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ASIA:NZ December Media e-Newsletter


Media e-Newsletter

12 December 2006

Seasons greetings, welcome to the Asia New Zealand Foundation media newsletter for December. There’s news about our latest Korea scholars, updates to the online Covering Asia guide and lots of other Asia-related information. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish our readers and supporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2007!

In this issue:

- Asian Angst: It’s time to stay

- Kiwi students get Korea scholarships

- State visit for South Korean leader

- Covering Pakistan and India

- Arabic network broadcasting from KL

- Al Jazeera on Triangle Television

- Young leaders key to revitalising Asian links

- Passionate and in love with New Zealand

- Skykiwi soars in website survey

- AEN Journal turns two

- Chinese language immersion day

- Asian content invades White Fungus

Asian Angst: It’s time to stay

In asking the question in its December cover story Asian Angst: Is it time to send some back? North & South magazine has used a very broad brush to offend a range of Asian communities that call New Zealand home.

The article’s most objectionable feature is whom it labels Asian and the negativity explicit in its portrayal of people whom it places in a large catch-all categorisation.

People who settle here have done so because they see New Zealand as a good place to live. Instead of underlining that new Asian migrants are New Zealanders too, the Asian Angst story presents them as aliens.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation has expressed its concern to the editor of North & South for the following reasons:

1. Front cover and the issue of legal aid:

The problems begin with the cover line - Asian Angst: Is it time to send some back? People have to ask themselves “Send who back?” If you are a migrant to New Zealand who has been granted permanent residency or citizenship then New Zealand is your home country and you have the same rights as any citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand.

On the issue of legal aid, the article states that the taxpayer is picking up the cost for many of the “worst Asian criminals” but what is missing is an explanation of who qualifies for it. The Legal Services Agency provides legal aid for those unable to afford legal representation. Anyone appearing before the courts is entitled to a proper defence and this is a basic human right enshrined in the justice systems of western democracies. The Legal Services Agency does not make its decisions based on ethnicity and that is entirely in accord with one of the central tenets of our system of justice.

2. Serious lack of Asian perspectives:

For a feature article that puts the broad spectrum of the ethnicity of ‘Asian’ in the spotlight, there is a disturbing lack of representation of ‘Asian’ views. The views of two are reflected in the article – Rosemary Jones and iBall co-editor Lincoln Tan.

In Mr Tan’s case, although he was interviewed by the author, she only quotes from one of his New Zealand Herald columns. The author also spoke to Justin Zhang of Skykiwi and Charles Chan, the other co-editor of iBall. She also sought to interview National MP Pansy Wong but was informed that Ms Wong only wanted to discuss Asians as victims of crime. Surely a corollary of any article with an ‘Asian crime’ theme must surely be that Asians must also be the victims of crimes?

The author did not speak to any of Auckland Police’s Asian liaison officers such as Jessica Phuang, Justin Zeng or Raymond Wong. All are bilingual and work with student communities and new migrant communities. Their views would be essential to providing journalistic balance.

For any article, about such a sensitive issue that involves a particular ethnic category, to be balanced, a range of views from those communities should have been included as a matter of course. It is elementary journalism.

3. Statistical and contextual selectivity:

This has been well explored by Keith Ng on Public Address: “Claims of rising Asian crime came from Asians being represented in 1.9 percent of crimes in 1996, a figure that grew to 2.6 percent in 2005. During the same period, the proportion of Asians in New Zealand grew from 3.8 percent to 9.3 percent. In other words, the proportion of Asians grew threefold, while its representation in crime statistics grew by only a third.

“These figures are unequivocal. In 1996, Asians were far less likely than the general population to commit crimes (by a factor of 2 to 1). By 2005, Asians became even less likely to commit crimes (by a factor of 3.7 to 1).”

But the article seeks to present a different reality and fails to note the evidence that Asians are nearly four times less likely than the national average to commit crimes. Although the author asserts that that the “vast majority of Asians making New Zealand their new home are hard working, focused on getting their children well educated, and ensuring they’re not dependent on the state”, there was no statistical support for this statement. Such statistical analysis would have thrown the rest of the article into sharper relief and provided better context for the predominantly imbalanced negativity of the story towards Asians.

Instead statistics quoted misleadingly present the view that there is a “gathering crime tide” – something that is not borne out by the figures. In essence, a crucial flaw in the story is the way crime involving Asians is presented to readers without any kind of overall context of crime in New Zealand.

