Thursday, November 21, 2013

When the tail wags the dog: Auckland Transport controls Auckland Council

When the tail, Auckland Transport, wags the dog, Auckland Council

Thakur Ranjit Singh

This article is in response to Auckland Transport’s interference in the 11 year old tradition of Santa Parade in Henderson, which resulted in Christmas History of Henderson being altered because the tail is now wagging the dog. THERE WILL BE NO SANTA PARADE IN HENDERSON IN 2013. (PLEASE BRING BACK MY BELOVED WAITAKERE CITY COUNCIL)

Santa and the kids-a flashback to 2011 Henderson Santa Parade. Thanks to interference of Auckland transport, Henderson people, used to Santa Parade for over a decade will miss it because of Super City Uncontrollable organisation
I am not sure when Rodney Hide thought of a Super City and creating its Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs), whether he realised he was creating a Frankenstein monster. Indeed it is F – Monster (what “F” means remains your personal preference), something they created as controllable, even by giving it that name, but Auckland Council ends up being controlled by CCOs, not the other way round, as intended. What an irony, where this F-Monster, Council Controlled Organisation, as a tail, now, directs its dog, Auckland Council. These unelected, and often faceless bodies, wield extreme powers which even seems to override the decision of elected representatives of people. This is a concern to ratepayers, and this blogsite, KIWI PUNDIT, will bring along other atrocities and miseries caused by such F-Monsters of the Council. If you have concerns, please contact me at thakurji@xtra.co.nz

Vanessa Neeson, Chair of Massey Henderson Local Board, is very disappointed with the attitude of Auckland Transport:The Christmas Parade was cancelled because Auckland Transport wouldn't give permission to the route that has been in place for the last 11 years. It’s like holding a gun to Santa’s head.
Vanessa Neeson (present and past) Chair of Massey Henderson Local Board attributes this shift in history to the officiousness of this new monster that seems to be answerable to nobody. For 11 years Henderson, under Waitakere City Council had Santa Parade with little or no objections. But this new monster, sitting in the former Waitakere Council building, raises concerns which are officious at the best, and stupid and irrational at the worst.

Auckland Transport raised concerns about disruption to bus services, but this was refuted by the two major bus companies who service the routes around the area. According to Western Leader (Thursday September 19), both Ritchies and NZ Bus admitted that while this parade does cause problems, like any public function, they were able to accommodate this, as only few hundred customers were involved, and they were prepared to work around the problem.
In an election forum organised by Waitakere Ethnic Board on 19 September, 2013, five mayoral candidates attended. From left, John Palino, John Minto, Uesifili Unasa, Reuben Shadbolt and Penny Bright. All were critical of runaway council expenses, financial mismanagement, loss of democracy and unbridled powers of Council Controlled Organisations, which have become UNCONTROLLABLE. Actions by Auckland Transport has brought their suspicion to reality

But NO, Auckland Transport had to flex their muscles, make its presence felt in Waitakere, and to substantiate how misplaced our trust has been on the Super City and the controllable aspect of this unelected monster. I remember this date of 19 September, when Waitakere Ethnic Board was having its Local Government Election Forum at the West Hub at Corban Street. Yours truly as Chair of the Forum raised this issue with potential mayors. John Minto, John Palino, Reuben Shadbolt, Uesifili Unasa and Penny Bright (minus Len Brown) were there and the unbridled powers of the unelected, and at times, unaccountable CCOs were seen as a matter of concern. Penny Bright was the most ardent critic of CCOs:I believe that big corrupt corporates control Auckland through Council Controlled Organisations “(CCOs) where unelected businesspeople run the Auckland region like a business, by business, for business. CCOs must go,” she told the forum.
Penny Bright is a strong critic of Corporate control on Auckland Council and its Council Controlled Organisations. She was a mayoral candidate and polled third largest votes:I believe that big corrupt corporates control Auckland through Council Controlled Organisations “(CCOs) where unelected businesspeople run the Auckland region like a business, by business, for business.

The former and current Chair of Massey Henderson Board, Vanessa Neeson was also present and raised her concerns about this matter. She was very disappointed and expressed her utter displeasure at the action of Auckland Transport.

