The New Zealand government, and not just the New Zealand Police, is in uncharted territory in dealing with the ongoing protest in parliament.
While Wellington Police District Commander Superintendent had very early acknowledged that dealing with the protesters’ camping at parliament grounds is uncharted territory for the NZ Police, the Indian Weekender had equally early assessed that, it was not just the police but the entire NZ state-establishment that was in uncharted territory.
The ten-day spectacle in front of the law-making institution of the country has seen almost everything that confirms beyond any doubt that New Zealand is wandering into an uncharted territory.
From an initial show of measured enforcement by the police to a bizarre tactic of dousing protestors with water sprinklers commissioned by the mercurial Speaker of Parliament, to the latest helplessness of the police, and hence the entire state-machinery in starting the forceful towing of the illegally parked vehicles, even three days after the initial expression of such an intent by the police.
In between, the country’s political establishment has also meandered from an initial show of unanimity in choosing to not engage with the protestors who were thought to be mere fringe-elements and hence undeserving of any kind of political engagement, to a break in the ranks with a leader of a minor opposition party – wary of its fast-depleting support in successive recent polls and keen to make a political score and choosing to suggest some kind of mature conversation.
That suggestion has been quickly rejected strongly by none other than Prime Minister Jacinda Arden herself, who remains absolutely confident that in a country with an exceptionally high vaccination rates of high 90’s – more than any comparable nation of the world – any voice of dissidence and defiance can only be of a miniscule fringe element.
On the sides of confusion within the political establishment, the fact that the police after having publicly stating their intent to resort of show of force in removing the illegally parked vehicles had yet not been able to move forward is sheepishly exposing the lack of capabilities within NZ’s state institutions to impose its will on those who it deems as an illegal gathering.
On the one hand, military had rejected police’s overt appeal to assist in this toeing operation, then simultaneously on other hand the private sector has expressed unwillingness to assist, albeit on different pretexts, but both have exposed the limited capabilities within NZ’s state-institutions.
Ideally, any responsibility of such an exposure of NZ-state’s seemingly limited capabilities should rest with the government of the day, which is expected to have an acute awareness of those capabilities at the disposal and hence expected to move judiciously – something which cannot be said with confidence about this government on this particular issue.
What this government is failing to acknowledge is that in a short time the ranks of fringe elements have been swelled with the tactic support from the seemingly tens of thousands of otherwise normal, mainstream Kiwis, who had been recently disenfranchised socially, after taking a personal decision to not take Covid-19 vaccination and thus being out of the purview of the government’s vaccine-mandate.
With each passing day, more and more Kiwis are forced to ask themselves if the cost being imposed upon those who are choosing to not get vaccinated is proportionate enough to invite a full-blown social disenfranchisement.
To be fair to this government though, neither the Covid-19 virus, nor the pandemic is the government’s creation, and it is only doing its duty of safeguarding the lives of Kiwis by following the most appropriate science-led, and evidence-based public health advice.
However, that does not exonerate them from the responsibility of looking after those who does not subscribe to the mainstream of the government’s viewpoint.
No body said that governing is easy, or being in government is easy, especially when there is a bit of disorientation by virtue of being in an uncharted territory.
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