Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37, No 21. August 28, 1974
Kirk gets nasty over Khoo case
Kirk gets nasty over Khoo case
The New Zealand government has got cold feet over the case of Khoo Ee Liam, in a letter to the NZUSA Mr Kirk has made it quite clear that students can expect no further help from the Labour Government in protecting their rights and their liberty.
When NZUSA first approached the government they received some co-operation and this resulted in a letter being sent to the Malaysian government that asked some difficult questions. Recently a reply was sent to the government and this was the end of the matter as far as they were concerned. The letter from de Silva acknowledged that the charges had been laid but said that they were not sustained as final justification for the detention of Khoo.
The New Zealand government should be pursuing the question of the sources of the Malaysian's information but instead they did a deal with them. Jack de Silva has been a considerable embarrassment to the New Zealand government because every time that he commented on the affairs of Malaysian students in New Zealand he proved that they were subject to surveillance and intimidation by the High Commission. The New Zealand government requested the withdrawl of de Silva and agreed to stop their co-operation with the New Zealand University Students' Association in their attempt to achieve some measure of justice for their members who are Malaysian.
Until now NZUSA has refrained from attacking the New Zealand government on their lack of action. The letter from Norman Kirk to NZUSA demonstrates why the association must now reconsider its position. The Labour Government is now refusing to talk to the association on the question and is displaying a callous disregard for Malaysians in New Zealand. They are also being fundamentally dishonest.
In June, Alick Shaw, the International Vice President of NZUSA, requested a meeting with the Prime Minister. The meeting was organised so that Mr Kirk would have the opportunity of hearing from Malaysian students themselves. Shortly after he agreed to meet the delegation Mr Kirk said that NZUSA would have to wait until he heard from Malaysia about Khoo Ee Liam. After a number of telephone conversations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs NZUSA telegrammed the Prime Minister on July 29. The telegram pointed out the incredible delays encountered by NZUSA in trying to meet the Prime Minister and stated that to ignore the issue for any longer was irresponsible. On August 8 the Prime Minister replied that he would not meet the students and refused to discuss the central issue any further.
Kirk knows that the Malaysian government spies on students. He knows that they charged Khoo Ee Liam with offences committed in New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed that it is important to determine how the information was gathered against Khoo in this country yet they refuse to follow up the matter.
NZUSA has caused the government a great deal of trouble over this matter, they must now force Norman Kirk to reconsider his position. The departure of de Silva to South Korea will not lead to any improvements save in the Public Relations of the Malaysian government. The reality of surveillance will persist and the New Zealand government will do their best to assist the Malaysians in a cover up.
NZUSA must press on with the campaign and students must offer real support to them. It is now crucial that New Zealand students enter the campaign and begin to put pressure on their local politicians, form action groups on their own campuses and defend the independence of their universities and the sovereignty of their country.