The Christmas Parade was cancelled because Auckland Transport wouldn’t give permission to the route that has been in place for the last 11 years. I tried very hard to change their mind but couldn’t. Rotary were very upset about the decision and now are going to Westgate instead. “Vanessa Neeson said

A flashback to 2011 Parade. Henderson will miss it this year.Add caption

 She said the local board did not want to deprive the children and families the decade – old tradition and fun of Christmas provided by Waitakere City Council. As a result, Massey Henderson Board and “officers have gone to a great deal of trouble to organise a Christmas Festival which will be this next Saturday.” So, the alternative to Henderson Santa Parade is Westgate Parade on 30th November, 2013, starting at 10am. And thanks to Auckland Transport for spoiling the fun. “Why do you want to kill Christmas? It’s like holding a gun to Santa’s head,” Vanessa Neeson told the Western Leader

The issue that Auckland ratepayers need to ponder is inconsistent and irrational decisions of Auckland Council. Here an arm is concerned about disruption of bus services to a few hundred people for two hours in a small suburb of West Auckland. On the other hand the Auckland Mayor and Auckland Council,  have no trouble in shutting off Queen Street to allow topless women to have ‘Boobs on bike’ or some nonsensical parade that far outweigh the fun and pleasure of so many children in Waitakere. Closure of Queen Street cause far more disruption than ever would be done by  a Santa Parade in Henderson. The Council needs to have its priorities right, have some control over its unelected CCOs and not allow the over-paid bosses in ivory towers displace our elected representatives and Local Boards. The action of Auckland Transport in Henderson is questionable and very worrying, and the Council, its CEO and the Mayor cannot just say they have no say or control, on this disservice to the community in Henderson.

Santa  Parade , with happy children that Henderson will no longer see, thanks to Auckland Transport.
It is hoped Auckland Transport which sits in old Waitakere Council building can have decorum, demeanour and understanding like other great Westies, such as former Mayor Bob Harvey, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, former Minister Chris Carter and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.

We hope this article is a cue to ratepayers to empower themselves and be more vocal about a Council that is becoming more and more uncontrollable and unaccountable, and maybe with questionable ethics and logic.





Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lengate Part 1: When Media fails, with Propaganda Model

Lengate Part 1: When Media fails, with Propaganda Model

Thakur Ranjit Singh

When the dust settles down over the antics of a Matador adulterous Mayor, when the soiled City Hall and Ngati Whatua rooms are mopped clean and when mayoral couch are sanitised, standing wounded and bleeding will be a partisan and questionable mainstream New Zealand media. And standing honoured and elevated to a higher echelon of respectability would be powers of that alternative (and some believe, more trusting) media - Blogsites in general and Whale Oil in particular.

Herman and Chomsky's book that speaks of PROPAGANDA MODEL where watchdog media becomes lapdogs of the elite and influential in the society. This is quite evident in the Lengate case. It is hoped media schools of Universities in NZ will use Lengate as a case study in media studies.
As a media scholar, I studied Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky’s media model called Propaganda Model. The Wikipedia explains   propaganda model as a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Herman and Chomsky in their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. The model states how propaganda, including systemic biases, function in mass media. The model seeks to explain how populations are manipulated and how consent for economic, social and political policies is "manufactured" in the public mind due to this propaganda. It creates an inherent conflict of interest which acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces.

From left, Luigi Wewege,, Bevan Chuang and John Palino. The mainstream media is barking up the wrong tree by apportioning blame away from the main player-Len Brown. (NZ Herald Photo)
In laymen’s language, it says that media is not a free agent that the public have been made to believe. While dependent on the elite, media remains uncritical of their interest and participates in propaganda campaigns helpful to the elite interests. Media defends the economic, social and political agendas of the privileged elite groups that dominate domestic society, the government, the corporate sector and the wider international order. Media freedom belongs to those who own the media or controls and finances them. In other words, business which provides advertising dollar controls the media.

That is what exactly ensued in this Lengate saga. Apart from the ratepayer paid spin doctors at Auckland Council, the mainstream media in general and NZ Herald in particular discarded their watchdog role, and degenerated into a lapdog of the elite interests, the all powerful and influential Mayor and Auckland Council. Day in and day out, you tend to read media commentaries, and biased propaganda, favouring the mayor of Auckland, masquerading as independent neutral commentary by respective respectable authors. Most were trying to shoot the messenger or blaming others for the Mayor’s adultery and indiscretion, and some comparing him to Clinton. Under oath, Clinton denied having had "a sexual affair", "sexual relations", or "a sexual relationship" with Lewinsky, who did not have sexual intercourse. 