4. Objectification of Asians:

Instead of presenting Asians as individuals and New Zealanders, the article works to create a perception of a standard Asian identity that is ‘alien’, ‘ruthless’, ‘secretive’ and a ‘menace’. The language used effectively resurrects the ‘Yellow Peril’ terminology prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries that were used in part to justify the official pro-European immigration policies that existed for decades in Australia and New Zealand. Take for example this statement: “A flick through the crime files shows the Asian menace has been steadily creeping up on us.”

Although these adjectives are used to ostensibly refer to Asian gang cultures, they are hugely emotive, subjective and discriminatory. Criminal gang culture of any ethnicity is bound to be ‘ruthless’, ‘secretive’ and a ‘menace’. But the manner of the way the article is structured, the reader can only make one assumption – these negative qualities also are integral to the societies from which our Asian communities come from.

Here’s another example of the way the article emphasises the outsider status of Asian communities: “Pakuranga’s plethora of ethnic restaurants fill each night with noisy, cackling families.” Witches cackle, hens cackle and so it seems Asians cackle. It begs the question; do non-Asian families cackle?

5. Failure of editorial policy and journalistic rigour:

The evident imbalance and discriminatory nature of the article is disturbing. It is evident that there seems to have been a failure of the editorial and journalistic process at North & South for such an article to be published in its final form.

The statistical analysis used in the story has been demonstrated to be misleading and the article has an overwhelmingly negative slant towards Asian communities.

The ‘grab bag’ approach taken to include as many negative features that can be possibly associated with immigration from Asian countries including, quite unnecessarily, a single case of TB, presents a distorted, discriminatory and alarmist view of Asian communities in New Zealand.

So two questions loom: How did an article so biased and representative of prejudice against Asians get written by an “award winning journalist” (taken from an ACP media release) without paying due heed to the principles of balance and accuracy? And how did editorial processes fail to spot the inaccuracies and imbalance in the article before publication?


“There is a quaint but unattractive touch of old fashioned xenophobia in the author’s attitude to her thieves; they are ‘foreign’ and this seems to be regarded as sufficient to explain their criminality. The characterisations are painfully thin and the plot does not stand up to examination.”
Theatre critic and reader for the Macmillan publishing company, Phyllis Hartnoll, critiques The Mystery That Never Was, an Enid Blyton manuscript submitted in 1960.

Kiwi students get Korea scholarships

Three New Zealand students have been awarded Asia:NZ Korean Studies Programme scholarships this year.

Ann Kim of Christchurch and Julie Jang of Auckland will receive David Holborow Memorial scholarships. Brigid Boyle of Levin is the recipient of only the second scholarship for descendents of New Zealand Korean War veterans.

The David Holborow Memorial scholarships, worth $3000 each, were established in memory of the founder of the Asia:NZ’s Korean Studies Programme. They are offered annually to outstanding secondary or tertiary New Zealand students of Korean descent.

Ann Kim is currently head girl at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, the school’s first of Korean ethnicity. She intends to begin a health sciences degree at the University of Auckland with the intention of studying medicine.

Julie Jang is a former dux of Sacred Heart Girls’ College in Hamilton and was New Zealand’s top female secondary school scholar in 2002. She is currently undertaking a conjoint engineering and accounting degree at the University of Auckland.

For only the second time, an additional scholarship is also being offered in cooperation with the New Zealand Korea Veterans Association. This scholarship, also worth $3000, is for undergraduate study by descendants of New Zealand Korean War veterans.

This year’s winner is Brigid Boyle, a student of Horowhenua College. A condition of eligibility is to write an essay about a relative who fought in the Korean War. Her grandfather William Murray Hill was a member of the Signal Corp who commanded the signal troop of 16 Field Regiment.

Ms Boyle intends to embark on a conjoint Bachelor Degree of Laws and Commerce at Victoria University.

State visit for South Korean leader

Blink and you would have missed it if it wasn’t for full page welcome advertisements in New Zealand newspapers paid for by Hyundai and Kia Motors.

Without a single preview in the New Zealand news media, the leader of the world’s eleventh largest economy paid a three-day visit to the country last week.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and the country’s First Lady were in New Zealand as part of a larger trip that also took in Australia and culminated at the East Asia Summit in the Philippines from December 10-13.

President Roh’s visit included meetings with the Governor-General, Prime Minister Helen Clark and other ministers, and business and community leaders.

A key reason for the visit was an agreement to commission a study into a possible free trade agreement between New Zealand and South Korea.

Other agreements were signed during the visit in the areas of investment promotion, and science and technology collaboration.

A further agreement between the Korean Ministry of Agriculture and New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has also been negotiated and will be signed in early 2007.

South Korea is New Zealand’s seventh-largest trading partner with total trade worth NZ$2.229 billion last year. It is New Zealand's sixth-largest export market.

