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Race Relations Commissioner large donor to Labour MP’s campaign

In brief
  • Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has made substantial donations to Labour MP Kiri Allan.
  • PM Hipkins, Allan and Foon himself dismiss any notion he is politically biassed. 
  • It’s more evidence Foon is anything but neutral, and ACT’s David Seymour says Foon should resign.
  • There have been repeated calls to scrap the Human Rights Commission over bias.

Campaign contributions

The Human Rights Commission’s Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has been caught up in a scandal over more  than $10,600 donated to Labour MP for East Coast and Minister of Justice Kiritapu Allan.

Foon and his wife, Ying, donated $1500 in cash, his company donated a further $9185 in rental subsidies for office space in Gisborne to Allan’s campaign in 2020.

Foon called the money a minor sum and  Allan said it hasn’t influenced the decisions she’s made regarding her work as an MP. While Allan wasn’t Justice Minister at the time of Foon’s appointment (that was Andrew Little), she will be responsible for his re-appointment while in the role of Minister of Justice.

Allan herself didn’t declare the potential conflict of interest, but has since done so. Allan says there was no breach and therefore no need to declare the transaction at the time. In fact, Allan says she had forgotten that Foon was a donor. However, Foon was Allan’s second largest donor to her campaign.

It has also been disclosed Foon donated about $1000 to National-backed Tania Tapsell in her successful campaign to become mayor of Rotorua.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he’s not concerned over the matter.

Neutrality questioned

While the sums are relatively small, the problem for many is that Foon’s role is supposed to be politically neutral. In a statement on Foon’s donations to Allan’s campaign, the Human Rights Commission stated they take the issue of neutrality “extremely seriously”. David Seymour of ACT says political neutrality is lost and Foon should resign from the position.

Putting the money aside, what are the other reasons to question Foon’s neutrality?

Foon is an outspoken proponent of co-governance. He’s been criticised heavily for overlooking anti-white bigotry on several occasions. He was reluctant to criticise Te Pāti Māori for stating as a fact that Māori were genetically superior. He has previously said that all “police are racist”. A comment he later apologised for, but maintained policing in New Zealand is systemically racist.

While it’s understood each party will typically appoint individuals at least partly aligned with that party’s policies, if they are so polarised the respect for the institution, and justice in general, will suffer.  Foon’s political donations are yet another indicator there is not even a facade of neutrality.

In a statement, Seymour said “Foon can’t be independent if he’s a Labour donor, not that he ever called out racism from the left anyway.”

Scrap the Human Rights Commission altogether

The politicisation of the Human Rights Commission in general has had many on the right including National, ACT and NZ First making repeated calls to scrap the Commission altogether.

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