Some commentators are using Clinton and Monica Lewensky as red herring in Lengate. Clinton, under oath, denied having had "a sexual affair", "sexual relations", or "a sexual relationship" with Lewinsky, who did not have sexual intercourse. Same is not true of Len Brown.
However, in case of Brown, he was not only literally caught with his pants down, but reportedly had unprotected sexual relations with a woman over whom he had a relationship of power. Most commentators were and still are barking up the wrong tree: Palino, Wewege, character of Chuang, Cook and Slater, and “team of piranhas currently targeting Mr Brown.” They acted as apologist for Brown, and deflected blame from where it belonged - Len Brown.

I will largely quote what others have said to support this.
The editorial of NZ Herald on Saturday 26 October propagandised the matter as such:

“Our elections are decided by voters, not by underhand threats and warnings. Brown upset this plan by standing his ground. Neither side emerges from the affair with much credit but the mayor is facing up to it. The spivs have scuttled away and should not come back”

The following, among others, were response received:


“I am shocked that this paper (NZ Herald) is not trying to hold Len Brown to account rather it is focusing on bit part players like Wewege while Brown gets off scot free.”
Irrespective of how it is portrayed by various left wing publications, Brown used his position to chase a vulnerable woman who was intoxicated by positions of power….. Brown chased Bevan – not the other way round. Clearly this shows intent from Brown; Not exactly the honey trap the Herald is trying to portray it as…..  Brown used his position as mayor to further his carnal interests in a vulnerable woman...”

The main players of LENGATE: Mayor Len Brown and Bevan Chuang- Brown chased Bevan-not the other way round- Brown showed intent-NOT THE HONEY TRAP NZ HERALD IS TRYING TO PORTRAY.
This mayoral mess has certainly highlighted what IS the New Zealand way though. It is to accept that a white male who is mayor of Auckland can do what he wants while in office and get away with it….shown that his failings will be justified, accounted for by the spin doctors and media, so that he can continue in his job. It allows him to blame everyone except for himself…...

“The hypocrisy of attacking the messenger in this case whilst ignoring the fact that the mayor has misled thousands of voters on his morality is simply breathtaking. A simple test would be how many people who voted for Len still would have, had they known the truth about him?”
Indeed, voters had been misled. If it was Dirty Harry, he would say: ‘Go ahead adulterer punk, make my day. Resign and get re-elected if you are so confident of your mandate and popularity.”

MEDIA'S INCONSISTENCY-Former Minister Richard Worth who was hounded by media to resign for "making a nuisance of himself toward women"- a far lesser sin than Auckland Mayor admitted and reported to have committed.
Inconsistency of the media also comes to light. Their bias is blatantly evident, understandably because Auckland Council and Council’s (Un) Controlled Organisations account for substantial economic influence and might for media. When similar situation arose for some politicians, the media went on a warpath to hound them into resigning for far lesser “crimes”, sins, immoralities or questionable actions Len Brown is alleged to have committed. Richard Worth was hounded to resign for  ...” making a nuisance of himself toward womenwhile Nick Smith had to go forfailing to avoid a conflict of interest.” Their actions were akin to Sunday school picnic when compared to what Len Brown allegedly did for two years. But of course, the lapdog media were conforming to Propaganda Model of media-safeguarding elite interest.

Nick Smith- some are more equal than others. He had to go through media hounding him for"failing to avoid a conflict of interest". Compared to what Smith and Worth  had to go for, Mayor Brown is still staying for doing far greater wrongs than them.
And can somebody inform Auckland Council’s Head of Communications and Media section and its Human Resource Manager to review their recruitment procedure if their supposedly top class media people are ignorant of various media models. For somebody whom they refused to recruit because they could nor pronounce his Indian name, I volunteer to run free training session for their media and communications department to teach various models of media. Indeed, ratepayers hope the highly paid CEO knows what is going on in recruitment section, and is rightfully earning his salary by meeting all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

[E-Mail: thakurji@xtra.co.nz]

Indians honour a Maori Elder: Kaumatua Denis Hansen

Indians honour a Maori Elder: Kaumatua Denis Hansen

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Papa DENIS WILMOTT HANSEN: an Indian Association, WIA, granted first ever life membership, not to an Indian, but to a Maori elder, a chief, Kaumatua Hansen.
In an unprecedented historical gesture and as an epitome of how a migrant community adopts Aotearoa as its home, Waitakere Indian Association (WIA)  has posthumously granted first ever Life Membership to a Maori Elder, KAUMATUA DENIS WILMOTT HANSEN.