Covering Pakistan and India

Pakistani politics, writes Sudha Ramachandran, is said to be determined by the ‘three As’ – Allah, the Army and America.

Compared with previous governments, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf's rule has been marked by increased freedom for the print media and a liberalisation of broadcasting policies.

But Dr Ramachandran reports the government does curb press freedom and uses a range of legal and constitutional powers as well as intimidation of ‘troublesome’ journalists to achieve this.

In India, there’s been also been a change. Where the country’s news media was once relatively passive, she writes that New Zealand journalists visiting or working there today will find an intensely competitive media scene.

Dr Ramachandran is a freelance journalist based in Bangalore who has travelled extensively in Pakistan to cover the Kashmir conflict. She is also a regular correspondent for the Asia Times (www.atimes.com) and occasional India correspondent for broadcaster Kim Hill’s National Radio programme on Saturday mornings.

You can read more about both countries in Sudha Ramachandran’s updates on Asia:NZ’s online Covering Asia guide for New Zealand journalists which is located at www.asianz.org.nz/coveringasia/country-profiles.

Arabic network broadcasting from KL

An integral component of Al Jazeera’s new English language service which began broadcasting last month will be its Asia bureau based in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

The Kuala Lumpur bureau, headed by New Zealander Trish Carter, is one of the Qatar-based network’s four international broadcast centres that include its headquarters in Doha, London and Washington.

Al Jazeera English began broadcasting in English on November 15 to a global audience of eight million subscribers. It is heralded as the world's first English-language news channel with headquarters in the Middle East and is the sister channel to the original Arabic language service.

Managing director Nigel Parsons said Kuala Lumpur was picked as the location for its Asia bureau over Hong Kong and Singapore. Incentives offered by the Malaysian government were a key factor in the decision as well as the close cultural and political ties between Qatar and Malaysia and the availability of a good pool of English speakers.

Trish Carter, who is a former TVNZ and Maori Television executive, told the Bernama news agency that the Kuala Lumpur centre had 125 staff of which half of whom are journalists.

“We focus our coverage on everything, cultural, economic, social and political issues and report from some of the regions rarely were given access to other news channels.”

Former BBC and CNN news anchor Veronica Pedrosa is one of the presenters based at the Kuala Lumpur bureau which is located on the 60th floor of the twin Petronas Towers.

The Philippine-born Pedrosa said Al Jazeera would enable the reversing of the flow of information and news from the South to the North. “With Al Jazeera, we are no longer saying they are like this. Now we are saying we are like this.”

New Zealand and the South Pacific will be covered by Al Jazeera’s Sydney based correspondent Dan Nolan, a former Ten Network journalist.

Al Jazeera on Triangle Television

Selected programmes from Al Jazeera English are being screened live on Triangle Television, the multicultural community broadcasting that is available in Auckland and Wellington.

Triangle’s chief executive Jim Blackman says they were able to negotiate an agreement with Al Jazeera to provide some of its content including the one-hour long weekly current affairs programme hosted by David Frost.

Triangle also broadcasts the network’s daily news hour and a number of other regular programmes. All are in English and screened live. For more information, visit www.tritv.co.nz.

Young leaders key to revitalising Asian links

Massey graduates and students took part in a Young Leaders Forum last month aimed at revitalising New Zealand’s relationships with Asia through a network of outstanding young people.

The forum brought together 38 students and recent graduates from New Zealand and Asia for a week-long programme, arranged by Asia:NZ.

The inaugural forum included workshops on leadership, cross-cultural communication and public speaking, and briefings by government and business leaders. It is hoped that the programme will become an annual event.

Radio New Zealand journalist Amanda Strong travelled to China in 2006 to work on the Shanghai Daily with an Asia:NZ grant. She says the forum kept the momentum going of what she learned on her trip.

“It helped me broaden my selection of news stories, and deepened my understanding of issues facing new New Zealanders,” she said. “The growing influence of Asia and the increasing number of Asians in New Zealand highlight the need for better understanding.”

Five other Massey graduates and students took part: Jianyu Chen, who holds an International Doctoral Research Scholarship and is currently doing a PhD in horticultural science; journalism graduate Derek Cheng, who used a grant to visit Cambodia in 2006 to work on the Phnom Penh Post; Paulina Japardy, who is studying for a masters of philosophy in development studies; Komalawati Subbardja, who is doing postgraduate studies in agricultural engineering; and Oni Yuliarti, who is doing a PhD in food technology.

Passionate and in love with New Zealand

A group of young New Zealanders are currently collecting letters by other young New Zealanders which they say will be the source material for a book called Dear New Zealand.

