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Friday, 26 April 2019 05:47 pm

Immigrant learns too late – he can vote

Nov 6th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

By Berty Harris

AN immigrant who has lived in New Zealand for two years discovered this week he’s eligible to vote – and would have loved to do so this Saturday.

Edwin Irawan (pictured), an Indonesian who has permanent New Zealand residency, says: “I thought I had to be a citizen [to vote].”

He said he would have enrolled if he had known. “I would have voted Labour,” he says.

Mr Irawan is a Whitireia Polytechnic ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages) student, and NewsWire discovered there were others in his class who found the electoral system challenging.

ESOL teacher Sue McNatty says her students, aged 28 to 64, are “scared they will vote for the wrong person”, and most are still unsure who they will vote for, some saying they will decide on the day.

A Chinese resident for two-and-a-half years, Pauline Mao is enrolled to vote and gets all her information from  NZ-published Chinese language papers.

She says deciding who to vote for is hard with her limited English and poor knowledge of New Zealand politics.

This is a sentiment shared by all her classmates.

They find listening to politicians talk on radio and TV difficult, with most  relying on English-savvy relatives while others went on their ‘gut feelings’.

Flip-flopping, contradictions and academic rhetoric are all confusing issues.

One person who does understand the election process is 37-year-old Naomi Tuki, from Japan, who has lived here for nine years.

But she still doesn’t know who to vote for as it is not clear to her what each party and politician is promising.

Cambodian Chenda Lach,  28, permanent resident and voter of eight years, is quite clear about what some parties are saying.

She says the message is they “don’t like Asians, poor people and immigrants””

Filipino Waldy Payumo, 47, is enrolled to vote this weekend but says it’s not a priority.

Election day in the Philippines is a public holiday.

“If you have an appointment [in the Philippines] that is the priority, not the election.”

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  1. Extracting some quotes from this article into a list such as : “find electoral system challenging”. . . “scared they will vote for the wrong person”. . . “flip-flopping, contradictions and academic rhetoric are all confusing issues” . . . “it is not clear what each party and politician is promising’
    These comments about politics and voting made by immigrants for whom English is not their first langauage contain a certain level of irony, as born and bred Kiwis have been heard to say the same things! What does that say about our political system?

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