The prayers of Rajeh Prasad will not be answered

Posted: May 27, 2014 by Admin in At the coalface, Capitalist ideology, Class Matters, Economics, Internationalism, Migration, Open Borders/Immigration Controls, State repression, Workers' rights
Sanil Kumar, flanked by cousins Asheelta Kumar, left, and Ashika Aujla

Sanil Kumar, flanked by cousins Asheelta Kumar, left, and Ashika Aujla

by Don Franks

A worker ordered to leave New Zealand while waiting for a kidney transplant has died in Fiji.  Sanil Kumar died yesterday morning after contracting an infection.  The 30-year-old sheet metal worker had been living in Auckland and left New Zealand on April 24, when faced with a deportation order and five-year ban.  He was originally from Fiji and moved to New Zealand in 2010. His work visa was declined last July after he developed renal disease.

Kumar’s family had raised more than $120,000 of the $130,000 needed for a transplant, through fundraisers, raffles and donations. His cousins had agreed to be donors.  He was on peritoneal dialysis in New Zealand but could only access haemodialysis in Fiji.

His family said in an interview in January that most patients on haemodialysis died because of uncontrollably high infection rates.

Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye said that prior to making the decision to eject Kumar, she received advice from the Ministry of Health that appropriate dialysis services were available in Fiji.

“Immigration decisions, particularly those that involve health conditions such as in Mr Kumar’s case, are complex and involve consideration of a range of factors. I am very conscious when considering immigration cases of the potential impact to people’s lives,” said Kaye, who extended her condolences to Kumar’s family and friends.

Labour MP Rajen Prasad said Kumar’s death was a “tragedy” and that NZ immigration had been “utterly heartless”.  He said the Health Ministry advised that Fiji would only fund three months of dialysis treatment and after that time patients needed to pay the $32,000 annual cost, travel to India for a transplant or “get their affairs in order to prepare for their death”.

“I am particularly sad that New Zealand could not extend compassion to Sanil in his hour of need,” Prasad said.  “He was deported, to what I predicted in April, would be his almost certain death as he simply wasn’t given the chance to have the operation in New Zealand. It was also clear a month ago that the type of dialysis treatment he had been receiving in New Zealand was not available in Fiji.

“A sensible Minister and an intelligent Immigration system would have understood that this was a life and death issue for Sanil.  I can only pass on my condolences for Sanil’s family and pray that our Immigration system can show a lot more humanity in the future in such sad cases.”

Rajen Prasad gets points for highlighting the cruelty of the New Zealand state, but if he really wants to stop the rot, he’s in the wrong political party. The Labour Party has consistently stood for an immigration system serving the needs of business first, last and foremost.

In 1984 a new Labour government came to power and launched the biggest attack on workers’ living conditions and rights since the Depression of the 1930s. Part of the reforms was therefore a review of immigration policy. As the government website on immigration policy records:

“The Immigration Act 1987 emphasised skills needed in the domestic economy, the contribution which could be made by business migrants bringing capital.”

Labour maintains that stance today and is even somewhat to the right of National in its recent ugly agitation against ‘foreign’ house buyers.

The prayers of Rajeh Prasad for a kinder immigration system will not be answered. Workers’ interests can only be served by the destruction of all immigration controls and the liberation of open borders.

Further reading: New Zealand’s immigration controls – not in workers’ interests




  1. PhilF says:

    Key has a more progressive position on immigration than Cunliffe/Labour. Key told TV3 News that his mother came from Austria, his father from England and his wife Bronagh’s parents from Ireland and that “New Zealand is a country that has been built on migration. We’ve done very well out of it and I think we should be very cautious about taking knee-jerk steps.”

    He’s also to the left of Cunliffe/Labour on the retirement age.

    So that’s two critically important issues that Key is clearly left of Cunliffe/Labour on.

    Yet much of the left have decided to go on making themselves look silly (and kind of nutty) by continuing to present him as some kind of ideological neo-liberal and suggesting that replacing the Nats with a Labour-led government would be some kind of significant step forward.

    In fact, a Labour-led government would simply amount to a step sideways. Or more round-and-round on the same old merry-go-round.

    Most of the left is unable and unwilling to tell workers the truth and stop prettifying Cunliffe and Labour.

    A new left, one based on Marxism and straight-talking, is needed.