Spare a thought for Anne-Marie.

datePosted on 10:10, February 15th, 2019 by Pablo

Put yourself in the following position: You are a professor at a NZ university, a NZ citizen who although well-known in your academic sub-field is virtually unknown outside of academia. Your research interests focus on the foreign policy of an Asian country and you have written well-received books and articles about aspects of it. You speak and read the language of that country and have many contacts in it. Because of your acknowledged expertise, you are invited to give talks and presentations on these subjects and are awarded visiting fellowships at prestigious institutions overseas.

In 2017 you write a paper about how the country you study influences politics in NZ. The paper is not theoretical or conceptually ground-breaking, but instead gives a fairly detailed description of the people and organisations involved in promoting the interests of that country in Aotearoa. It demonstrates the pervasiveness of this influence-mongering amongst the NZ political elite, including the two major political parties. It also shows the systematic way in which this country uses front organisations to control the foreign language media related to it as well as shut down independent ex-pat voices critical of it. The country you study is, not surprisingly, ruled by a one-party authoritarian regime and intolerant of criticism at home and abroad.

The paper is first presented overseas, whereupon the local media seize upon it to highlight how that country is exploiting the NZ political system. You receive much media attention and gain your five minutes of fame.

However, within weeks of it being made public, you begin to receive threatening messages and phone calls from people who apparently do not like the thrust of your paper. A few months after its publication your university office and home are burgled, twice. Nothing of value is taken other than some cell phones, lap tops and flash drives. The thieves make no attempt to disguise the robberies.

You go to the police to report the crimes. You have not had this happen to you before and you are concerned that the burglaries may be connected to the threats about your paper. The police initially fob you off saying that burglaries are a low-level crime and therefore of low priority, but then re-open their investigation after you go to the media to express your concerns that something sinister may be at play. The police dedicate a special investigative unit to the task and contact Interpol, the international police information sharing organisation, about the case. Months go by.

Almost a year after the burglaries, while your car is being warranted, the mechanics doing the job notice that your front tires appear to have been deliberately deflated. Not knowing who you are they contact the police because they believe the vandalism could result in a serious accident. The car in question is used by other family members as well as yourself, so when the police contact you it causes you further alarm. You worry about the safety of your husband and children as well as your own.

A few months after the tire-tampering the Police issue a statement saying that the investigation has concluded with no culprits having been found, either for the burglaries or the tampering. They encourage people with additional information to come forward but reiterate that they will not continue to investigate the case. The offenders have gone free. Meanwhile, even though statements of support for your right to academic freedom and freedom of expression have been signed by scholars and activists at home and abroad, the government–including the Prime Minister–refuse to be drawn on the case.

What are you to do? Here you are, a NZ citizen who has every reason to believe that the actions taken against you have the hand of a foreign power. behind them. The police offer you no protection but instead advise you to up your own security and have the university do likewise in your workplace. You do not know if the offenders are still in your home town or if they will come back again. You put on a brave face but you are afraid. You might even consider moving to a safer place, perhaps out of the country.

This is the situation facing Anne Marie Brady. All she did was write a paper detailing Chinese influence in NZ politics. She deserves to have her rights as an academic and a person of conscience defended by those entrusted with protecting the security of NZ citizens. Instead, those responsible for doing so decided that there was nothing that they can do. She is on her own in her own country.

Perhaps there are reasons of State behind the Police decision to wind up the investigation. Perhaps the Police are simply incompetent and wasted over a year chasing shadows. Either way, professor Brady has reason to feel that she has been abandoned by the authorities.

If in fact the burglaries and vandalism were done to intimidate her because of what she wrote, and if the perpetrators were aided, abetted or acted as agents of the Chinese regime, then they succeeded. Because even if professor Brady will not be intimidated, the real message from the NZ Police and the Labour-led government is that those who write critically about the PRC do so at their peril even if they do so while on NZ soil.

7 Responses to “Spare a thought for Anne-Marie.”

  1. James Green on February 15th, 2019 at 15:02

    One wonders what goes through the heads of NZ’s politicians.

    I wonder what their own justification is to themselves.

    I suppose they are just happy to get campaign contributions.

  2. Pablo on February 15th, 2019 at 16:24

    James:

    I am inclined to believe that the Police know who did the crimes or at least why and at whose behest they did so. But then the Police findings went into the inter-agency/DPMC consultation process and were as a result filed in the “too sensitive to follow through on” basket. The cops were then left to do the whitewashing.

  3. Redbaiter on February 15th, 2019 at 16:45

    Its been apparent for decades that the Chinese were using trade clout to gain political influence in the Pacific.

    Pablo has blogged about it. I have blogged about it.

    Now NZ, the country that smugly told the US “no nukes” is deeply & apparently irreparably enmeshed in the net of the Chicoms’ globally domineering thug totalitarian govt.

    So deeply enmeshed their agents can commit crimes here and suffer no consequences.

    The failures of Keynesian style socialism put us in this position. Whether its mass immigration, or house building, or borrowing/ spending, socialist attempts to shepherd western economies always fail, and it was this kind of failure that lead us to become vassals of the most corrupt despotic govt on the globe.

    Encouraging communist Chinese investment/ immigration to prop up our otherwise unsustainable social welfare system was an obvious mistake. Not to mention reliance on Chinese govt patronage for tourism. For God’s sake, how blind do you have to be??

    Disgusts me that a real writer like Anne-Marie can be treated this way, and we’re apparently powerless to do anything.

    Well done Labour, National and the socialists who voted for them. You’ve put us under the heel of the Communist Generals of the People’s Liberation Army.

    A child could have predicted this outcome.

  4. Pablo on February 15th, 2019 at 19:30

    Red:

    I hope that you realise that the PRC are not a bunch of “Chicoms” but are instead a one party authoritarian state governing a state capitalist project–sort of like the Singaporeans but on a much larger and brutal scale. The Singaporean PAP is much more sophisticated, due to their vulnerability, when it comes to playing the foreign policy game, but the CCP/PRC is a 150kg 16 year old throwing its weight around on the international stage. It has neither the sophistication or inclination to be subtle.

    I do agree that the NZ political elite are hopelessly compromised by the “Chicoms.” Don Brash, Jenny Shipley, Peter Goodfellow, Nigel Haworth–many pockets have been lined by those gosh darned Chinese commies.

  5. Görkem on February 15th, 2019 at 20:59

    @Pablo: Are you familiar with Redbaiter’s comment history on Kiwiblog?

    Because I am, and on that basis, I think I can say with confidence that Redbaiter does not agree with the point you’re trying to make.

  6. Pablo on February 15th, 2019 at 21:13

    Yers Gorkem,

    I am well aware of Red’s blogging and commentary history. In fact, he has had a few choice things to say about me over the years on KB and elsewhere. I still believe that we can be civil in our disagreements and with time Red has in fact been generally pretty civil in his commentary here. His opinions remain as always resistant to anything that I say, but at least he refrains from the type of stuff that got him in trouble over at KB.

  7. Görkem on February 15th, 2019 at 22:10

    Well it’s your blog, and I certainly admire your belief that people can be rehabilitated in the abstract. I have a feeling tht you may regret it with the ‘baiter, but it’s your blog, so it’s your choice.

    Still, even leaving aside the issue of civility, asking Red his opinion always seems a bit of a waste of time to me. We all know exactly what Redbaiter thinks on any given issue – he hasn’t been shy about sharing his views over the years.

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