 It was intended to be handed over to Kaumatua Hansen in person during Waitakere Diwali on 12 October, 2013. But, but alas, Kaumatua had his call before that and left us for heavenly abode on 4th September, 2013.


Diwali Mela missed its Kaumatua who had been a pillar of support for many Diwalis. Indeed, Kaumatua HANSEN was remembered through his cousin from Northland, Ricky Hansen who had especially travelled to bless the occasion and shower Maori blessings to Diwali that Denis Hansen would otherwise have given. Maori blessings have been a hallmark of any event that this Indian organisation held. Ricky Hansen, who bore close resemblance to his departed cousin, addressed the formal ceremony of Diwali, and spoke about empty seats - and one was that which Denis Hansen used to occupy, and would have occupied if he was there.

RICKY HANSEN - cousin of Kaumatua Denis Hansen, came from Northland to bless Waitakere Diwali and honour his departed cousin, Denis.
In a historical move, an absent Kaumatua was deservedly honoured. The Life Membership plaque was presented by a close family friend of Kaumatua, Social Development Minister Paula Bennet. On hand to receive the gesture were Kaumatua’s daughter Roimata Hansen and Hansen’s son and namesake Denis (Denny) Hansen Junior.

Minister Paula Bennett, presenting Life Membership plaque to children of Denis Hansen, Roimata Hansen and Denis Hansen Junior. On extreme left is Naveen Prakash, President of Waitakere Indian Association.
Minister Paula Bennet spoke fondly and highly of a departed Chief. “He (Kaumatua) was a great man and what he did for Indian community was something particularly close to his heart, “said Paula Bennet, while presenting the Life Membership plaque to Roimata and Denny Hansen Junior.

Denny Junior thanked the Indian community for this gesture.” Kiaora koutou our Indian whanau, thank you for honouring my Dad by making him an honorary Indian. My Dad loved you all so much and shared wonderful wisdom with you, because of his love for the indigenous people of the world. Kia kaha, kia u, kia manawanui. Hei konei ra,” Denis Junior said.

Minister Paula Bennet, very smartly dressed in Indian costume (left) with children of Kaumatua, Roimata (centre) and  Denis Hanson Junior, proudly displaying WIA Life Membership plaque.
This gesture was of greater significance for the reason that an Indian Association had granted first ever life membership, not to an Indian, but a Maori elder, who had always been regarded as part of the Indian Community in West Auckland. Kaumatua’s close friend at Waitakere Indian Association, Executive Mahendra Sharma spoke fondly of a great man. With tears in his eyes, Sharma spoke about fond memories of Kaumatua who was regarded as part of his family, and usually popped into his Ranui home for a cup of tea, a bilo of kava, a fatherly chat or a curry meal. “Papa Hansen had been a strong bridge between Maori and the migrant communities. My wife and children were also fond of this respectable elder. He had been a great leader and it was the least our Association could do for him. We all salute him,” said Mahendra Sharma.

Kaumatua Hansen with his family friend Mahendra Sharma, Executive of Waitakere Indian Association, during Waitakere Diwali of 2012
A great leader was saluted by all, and very appropriately honoured by Indian community who picked the blossomed flower of friendship that Denis Hansen always watered. May his souls rest in peace and his bridging gesture be adopted by his successors.


May his soul Rest in Peace.


[Story and photos by Thakur Ranjit Singh for KIWI PUNDIT]



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Can Ethnic Communities Trust Mayor Len Brown now?

Can Ethnic communities afford to have confidence in Mayor Len Brown?
Thakur Ranjit Singh
Do you need a caption of the most-talked about couple in Auckland over the last week?

Can Ethnic Communities Trust Mayor Len Brown now? 

The answer to this hypothetical question raised in the headline above was answered by a real question and real answer in NZ Herald of 22 October where Len Brown was asked:

Do you plan to reappoint Chuang to the ethnic people's advisory panel (EPAP)?

His answer was a resounding NO

One may ask Len Brown: What is his rationale of NOT appointing Bevan Chuang to EPAP? Would not the same answer be true why he is equally unsuitable to lead us as Mayor?

