Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Singapore Man Leading Fight In "Crimes Against Asians" In New Zealand

Around 10,000 of New Zealand's Asian community marched through the streets of Auckland in the freezing cold at the weekend to protest against what they say is a crime wave against Asians.

Audio: NZ Asian Community March Against Crime (The World Today)
(be sure to pause the 'O Singapura' music stream on the left menu first):


Three people of Asian descent were murdered in South Auckland last month. One victim was a shopkeeper, another was an 80-year-old woman robbed and bashed to death in her own home.

The Asian businessman who organised the protest march is now suggesting Asians in New Zealand consider employing members of Triad gangs to act as bodyguards, to offer protection against street thugs.

Peter Low moved to Auckland from Singapore 20 years ago and during his time in New Zealand, his home and business have been burgled and his bag has been snatched.

He says at the moment New Zealand isn't a safe place for Asian people.

"When we came to New Zealand, we expect New Zealand to be green, clean and safe, this is out of our expectation now," he said.

Mr Low has set up the Asian Anti-Crime Group. He pays for its running costs out of his own pocket.

He says the group is teaching Asian people how to protect themselves, and also organised the anti-violence rally. Many of those who marched were victims of crime.

"These three robbers came in with a mask and they hold a gun and a knife pointed at me, then told me to do whatever they want, and finally rob all the cash money and they gone away," one participant said.

Mr Low says Asians in New Zealand are deliberately targeted by thugs who consider them a soft and wealthy target. He says police offer little protection.

"They've been turned away and (the police are) saying that 'we are busy or we cannot do it' or they're blaming the Government have not given them enough manpower," he said.

Mr Low says he knows members of Triad gangs and they could be hired to act as bodyguards to protect Asian people.

"We will hire the Triad gang maybe as a security because they are brave enough to do things because police don't do anything," he said.

"We have to find something to protect ourselves or we leave New Zealand and go back to our country."

The suggestion has sparked debate around New Zealand but it doesn't have the support of community leaders.

The Police Association in New Zealand says Triad gangs are already preying on the country's Asian population and this proposal would open the door for it to happen more frequently.

Prime Minister Helen Clark says Mr Low's suggestion is totally unacceptable.

"I am not for one moment going to tolerate a man who says, 'I am going to work with Asian Triad gangs to control crime'. Asian Triad gangs are crime, they are a curse on any society, we don't want them here," she said.

Ms Clark says police want to help the Asian community and 50 officers of Asian descent have recently been employed to help with communication and trust issues.

New Zealand's first Asian MP, Pansy Wong, doesn't think the idea of employing Triads has support in the wider Asian community.

"There is a lot of fear and frustration of the violence, crime - a lot of community feel very unsafe," she said.

"People should not take law into their own hands because otherwise they will endanger their life."

Mr Low is organising another anti-violence protest for October. He says he wants to get his message out just before the election is held.

He says his suggestion that Asian gangs are employed to help their own should not be mocked.

"No, they act as a security and this is in our community," he said.

"We might get people from the Australia, we may get people from Singapore, Malaysia or China and Vietnam, we don't know.

"But I've got money, I can do anything. I can hire them as my security, I can hire them as my bodyguard. I've been thinking this for long time."

Based on a report by Kerri Ritchie for The World Today

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