The Dear New Zealand initiative is by seven recent members of Excelerator's Future Leaders Programme, including former Asia:NZ Singapore Scholarship holder and inaugural Young Leaders Forum participant Tessa Irving.

The book, which they hope to publish sometime next year, is intended to be a collection of essays in the form of letters on issues that any of the contributors feel passionate about. The aim is to give a voice to young Kiwis and to provide a 'snapshot' of the views of a generation.

Possible themes include cultural understanding and diversity, New Zealand's international relations, the environment and sustainability and social justice, among others.

'We are hoping to showcase all that is great about New Zealand society, and also be willing to expose the experiences of young Kiwis who have suffered discrimination and injustice or who think that New Zealand is not doing all it can to be the clean-green, socially responsible country we pride ourselves on being,” Ms Irving said.

“We want people to write from their heart about issues that affect them directly, that they are passionate about, and most importantly that they want New Zealand to hear.”

The Dear New Zealand team is currently calling for submissions from anyone between 15 and 30 who is a New Zealander or from overseas but living in New Zealand. For more information, visit www.dearnewzealand.org.

Skykiwi soars in website survey

Skykiwi, the Auckland-based Chinese language community website, has received a top award in the latest Hitwise website survey.

For the quarter ending in September, Skykiwi ranked first by visits of all New Zealand websites in the News and Media – Community Directories and Guides category.

Marketing manager Justin Zhang says Skykiwi also qualified for a Hitwise Top Ten award for the same quarter by ranking third by visits in the Computers and Internet – Net Communities and Chat category.

Mr Zhang says Skykiwi has 90,000 registered members and 70,000 Daily IP visits (number of people visiting daily) and 1.3 million page views.

You can find Skykiwi at www.skykiwi.com

AEN Journal turns two

The second issue of the AEN Journal is now available online and presents a diverse array of articles drawn from New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and the United Kingdom.

Just like New Zealand’s multicultural society, the contributors trace their own heritage back to many countries, including Tonga, the US, the Philippines, Korea, Cyprus and India.

Ruth DeSouza, one of the founder’s of the Aotearoa Ethnic Network and journal editor, says the contributors all share a commitment to ensuring that the experiences of New Zealanders are reflected in the country’s broader cultural spaces.

She says this issue of the AEN Journal makes the point that creativity builds bridges and creates understanding within and between people. It is a free open-access journal that can be read online or downloaded as individual articles or in full from www.journal.aen.org.nz.

Meanwhile the online AEN network that Ms DeSouza established with her husband Andy Williamson has grown to over 300 members. More information can be found at www.aen.org.nz.

Chinese language immersion day

Seventy students from Wellington schools took part in a Chinese language immersion day at Massey University’s Wellington campus early this month.

New Zealand's ongoing negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with China highlight China's importance for New Zealand this century, says senior lecturer from the School of Language Studies, Dr Ellen Soulliere.

“Young people learning Chinese language in New Zealand schools and universities are preparing to take their places in a new global environment, where relationships with Chinese people and Chinese institutions will play a key role,” she said.

The day was sponsored by the Wellington Chinese Speech and Cultural Day Organising Committee, the Confucius Institute, the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Chinese Language Foundation.

Asian content invades White Fungus

The latest edition of alternative arts magazine White Fungus is available this month and its editor Ron Hanson says it is their biggest issue yet for Asian content.

Mr Hanson says there are articles on Singaporean artist Amanda Heng and one on Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa. There are also stories on Kiwi Korean cyber artist Hye Rim Lee and Japanese Noise pioneer Merzbow.

In the first for the publication, there is also a bilingual article in English and Chinese by Taiwanese artist Yao Jui Chung.

The bright red issue also highlights the careers of Yvonne Todd, Australian artist Hany Armanious, and includes an interview with Los Angeles writer and filmmaker Chris Kraus talking about her new novel Torpor and growing up in Wellington in the 1970s.

There are new drawings by Peter Robinson, a short story by Wellington writer Hamish Low and a historical perspective by Tim Bollinger entitled Strange Days on Lake Rotomahana: The End of the Pink and White Terraces.

White Fungus Issue 7 is available from December 15. For more information, visit www.whitefungus.com.

The next Asia:NZ media newsletter will be available next year. The views expressed by various contributors to the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter, please contact Asia:NZ’s media adviser Charles Mabbett at cmabbett@asianz.org.nz

Toitu he kianga; whatungarongaro he tangata - people are transient things but the land endures.


Articles may be reprinted with acknowledgement of Asia New Zealand Foundation

Asia New Zealand Foundation is grateful to its key sponsors - Fonterra, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - for their commitment to the Foundation's activities.


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