The yin and yang of election campaigning
If National Party list MP Dr Jian Yang is a spy trainer, as alleged last week by Newsroom.co.nz, then the Blue Dragon will have gone about as far as he can go in any future National-led government.
While Yang admits he taught English to students in China so they could monitor communications and collect information, he denies that he himself was trained by elite Chinese spies.
Newsroom also maintained that Yang has, more than once, attracted the attention of our Security Intelligence Service (SIS).
Incidentally, if you don’t know what a Blue Dragon is and think it might be related to the blue-eyed dragon from Game of Thrones, then google the group.
Their website describes the National Party advisory group as people of Chinese descent living in New Zealand whose numbers are fast growing under the leadership of Yang and Bill English.
Yang, who was heavily involved in fundraising for John Key’s failed bid to change the New Zealand flag, was also a nonranking officer in the Chinese military.
If Yang is some sort of Manchurian candidate who has penetrated our highest office, then the alleged deep sleeper’s cover is blown and he should never be let near foreign affairs and defence.
Normally, an explosive story like this, with its John Le Carre undertones and backed by the Financial Times, would run for days in the media. But, like the Saudi sheep story, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold yarn doesn’t have the legs to outrun the neck-and-neck two-ponies drag race of the gruelling 2017 election marathon.
And that is a pity because newly released ministry documents contradict the line that the then Foreign Minister Murray McCully had taken advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the risk of being sued by a Saudi Arabian businessman.
The line McCully maintained was that in 2013 the ministry had green-lighted him to use New Zealand taxpayer funds to build Hmood Al Ali Khalaf a $6 million agri-hub farm in the Saudi desert, as well as to hand over $4m in cash and to fly over 900 sheep.
If the deal wasn’t done, McCully strenuously implied that Al Khalaf and the Al Khalaf group were going to sue the New Zealand Government for $20m-$30m.
It took years, and a request lodged light years ago under the Official Information Act, to discover that there was no legal advice sought or given.
The release of this information is lousy timing.
The information has been released when the electorate is ‘‘poll’’ vaulting from one Colmar Brunton poll to another Newshub poll, and evened up by the Radio NZ Poll of Polls.
Poor-polling performers are loudly denouncing them.
NZ First leader Winston Peters calls all polls ‘‘junk science’’, while The Opportunities Party’s leader, Gareth Morgan, cries foul over the veracity of the polls because, he says, they are made up of the opinions of owners of telephone landlines.
His party faithful of mainly millennials prefers to communicate through cellphone and social media, but pollsters insist those modes are taken into account.
The Three Million Dollar man is firm in the deluded belief that even though he is loitering way, way down in the Mr One Per Cent stakes, come election day, Morgan will breast the qualifying 5 per cent tape and romp in at around 10 per cent. A likely story.
With hoardings still up and policy being amended and still dribbled out, early voting is at a historic high.
In previous elections, insecure voters, who like to be on the winning side of history, are inclined to vote with what appears to be a winning side.
The still-undecided will hang back till election day to work out their strategy.
Maybe it’s the Scottish in us that makes us relish the thought of getting a bargain, a two-for-one deal of two votes per Kiwi human.
This can turn this breed of political animal into a voting neurotic, continually fretting over wasting one of their votes, each poll causing them to chop and change their tactic.
I do worry about so many of the electorate being allowed to vote while hoardings are still brazenly touting their wares.
If it is illegal to have hoardings up on election day and for politicians to still plight their troths to the electorate, then why are we allowed to vote early?
Surely this is putting democracy at risk?
I suspect that if our brains were breathalysed for franchising under the influence, the majority of early voters would be found well over the limit and locked up.
There’s something civicminded and community-building in making a day of it and celebrating our hard-won franchise together on the day.
I’ll see you in the queues on Saturday.