Speech by Mr. Manchao Li


Taking public concerns to parliament

Three years ago when I was in parliament as an ACT list MP I accepted a petition on behalf of parliament from a very brave and hardworking New Zealander. His name is Manchao Li and he had been burgled three times. In a letter he wrote to the Prime Minister he asked a question which still resonates with many of us today: “What I can’t understand most of all is why this country is so mean to tax payers but so generous to criminals? What is the reason that the this country's leaders is so super sympathetic to criminals?” The third burglary was committed by young men, all under 17 years of age. I took the petition, signed by almost 5000 New Zealanders to parliament and tabled it with the select committee. It is still there today.

Below is a transcript of what Mr. Li said to the crowd gathered at the steps of parliament on that day.

Speech by Mr. Manchao Li

12pm, Wednesday, 15 June 2005

I’m greatly honored to talk about my feelings and hopes on such an occasion in front of so many media.

Before the series of burglaries happened to my family, I was indifferent to politics; neither had I ever noticed any problems with the current laws and legal system. When our house got robbed end of last November, the thieves took our safe away which contained all the money I had just borrowed (in different currencies, over NZ$ 30,000) with which I was going to start a business soon. The four burglars were caught the very next morning. Probably everyone hearing this would feel relieved for me, as no one believes that the burglars could have spend all my money within one night.

But seven months have passed since then. I've attended eight Family Conferences and nine Youth Court hearings. In addition, a lot of media has given me support by reporting my story. Even the Minister of Justice wrote me a comforting letter. Yet after all these time and effort, the only reparation I’ve received up till now is $200 of my stolen money.

I have no idea what the problem is with our country, but I’ve come to understand now why people suffering a greater loss than me would rather not report to the police.

I sincerely hope this combat crime petition could draw the Parliament's attention to the youth crime in our society, which no longer happens only occasionally. On the contrary, our youth crime has now become such a social hazard to the public that our current soft law could no longer handle it effectively any more. Not only so, the weakness of our law actually plays a part in shielding, even encouraging the youth crimes, which is harmful both to our society as a whole and to the young offenders themselves as well, as none of the juvenile delinquents will be grateful to our law makers when they are put into prisons for more serious crimes later on when they grow up, because our law has never been tough enough to stop them from committing crimes before they grown into adults.

I’m here to ask the Parliament to change the law, to ensure criminals are locked up; and to ensure young criminals show genuine remorse and compensate victims; and to make the families of young criminals share responsibility, financially and morally; and to ensure that law supports citizens who try to deter crime and defend their families and their property, without waiting for criminals to strike first.

Last, but not the least, in my most difficult times, I was fortunate to have ACT MP, Mr. Kenneth Wang to stand up and call for this petition, which is for me, as well as for hundreds and thousands of New Zealanders like me. When one cries for help on encountering a big disaster, not many people would respond, like Kenneth Wang had done. The cause he is working hard at today is, no doubt, of great significance to all of the law abiding New Zealanders.

This is just my personal experience and understanding. And that's all I've got to say today.

Thank you very much every one for your time and attention!