It seems that Mike Tyson's backers are preparing to go a few more rounds with Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, fresh from her triumph in cutting minimum wages for young people, has received another application for convicted rapist and heavyweight boxer Tyson to enter the country. Initially, most of us (except those who have been living in a cave for the last few weeks) know that Wilkinson approved of Tyson's entry to the country on the basis of (what turned out to be a false) support letter from the Life Education Trust. A public uproar ensued and in entered fight referee John Key who pressured Wilkinson into saying no.
Round one to the Government and common sense. On this issue, I approved of Key's intervention but, even so in the same week he was battling the brain faders down at the GCSB (and his own instance of the same phenomenon), this showed the PM wasn't on top of his game. If Helen Clark had still been in power, her Immigration Minister would not even have given the application a second glance. But under John Key (whose government pushes its tough law and order stance at every opportunity), it's ironic that unrepentant rapists like Tyson get a second chance at getting an entry visa.
This second chance has come about thanks to former Alliance MP and current Manukau Urban Maori Authority head, Willie Jackson. They are backing his renewed application to come into the country on the basis that he can act as an inspirational role model for troubled youth. Don't get me wrong, I'm supportive of any criminal who has rehabilitated themselves and I don't count myself as part of the just get tougher on prison sentences brigade either. I also support programmes focusing on troubled youth and have no issue with having rehabilitated offenders come and speak to, or mentor, them.
The main issue that many ordinary New Zealanders have with Tyson is that he hasn't apologised to his victim. British newspapers have gone to the extent of reporting that he has expressed no remorse for his crime whatsover. If he had expressed genuine remorse through apologising to his victim, her family and the public, then I would have had no problem with a ministerial visa waiver being granted. But as Tyson hasn't done so, then Wilkinson's initial decision favouring him entering Aotearoa wasn't the right one.
Now, all we can do is hope that Wilkinson makes a principled decision for once and decides to KO Tyson's second round bid. If we as a country are serious about tackling violence, particularly towards women and children, then she has to make the right call by doing so.
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