It is a foregone conclusion in what esteem Len Brown holds an ethnic woman he had an affair with. Racist and derogatory names such as Yellow Fever, China Girl, Geisha Girl, Manchu Girl, Peking Duck and Asian Lolitas reveal more of Len’s character than that of Bevan. Is this also the tone and manner in which Len treats Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP), the survival and longevity of which is solely at discretion and whims of the Mayor?

Adultery is not a laughing matter. You cannot continue to treat ethnic communities in such contempt.
The question that ethnic communities need to ask is: Can this Mayor, who treats at least one member of an ethnic community and a Board member of EPAP in such contempt, be trusted with his rhetoric about multi-culturalism, and Auckland being the most liveable city with this rainbow of colours? He is in the habit of talking passionately and flamboyantly about ethnic make-up of the city in any ethnic gathering, be it EthnicA conference, EPAP do, or any ethnic celebration. Do we not now hear a resounding echo of hollowness and hypocrisy in such claims?

EPAP has no legal base. This reflects the low-regard with which ethnic communities are treated by the Super City. It appears EPAP has been degenerated as a plaything of Mayor, who has the sole discretion of appointing it, if at all. Ethnic communities have already expressed their dissatisfaction with this autonomous power of the Mayor. The racially degrading, and contemptuous de-facto treatment and name-calling that Bevan got after the affair may have been deserved, as some may judge. However, it is also a wider manifestation of how ethnic communities may have been treated by the Mayor and Council.

Camille Nakhid, Chair of Peoples Ethnic Advisory Panel (EPAP), a mere ceremonial body and cheerleaders of Auckland Council and Mayor Len Brown. She questions lack of colour in Auckland Council.
 In the annual meeting of EPAP in July this year, Chair of EPAP, Camille Nakhid summed it well:

“We are meant to be the voice of the more than 400,000 ethnic residents here in Auckland. That is about 28% of Auckland’s population. Yet, as a panel, we receive $87,000 to represent, according to the legislation, the concerns and interests of Auckland’s ethnic residents. That is less than 22 cents for each of us. How we are realistically meant to do this when all twelve panel members hold full time jobs.”

She further added:
“…we see that there are very few, if any, ethnic staff in management positions in Council or on any of the Auckland committees. Where you can find us is in the voluntary sector. All the well paid positions are held by those that are not from ethnic backgrounds. What does that tell us, not only about Auckland, but of Auckland Council?

Camille Nakhid and Amail Habib, Chair and Deputy Chair, respectively of EPAP the survival of which is the sole discretion on Mayor Brown
She queried who sat on the appointment panels for council staff positions and short of accused the mayor of using EPAP as a window-dressing and cheerleaders of the Council.

“To be honest, we make a Mayor and a Council look good….ethnic support, votes, festivals and foods. But is that good enough? Is that all we are? Food and festivals? A marketing and campaign tool?” she asked. She called for commitment from Auckland Council where ethnic communities were not only about dancing, food and celebrations.”
 
Community Panel to give their views on community issues at EPAP Annual meeting in July, 2013.: Honey Rasalan, Carlos Bdelrahman, , Arthur Loo, Thakur Ranjit Singh and Eugiene Choi......"would I be in the same situation if I was a white migrant British or a white lady from South Africa, or even lesser qualified Anglo Saxon person with an Anglicised name?”{Thakur Ranjit Singh]
In the community views that were presented in the meeting, your truly (Thakur Ranjit Singh) gave his experience of trying to put a face of diversity in Auckland council’s very white Communications Department. He queried: “would I be in the same situation if I was a white migrant British or a white lady from South Africa, or even lesser qualified Anglo Saxon person with an Anglicised name?”

 “What representation and opportunities in decision-making do ethnic people have in Auckland Council? Is it really for us migrants with many faces, many diverse voices but with no decision-making powers? Does this ceremonial body Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP) have any teeth, expectation of longevity or being entrenched into law? Or is it just a window dressing? However, my question is - I wonder what diversity does Auckland Council’s Media and Communication Department reflect when it has to communicate with fast browning people who would soon reflect some half of Auckland Super City population?

The answer my friend, is blown with the wind, the answer is blown with the wind. This is because, the Mayor who promises to look into such grievances only in ethnic meetings, appear to have little time for such issues.   Perhaps now we know why he has no time to look at real ethnic issues. While Labour List MP, Rajen Prasad, who was present promised to put a private bill to legalise EPAP, that still remains a dream.
From Left:Mayor Len Brown, Labour List MP Rajen Prasad and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse. Prasad promised to introduce a members Bill to give legal teeth and position to EPAP. 

