The ratbag Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, when not murdering and imprisoning opponents, is endeavouring to free Saudi women from the horrors of extreme Islamic dictates as part of his modernisation agenda. He cites Cairo as his role example, where women dress in Western mode, don’t cover their heads for fear of arousing every male into a sexual frenzy and gad about, to quote Boris, as letterboxes, an apt description for the disgraceful primitive burqas. Needless to say, he faces tremendous clerical opposition and will probably end up being both murdered and unmourned.

He opened his women’s liberation campaign in the worst possible fashion a couple of years back, by allowing women to drive. That was spectacularly foolish and should have been last on his reform list. The inevitable consequences which we all suffer, has simply reinforced the conservative opposition, they understandably crying; “we told you so.”

His broad objective is to establish a western styled modernisation of Saudi Arabia, a commendable goal driven by his wish to create a diverse economy not dependant on oil. To much amusement he’s now trying to build a tourist industry. So far that ambition has been costly as boxing’s wide boys seized their chance and had the Saudis host a heavyweight bout between the limited Anthony Joshua and a fat man. That cost the Saudis half a billion dollars including building (inside a month) a modern stadium.

His latest modernisation lark is to ban public floggings. That said, the Friday afternoon public beheadings and hand-lopping of thieves is to carry on, after all, some moderation is called for when embarking on reforms.

We used to flog criminals, indeed minor Cabinet Minister Ben Couch in the 1980s Muldoon government campaigned to bring back flogging for violent criminals. Ben, a former All Black, was a staunch conservative Morman and although he never said so, probably would have supported restoring capital punishment.

The only time I ever met him he complained about an article I’d written. That was mocking the idiocy peculiar to New Zealand to this day, of companies and professional firms using Post Office boxes as their addresses. The rest of the world (and my company) have the quaint practise of printing their addresses on their stationery where they actually are and thus where the mail is delivered, instead of somewhere else. Ben bitched at me over this, noting what a great earner the Post Office boxes were for the Post Office.

If Ben had been a Saudi Arabian I suspect he’d have been right at home. Certainly he gained considerable support for his “bring back the birch” campaign for violent crims, indeed I’d venture such a campaign might well today.

I’m old enough to recall the public antagonism to Justice Minister Ralph Hanan’s abolition of capital punishment for murder in 1961. For years thereafter polls repeatedly backed a restoration of capital punishment although I doubt they would now.

For the sake of their womenfolk we can only cheer the Saudis on. They’re disliked throughout the Arab world but all the Saudis I’ve ever met have been conspicuously charming, indeed for diverse reasons, quite memorably so.




I thought his “Bring back the Birch” was an early call for Bill.

Nice little interesting side-track sir Bob. …steer our minds to some clear air..take a breath. he he hard to resist a femi-wind up though. giggle giggle.

I don’t understand the opposition to caning and other forms of corporal punishment for criminals. Far cheaper than locking them up for years, and the punishment is far more accurately targeted on the criminal, rather than his/her family who might also be paying the cost if s/he’s the household income earner, or a good spouse/parent despite committing crime.

My first job was working for Hanan, Arthur and Co a law firm in Invercargill. Sir Ralph would be appalled at the quality of the bludgers and incompetents we fund in Wellington now. My memory of him was a gentleman and a kind man.

Wasn’t it Ben who replied, when asked his views on euthanasia…I don’t know about them, but we must look after our own youth first.
I could be wrong, I have been once before.

I met Ben Couch on occasions all those years ago. A successful Maori businessman in a tough industry. He spoke to us factory men in the long defunct Featherstone Dairy Coop.
He spoke what was on his mind and had a strong connection to the working men. Unlike perhaps the placemen and academics who know pretend to talk for them.
Although he could be made into a figure of fun, he shouldn’t be.
Bob Jones carries on the old tradition of plain, sincere talking. He and Ben actually have some good things in common. Ben’s voice was from a different time. But he was at heart a good man.
Cornelius Murphy

I remember it well, Ben Couch wanted to bring back the birch, and Bill Birch wanted to bring back the couch!!

Some time ago (2014) I was working at a bauxite mine in Saudi Arabia, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, a three-hour drive from some ramshackle regional airport. The nearest petrol station was 50km away, so every week or so we had to set out and refuel. On one such occasion, just as I was about to return to site, a large, burly man motioned for me to stop and wind my window down. This was in a place where technically Westerners needed an escort, which I hadn’t bothered with, but was starting to think maybe I should have. Anyway, he ended up giving me a large tray of (delicious) dates and after thanking him profusely I drove off, a very grateful recipient of Arab hospitality.

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