In my post yesterday afternoon I mentioned that Labour MP Raymond Huo (he of various United Front affiliations and apparently regarded as close to the PRC Embassy) had an op-ed in yesterday’s Herald (strangely not apparently available on-line, although there is a photo of the article here). [UPDATE: Herald link working again.] As I noted, the article is welcome for Huo’s overdue indication that he will recuse himself from involvement in bits of the Justice Committee’s deliberations on the foreign interference aspects of the election inquiry “to avoid any perceived conflict of interest”. Huo chairs that committee.
But the centrepiece of Huo’s article is a creative reimagining of history in which he tries to pretend that he (and his colleagues) had never opposed hearing from Professor Anne-Marie Brady. There had never been any intention of blocking Brady, and they had just been waiting to consult the GCSB and the SIS before deciding whether to re-open submissions. The whole thing was, he claims, a beat-up by National’s Nick Smith.
I doubt anyone really believes him, probably not even the other Labour MPs he persuaded to vote for blocking Brady (not then recusing himself), but in case there is any doubt, here is his own tweet from 6 March
The clear implication is that it was simply Professor Brady’s fault that she had not got on and submitted earlier (even though the deadline was before Andrew Little extended the scope of the inquiry).
Here is his quote from the article he himself links to:
Justice committee chairman Labour MP Raymond Huo said the decision to decline Brady’s late request was purely procedural.
The closing date for submissions was over five months ago on 23 September 2018 and the date was widely publicised by committee staff in the usual way, he said in a statement.
The Committee had asked the Security Intelligence Service, the Government Communications and Security Bureau and the National Assessments Bureau to appear.
“As committee chair, I am satisfied that the correct procedure has been followed and that the agencies will keep the committee well informed about any issues of foreign interference that may arise,” Huo said in a statement.
No hint there of someone who really wanted to hear all the evidence, all perspectives.
And, at the time, Huo was backed by the Prime Minister’s office
A spokesman for Ardern echoed Huo’s comments, saying: “Our position would be that this is a procedural matter for the committee and that the various agencies presenting are well placed to provide information on foreign interference and the threat of it.”
At the time, even some cheerleaders for the see–no-evil hear-no-evil approach to the PRC came out and stated that they thought Huo had overreached. And, of course, a few hours later he was in full backdown mode, and is now trying to rewrite history to put himself in a less unfavourable light. He doesn’t seem to have considered that actually fessing up and saying “yes, I made a mistake, I regret it” would be more likely to generate a favourable response.
Huo concluded his op-ed noting that “robust debate, not stereotyping or sweeping generalisations, will help examine the real issues”. That is exactly what Professor Brady has been promoting, and what Raymond Huo (supported by his bosses and colleagues) seems, until now, to have been trying to avoid. (To his credit, he actually wrote an op-ed. National’s Jian Yang – he of the Communist Party membership, misrepresentations on official documents, and long service in the PLA military intelligence system – just refuses to face English language media, protected in doing so by Simon Bridges.)
UPDATE: A reader writes to share the text of a letter of protest sent to Labour members of the committee after the initial blocking, and to the Prime Minister, and news of one Labour MP’s decent response.
7 thoughts on “Raymond Huo’s creative reimagining”
Well written. I read the Herald piece. I was surprised that it was published on April 3rd rather than two days earlier.
Re-writing history is standard practice in the PRC. The massacre at Tiananmen Square was an ‘incident’, the enforced termination of human life under the one-child policy was ‘population management’… I could go on.
DoubleSpeak as George Orwell once labelled it.
It is an absolute disgrace that this country allows two people in our Parliament who are clearly serving two masters…
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I am disappointed that Mr Huo will recuse himself. We know Ms Brady is an fluent Mandarin speaker and I expect Mr Huo is too. Are any other members of this committee fluent Mandarin speakers? Since China has a reputation (rightly or wrongly) for multiple layers of diplomacy and a reputation for publishing articles in English and Manadarin with different emphasis so it would be good to have Ms Brady’s evidence relating to Chinese sources challenged and debated by someone who understands the original language.