The question that goes begging is: With so much discretion over ethnic issues, and having just coming scathed with an affair with an ethnic woman and his derogatory remarks, can ethnic communities now have confidence in Mayor Brown to be impartial in his decisions relating to ethnic communities?

The answer my friend may be smeared on the Mayoral Couch or on a table in Ngati Whatua room.



Do we have a case of a White Auckland Council, a brown Super City population?

Waitakere Diwali: Auckland Council needs to learn from this community event

Waitakere Diwali: Unlike any other, shines the West.

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Ram Darbar (Kingdom of Lord Ram)-the reason for celebrating Diwali  at Trusts Stadium, Henderson, Auckland, performed by multiracial students of Hare Rama Hara Krishna (ISKCON). Unfortunately such scenes are missing from modernised, commercialised and "bastardised " Diwali celebrations, used for Public Relations and Tourism by Local Government and Corporate Interests. Diwali celebrations should be managed by those who understand its theme and significance. WAITAKERE INDIAN ASSOCIATION Diwali is an eye-opener to all.

[This article is intended to show, how a small organisation run by like-minded community-oriented individuals, working on a voluntary basis eclipse resource-rich local bodies and corporate-run festivals. It is a lesson to other organisations and local government to emulate Waitakere Indian Association, and find out why they excel in what they do. Working with grass roots community and maintaining social appropriateness and cultural sensitivities of Indian Community, they are a shining light for bickering organisations and resource-rich government-supported organisations.]

Part of Waitakere Indian Association team who organised the very successful and theme-oriented event. None of them are paid officials-all are volunteers who have passion towards their community.

It was a chilly, windy and damp Saturday, but this inclement weather was unsuccessful in dampening the spirits of die-hard Diwali supporters as they thronged to see cultural items, stage dramas Bhangra and young multiracial dancers rocking the stage at Trusts Stadium, Henderson. This was in the House of Diwali on 12 October, 2013 in the largest indoor Diwali in NZ.

The Chief Guest, Minister for Social Development, gets camouflaged as an Indian in her attractive Indian costume for the event, seen at the craft stall with WIA Executive, Shalvin Ballu.
There was galore of craft stalls with Indian artefacts, jewellery, clothing, kids amusements, face painting, trade stalls and banking and financial advisory services. The food stalls were the added attraction with aroma of authentic Indian cooking drifting in the chilly wing. As usual, the attraction was Masala Dosa, Hare Krishna and many assorted Indian food stalls. The stalls were by individuals or small time family enterprises from the community. Absence were big corporates, this was about the community. Even in their philanthropic spirit and the spirit of Diwali, Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) gave free stalls to families collecting funds for treatment of sick relatives. Would any other Diwali organiser do that?

The Labour team at the craft stalls. New Labour Leader David Cunliffe is seen inspecting stall (centre)  with (from left) Ami Chand (newly elected Whau Local Board member, and Labour List MP Rajen Prasad.
When the President of Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) Naveen Prakash  stood up on the main dais to welcome all during the formal programme, he outlined  the award-winning history of an organisation which started on a humble beginning and grew into a body representing migrant Indians.” We are proud of the track record of our organisation, and this is a tribute to my hard working and united team,” he said.
Naveen Prakash, President of Waitakere Indian Association during formal ceremony....proud of leading a hard working, passionate and dedicated team of volunteers.
Diwali Project Manager, Roneel Singh reminded some uniqueness of WIA Diwali. “ There is something unique about our Diwali. Firstly, this would be perhaps the only or very few Diwali celebration of its size where the actual community and those who feel passionately about the festival actually run and manage this function,” Roneel said.

He went on to inform that the House of Diwali, The Trusts Stadium, happens to be the largest indoor Diwali Festival in New Zealand, hence, it is weather-proof. The most important point came last where he emphasised that unlike other festivals around Auckland, his community-based organisation was fully-run by volunteers.
 
Waitakere Indian Association Vice-President and Waitakere Diwali Project Manager RONEEL SINGH (left) with Labour Leader, David Cunliffe during the formal ceremony..."we are appreciative of religious, cultural, traditional decorum, demeanour and sensitivity of the event. Hence we ensure that tradition of Diwali theme will not erode under this community- organised event,” [Roneel Singh]
“I wish to elaborate that unlike other corporate or council organised Diwali events, WIA does not have any paid officials managing this event. It is all done by volunteers, and as a community organisation, we are appreciative of religious, cultural, traditional decorum, demeanour and sensitivity of the event. Hence we ensure that tradition of Diwali theme will not erode under this community- organised event,” he said.

