Posts tagged ‘TVNZ’


Twenty years on, the Hong Kong handover reminds us how impotent Britain proved to be

01.07.2017


Hong Kong’s skyline in 2008, photographed by Scrolllock.

Has it been 20 years since Dad and I sat in front of the telly to watch both Britannia sail out of the harbour and China set off a magnificent fireworks’ display to celebrate getting Hong Kong becoming one of her possessions again?
   Following some of the 20th anniversary commemorations through the media, notably the BBC World Service which followed them keenly, I had very mixed feelings.
   Having been born British in the then-colony (whilst cheering the All Blacks today, natch) I have some nostalgia for the Hong Kong of old. If it weren’t for some aspects of colonialism, my mother wouldn’t have secured a decent job at Wellington Hospital (viz. an English and Welsh qualification) and I probably would never have learned English before the age of three. It all helped.
   It was the spectre of 1997, specifically the fear of what the Communists would do after July 1, 1997, that prompted my parents to make plans to emigrate as early as the 1970s.
   Of course, history as shown that largely those fears have not come to pass, although the Umbrella Revolution highlights that universal suffrage is not a reality in the city.
   In a post-Brexit (or at least a post-Brexit vote) era, these past two decades also highlight that British nationalism is meaningless and little more than a tool for politicians to yield for propaganda.
   You can fairly argue that that is what nationalism always has been. It could also equally be argued that nationalism is founded on some rose-coloured-glasses past, painting a picture that actually never existed.
   American nostalgia looks back at a 1950s’ economic boom while ignoring segregation while British nostalgia shows a child pushing his bike up a hill to Dvořák’s New World Symphony.
   Brexiters, rightly or wrongly, want to reassert a British self-determination founded on a British national character.
   Most Britons I talked to, regardless of their politics, agree that if you are Hong Kong British, then you are British. That should be some solace to the families of those HKers who lost their lives fighting under the Crown in both World War II and the Falklands.
   Yet there is no reality to this claim when it comes to government. Fearful of an influx of Hong Kong British emigrating to the UK, the British National (Overseas) category was invented in 1985, to replace our previous status as Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. It didn’t do the wealthy any harm, mind: a lot went to Canada and Australia and took their money there. Others stayed and invested in China, and helped fuel the growth of Shenzhen as a technological powerhouse. The Hong Kong Chinese person is generally industrious, many having descended from refugees from China in 1949 who decided to make the most of the freedoms in the colony. That work ethic was certainly nothing any Briton in the UK needed to fear, yet somehow we were classed as Johnny Foreigner.
   When I went to the UK in 2001 with that BN(O) passport, I had terrible trouble at immigration, denied entry when queued up with other British subjects. I wound up at the back of the queue with some white South Africans, who were less than impressed and said, ‘But that’s apartheid.’ Correspondence to the High Commission, Foreign Secretary, and Shadow Foreign Secretary went unanswered, though I did get a response from the PM.
   In other words, the fears within Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech held more sway in Blair’s Britain than any sacrifice in the Falklands (even if, I should point out, Powell was not addressing immigration per se). Today, I wonder if they still do.
   The Tiber was greater than the Atlantic.
   Labour were quick to point out how wrong the Tories were with BN(O) back in the 1980s, but in 2001, Labour wasn’t working.
   Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said at the time of the handover in 1997 that Britain would ‘walk with you’, that Britain had won assurances that elections in Hong Kong would be free and fair, and that if China ever failed to live up to this pledge, Britain would take the matter to the United Nations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
   In 20 years, Britain has not lifted a finger.
   We might get lucky like the Gurkhas one of these days if Joanna Lumley wants to come to our aid. But we certainly can’t rely on any politician.
   Being British (I retained my nationality and applied before the deadline to be a BN(O)), you can see how the pro-Brexit position was hard to stomach to me. The likes of Nigel Farage and the “other” New York-born politician with funny hair, Boris Johnson, seemed to revel in some idea of British unity, but anyone from Hong Kong will tell you that in politics, that is an empty concept.
   Only one of my friends who was pro-Brexit voted based on the idea of an independent Britain being more efficient when freed from the whims of Brussels, and I respect him for it; most of what I saw was aimed against immigration. The current PM’s belief in safeguarding the interests of British subjects should be cold comfort to those affected: if they couldn’t defend our interests, will others fare any better, especially with a minority government in a Conservative Party that actually remains as divided as ever?
   Not that I am championing the People’s Republic of China for its handling of relations between mainlanders and Hong Kongers; it has equally been exclusive of us and our unique culture. I have already gone into the Umbrella Revolution elsewhere (even if the TV One website omitted my televised comments about Wikileaks’ reporting of US State Department interference as this goes against the western narrative), and this doesn’t need exploring again. The disappearance of publishers critical of Beijing should sound alarm bells—I note that one of them was a British subject, but the best the UK could muster was an expression of concern. I cannot help but wonder if this is the fate that awaits Britons on the Continent should something happen to them.
   Some negatives aside, I am happy that when I visited a “Chinese” Hong Kong in 2006, I found a city whose character was intact, and I remarked at how unchanged that was. In subsequent visits in 2008, 2010 and 2012, that core remained. Given all the paranoia before 1997, ‘One country, two systems’ has certainly not been as bad as many of us—including those of us who moved our entire lives abroad because of those fears—predicted. I wish all HKers well on this 20th anniversary.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, culture, Hong Kong, politics, UK | No Comments »


