Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he has “no cause for concern” after it was revealed Government-appointed Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon donated to Kiri Allan’s election campaign in 2020.
Foon spent six terms as mayor of Gisborne before being appointed by the Labour Government as Race Relations Commissioner in July 2019. Allan was a backbench Labour MP at the time.
In 2020, Allan won the East Coast seat for Labour. Meng and his wife Ying Foon donated $1500 to her campaign, and a company called Triple Eight Investments Limited also provided a rent subsidy worth $9185, according to her declaration.
Meng and Ying Foon are directors of Triple Eight Investments.
1News revealed the donations this morning, asking both Allan and Hipkins about it during a media stand-up.
Allan defended the donations and stated she had nothing to do with Foon’s appointment as she was a backbench MP at the time.
Allan is now Justice Minister and has responsibility for appointing Human Rights Commissioners, including the Race Relations Commissioner.
Asked if this was appropriate, Allan repeated that she had nothing to do with Foon’s appointment.
“I certainly was not involved in the appointment of Meng Foon, I was a backbench MP.”
She confirmed an office space had been provided.
“I felt pretty comfortable, it was well disclosed,” she said of the donation, but stated she would “have to check” if any conflict of interest had been declared to Cabinet.
“It was his wife’s shop, an empty shop that they owned on the main drag. We paid some nominal sum or a sum per week, and so that’s what’s been declared.”
Hipkins said he had not been aware of it, but those in public advocacy roles aligning themselves with a political party is “probably something I would be a little uncomfortable about”.
“I do think people holding those roles need to at least be seen to be politically impartial.”
But he said there were “well-established processes” in place to manage conflicts of interest.
Nothing indicated provided “cause for concern”, Hipkins said.
Foon has been approached for comment.
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