In his article he claims he is sad that when China is in the news his loyalty and identity are called into question. I’m not sure what he means by identity – as a MP he is clearly a New Zealand citizen and we know China has no dual nationality agreement. The reason many average Kiwis doubt his loyalty to New Zealand is simple – despite his superior knowledge he has never once been reported as criticisizing the Communist Party of China. A few simple statements about organ harvesting, average incomes for non-Han Chinese after 70 years of communist rule, the closing of Mosques, the puishment of Falun Gong supporters, why international arbitration is ignored over the Spratley Islands, whether Mao ever made a mistake, etc. It is quite remarkable that he hasn’t made any statement that doesn’t appear to have been approved by the govt of China. Compare that to local politicians – they are willing to tell the public their opinion of past mistakes their party has made (eg Labour and CGT) and to give strong support to current party leaders even when it involves political gymnastics.
We all echo Mr Huo’s request for robust debate.
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I got on my high horse a few weeks ago and dashed this letter off to the Labour members of the select committee with minor changes tailored to each members personal backgrounds.
All replied except for Mr Webb. Greg O’Connor’s reply was probably the most apologetic and personal; the others were formulaic replies.
Also sent it to The PM and got the standard acknowledgement.
Copy of the letter (with slight modifications for each member and the PM) that I sent this morning after reading this on the news. Sent to:
Duncan Webb, Ginny Anderson, Greg O’Connor and J Adern.
Didn’t send a copy to Raymond Huo who chairs the committee as he is in the pocket of the CCP anyway.
Weak, lily-livered, timorous servants of a greater God. E.g. Political power, or money, or personal position or …..
Dear Mr Webb
I read with increasing disbelief the report of you and your Labour colleagues on the Justice Committee voting to bar Anne-Marie Brady from appearing before the Committee to speak on foreign influence/interference in NZ elections.
I have been a paid up member of the Labour Party over the years and have assisted Trevor Mallard in Hutt South as a “grunt” in the past, as he successfully won elections so I am generally sympathetic to the Labour cause. But what cause were you and your fellow travellers serving?
I find the actions of the Labour members of the Committee in barring Ms Brady from appearing absolutely ham fisted, politically inept, bordering on subservience to another country’s interests (China) and a betrayal of your duty to New Zealand’s citizens.
Perhaps your decision was based on a desire to not upset political donors or to avoid anything that might disturb trade or wider relations with China. In my book your personal integrity and your duty to your own country trumps any of those spurious justifications. Not knowing you personally but having listened to you appearing on RNZ’s “The Panel” in the past I had this picture of you as someone with a strong moral and ethical compass. Perhaps you have but it was lacking in this decision.
Thank goodness Ms Brady is now to be allowed to appear. But at what a political opportunity for the opposition and at what cost to the already weakening reputation of the Government.
Yours in high indignation etc
I have been told that Duncan Webb was not at the meeting on the day in question, and there was another Labour MP instead.
Thanks for letting us see your text, and good to hear about Greg O’Connor’s response.
Excellent letter. Reminded me of something I read an hour ago in a review of the journals of Philip Rose. He was clearly a strong conservative but strongly differed with his party about Suez. This was his comment to his parents:
“”I am sorry you think the government are justified. Personally I think they have not a moral leg to stand on. Whatever one may think of Gaitskell or Eygpt is quite irrelevant. Either nations live by the rule of law or by self-interest. And in invading Egypt we have abandoned our entire moral foundation.””
Not a good comparison since invading a foreign country is a larger issue than allowing an academic to speak at a committee most of didn’t know existed. However some phrases struck a chord.
I think it is absolutely fair to ask the question of people who are born in another country and then seek to become a naturalized New Zealand citizen, “is your loyalty to New Zealand or another country?”
I would hope that question is asked during the process by which a foreign national becomes a NZ citizen. Of course they might lie, and conceal an allegiance to another nation, no doubt that happens.
But it’s a possibility that an agent of the immigrants home nation could tap them on the shoulder one day and asked them to engage in spying for their home country. Maybe not for immigrants from Samoa, but this is a very real possibility for immigrants from China, where the loyalty to the “motherland” is a strong emotional responsibility. Furthermore many have relatives back in China that could be pressured in some form to elicit cooperation from a “new kiwi”.
I wouldn’t think this is a risk with all foreign nationals, but I do believe the Chinese are particularly susceptible to this sort of recruitment by Chinese Intelligence either willingly or under pressure. Obviously certain types of people would be targeted such as those in media, politicians and NZ government ministry employees.
It would be interesting to know whether Raymond Huo has ever been vetted by the SIS. If I was to apply for a job in a NZ Government Department I would have to expect a vetting of my background and activities going back 15 years of more. List MP’s should be given just as thorough a scrutiny.