A number of members of ethnic communities are angry that former mayoral mistress Bevan Chuang has reapplied for her advisory role with the Auckland Council.
Ethnic minority leaders from around the country believe that Chuang's two-year affair with Auckland Mayor Len Brown, and her conduct since its revelation, has tarnished the image of the communities she seeks to represent.
Chuang met Brown while a member on the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP) at the council and they began an affair in May 2011. The affair was revealed after Brown was re-elected in October last year.
Chuang confirmed that she had reapplied for the role.
However, much of the Chinese community wanted her to step away from politics until the fallout from the affair had passed, according to community leaders who would not be named.
"I think she needs to keep under the radar for a little while," they said.
"It is just common sense. If you are gaining such a public profile, you need to win back some trust from the community you are going to represent."
Chuang was forced to step down from her role on the Auckland Chinese Gardens steering committee, her position as secretary for the Auckland Chinese Community Centre, and was asked to resign from the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Committee.
"She has done a lot of work for the community and devoted a lot of her time to the community. You can't fault her commitment to the community in the past," the leaders said.
"Whether the time is right at the moment is to be seen."
And it is not just the Chinese community that are reluctant to see Chuang as their representative on the EPAP.
Others believe Chuang's conduct since the affair was revealed has compromised her ability to work on the council.
"Given that she has continued talking to the media about issues around the mayor, how is this supposed to reconcile when she is supposed to work for him?" said Helen Keivon, a former member of the Paekakariki Community Board and part of the Indian community.
Many members of ethnic minorities believed Chuang could no longer do an effective job on the council and would instead detract from benefits the communities brought to New Zealand, Keivon said.
Chuang would not comment on her application to the panel.
She was one of 62 people who put their names forward for appointment to the 10-person panel.
"It [the panel] needs to be there because it is an opportunity for ethnic people to participate at a high level. She has made us into a laughing stock and that is what I resent," said Asoka Basnayake, a panel member for the last three years.
The new appointments to the panel should continue the progress the group achieved and Chuang would prevent that, she said.
"They need to be able to continue the work that was done. Having Bevan could be quite detrimental," Basnayake said.
Recommendations on the final make up of the panel will be made to the mayor on April 14 and successful panellists will be endorsed by the council on April 17.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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