Wellington Airport flip-flops again, but pennies drop more quickly in Queensland

01.06.2011

Today, those of us on the anti-‘Wellywood’ sign page got some welcome news: that Wellington Airport would reconsider.
   But, I had to point out, this is again déjà vu. Last time, the Airport flip-flopped as well, and said it would consult the public.
   Given that the resource consent for ‘Wellywood’ was for nine smaller signs, any alternative proposed by the public that didn’t fit the specification would have needed a new consent. In the latest round of interviews, I called the process a sham.
   We’ve had so many mixed messages from Steve Fitzgerald of Wellington Airport and his colleagues that it’s hard to take anything seriously.
   March 10, 2010: we will do the sign. A few weeks later: we won’t do the sign and we’ll consult. By September: we will still do the sign. May 21, 2011: we will do the sign. May 24, 2011: this is part of branding Wellington. May 25: it’s just some airport land—it’s not as if we’re branding Wellington. June 1: we won’t do the sign and we’ll consult. And round we go again.
   Those opposing the sign were dubbed ‘small’ and an ‘element’, but now we’re the ‘community’. Sure beats being called ‘whingers’, which we were labelled last year.
   This is the sort of unimaginative management that is driving this country into the water.
   The public is against the sign. The film industry, from representatives I have heard from, is against the sign. The Mayor and the majority of the council are against the sign. Hollywood, as the trade mark and copyright owner of the original, is against the sign. The Prime Minister indicated he disliked the sign. The law is against the sign.
   You’d think that with such overwhelming evidence, Wellington Airport would have seen the light a long, long time ago, especially, as I said on Back Benches last week, yet another party owns the ‘Wellywood’ trade mark.
   Ignoring the lot suggests that Wellington Airport believes it is above the law. And that the councillors who elected to support the Airport’s position do not believe in upholding the laws of New Zealand.
   If you begin counting from March 10, 2010 to June 1, 2011, then the Airport has taken 448 days (and 26,000 Facebook users) for the penny to drop. If you look at the period between May 21 to June 1, then that’s still a shameful 11 days.
   Contrast this to another Facebook movement that happened in Australia today: the protest against posters for a safe-sex campaign being removed because of a few dozen complaints from a so-called Christian group, ACL.
   APN’s Adshel unit chose to remove the posters but, by 4 p.m. AEST, Adshel’s Australian CEO made a statement to say they would be reinstated.
   It’s a shame to note that Adshel would cave in to very similarly worded, homophobic complaints, while its rival, Goa, honoured its contract with its client, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization.
   The irony is that ACL has brought the campaign, which features a real-life couple, far greater prominence than it otherwise would have had.
   While Adshel didn’t apologize, merely saying it had been duped, it’s still a credit to Adshel CEO Steve McCarthy that the right course of action was taken given a 30,000-plus-strong movement at the time of his announcement. It wasn’t the perfect PR statement, but at least it didn’t attack campaigners and the Australian public—not to mention a few of us from overseas—as a small element or a minority.
   Does this other Aussie Steve have egg on his face? Of course he does. But he made the right call and he can, at least, move forward and not become Queensland’s most hated man. (Reading the comments, a Kiwi-born premier still holds that distinction.)
   One day for the penny to drop, versus 11. And a good deal of that 11 was spent alienating the people of Wellington. Not exactly paving the way for a great consultative process.

