Indonesia fails test of tolerance

A court in Jakarta has sentenced Ahok, the Chinese-Christian governor in a Muslim-majority nation, to two years' jail for blasphemy. This was seen as a test for Indonesia's religious tolerance, and as an Indonesian-born I am saddened to see us fail. The contrast cannot be more obvious with New Zealand finding it has an archaic blasphemy law which the Prime Minister easily said should be scrapped.

I just hope one day Indonesia finds the same mindset. Freedom of speech and tolerance seems a common thread among developed countries in the world. Multiculturalism and peaceful co-existence, it seems, is impossible without these principles. It is so the majority does not become a tyranny. I dream of Indonesia spending its time and resources to improve prosperity - incomes, healthcare, education, infrastructure - instead of dwelling on non-issues. Even with the division in New Zealand politics, at least we agree on the most basic of rights.

Silabhakta Livirya, Wellington.

Blasphemy hurts

Blasphemy and freedom of speech are inextricably linked with both given the opportunity to cause incitement and hurt. Blasphemy is very real for many millions of people and in one way sets a standard for how we might accept their right to worship their God. Freedom of speech covers a very broad spectrum and is open to criticism depending on how the spoken or written word is presented or received. For example, what is considered racist by some is regarded as fact by others. Once we disregard the right for others to have standards relating to speech we are also inclined to lower our attitude to others. When there is no law anarchy prevails. Politicians need to be thoughtful before throwing the baby out with the bath water.


Reg Dempster, Albany.

Picking on league

The Minister of Sport's comment that parents should consider not allowing their children to play rugby league in the aftermath of the cocaine scandal is extremely disappointing. It is a sport that does excellent work in some of our poorest communities. Many other sports have suffered recently from behavioural issues such as illicit drugs, drink-driving, assault and domestic violence (rugby union), performance-enhancing drugs (cycling and athletics) and match-fixing (cricket). For the sake of consistency and fairness, the minister should make some critical comments about these sports. Otherwise, his rugby league comments seem intemperate, patronising and Trumpesque.

Craig Clark, Remuera.

Role models

There is a certain hypocrisy when we hold sports stars up to be perfect role models for children and hold them to a level of scrutiny your average person would balk at. Sports stars use recreational drugs, get over it. About 400,000 Kiwis smoke cannabis and there was an eight-year period where party pills with the psychoactive chemical benzylpiperazine was legal and regulated and New Zealanders consumed an estimated 40 million pills. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Ray Calver, Grey Lynn.

Borrows verdict

It's great to see that justice has prevailed on this so called saga the news media have deemed worthy to be of public interest. I hate to think how much this "trial" has cost us taxpayers. It should never have got to this stage. Shame on the New Zealand Police for even considering laying charges against one of our MPs who was carrying out his dutiful business when he encountered a "hire a crowd" of protesters who were stupid enough not to get out of the way of a moving vehicle exiting a private driveway.

Russell Browne, Clevedon.

Council recycling

As with your correspondent Mark Meredith, I had understood the council was committed to dealing well with the goods left out in the inorganic collection. The response from Waste Solutions did not appear to answer the question of whether the council does encourage its contractors to "reuse or recycle" material. The final sentence states residents are encouraged to "rehome their usable items by selling or donating them before putting them out in their inorganic collection".

I fully support Mr Meredith's statement that the old roadside scheme may have been messy but without doubt many of the goods left on the kerb found new homes. Can the council please give us an honest and full answer as to what happens to items picked up by their contractors as part of the inorganic collection service.

Christine Tyler, Devonport.

Caught cheating

It is unfair of Rick Ede, Unitec chief executive, to say the staff member who found four students in her class had handed in identical exam answers was making "allegations". I think most users of the English language would agree she had caught some students cheating.

A number of decisions made at Unitec recently have caused tensions between the upper management and employees, including redundancies of experienced teaching staff. The position now being taken by Mr Ede, who has evidently been ready to undermine a particular staff member but appears very reluctant to deal thoroughly with the cheaters, is most regrettable. This is a picture-book case of the perils of replacing publicly funded educational institutions with profit-making edu-businesses.

Rose Lovell-Smith, Arch Hill.

Waterview tunnel

This was supposed to be open in April. The latest I have heard, from the mayor no less, is that it might be open in June or July. What is going on? It seems there are problems commissioning the ventilating plant and a control system. But why has it taken so long, why aren't they telling us what is going on and when it will be completed? We need real information, not cover-ups from PR people. I smell a seriously large rat.

Bryan Leyland, Pt Chevalier.

Event earnings

We're told that the Lions will bring "tens of millions" to the economy, as did the America's Cup and many other events. I would like a second part to that information: " ... tens of millions, which will enable us to employ 43 new doctors" or, "will enable us to retain library staff we thought we'd have to let go" or, "enable us to re-instate funding for Lifeline" or, "enable us to build a multi-storey apartment building for homeless people". What happens to these millions and why aren't we told? Why do services keep getting cut despite these huge influxes of money?

Susan Grimsdell, Auckland Central.

Maori prisons

Labour can kick the election goodbye with this Maori prison policy. When Maori obey the law there will be fewer of them in prison. The laws of this country are for all to follow, not to be judged by your ethnicity. How will it ever be possible to sentence people for the same crime if the rules are not the same for all?

Don't make excuses, start with sorting out the families who are bringing up these future criminals before they ever start coming before the courts. This nonsense of them being too young and there are no laws to cover them, perhaps this is where to start.

Sue Gallahar, Mangere.

MPs' investments

It's about time that those who wring their hands over the housing crisis show some leadership and relinquish their investment properties. Let's start with MPs who are in a good financial position courtesy of the taxpayers to either declare they have a conflict of interest or sell and re-align the market. They could set off an honesty trend as the ripple effect of excessive housing portfolios affected all house price ranges over the last 30 years. Sadly, greed rules.

Christina Smith, Christchurch.

Highway overkill

Are we going overboard on manicuring the grass that grows alongside our state highways? On Tuesday last week I witnessed a small platoon of mowers and accompanying ancillary equipment cutting grass along the verge of SH2 north of Bethlehem.

Protection from the on-coming traffic was provided by two large buffer trucks even though traffic on this part of SH2 is rarely able to travel at more than about 20km/h.

The grass being cut appeared to be less than 10cm high.

There were eight men and an estimated $800,000 of equipment being used on this operation which was not only unnecessary but counter-productive. Could not these men and this capital be employed in more useful endeavours? Perhaps preparing roads in new subdivisions so more people can have houses to live in?

Keith Hay, Waihi Beach.