[This was an indirect reference to Auckland City celebration which has little, if any sensitivity to the respect of Diwali. It is organised mostly by paid officials and non-Indians. These paid officials have little empathy with the community and little appreciation of sensitivities and cultural appropriateness of the events they are organising. Public relations and commercialisation become their priority. This year they had Lotto (gambling) and people complained about half-naked people performing. Waitakere Diwali has strict rules about dress code and other issues safeguarding sanctity and reverence to Diwali.]

The team from ISKCON in their traditional costumes, add the flavour to the solemn theme and sanctity of Diwali (unfortunately missing from commercialised Diwali events.)
And that is what really happened. Prior to the official programme, Ram Lila stage drama, based of Ramayan, was very skilfully performed by ISKCON (Hare Krishna) group. Ram Lila depicted the traditional and religious reasons for Diwali and messages of triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and life over death.

Chief Guest, Social Development Minister, Paula Bennet, addressing the audience, flanked by Trade Minister Tim Grosser on the right..."best organised association" [Minister Paula Bennet, speaking of WIA]
Chief Guest, Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennet graced the occasion in very attractive Indian costume. She commended WIA as the best organised association where so many children performed who were not of Indian origin, and this augured well for future NZ where they would grow up with friends of all nationalities and will grow as  New Zealanders with rich cultures.

CEO one of the major sponsors,Robert Khan (centre) flanked by Immediate \Past President of WIA, Sunil Chandra (left) and Manoj Tahal, Events Director of WIA....fortunes of Radio Tarana has grown with WIA Diwali, with Radio Tarana as the most-listened Indian and ethnic Radio Station.
Robert Khan, Managing Director of Radio Tarana, concurred with Minister Paula Bennet that WIA was the best community organisation he has worked with, without infighting, personal gains and scandals. “WIA is pride of west, the best I have seen,” Robert Khan said, adding that the association of the last 8 years have continued to grow, as their listenership has been growing, up to 45,000 listeners on a weekly basis, highest for ethnic stations.

Labour Leader, David Cunliffe, (left) with other Labour parliamentary colleagues, Rajen Prasad (centre) and Phil Twyford, during formal ceremony...."We are still defining unique Asia-Pacific fusion and that is modern New Zealand..." [David Cunliffe].
New Labour Leader, David Cunliffe echoed the hard work of WIA and commended NZ as being a young nation. “We are still defining unique Asia-Pacific fusion and that is modern New Zealand, and in West Auckland we are at forefront of that,” said a very jovial, confident and enthusiastic new Labour Leader, Cunliffe.

The tear-jerker drama, Hindu mythological version of the prince and the pauper- Krishna-Sudama, which depicts the bond of friendship between Lord Krishna and a poor class-mate, Sudama- a very pertinent message for modern children.
The stage drama by ISKCON that followed was a tear-jerker as we saw the Hindu mythological friendship of the prince and the pauper- Krishna-Sudama. This drama was very skilfully executed by multiracial ISKCON students. It gave a lesson of humility and long-lasting bond of friendship between unequal individuals, surviving the trials and tribulation of life.

Part of the invited guests with WIA Officials
As the evening advanced, anticipation of the annual popular Waitakere Diwali fireworks grew. So did the tempo of the items. The climaxing grand fireworks display lighted up the clear and a little chilly Waitakere skies. The boom of the fireworks seemed to echo and reverberate against the far off Waitakere ranges. The trails of fireworks, with booms, clattering and sizzles silhouetted funny smoky shapes against clear blue skies. In fact the booming fireworks spoke about the success of yet another Waitakere Diwali organised by the West community - Waitakere Indian Association, which ensures the tradition and honour of Diwali are not diluted or eroded by increased commercialisation and westernisation. Congratulations for a job well-done.