Above is the Australian ad. Complaints included that it looked like ‘foreplay’. My, my, it shows what is on the minds of certain people.
   If advertising featuring a couple might “turn people gay”, then, with all the “straight propaganda” out there, there wouldn’t be any gay people in the world.
   If we’re actually concerned about sexualized images out there, as the ACL claims, there is far more nudity in “straight advertising” to worry folk.
   If an eight-year-old who sees this ad understands sexuality, then that’s a bloody dirty eight-year-old. When I was eight, not only did I not know what sex was, but all I would have seen in this ad are two blokes. Now move on and let me play with my Matchbox cars.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in branding, business, culture, leadership, marketing, media, New Zealand, politics, TV, Wellington | 2 Comments »


Fax and text spam: bad marketing moves

21.02.2011
Honda sends fax spam
Above I’d mention the war, but Honda was founded after the surrender.

I despise fax-spam, and under my reading of the Telecommunications Act, these come under nuisance calls. But regardless of the legality, it seems rather hypocritical for Honda to have sent me one for its Insight hybrid car.
   Think about it: a lot of people who have a fax line use paper faxes. The Insight is meant to be eco-friendly, and the fax ad even says so. So what is eco-friendly about using people’s paper and film or toner?
   It runs counter to what the car is supposed to stand for. And if it is educated people who opt for these hybrid cars, then they will be able to see the mixed message in this marketing technique.
   Typographically, it doesn’t follow Honda’s other advertising.
   This had pissed me off for me to Tweet about it, and be nasty toward Honda—which has typically been one of the few brands I steered my Corolla-wanting friends to. I have a feeling the effect of the campaign has led to more negativity about Honda than its other marketing channels.
   Way to go, Honda, for steering even more people to the Toyota Prius.

In 2008, I also wrote about text spam, and Vodafone was guilty of sending me at least one promotional message after it promised (in writing) that it would not. When confronted about it, the company clammed up. It was, I believe, the last message I ever sent to them, and I was delighted to end our contract with them.
   Seems Vodafone isn’t the only party doing this, post-Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. Hamish McConnochie has stayed on Telecom for doing it to him last year, and I agree with his reading that this is a breach of s. 11.
   It’s clear text spam falls under the Act, and neither Hamish nor I had ever consented to receive such messages.
   Telecom has some agreements around but he was not ever shown the one that covered his XT upgrade.
   As if the XT name wasn’t tarnished enough already.
   Hamish will be going on Back Benches (TVNZ 7, 9 p.m.) this Wednesday night, and I’m looking forward to seeing this issue get wider coverage.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, cars, marketing, New Zealand, technology, TV, typography, Wellington | 2 Comments »


Paul Henry resigns

10.10.2010

I’ve had a long 54 weeks, so I will leave it to Paikea to say what needs to be said about Paul Henry’s decision to resign from Breakfast. She is a lot more succinct than me and her three bullet points largely reflect my own views.
   I noticed that she embedded the clip of Henry laughing and insulting Smt. Sheila Dikshit. For those who followed my earlier blog entries (such as this one), here it is.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in culture, India, media, New Zealand, TV | 2 Comments »


The other time Paul Henry had it in for someone with Indian heritage

06.10.2010

Paul Henry isn’t alone on this: a lot of New Zealand media have been making fun of Delhi Chief Minister Smt. Sheila Dikshit’s surname, purposely mispronouncing it as dick-shit and then giggling away. (For the record, the pronunciation is close to dixit.) Though after his comments about HE Sir Anand Satyanand earlier this week, it’s easy to draw a connection and ask: does Mr Henry have it in for anyone of Indian ethnicity?
   Apparently, before the quips about the Governor-General, Mr Henry stated on his Breakfast programme:

The dip shit woman. God, what’s her name? Dick-shit. Is it dick shit? … It looks like dick shit … It’s so appropriate, because she’s Indian, so she’d be dick-in-shit wouldn’t she, do you know what I mean? Walking along the street … it’s just so funny.

The Fairfax Press reports that TVNZ received relatively few complaints (four) about the mispronunciation of Dikshit, while the inappropriate comments about Sir Anand are in the 600s. Prime TV reports that the complaints have hit a ‘record number’.
   This is no surprise, given that the later comments related directly to how New Zealanders felt about ourselves.
   There’s apparently been fresh criticism as TVNZ has allowed Henry’s mispronunciation clip to remain on its website after the furore on Monday. From Fairfax:

New Zealand Indian Central Association president Paul Singh Bains said the fact TVNZ was still promoting the clip on its website showed it had “totally lost the plot” and was insensitive to the offence Henry had caused.

