OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Google to Embargo China

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    It's not as if who rules us and the mechanisms they use is at all under question.

    You might think that, but in fact, "Westminster" constitutions like ours are not that robust:

    - less than 100 years ago, the British Army was refusing orders in protest at home rule being granted to (Northern) Ireland.

    - around the same time, Edward VII was reluctant to create the new peers that Asquith needed to force his Parliament Act (itself limiting the Lord's veto) through.

    - more recently, Kerr sacked the Australian government on the pretext of its failure to pass a budget (with the probable real reason being its opposition to US policies)

    - and only last year, the G-G of Canada suspended parliament, thus avoiding the government's defeat in a no-confidence motion

    I think there's quite a lot wrong with our unwritten consitutional arrangements. As Billy Bragg said, we sorted out the relationship between the King and Parliament at Bosworth Field, but we're still to sort the relationship between Parliament and People.

    Anyway, that's all a long way from China. As you were.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Er, that's roughly 400 years of Westminster constitution time (NZ, Canada, Australia, UK) and you can come up with four crises, of which one was a nullity (Edward VII did as he was damn well told) and one arose out of the unique features of the Australian Washminster. That's pretty good.

    And comparatively, in Germany they had a fascist dictatorship, in France they had a dysfunctional Third Republic, a short-lived Fourth, and a Fifth brought in by a military strongman to the beat of student protests and terrorist bombs, and let's not talk about Spain, Austria or Italy.

    In fact, people have done studies, which I really can't be arsed looking for, which have found some evidence that Westminster constitutions are more stable than Presidential and semi-Presidential systems. So while of course the constitution could be improved, current best practice looks a lot like what we've got at the moment.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    So that's why they don't have or need free speech!

    Pope Pius the Somethingeth (the ninth, I think) made an argument against public education on exactly those lines.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    What, exactly, prevents a Westminister constitution that happens to have a native President, instead of a far-removed British monarch, as its Head of State, from being as stable & viable?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    There's a magic arkenstone in Westminster Abbey itself which holds things together. Little known fact.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    It's the luxuriant plush pile.
    Oh, that's Axminster..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Giovanni - heh!
    I think it is now conclusively proven that the original Stone of Scone
    was
    a)taken away by it's Pict overlords and turned into the Isla Skye
    b)never existed but was manufactured by the heretical Hume sect in Edinburgh in the 1800s
    c)was a puir wee stane -aminnit, sumweer
    d)I'm sorry?

    Anyway, since my Orkney family have the original copy, wha's t'stap iz
    declaring a Free Thing right now??


    Urm.
    Shd. I pop in a 8>) ?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    What, exactly, prevents a Westminister constitution that happens to have a native President, instead of a far-removed British monarch, as its Head of State, from being as stable & viable?

    Far-removed monarchs don't engage in nefarity very often.

    (More broadly, I don't want a President. Why do we need a Head of State? Why can't we have an acephalous state?)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Well, anything except an cephalpodus I guess-

    seriously Keir, I've more than once suggested we have a (very small) komiti to be "ritual acknowledgement of having a body or 2 to open bridges an' that" but I've changed my mind: we have more than enough local body munters to do that.

    Why? Why do we need a head of state? This is a really serious question.

    We have diplomats. We have local body chairs. We have (in certain areas) ariki-nui. We have very well established seniors in most areas, sports, charities, arts et al.

    We have a well-established Westminister-style of government. We believe/adhere to the rule of Law. We are an egalitatian lot.

    There. I agree with you Keir-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Danielle, in reference to "teabagging":
    "All together now:
    Normal people don't do that kind of crap and so don't know of the other meanings."

    *blink*
    What other meanings?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 808 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Tracymac, I agree with Rich of Ob.
    Before Paul Henry there was Chen of Chen Palmer who made the biblical nasty statement on Morning TV about how our Parliment can make a rule for (insert eye and hair colour here) babies be legally discriminated against (or was that killed).
    Did she help draw up the Foreshore and Seabed Act? I can't remeber.
    We point fingers and tisk tisk about Fiji breaking constitutions and we don't have one to break.
    FSSB has proved all delusions of constitutional protection, wrong.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    FSSB has proved all delusions of constitutional protection, wrong.

