When I heard a Chinese national had been approved for citizenship by a minister against the advice of officials and with a letter of recommendation from a Labour MP, after he had apparently donated to the Labour Party, I thought ‘seeing as this is coming from Ian Wishart, it’s probably nothing but the jokers better not have got themselves into anything dodgy’. So, it’s nice to see Wishart has made a fool of himself again, and accidentally turned what was meant to be this great scandal on Labour into an embarrassment for Key.
Yang Liu appears to be a slightly dodgy businessman who has got to know politicians across the political spectrum. Indeed, John Key remembers meeting him three times (funny how his memory is so clear on this, when claims he struggles to remember so much else). He gave both Labour and National $5000 in 2005. He is also apparently strongly pro-democracy and a supporter of Falun Gong, which got him off-side with the Chinese authorities.It seems he has used multiple Chinese passports in the past, which isn’t unusual among dissidents.
Dover Samuals and Pansy Wong gave him letters of recommendation for his citizenship application, a common practice for MPs. Immigration Minister Rick Barker also knows Liu. When Liu’s application came before him, he did the proper thing when there is an actual or possible conflict of interest, he passed the decision to the Assistant Minister Shane Jones, who approved it. That decision is now being reviewed.
The allegation of corruption is simply dumb. Liu gave a small amount of money to both major parties, the Minister correctly stood aside from the decision given his personal acquaintance with Liu. The idea that Labour is giving citizenship to people who give them $5000 donations is laughable, the guy isn’t even a Labour man he has just been getting to know politicians, regardless of party. Indeed, he seems to have known National better.
Frankly, we get emailed things like this all the time. Pointing to a few pieces of data and alleging that it there must be some huge story underneath it all. In my experience, these things usually rest on all kinds of assumptions for which there are simply no evidence. It’s the kind of thing that Ian Wishart has built his reputation on.