*This story was originally published on RNZ and has been republished with permission*
Meng Hung resigned from New Zealand’s race relations commissioner this afternoon after failing to disclose a conflict of interest.
The Chief Human Rights Commissioner wrote to the government last month outlining the undisclosed conflict.
Hoon was on the board of directors of a company that received government payments this term, including more than $2 million in accommodation costs, including emergency housing.
Attorney General Deborah Russell had considered the matter with the tentative view that the matter was serious enough to remove her from office.
However, Hoon resigned before the decision was made, she said.
“If the proceedings had been completed, Russell would have likely taken the next step of determining that his actions were a serious violation of the Agency Act and recommending to the Governor-General that he be removed from office. let’s,” he said. .
“It is important that all those appointed to public roles comply with their statutory obligations. Meng Hung had many opportunities to properly declare these interests, but failed to do so. .”
A statement from the Human Rights Commission this afternoon said Mr Hoon and his family had “donated to Labor MP Kiritapu Alang in 2020, including a rent subsidy scheme for his election office”. In response, Hoon announced that he had decided to resign. Candidate for the National Party.”
It was also found that MY Gold Limited, a company of which Mr Hoon is a director, “received and continues to receive income from the Ministry of Social Development for the provision of accommodation, including emergency housing.”
“This income has been received over the years since 2019, both before and after Mr. Hoon took over as chairman of the Commission on Race Relations. It now totals more than $2 million,” the statement said.
“In 2021, the commission launched a housing investigation, but the government’s emergency housing program has been heavily criticized for being a human rights abuse.
“Mr Hoon admitted his grave error of judgment in not properly declaring these activities as required by the Royal Companies Act and Commission policy.”
in a statement to CheckpointMr. Hoon contended that he did not declare his conflict of interest as an emergency housing provider to the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice before being appointed chairman of the Race Relations Commission in July 2019.
He said he resigned due to a misjudgment regarding “political contributions.”
“I told the prime minister that I would be stepping down on June 18 and then formally informed Minister Deborah Russell in a letter this Sunday, and I was shocked to hear the news,” he said. .
Hoon said he received about $2.3 million over five years, from 2018 to 2023.
But he said that despite the company’s policy of not disclosing financial figures, it has been transparent with the commission, with accountants declaring amounts at the request of the commissioner.
“At the Housing Review Board meeting, I didn’t feel the need to voice my acknowledgment of the dispute, so I didn’t.”
In retrospect, he said, he should have declared it and admitted he was wrong.
Chief Human Rights Director Paul Hunt said in a statement that Mr Hoon was a “people man” who had made a “deplorable mistake”.
“Besides staff and stakeholders, the Commission’s greatest asset is its independence from the government — its impartiality and party neutrality. Meng’s resignation is an important and courageous step to defend that independence,” he said. It’s an action,” he said.
Longomau Taketake Clare Charters commended Mr Hoon’s work on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and on Indigenous Rights.
“It is difficult to think of a commissioner as devoted to Tangata Fenua as Meng Hung, and he leaves a profound legacy,” she said.
“Mr Meng has put racism in the spotlight by speaking out frequently in the media on behalf of those affected by racism.
“Mr Meng is well known to many of us for standing up for those who have suffered from racism. He is an example of how to listen and build bridges between communities. It was made.”
Hoon was appointed to the position in July 2019 after serving nearly 25 years as a member of the Te Tairawhiti City Council, including 18 years as Mayor of Gisborne.
https://www.newsroom.co.nz/meng-foon-resigns-as-race-relations-commissioner-over-conflict-of-interest Meng Hoon Race Relations Commissioner Resigns Due to Conflict of Interest