www.mccully.co.nz - 15 May 2008
www.mccully.co.nz - 15 May 2008
MP for East Coast Bays
Day after day over the past week, New Zealanders have been forcibly reminded of the appalling destruction wreaked by Cyclone Nargis at the top of each media bulletin, and on the front pages of most newspapers. And we have also been reminded of the utter inhumanity of a military junta that would rather see tens of thousands of its citizens die than allow entry to international aid workers on a scale that the crisis requires. Except that the coverage in this country has been characterised by one important difference.
Take a brief look at the international coverage:
In Sydney’s Daily
“The official death toll from Burma’s Cyclone Nargis has risen………”
Or the Melbourne
“The first US aid flight has landed in Burma…..”
In the UK’s Telegraph:
“Officials in Burma’s cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta area…..”
“Gordon Brown today urged the Burmese Government ……”
And the BBC:
“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his “immense frustration” at Burma’s slow response….”
In Europe, the French have been reading about events in “Birmanie”.
The German press refers to it as “Burma”.
Back in NZ, of course, both our Government and our media have been force-feeding us with stories about a place called “Myanmar” – the term adopted by the military junta in 1989, soon after they seized power.
Amongst our normal friends, only the USA is partly out of step. Opinion appears to be divided, with the likes of CNN and the New York Times referring to “Myanmar,” but Fox News calling it “Burma”.
As has previously been reported in this publication, the worldwide headquarters of mccully.co is firmly of the view that it should be BURMA. As previously quoted, a leading UK Burma campaigner explained the difference thus:
“Often you can tell where someone’s sympathies lie if they use Burma or Myanmar. Myanmar is a kind of indicator of countries that are soft on the regime.”
After witnessing the appalling indifference of Burma’s military leadership to the welfare of its cyclone-ravaged citizens over recent days, the question needs to be asked: just why would New Zealand’s Government leadership and its media go out of their way to honour the wishes of such a regime by referring to the country as Myanmar, when both the political leadership and the media of the UK, Europe and Australia do precisely the opposite?
Australia’s DFAT website makes clear that country’s official preference for “Burma”.
The US State Department asserts the preference for “Burma” “due to consistent, unyielding support for the democratically elected leaders”, and the UK Foreign Office notes that “Burma’s democracy movement prefers the form “Burma” because they do not accept the legitimacy of the unelected military regime to change the official name of the country.”
The very least that our Government and our media should be doing after witnessing the events of the past week is to insist upon calling the place Burma.
Our Immigration Process
Decisions regarding the granting of residence in our country are amongst the most important exercises of the authority of the state. The long-term consequences of poor decision making are serious. And in a country that is exporting over 78,000 New Zealanders a year, the decisions about the manner in which they are replaced have great significance.
This would argue for the Immigration Service being one of the very most significant, professional and talented bureaucracies in the land, attracting the best skills with top remuneration levels. Anyone who has dealt with our Immigration Service will know that none of the above is correct.
That Immigration has no clear stand-alone status, but is perpetually a pimple on the backside of the Department of Labour, as if Immigration Officers were somehow interchangeable with OSH inspectors, serves to emphasise official disregard for this important exercise of the power of the state.
It is also one of life's great bureaucratic mysteries as to why the three governmental functions by which new migrants are selected for residence, then subsequently granted citizenship, and by which their re-settlement and integration needs are superintended, are undertaken in a completely uncoordinated manner, by three different government agencies: Immigration (part of the Department of Labour), Internal Affairs, and Ethnic Affairs.
Mystery surrounds the reasons for the departure of Mary Anne Thompson from the role of chief of the Immigration Service (officially Deputy Secretary Workforce of the Department of Labour). But it appears that irregularities over her cv prompted her exit, and that the Government had been prepared to overlook (and cover-up) her role in securing residence for relatives clearly outside the established policy. Which is extraordinary. Because the effect on the culture and chemistry (not to mention the integrity) of the place of seeing favours dispensed for the boss’ family would have been devastating.
So now the search will begin for a new head for the Immigration Service. But the facts suggest that much much bigger changes are required than that.