It makes far more sense for Breakfast to ask Keith Ng what an 'Asian' is, than for Mark Sainsbury to ask Don Brash what a 'Maori' is. Al Kwun notes a follow-up to Brash could have been "and have you ever seen one on the street where you live?"
Or maybe, "have you ever suspected your wife is a Maori?"
Keith did well on Breakfast this morning, pointing out how both major parties have alienated Asian and migrant voters with on one hand, the Ching affair, and on the other, an immigration policy that treats migrants like economic units (or 'robots' in his private phraseology) rather than people.
I also liked how he looked really really yellow.
The interview should be accessible from this page at some point today.
Fellow pointy-headed ethnicity-geek Kumanan called me out for being 'soft' on Keith in the last Yellow Peril, vis-a-vis the South Asian Blindspot perpetuated in his Listener article. Maybe so. I'm still feeling guilty for punching him during the Leader's Debate. And... he wrote my blog for me at 4:00 am when he should have been numbercrunching! Even after I'd punched him! Thanks Keith - keep punching that calculator.
Keith's use of the '300,000 Asian voters' figure in the Listener, combined with a focus on exclusively Chinese political figures, did reflect the mainstream culture's misleading use of the term 'Asian'. This morning's Breakfast show tried to repeat that pattern, by trumpeting that figure intercut with shots of... Chinese people. They kind of looked like international students hanging out downtown, who are not eligible to vote. And some shots of maybe... Northcote Chinatown? But Keith did attempt to rectify that perception straight off, perhaps wary of a repeat Yellow Peril assault. Okay, now let's get this straight: a super-quick pre-breakfast number crunch of 2001 Census data shows that pan-Diaspora Chinese made up only 44% of the 'Asian' statistic. Combined with Koreans and Japanese ('Asian' in the white public discourse meaning CJKs, or Yellow Asians, or 'those ones we can't tell apart with that picture writing we can't read but would look real good as a tattoo') it bumps up to about 57%. South Asian ethnicities made up 30%, compared with the Chinese 44%. But South Asian and non-Chinese Southeast Asian ethnicities combined, come to 43%. Get the picture? The Yellow-to-Sepia ratio in 2001 was only 57:43, and I have yet to be convinced that it has swung wildly in either direction since then. I have a foot in both camps - in 2001 I ticked both ethnic Chinese and ethnic Vietnamese. That's right, at least an eighth of me is not Chinese. Where else do you think I get my great summertime tan? I don't get called The Bitch from 'Nam for nuthin'.
Alistair Kwun's latest Herald Blog entry also mentions a gathering at my place of a few of our friends to watch Tessie Chen, Michael Hsu (Cultural Signals) and Ken Ginn (Kiwi Asian Club) on Nightline, where they were again, marketed as 'Asian voters' when they are all different shades of Chinese. Two Taiwanese 1.5ers and one New Zealand-born Canto-classic. But they were good - check out Al's comments (although the dumb Herald Blog doesn't have individually linkable entries, you'll have to scroll down), and my pan-Asian pan shot of our crowd that evening which even had ...a token Indian.
[Edit: ah hell, scrolling is annoying - I'll just paste it in here for you]
They got a kick out of being interviewed, and it's a testament to how far the public discourse has come. Five years ago nobody would have bothered wanting to know what their opinions actually were.
However, the piece was edited into less than two minutes, and my friend Tessie Chen, one of the interviewees, was rather unhappy with them cutting the ending to make her sound like she would vote for tax-cuts at the end of the day.
Tessie's family knows that a vote for National would no doubt be a vote for cutting much needed settlement services to migrant communities, as a part of trimming government 'waste' to fund tax cuts. The Chens are just one of many cross-cultural community efforts to integrate new settlers which have been developed and supported by our 'PC gone-mad régime' for some years now. Where some people see 'PC nonsense', other people see life-saving infrastructure.
Tired of the election? Have a look at my extended InvAsian flickr set for some gorgeous screenshots of alternative-reality Japified Auckland, an Asian Invasion of Rising Sun for a sneaker swap-meet, a suggested name and logo for our 'Movement', and Wellington Chinese Association President Steven Young's disturbing visual interpretation of how we can all be the new Manying Ip: before; after. Are you ready for this Keith?