There are a few things to be said in response to Shane Jones’ recent declaration that New Zealand’s immigration policy is as “rancid” as “butter chicken”.
The first of these, is that this is rather rich criticism coming from Mr Jones. The last time he was in Parliament, he was part of a party that presided over immigration levels so high they’ve only recently been eclipsed by National.
More to the point, many of the issues with the dodgy provision of education to international students are not new. They’ve been known about for much of the last two decades; with the previous large-scale flare-up in this area coming from the language-school sector in 2003 – when Labour was entering into its second term in government (and, as it happens, equidistant between that Government’s partnering of Trade New Zealand and Education New Zealand in 2000 – and the Government’s decision to start actively subsidizing the overseas promotion of ‘export education’ here in New Zealand in 2006). Did Jones raise any “culinary criticisms” back then?
Worse, when Jones talks of “rancid” circumstances in the Immigration portfolio, we can only presume that he is speaking from hard-won experience. As the Minister in charge of this area, he went against official advice to pressure for New Zealand citizenship to be granted to international criminal and money-launderer Bill Liu (who just so happened to be a personal friend of Jones). No comments about “as corrupt as chow-mein” then, I take it?
The plain fact of the matter is that Jones’ Parliamentary career to date has been characterized by a series of actions at complete odds with the image he will no doubt shortly be seeking to project. Instead of criticizing a government’s record on immigration – whether ‘export-education’ driven or otherwise – he was an active proponent and participant in some of the worst excesses of same.
I can only presume that Jones’ sudden complete volte-face has something to do with his impending personal ambitions.
Finally, what really left a bad taste in my mouth was Jones’ both scurrilous and utterly spurious full-frontal assault upon the taste and texture of butter chicken. As any who know me can well attest, I am quite fond of North Indian cuisine [butter chicken, contrary to popular speculation, apparently having been developed and popularized by a Hindu refugee who wound up having to flee what would become Pakistan during the dark days of Partition]; and whilst the humble butter chicken is far from my favourite preparation, a word does definitely need to be spoken in its defence.
There is nothing “rancid” about butter chicken. And it is truly tasteless to attempt to demarcate an ethnic group (as Jones has clearly attempted to do, given the attention upon the Indian component of New Zealand’s ‘export education market of late) via recourse to blithely insulting one of the more commonly consumed elements of their habitually associated cuisine. I wouldn’t dream, for instance, of attempting to denigrate Jones in terms usually reserved for bad seafood. Although it does occur that the reasoning behind Biblical prohibitions upon eating same [well, Jones’ preferred lobsters and molluscs anyway] had much to do with the fact that many of these creatures were the carrion of the sea, or whose filter-feeding lead to the direct coming into contact with of potentially hazardous waste.
Now I am not, strictly speaking, endeavouring to suggest that the risks of taking one such as Jones into one’s own body-politik are akin to that of eating uncooked shellfish.
But it does occur that in politics – as with bad kai moana – that Jones is hardly likely to taste any better upon the second time around, coming up.