right there: anchored in the rock of inevitable historic progression, its every fold dyed deep by centuries of genuine, dignified sacrifice. Just waiting for a breeze….
I’ll take that on the chin the wording was infelicitous. It was in reply to something Bill said about one master being preferable to another. I read that to mean Bill was positing a choice between the post WW2 US imperium, and the emerging Chinese one for our new masters.
One might hope we would need neither. But in reality China is gradually reeling the Pacific into it’s sphere of influence and probably we don’t get to have much say about it how they perceive our place in their order of things.
And yes I know perfectly well that the US has had troops invading somewhere on earth almost every year since they so brutally entered the Phillipines over a hundred years ago, and their cycnical manipulations almost everywhere else. Yet military adventures are only one method of empire building.
It’s my sense that for the time being, and certainly in a nuclear armed world, the Chinese fully understand the pointlessness of military confrontation. Far better to defeat the Western hegemony by the simple capitalist expedient of …buying it up. Using our own weapons against us; that I imagine is a strategey that would have much appeal. And if you don’t think that if the CCP (often a 50% sleeping shareholder in all large Chinese enterprises) purchasing substantial portions of NZ’s dairy and food producing capacity is a form of imperialism…then we need different working definitions.
For all the commercial and technical modernity of China, it is still politically a non-democratic, totalitarian state. Nor is it even a faintly liberal one, as with much of Asia, having quite different notions around racism, gender equality, human rights and social equity than they are generally understood in the West.
As a liberal social democrat I have every reason to be anxious about the consequences of leaping from the American hegemony, into wholly uncharted territory with the Chinese. That was solely the sense in which I meant my statement which you quoted.
That was solely the sense in which I meant my statement which you quoted.
Yep, fair enough, I knew that 🙂 But I think you might be surprised at how deep the threads of social equity, gender and yes even “liberalism” run in the general populace: a brutal “macro” picture perhaps – allayed somewhat by allowances for scale, history and western propaganda when comparisons are made – but genuine compassion and a most attractive, guileless humanity evident at the personal level – at least in my experience. Bothers me not a whit if they buy up every Crafar in the world.
Fair point re:
“And leaving aside the validity of the cause, Puddle, sorry, but dignity, mana, gravitas call it what you will does matter a lot. Christ, Ghandi ..Norman? Puh-lease. (what’s the opposite of Godwinning .?)”
But, in my defense, a lot of the abolitionists, and Quakers did not have the greatest ‘gravitas’ or ‘dignity’. Try Henry Smeathman, the naturalist abolitionist and founding member of the ‘Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor’ who believed, from his time in a slave base in Sierra Leone, that it was just the place to set up a self-sufficient community of free slaves and Granville Sharp (a co-founder of the Committee) who saw the ‘colony’ as an ideal vehicle for operating ‘frankpledge’ or “the Ancient Mode of Government by Tithings (or Decenaries)”. As summarised by Hoschschild in ‘Bury the Chains’ (p. 145) – “No philanthropic venture ever included more oddballs.” And that’s before we get on to that very odd figure, William Wilberforce (all five foot four of his arch-conservative frame).
Mana, gravitas, or whatever more often than not tends to be conferred either after some pretty ‘wet behind the ears’ early activity or a long time after one’s death when your actions can conveniently be moved into the realms of myth. Protest is not the preserve of ‘great’ and ‘noble’ characters – nor should it be.
I’ll be more than happy to debate your concerns Red….and your misconceptions…(whenever did I claim to be an anarchist?) …plus, maybe you should read my comment down below on the matter of imperialism…
edit above. up there somewhere. not below.
Damned well missed the edit…
No fucking masters Red. No choice. None.