(First published in Migrant News : www.migrantnews.nz)
By Mel Fernandez
Another election is behind us and there has been no change on one front – the electoral prospects for Asian candidates has once again proven to be dismal. Kiwis were not quite ready to vote for them. Subsequently, their presence in Parliament is courtesy of the MMP voting system that allows List MPs to get in without proving that they had the public’s support by battling it out in the electorates.
Now that the Special Votes have been counted the line-up of Asian MPs heading to Parliament has been confirmed. Sadly, once again only six List MPs with fairly high ranking within the Labour and National Parties managed to pull through.
The winners in the ‘migrants going to Parliament’ stakes for Labour are as follows: Newcomer Priyanca Radhakrishnan – this is her first term in Parliament. And Raymond Huo, who is into his 4th term.
As for the National Party – Melissa Lee and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi are both embarking on their 4th term. Dr Jian Yang is into his 3rd term and it is Dr Paramjeet Parmar’s second term.
The Green Party managed to get Golriz Ghahraman across the line at the eleventh hour after the special votes were counted. She is the first refugee to ever enter Parliament. Nice one.
This year, for the very first time, two Filipino candidates were roped in to battle for seats in Parliament – Labour’s Romy Udanga was the candidate for the North Shore seat and Paulo Garcia was the candidate for New Lynn. Neither were successful in their electorates and did not manage to get in via the List route.
What was different about this election is the fact that a record number of Asian candidates were picked by Party bosses to stand in electorates that had a fairly large multicultural population. None of them were successful – so there were losers a plenty. The most spectacular loss was that of the former New Zealand First List MP Mahesh Bindra, even though he was pushed up on his Party’s list just before the election. He was in Parliament for one term.
The New Zealand People’s Party was the only migrant party in this election. It did not stand any candidates in the electorates. It was banking on getting enough party votes to reach the minimum threshold and land some List MPs in Parliament. They garnered close to 1,900 votes, which was well below the target number of votes.
Party Leader Roshan Nauhria told Migrant News that he was not discouraged by his Party’s performance. He sees it as a valuable learning curve and has set his sights on the next election. He hopes to field as many as 56 candidates of different ethnicities all over the country to generate a wider base of support for the Party. Currently the Party has three Indian and three Chinese list candidates. It hopes to add some Filipino, Middle Eastern and African faces in the near future.
From a recent straw poll Migrant News has gauged that Asian New Zealanders have mixed feelings about the outcome of this election. Most concerning is the fact that only 6 Asian MPs got into Parliament. Furthermore, not everyone is pleased with the MPs who are representing them in Parliament.