Home' Greymouth Star : October 4th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, October 4, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1930 - Former reform presidential candidate
Getulio Vargas leads a revolt in Brazil and later
1931 - American comic strip Dick Tracy,
created by Chester Gould, makes its debut.
1935 - Luna Park fun park opens next to
1940 - Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and
their foreign ministers hold a summit meeting
on an armoured train at the Brenner Pass
during World War Two.
1943 - Free French forces complete the
liberation of Corsica.
1957 - The Soviet Union puts
the first spacecraft, Sputnik, into
orbit around earth, heralding the
start of the space age; television
series Leave It to Beaver
premieres in the US.
1969 - China announces two
nuclear weapons tests, including
hydrogen bomb explosion in atmosphere.
1970 - Janis Joplin, US blues and rock singer,
is found dead of a drugs overdose.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
“There is nothing concealed that will not
be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made
known. What you have said in the dark will
be heard in the daylight, and what you have
whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be
proclaimed from the roofs.” — Luke 12:2-3
“ Liberty is not a means to a higher political
end. It is itself the highest political end.” —
Lord Acton, English historian (1834-1902).
Three days ago,
himself a new car. Its short life came to
a mangled, crashing end last night on a
Greymouth railway crossing. In one of the
most spectacular crossing smashes ever seen
here, Mr Newell had a “miracle” escape which
At 11.25pm the Vulcan railcar driven by Mr
J McGee, running on time from its normal
return trip from Hokitika to Greymouth,
ploughed into the side of the car which
was travelling west across the Nelson Street
crossing. The railcar hit the car on the left back
door and carried on for 100 yards before finally
coming to a halt.
The railcar’s wheels — prised off the track
by the car’s bodywork being mangled beneath
it — sliced through sleepers like a hot knife
Mr Newell was still sitting in what remained
of his car as rescuers rushed up to what they
expected to be only his remains. He was partly
imprisoned by the tangled wreckage but was
helped out and walked away unaided, though
suffering from shock and some lacerations.
The death of Dr Donald Houston McLean
occurred in Hokitika on Thursday evening.
He was a well-known citizen of Hokitika.
Dr McLean was born at Christchurch and
educated at Timaru Boys’ High School. He
completed his medical degree in 1945 at Otago
University and ser ved as a house surgeon in
Christchurch and Greymouth hospitals. He
had a private practice in Hokitika for 16 years.
Dr McLean is sur vived by his wife Dr Jean
Winsome McLean, Hokitika; a son Bruce and
a daughter Margaret.
uFood for thought
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Francois Guizot, French politician-historian
(1787-1874); Rutherford Birchard
Hayes, 19th US president (1822-
1893); Engelbert Dollfuss, Austrian
statesman (1892-1934); Buster
Keaton, US actor-comedian (1895-
1966); Charlton Heston, US actor
(1923-2008), Jackie Collins, British
novelist (1941-); Susan Sarandon,
US actress (1946-); Liev Schreiber,
American actor (1967-); Alicia Silverstone, US
Hong Kong: Xi’s choice as revolt grows
The crowds of protesters in the streets
of Hong Kong continue to grow, and they
have spread beyond Central (the business
district) to Kowloon and Causeway Bay.
The police are already using teargas and
pepper spray, and rubber bullets will be
next. It is not exactly Armageddon, but it
is the most serious organised protest that
China has seen since the pro-democracy
movement on Tienanmen Square was
drowned in blood 25 years ago.
Hong Kong is not exactly China, of
course, in the sense that it does not live
under the same arbitrary dictatorship
as the rest of the country. While it has
been under the ultimate control of the
Communist regime in Beijing since
Britain handed the territory back to
China in 1997, the deal London made
before the hand-over guaranteed Hong
Kong’s existing social system, including
freedom of speech and the rule of law, for
another 50 years.
Indeed, the “one country, two systems”
deal even stipulated that the “Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region” would get
more democratic as time went on. There
was already an elected Legislative Council
when the British left, but by 2017,
Beijing promised, there would also be a
democratically elected chief executive.
(The holder of that office is now chosen
by a 1200-person “election committee”
that is packed with pro-Beijing members).
But free elections for the chief executive
turned out to be more democracy than
the Beijing regime could swallow, mainly
because it is terrified of the example
spreading to the rest of China. So it broke
its promise: late last month the National
People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing
declared that it will allow only three
candidates to run for chief executive, and
that all of them must be approved by a
nominating committee chosen by the
That is what triggered the current
wave of demonstrations. As Martin Lee,
founding chairman of the Democratic
Party, said at a pro-democracy rally in
Hong Kong: “ What ’s the difference
between a rotten orange, a rotten apple
and a rotten banana? We want genuine
universal suffrage, not democracy with
Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of
the NPC standing committee that
wrote the new rule, said that opening
up nominations would cause a “chaotic
society”, and that the chief executive must
“ love the country and love the party. ” It
is the classic Communist mind-set, and
it left Hong Kong democrats with no
options other than surrender or popular
protest. Now thousands of people are
out in the streets. Where does it go from
This confrontation comes at a
particularly unfortunate time for Hong
Kong’s pro-democratic movement,
because the relatively new supreme leader
in Beijing, President Xi Jinping, cannot
afford to make any concessions.
Since he came to power two years ago,
Xi has launched a massive anti-corruption
purge that has made him a lot of enemies.
At least 30 senior officials and hundreds
of their family members and associates
have been put under investigation or
taken into custody. Thousands of other
officials might also face arrest (and rightly
so) if the purge spreads. About 70 officials
have actually committed suicide in the
past year and a half.
