As a small child, my parents took me each year to have my photo taken with the Santa enthroned in the (now long gone) Forges of Footscray department store.
I suspect it (like my baptism, first communion and confirmation) were things that were more for my parents’ benefit than for me – a photo of your toddler with Santa is one of those things a parent wants to cherish.
Adults are not really interested in having photos taken with Santa. After all, Santa is not real – he is probably some poor bloke who is rather down on his luck and wanting to supplement his pension by wearing a red suit and white beard (I try not to be too cynical like the people who suspect Santas are all just winos). And the myth of Santa Claus has more to do with a clever late 19th century Coca Cola advertising campaign anyway.
But whilst children are regularly, photographed with the supposedly famous and powerful figure of Santa Claus, Grown ups are also interested in having their photos taken with supposedly famous and powerful figures. Like politicians, current and former, for example.
And Grown ups are prepared to pay far more for the privilege.
Take businessman and former veteran of the Peoples Liberation Army Huifeng ‘Haha’ Liu for example. He has spent at least $21,125 in buying his photo opportunities to pose with former Liberal Prime Ministers John “Santa” Howard and Tony “Elf” Abbott, and with federal Liberal MPs Michael “Elf” Sukkar and Gladys “Mrs Santa” Liu (no relation, I think).
The two following links discuss him if you want further details:
OK… now that you have chuckled over the Clown World blog and pondered the serious article in the ABC Newsfeed, you know that ASIO see this former member of Communist China’s armed forces as a threat to Australia’s national security for some reason or other.
Comrade ‘Haha’ is obviously no laughing matter.
There are two things about this chap which I find troubling.
The first is his creation (with the encouragement of such people as Gladys Liu and various misguided government officials) of the Australian Emergency Assistance Association Inc (AEAAI), an organisation funded by the Communist Chinese government through its consulate, which has 50,000 contacts in Australia on WeChat and a claimed 1000 ‘volunteers’ ready to rush at a moment’s notice to the side of any ethnically Chinese who is the victim of a crime (whether they are a PRC citizen or an Australian of Chinese descent) to provide assistance and to report back to the Chinese Consulate (just ‘in case’ these people need consular assistance).
As you might notice from the ABC article above, people are concerned that this is a way in which the Chinese Consulate is gathering information on the Chinese diaspora for other purposes.
In August last year, I did discuss, elsewhere in this blog, that the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, at Article 55.1, places ‘a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of the State’ on Consular missions. It appears to me that, with the tacit complicity of those domestic officials who have supported the AEAAI, that through this organisation, the network of PRC consulates in Australia is overstepping their boundaries.
Secondly, this chap has a habit of making quite generous donations to the Liberal Party. Whether he was an Army officer or ‘other rank’ during his time of military service, the Peoples Liberation Army is not open to people who are politically unreliable in the eyes of the Communist Regime. Service in the PLA is highly coveted. Either he is a Communist Party member or at the very least very committed to the Communist Party’s agenda.
Yet the Liberal Party has, supposedly, a history of opposition to Socialist and Communist ideology, and a philosophical basis grounded in liberal philosophy (ie the rights of the individual). So why are we seeing them give Comrade Haha the time of day, let alone accepting donations and having him pose for photos with senior Liberal luminaries?
There have been significant problems unearthed in the media in recent years about how the Liberals operate. This is not the first time that Liberal politicians or ex-politicians have been somewhat compromised in their quest for donor monies. Take the ‘lobsters with mobsters’ scandal which embarrassed then Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy in mid 2017. Or the various reports regarding irregularities allegedly involving various officials and MPs in the recruitment of new members en masse from various church groups and other sources – the type of activity commonly referred to as ‘branch staking’.
The Liberals need to clean up their act. Instead of pursuing donations from foreign non-citizen communists and their sympathisers who are trying to curry favour and influence with elected officials, they need to focus on listening to ordinary Australians (ie Menzies’ ‘The Forgotten People’) who are not multi-millionaires with tens of thousands of dollars to donate, but who otherwise will support ideas which promote individual liberty and feel a sense of genuine patriotism to the Australian nation.
Obviously, with a very small parliamentary majority, the Liberal party will not kick out any of its MPs – that is a degree of political suicide any government will see as one step too far (dethroning Prime Ministers is as far as it goes). But some things, such as loyalty to the nation and the integrity of our democracy, mean that perhaps our major political parties need to start booting out those MPs, former MPs, and lobbyists who are too closely aligned to foreign interests.
So, we might say ‘Haha’, but I don’t think anyone is laughing. This is all something which is very serious.