19 Oct 2018

Senior Indian diplomat 'very hurt' by Bridges-Ross comments

9:58 am on 19 October 2018

The High Commissioner of India in New Zealand says he's deeply hurt and disappointed by comments from Jami-Lee Ross and Simon Bridges that Chinese MPs are more valuable than Indian MPs.

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Photo: RNZ

On Wednesday, Mr Ross released an explosive telephone conversation where the pair talk about potential National Party candidates.

After talking about the dinner with businessman Zhang Yikun and discussing a $100,000 donation, the pair talked about potential candidates.

"Two Chinese would be nice but then, you know, would it be one Chinese and one Filipino? Or, you know, what do we do?" Mr Bridges said.

Mr Ross replied: "Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians, I have to say."

"Yeah, which is what we've got at the moment, right?" Mr Bridges said.

The comments have since come under fire from Aucklanders of Chinese and Indian descent, who have called them ugly and racist.

The High Commissioner, Sanjiv Kohli, said the comments completely disregard the Indian community in the country.

"When I heard that conversation I was deeply disappointed and very hurt," he said.

"First as an Indian and as the Indian High Commissioner because one of my responsibilities is to keep the relationship that we share between two countries in good shape."

"The Indian diaspora obviously is a great source of strength to the relationship so...trying to value the contribution of the diaspora in terms of the money they can raise or the donation they can make is very unfortunate."

But Mr Kohli said he did not have anything to say to Mr Bridges or Mr Ross.

"I'm not going into individuals," he said.

"My comments are more around the ideas that came up from the conversation and I think at the end of the day such attitudes do more damage to the reputation of the country."

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