The segment is now gone, though the tiny 14-day suspension that TVNZ gave Paul Henry seems even weaker in this context.
   Making it worse was the TVNZ spokeswoman, who defended Henry on Monday and worsened the matter then. I think TVNZ needs a new spokesperson. Here’s how Fairfax reported her response:

TVNZ spokeswoman Andi Brotherston said the website was an independent news organisation.
   “[It] is part of TVNZ’s news and current affairs department, which has its editorial independence enshrined in legislation.”

Translation: we can’t do anything about how we promote the channel because of the law.
   Why, pray tell, was the clip then removed?
   It might be nice to get the context in which Ms Brotherston made her comment.
   I wrote to the network today suggesting that Mr Henry at least meet with the New Zealand Indian Central Association in his 14 days off. (I called it, wrongly, the Indian New Zealand Association, mixing it up with one in Wellington.) Let’s do something beyond the on-air apology and learn just why these “ethnic” associations are necessary in New Zealand. (One big reason: the Paul Henrys of this world.)

One thing has bugged me: this idea from Henry that Sir Anand Satyanand does not sound like a New Zealander. I have met the Governor-General on several occasions and I never remembered him having any accent but a Kiwi one. I even had to look for clips of Sir Anand just to make sure my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me. I remember that his wife, Lady Satyanand, is very well spoken. So just how much like a New Zealander did Henry think the next Governor-General should sound like? Fred Dagg? Him?
   There’s nothing wrong with a Fred Dagg-sounding Governor-General, but it seems that Mr Henry believed that a Kiwi accent is not a Kiwi accent if its speaker has Indian heritage.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, India, media, New Zealand, TV | 11 Comments »


Endorsements from Sir Michael Fowler and others—and why the Paul Henry débâcle matters

05.10.2010

Yesterday, as some of you know, Sir Michael Fowler endorsed me, saying that I am the ‘intelligent’ mayoral candidate and he likes the programme I have outlined for our city. It goes beyond what is on my campaign site, of course—the programme includes plans to bring Waterfront Ltd. back under council control, increased transparency through webcasting council meetings, streamlining the processes within the Council, and reviewing Wellington’s asset and risk management (which needs serious work). Most of these have been voiced during the last three weeks of very entertaining debates with my opponents.
   I’m grateful to get the endorsement of a three-term (1974–83) mayor and had the pleasure of campaigning with Sir Michael yesterday up in Brooklyn.
   He is right on many points. The present council is in disarray. And he believes I am more of a unifier. I imagine that is right: in branding, if you are going into a company to redo their strategy, you need unity. If you don’t have it, you need to find a way to create it.
   I was also encouraged by the fact that Sir Michael sees huge value in social networking. ‘You reach a literate, voting population,’ he told me. I am glad he is not as dismissive of technology as at least two of my opponents, who pay IT lip service and little more. He agrees with me that it can help create jobs and give a career pathway for our youth.
   Aside from Sir Michael’s endorsement, those of you who watched Back Benches, listened to Radio Active or watched the video Scoop know that Bernard O’Shaughnessy, one of my opponents, has asked his supporters to back me. I’m very grateful to Mr O’Shaughnessy as well for his support.
   And while it’s not asking supporters to give me their 1, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown has told her supporters to give me a 2 or, at least, a high ranking. I reciprocate that for Councillor Wade-Brown: if we want change, and we can rank our candidates, then please consider a 2 or a high ranking for her.
   Remember that your votes are due in the post by tomorrow (Wednesday). Our own small-sample poll shows that the newspaper one is inaccurate, and suggests that the race is far tighter than has been reported. But the margin of error is also quite large, so if I don’t put much stock in either, I won’t let them sway you. I’ve posted plenty over the last while, more so on Facebook, and I’ve met so many of you in person at the debates and forums, for you to know who the best and most engaged candidate is. One only wishes that more of these were televised!
   Vote with your hearts and minds, but the important thing is: vote.

Yesterday’s mainstream media was more taken with the débâcle surrounding breakfast TV host Paul Henry and his implication that the Governor-General, HE Sir Anand Satyanand, did not look and sound like a New Zealander. He asked the Prime Minister, John Key:

Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time … Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander?