WAITAKERE INDIAN ASSOCIATION - an exemplary organisations for others to emulate and learn from.
[ALL PHOTOS AND WORDS BY THAKUR RANJIT SINGH]



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why Len Brown has to go: Caught with his pants down

Why Len Brown has to go: Caught with his pants down

Thakur Ranjit Singh
“I died twice and became the mayor of Auckland Super City. I know what it is to come back from the dead – and win,” proclaimed a jovial mayor of Auckland City, Len Brown, to a multi-ethnic audience who were attending a two-day Office of Ethnic Affairs (EthnicA) conference in Greenlane, Auckland, over two years ago.
The Deadly pair: Mayor Len Brown with his downfall, Bevan Chuang. Is she Helen of Troy? [NZ Heral Photo]
Len Brown was referring to collapse, ill-health and incidents that nearly see him die. He had praised his wife for looking after him. But he did not blink an eyelid when he reportedly seduced Bevan Chuang’ and had adulterous relations with her while in office, at office hours and in office premises. According to NZ Herald report, she said a security guard once found her naked with Mr Brown in the Ngati Whatua room in the Town Hall .The pair also had sex in Mr Brown's council office, according to the 32-year-old woman, who happens to be a member of Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP) and also an employee of the Council at Auckland Art Gallery.
Mayor Brown (third from left, sitting) with Bevan directly behind Mayor Brown, with members of Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP) The lover was well disguised in an advisory committee.
The fact that this information came out after the Local Government Election can be tagged as Len being “saved by the bell.”  John Palino was already breathing at Len’s neck according to some polls and made a credible opposition to hitherto unchallenged run for Brown. This was revealed in the results which showed Palino has mustered over 100,000 votes with only just over 30% voter turnout. The gap was some 50,000. If people just has a whiff of this affair before voting, there is no doubt that over 20,000 people would have changed their voting pattern and Len would never have been elected.
JOHN PALINO-provided very credible opposition to Len Brown. He is now Mayor-In-waiting. Following removal of Len Brown, there is going to be a By-Election, and Palino is tipped as the next most credible candidate and probable Mayor.
Therefore on this logic alone, Len has no moral right to the Mayoral chair. This is because people voted in a respectable family man as their mayor. Peoples character count a great deal, and no right thinking person would vote in an adulterous person as the first citizen of the city.
The detailed, embarrassing and intimate sexual encounter, revealed through affidavit –signed information provided by Chuang, have been the death knell to Len’s second-term ambition of the Mayoral chair. And there appears to be little chance of Len Brown to come from this metaphorical death even once, let alone twice.
Free Trade Agreement with China? It appears the Chinese beauty felt being used by the mayor, according to reports. [NZ Herald photo]
Now just imagine for a moment, what respectability will he hold, when invited to Muslim Eid festival, Chinese New year, Hindu festival of Diwali and multitudes of multiracial and multi-religious occasions which seek people of high respectability and honour. Would they invite a deceiving, cheating, adulterous and untrustworthy person to perform duties at honourable, religious and respectable festivals and occasions? Would Auckland’s over 50 per cent of ethnic communities accept such a person to honour their events? What respectability would this bestow to these respectable occasions? In 2012 Diwali, Len Brown was the Chief Guest at Waitakere Diwali at Trusts Stadium. He lighted the religious Diya (candle) signifying opening of an auspicious Diwali. After what has taken place, would Len Brown ever be considered suitable to perform this respectable and honourable duty? Same applies to other communities as well.
Honourably duties by a dishonourable man? Mayor Brown lighting Diya (special candle) during Waitakere Diwali 2012. Would he be considered suitable for future such solemn duties after revelations of adulterous affair by Bevan?
Would husbands feel safe to have their wives/partners working for the mayoral office? Would parents feel same with their daughters? Has the mayoral office not been tarnished, degraded and belittled by a randy, seductive and sexually-looses first citizen of the largest city in New Zealand?
Now listen, this is a personal matter. Really? Sir, you are Mayor 24 hours a day. You used Council time, Council premises and Council personnel to perform adultery and dishonourable acts not suited to the first citizen of the city. This is clear abuse of office. and dereliction of duties calling for impeachment or removal. Please, do the honourable thing.
Among reasons other writers will unearth, aren’t these enough to see Len Brown go as Mayor of Auckland. If he does not go voluntarily, then should he not be impeached or voted out with a no-confidence vote?
Being the first citizen of the city almost a third of New Zealand’s population carry immense responsibility, decorum and demeanour. Anybody tarnishing this honourable image through reckless character has no moral right to occupy this office.
Len Brown, you are unsuitable to be the Mayor of our City. Therefore, either you go, or you will be removed.
Len Brown is no exception. He is an undeserving person to be the first citizen, or mayor of Auckland City. Therefore, he must go, or be removed.