Like a beggar in a bazaar, NZ is overjoyed to be visited by Premier Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, perhaps the world's only democratically elected constitutional monarch. So awed by his country's wealth and glamour, we swallow our chewing gum and hope that some crumbs of trade are thrown into our lap as he goes by.
Who are we to throw stones? As this Herald editorial points out, we are fresh from putting one of our own in the pillory of sedition. In our own oligarchic democracy, any outdoors public meetings must be authorised by Wellington City Council. Failure to do so risks a fine of up to $20,000 plus court costs, enough to bankrupt many in these debt-fuelled times. Justice is no longer free. Aside from the lawyers' bills and the ironically termed Legal Aid, applying to the higher courts is beyond the pricetag for those who do not know how to milk the system. Donna.
We treat smokers like lepers, only worse. Lepers do not pay leprosy tax.
While Singapore's path has been steered through poverty to the fabled knowledge economy, our good ship Endeavour has been wrapped in so much red tape and bubblewrap, it is indistinguishable from a Zorb. Our economy bobs on the tides of overseas currents, without direction or purpose. The God of Safety keeps us from all harm and hope.
I awoke from a terrible dream this morning. I was on a captainless ship and got washed overboard. I was thrashing about in the water, not knowing how long I could keep my head above the waves. Helen Clark saw what was happening and threw some money to me. Don Brash stood there berating me for falling off the boat in the first place. Rodney Hide dived in to save me but ended up getting caught in a rip. Jeanette Fitzsimons was looking at the exhaust stacks with disapproval, while Hone Harwira said that I'd be able to stay afloat longer if my lungs weren't buggered from smoking.
My friends turned up, saw what was happening and threw me a lifefloat. I got back on board and thanked my trusted friends profusely. The political leaders congratulated themselves on a job well done and went off to get their media units to issue a press release.
(Originally posted 21/6/06)