A strange comment, considering Sir Anand was born in Auckland, has had more years in New Zealand than Mr Henry himself, has a distinguished record of public service, and is definitely a New Zealander through and through. His judicial service is probably as recognized as that of former Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys.
   What Henry really wanted to say is that you can put in decades being a judge and, for the last few years, our viceregal representative, but if you are ethnic Indian—or, more to the point, not Caucasian—then you’re not “really a Kiwi”.
   As the mayoral candidate who would never get a Paul Henry backing because I look nothing like him, the furore struck a chord. Because there is a racist undercurrent in some circles that Henry represents. Any minority has witnessed it, particularly in areas where minorities have typically not ventured due to the earlier prejudices of a bygone age. I am sorry to note that it is still there and I have even noticed it in this election—fortunately not from the Wellington public, but from some of our establishment institutions.
   TVNZ initially defended the man (saying that he simply vocalizes what is on people’s minds) before suspending him (for a mere two weeks—I Tweeted a 30-day minimum would be appropriate). Henry stood by his comments before apologizing. But it all looks like too little, too late, as was the inaction by the Prime Minister, who critics say should have had Henry up on the comment during the interview.
   If one looks at the outrage on Twitter (a small sample, I know), then Henry is well out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders. He has a responsibility as someone who reaches over 100,000 people. And yesterday, he crossed the line. Intentional or not (and only he will ever know), this sort of thinking has no place on our airwaves except, perhaps, in a drama where Sam Tyler wakes up in 1973 and meets a tobacco-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe by the name of Gene Hunt.
   As one friend of mine says, Henry has a right to be a dork. However, we are paying for this man’s salary as he is employed by the state broadcaster, and he’s less happy with that. As am I. Make such insinuations in other parts of the civil service, and you’d get a more severe reprimand than a TV network defence and a delayed suspension. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand would know, and they worked for a state broadcaster, too. At least there, the BBC immediately recognized what was indefensible.

The fallout from the Henry incident—whom my friends note still appeared on telly this morning—included the resignation of Ben Gracewood as the show’s gadget commentator. Ben felt it was the last straw and Tweeted late last night, ‘Do you know what made me quit? I wanted to say this, and then realised I was holding back: what a f***ing cock that Paul Henry guy is.’
   Pop over to Ben’s blog where more of the debate has taken place. I think he did the right thing, and I applaud him for acting and having principles.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, internet, media, New Zealand, politics, TV, Wellington | 1 Comment »


Chatting to TV, radio and internet journalists for the mayoral campaign

11.06.2010

There have been a few times in the history of this blog where I stepped away from writing regularly. At the end of 2006, I had a pretty good excuse: I was in France. This time, my reasons for stepping away for a few weeks do not include: (a) I was spending too much time with the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants; (b) laziness; (c) being trapped in 1983 and discovering that DCI Gene Hunt controls the Lost island.
   I was, however, chatting to a few more of the parties that we needed to realize some of my election promises. And doing a few media interviews. And looking at more ways Wellington could get nearer balancing its budget, as our deficit has ballooned over the last decade.
   On May 15, I joined my opponent, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, on Access Radio’s Espace Français, in what was my first political interview in French. I expected a nice-natured chat till our hosts said they wanted a political debate. So the Councillor and I gave the audience one, coming from very different angles. I believe we are the only two Francophone candidates. And I don’t think Access does a Cantonese programme.
   You can listen to the interview here, though they only store the programmes for six weeks. You can also download from this link.
   I kept Leauna Zheng waiting for weeks while I prepared my emailed responses to her interview for Skykiwi, the leading Chinese expats’ site in New Zealand. Despite her wait, she wrote a marvellous article (in Chinese, here), and for those of you relying on Google Translate, please note that the term Chinese expatriate is not translated correctly. (I believe this is the first Chinese-language interview to include my name in Chinese ideographs.)
   And, finally, my interview with Bharat Jamnadas on Asia Down Under aired last Sunday. He’s very kindly put it on YouTube, though the aspect ratio is a tad off and I look thinner than usual. There are very nice comments from two members of the Wellington business community, Laurie Foon of Starfish and Brent Wong of Soi, to whom I am extremely grateful.

   The conversation at the end about Wellington v. Auckland was a good laugh, but there were some serious bits.
   And this Tuesday just gone, it was a pleasure to play a “dragon” in a Dragon’s Den-style setting analysing some of New Zealand’s entrepreneurs for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.
   My thanks to Bharat, Leauna, Kenneth Leong, Laura Daly at Access Radio, Jean-Louis Durand and Arlette Bilounga, and Maria Gray and David Powell.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, China, culture, humour, internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, TV, Wellington | 1 Comment »