Monday, December 10, 2012

If you saw someone in a skirt you shot him and nicked his country.

This post at the Hand Mirror reminded me I'd meant to write a post about this article in Stuff featuring that well-known unrepentant convicted criminal, Phillip Taito Field.

The Hand Mirror post notes Trans Tasman putting Labour MP Rajen Prasad and Natonal MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi on its worst-performers list and comments on it as a matter of Whitey not taking "people of colour" seriously.  (Yeah, me too - if I wanted to make a case for "people of colour" MPs being as capable as Whitey, I'd be looking for candidates other than Bakshi and Prasad, who've earned their low places on Trans-Tasman's ranking.)

It reminded me of the Stuff story about Field, because that story highlighted one of the less-wonderful outcomes of reflecting ethnic diversity in Parliament. 

While I was working in Kuwait, I was talking one day to an oil industry contractor about the sorry state of the country's infrastructure, given the wealth the govt and major local companies had available to them.  He pointed to the locals' tendency to staff their departments and companies with people from the Third World - primarily India (NB: Christians and Muslims only, heathens like Mr Bakshi needn't apply), Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. His view was that if you bring in people from the Third World, they bring the Third World with them.  And if you use them to build your infrastructure, your infrastructure will have the problems Third World infrastructure generally has.  It was a view that certainly matched our experience - despite being wealthier than NZ, Kuwait was also rich in unexplained power cuts, drains that didn't drain properly, telecoms systems characterised by impenetrable bureaucracy, building sites featuring rickety wooden scaffolding that occasionally left dead construction workers littering the area, and so on.

So, what does that have to do with Phillip Field?  Well, here he is:

 He maintains that the undervalued work done on his property by Thai tradesmen, who he helped with immigration to New Zealand, was a mere discount between friends, not an act of bribery.

"They were friends, they were like extended family. I paid what they told me to pay, what's the crime?"

In other words, he's brought the Third World with him.  From his point of view, there is no crime.  In the Third World, the whole point of being in a position of influence is to use that influence to help others, in exchange for reciprocal help from them, with you making on the deal because... well, you're an influential man and these supplicants are... well, not.  In that sense, he was quite literally just doing his job, as it's done in the great majority of the world's countries. The rather obvious point that what makes places like NZ attractive migration choices for people in the Third World depends on things like the fact that we'll issue you with a prison term for that kind of business-as-usual, is lost on him.  From his PoV, we're just richer and snottier.

So, yeah - ethnic diversity in Parliament.  In one sense, yeah, it's great. In another sense, yeah, not so much.


JC said...

Field has lived a life of quite breathless contact points:

When you look at that you can see how he could become the man he really is.. a lazy old shark swimming in a sea we hardly even knew existed.. a shark able to feed at every turn off the contacts he has.


kevin said...

When I'm on the helpline to Telecom, speaking with someone in an Asian country who speaks english as their second language, the 3rd world style of problem solving does show. Helpful but many layers to unpeel. My broadband issue has been a week now. Lots of call backs with new staff re-running the issue. Seems as though it is a 'keeps us in a job' strategy.

Anonymous said...

"He maintains that the undervalued work done on his property by Thai tradesmen, who he helped with immigration to New Zealand, was a mere discount between friends, not an act of bribery"

He was convicted of corruption on good evidence.

On the bright side he's given up the "cultural" rational for his actions.

Now it's just an act of friendship between an Immgration Minister and someone who wanted residency. Yeah right!

Anonymous said...

The thing I don't get is the sheer greediness of politicians (Field being but one example)

They get paid an engorged salary far above the average wage. They get freebies and expenses paid/flights/food/accommodation/super.

If they make it to cabinet their salary suddenly almost doubles and get a free car to cruise around in.

So having achieved this enormously beneficial position you would think that their only priority is to do what they were elected to do, help their constituents and make good laws to help the country.

But no, their greediness knows no bounds and they spend much of their time chasing $$$ as much has they can.

The economic equivalent of rape & pillage. And even when they are caught there is no sorry or contrition.

Just a lack of reality by folk who should no better.