Editorial: Dotcom winning public over

Last updated 05:00 18/01/2014
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KIM DOTCOM: The internet entrepreneur is now heading into politics.

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OPINION: Kim Dotcom's role in life seems to be to make asses of the New Zealand authorities. Everything he touches turns to ashes or farce. He has shown up the police, the spies, the politicians and now even prison managers. In each case the Kiwi office holders showed themselves to be bunglers.

The shambles never stops.

The latest to fall victim of the Dotcom effect, as we might call it, is the private prison operator Serco. It has had to apologise to him for his treatment at Mt Eden prison after his arrest two years ago, and also for saying that he had not complained about it. Now the company says it has come across an "archived record" which showed he did complain.

This is no way to run a prison. The company failed to give Dotcom the usual pack of hygiene necessities, leaving him unable to wash after using the toilet. And the failure to deal with the complaint is inexcusable, as is the alleged mislaying of it. Serco's international record of prison administration is mixed, to put it kindly. So it is proving here.

Dotcom is an astute political operator and has won the PR battle in New Zealand hands-down. He is launching the Internet Party to draw attention to some of the political issues raised by his treatment. He has also played the role of public benefactor and Santa Claus, although his plans for a Party Party had to be cancelled on the advice of electoral officials.

The Serco findings allow him once again to play the martyr and to present himself as the put-upon but fun-loving tycoon who never meant any harm. Here we have to distinguish between his treatment by New Zealand and the issue of his guilt or innocence under United States law.

The raid on his rented mansion was absurdly heavy-handed, more like a raid on a gang fortress than on the residence of an overweight businessman. It seems likely that the New Zealand police, spooked or over-egged by their FBI cousins, chose an American approach rather than the customary and more sensible Kiwi one. The raid was also found to be illegal by the High Court, because the warrants enabling it were too broad. The spies of the Government Security Communications Bureau also bungled the case. As a permanent resident he could not legally be bugged by the GCSB, but they seemed to misunderstand the law and bugged him anyway. For this Prime Minister John Key had to apologise, and an official inquiry into the bureau revealed all kinds of embarrassing messes.

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So Dotcom has done us a favour, revealing incompetence in various parts of the official apparatus. He has also sparked a very important series of court cases testing the reach of the law over extradition.

None of this means that he is necessarily innocent of the charges brought by America against him relating to copyright and fraud. That question remains open, and nor is it answered by claims that Hollywood has brought pressure to bear on the Obama administration to "get Dotcom". The courts will decide whether Dotcom is guilty.Kim

IN PRAISE OF ... HOT CROSS BUNS

Hot cross buns went on sale early this year – on January 3, to be precise. And some supermarkets started selling Easter eggs on Boxing Day. Purists and pedants will go, "Bah, Humbug," and insist that Easter doesn't arrive till April 20. If Easter treats hit the market four months early, they will warn, nothing is sacred and anarchy threatens. Nonsense! Hot cross buns taste just as good in summer as in autumn, and chocolate is welcome any day of the year. Creme eggs, as everyone knows, are a short dose of paradise and can be taken at all hours of the day or night, if you can find them in the shops. And why stop at the Easter stuff? What we need is a cheerful revolution in the food and confectionary department. Consumers should start demanding mince pies in August. Who wouldn't devour some roast turkey and a Yuletide ham in June? Winter strawberries, anyone? Let the sticklers grizzle and starve themselves of buns and sweet eggs. As for us, the happy majority, we will eat Christmas cake whenever we feel like it

- The Dominion Post

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