    There isn't any constitutional protection for that in NZ. Even if the Treaty was constitutionalised, it doesn't seem to cover that particular bit of the world.

    Even if you accept that that particular bit of land still belongs to Maori in whatever sort of title, there's no great constitutional protection in NZ to prevent the government taking land off people.

    "Crappy bad law" != unconstitutional.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    @Keir:

    Those were examples and cover a hundred year period. There are quite a few more, such as the abdication crisis, for instance.

    In 1910, Edward VII refused to create new peers to override the Lords veto until after a second election (against the convention that honours are granted on advice of the government).

    If you went back 400 years, you'd find numerous constitutional dislocations (four dynasties, the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution). Not to mention the effective (if disputed) end to the power of the monarch to veto legislation and the end to the right of the monarch to choose a government over the wishes of parliament.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    There has never been a tradition of absolute land ownership in the English (or indeed most other) political systems. Land has always been held subject to community rights (access, works, common grazing). Originally, many of these rights were held by local and national rulers, but with democracy, they have passed to the community.

    The idea of absolute landholding is pretty much unique to settler states.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    This debate on whether we have or need a constitution is an interesting one, but the assumption a written constitution would somehow protect us more than our current bundle of constitutional laws and conventions needs to be challenged.

    None of the countries I can think of that have written constitutions have been without constitutional issues and challenges. Many of those countries are in fact highly unstable.

    Of those that aren't the US is often cited as a positive example. But consitutional issues nearly destroyed that nation in the19th century. And the politicisation of the US Supreme Court nomination process makes a mockery of any suggestion that the US constitution is "neutral".

    That's not to say an overridiing written constitution is a bad thing. I just suspect it matters less to a nation's stability than other factors.

    Yorke of The Atatu • Since Feb 2009 • 787 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    But if you compare that to the record of the French, German or American constitutions, the UK one starts to look pretty good. It's all very well to point and say --- that wasn't good, but there are many worse options out there.

    Take the abdication crisis tho'. Did anything bad actually come out of it? No. Likewise the People's Budget. It was put to the people, the people backed it, and the King and Lords did what they were told by the people.

    (And it is 400 years of constitution time --- 4 constitutions * 100 years = 400 constitution years.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    I haven't heard any formal announcement but I'm being redirected to Google Hongkong since yesterday morning both at work and at home.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    The tech news sites are carrying stories about this. The Sino-British Joint Declaration says that Hong Kong Special Administrative Region gets to keep capitalism and its way of life until 2047. There is a page with a summary of Google service accessibility from within mainland China.

    Since Nov 2006 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    It's rather surreal to see the China Daily running frothing editorials and summarised Xinhua commentaries which describe Google in the same terms as they used to describe other lackeys of the imperialist US, not so very long ago...

    Google's actions show that the world's biggest search engine company has abandoned its business principles and instead shows the world a face that is totally politicized.

    First, it claims without any evidence that the Chinese government has supported hackers' attacks against it. Then it threatened to pull out of the Chinese market if the government doesn't compromise on Internet regulations. Finally, American politicians and government institutions spoke up to back the company up and show the world a slapstick comedy [...]

    ...No country will allow information about subversion, separation, racialism and terrorism to circulate in it through the Internet... It is a great pity that the Google case told us the company's aim of entering the Chinese market seems not for commercial reasons but to act as a tool to penetrate into the Chinese culture as well as into Chinese people's values.

    It is ridiculous and arrogant for an American company to attempt to change China's laws. The country doesn't need a politicized Google or Google's politics.

    ...Google's penchant for instigating farces on the global stage has almost become instinctive in nature and it is no coincidence that Google performed one in China. It is the inevitable result of putting self-interests above the other countries and companies and being blind to business integrity and corporate social responsibility. If Google cannot turn around and correct its errors, it will land itself in serious trouble and become global enemy No. 1.

    I guess Chinadaily.com will need a new, less evil web search partner, then?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

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