The campaign against corruption is
necessary and long overdue, but it is
widely resented by those who fear that
they and their families might also be
caught in the net (including the family
and associates of former presidents Hu
Jintao and Jiang Zemin). The resentment
is all the deeper because Xi Jinping’s
own family and associates are magically
untouched by the purge.
Many powerful people in the
Communist hierarchy would therefore be
greatly relieved if Xi lost power, or at least
was forced to end the anti-corruption
campaign. If he were to surrender to
pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong,
he would be giving those people an
excuse to unite against him in defence
of the Communist Party’s monopoly of
power, and not just of their own personal
Using excessive force to quell the
protests, up to and including massacres,
would also leave Xi open to criticism,
of course, but mainly to criticism from
abroad. As we saw in the suppression of
the Tienanmen Square protests in 1989,
in the end Communist Party cadres will
usually support the use of violence in
defence of their power and privileges.
As for the general public in China, the
events in Hong Kong are already being
represented in the State-controlled media
(to the extent that they are reported at
all) as the anti-patriotic actions of people
who are being manipulated by hostile
foreign powers. A great many ordinary
Chinese people won’t believe that, but
they certainly will not rebel in support of
the people of Hong Kong, whom they see
as privileged and even spoiled.
Xi Jinping would doubtless prefer to
win his confrontation with Hong Kong’s
pro-democracy movement peacefully, but
he will use as much violence as necessary
to suppress it. Massacres would do great
damage to China’s relations with the rest
of the world, but he knows where his
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
PICTURE: Getty Images
Protesters block a major road as a group sat outside the legislative government complex in Hong Kong.
cottish separatist Nicola
Sturgeon said she would
run for the leadership of
the Scottish National Party
(SNP), with independence
from the rest of the United
Kingdom still her long-
term goal despite last month’s failed
If she succeeds, Sturgeon would almost
certainly become first minister of Scotland.
She is the clear favourite as other
major nationalist politicians have ruled
She told reporters her focus for now
would be to hold London politicians to
their promise of more powers for Scotland
while building what she said was a fairer
Sturgeon, who would replace outgoing
First Minister Alex Salmond as SNP
chief, said she was not planning
another referendum but the question of
independence could be reopened should
the Westminster parties renege on their
promise of further powers, or threaten to
leave the European Union.
After failing to secure the Scottish
people’s backing for independence in the
vote last month, Salmond said he would
step down as party leader and as the
country’s first minister.
The favourite to take over from Salmond,
Sturgeon said the referendum had been a
vote for change.
“I am more convinced than ever that
we will one day become an independent
country but that will happen only when
the people of Scotland choose that course
in the polling booth,” the 44-year-old
SNP deputy leader said in Glasgow.
She added: “ The fact is that those who
voted Yes, combined with those who
voted No on the promise of substantial
extra powers, form a powerful majority
for real and meaningful change in this
Scots voted by 55% to 45% to reject
secession, prompting British Prime
Minister David Cameron to declare that
the question of Scottish independence had
been settled “for a generation”.
After a close fought campaign, the
campaign to keep the 307-year-old union
intact was successful as unionist parties
promised more powers would come to the
Scottish parliament as a matter of urgency
after the vote.
Salmond’s replacement as SNP leader
will be chosen in an election at the party
conference in November.
If Sturgeon is elected, her accession to
first minister of the Scottish Government
will be a formality, as the SNP have a clear
majority in the parliament.
The parliament, which has enjoyed
devolved power from Westminster since
1999, already has substantial powers over
areas such as health and education.
Unionist parties promised further
powers during the referendum campaign,
including an extension of currently limited
powers over tax and welfare, making
the position of Scottish first minister an
increasingly powerful role.
Sturgeon oversaw a campaign which
produced a surge in support for
independence, winning 45% of the vote
despite historically only counting on the
support of just a quarter to a third of the
population. Membership of the SNP has
more than doubled since the vote.
“It ’s difficult to see any alternative
emerging to Sturgeon,” Professor James
Mitchell, co-director of the Academy
of Government at the University
of Edinburgh, said. “ It should be a
If Sturgeon were to win, all three major
parties in Scotland’s Holyrood parliament
would be run by women, with Johann
Lamont in charge of Labour and the
Conser vatives led by Ruth Davidson.
A You Gov poll on the eve of the vote
found Sturgeon was the most trusted
politician involved in the referendum
campaign, ranking higher than either
Cameron or Salmond.
She had considered standing for
leadership in 2004, but withdrew to stand
as Salmond’s deputy, filling in as the
SNP’s leader in the Scottish Parliament
while Salmond was a member of the
parliament in Westminster.
His confrontational style divided
opinion, Mitchell said, adding that
Sturgeon has a broader appeal.
In particular, Sturgeon led efforts
to boost support among women for
independence during the referendum
campaign, and she is open about left-
leaning priorities that drive her.
“ My guiding ethos is a social democratic
one and that will be the ethos of any
government I lead,” she told reporters.
While the rise of oil-economist
Salmond was shaped by the discovery
of oil reser ves North Sea in the mid
1970s, fuelling demand for statehood
based on natural resources, Sturgeon has
says her formative years were shaped
by the unpopular policies of Britain’s
first female Prime Minister, Margaret
“The economy wasn’t in great shape, lots
of people around me were looking at a life
or an immediate future of unemployment,”
Sturgeon told the BBC’s Woman’s Hour
“That certainly gave me a strong sense of
social justice, and, at that stage, a strong
feeling that it was wrong for Scotland to
be governed by a Tory government we
hadn’t elected. ” — Reuters
PICTURE: Getty Images
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister Alex Salmond campaigning in Edinburgh last month for an independent Scotland.
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