What began as a sex scandal with Mayor Brown admitting having had a torrid, two-year extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang, a Hong Kong born political aspirant is fast turning into a bitter battle between two camps, making people wonder whether the woman was the victim or perpetrator.
Public disappointment at the man who ruled Auckland for three years soon turned into anger, with a large number of people saying that he should go. But subsequently, that sentiment appears to have tapered down into of dissatisfaction and even indifference.
Motives have been attributed to Blogger Cameron Slater, who exposed the Mayor and his utterly disgusting sexual affair, but deserves credit for his relentless pursuit. The other murky details about the use of rooms in hotels for his amorous adventures soon surfaced, making the First Citizen of the City defenceless.
The Chief Executive of Auckland Council has ordered an inquiry to determine if Mr Brown breached any code of conduct and created conflict of interest.
As we wrote this Leader, Mr Brown was sworn in as the Mayor of Auckland for a second term.
There appears to be no legal restriction for his continuance in office, although moralists may say that he has to go because he had breached family values about which he had often spoken in public and private appearances.
A number of columnists and commentators have been divided on the issue.
While Mr Slater has led the ‘Go Brown Campaign,’ most newspapers have chosen to remain neutral, because, after all, it is the people who must decide the fate of their leader. That is democracy in action and New Zealanders have always given their verdict as they deem fit. That the voter turn-out was low at the recently held local body elections in Auckland was again the choice of the people.
While we do not condone Mr Brown’s moral transgression, it is important to follow the prescribed procedures. Auckland Council Chief Executive has undertaken an inquiry to see if the affair led to breach of any code of conduct or conflict of interest.
John Palino, who was the nearest rival to Mr Brown is also facing accusations that his Campaign Manager Luigi Wewege was involved in forcing Ms Chuang to provide information about her affair with Mr Brown.
According to the National Business Review, he used her nude photographs to force her to go public with the story of her affair. Ms Chuang took the photos of herself, using her mobile phone, and then sent them to Mr Wewege during her on-again, off-again affair with the Palino staffer.
Mr Wewege emailed three of the photos to Whaileoil blog reporter Stephen Cook, who said that he received the email during the week before the story.
Mr Palino told the Sunday Star Times that he had nothing to add to a statement that he had released to media the previous week, which said, “Suggestions now that I am somehow orchestrating some grand right-wing conspiracy to unseat Mr Brown after the election are so wrong and so absurd that they do not stand up to even the remotest test of common sense.”
Meanwhile Mr Wewege arrived in San Francisco last weekend, leaving a trail of unanswered questions.
In his first statement after the affair became public knowledge, Mr Brown admitted that he had caused his family harm, shame and humiliation but said he wanted to work for a better Auckland.
“It is my intention to stay as the Mayor. I love that job with a passion and I love the City and I want to stay in the job,” he said.
How the events in the coming days and weeks will pan out is hard to fathom but one thing is clear: Mr Brown has to work hard to rehabilitate himself from public condemnation that he has suffered and gain their pardon.