Autistic man suffers racial abuse

Peter Lim (right) and his twin brother Andrew speak out after Peter was subjected to racial abuse in Dunedin's Octagon this week. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Peter Lim (right) and his twin brother Andrew speak out after Peter was subjected to racial abuse in Dunedin's Octagon this week. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

An autistic man was told ''go home to China'' in a racist verbal attack in central Dunedin this week.

Peter Lim had just been to the library and was heading to his job as an office assistant at a law firm when he was accosted in the Octagon by a man at 2.20pm on Monday.

The man, who was described as old and unshaven, was verbally aggressive towards the 21-year-old and asked him where he was from.

When Mr Lim told him he was Malaysian Chinese, he was told to ''go home to China''.

''I tried to be friendly to him, but he was having a very bad day ... It made me feel stressed.''

The incident prompted his twin brother, Andrew, who has Asperger's syndrome, to make an impassioned plea to the Otago Daily Times.

The University of Otago student penned a letter saying ''the old gentlemen who racially abused my brother at the Octagon seems to forget that all of us living in New Zealand have been migrants at some point in history''.

''The fact we are Chinese does not mean that we all come from China. Just as we should not judge a book by its cover, let us not judge each other by the colour of our skin.''

He said high-profile cases such as the Crafar farm sales, and even the proposed Dunedin hotel, appeared to have resulted in a recent backlash against Chinese in New Zealand.

The twins, who have a photo of their citizenship ceremony on a wall in their home under the heading ''The day we became Kiwis'', remained proud of their adopted country and city.

Their mother, Tong Siew Ooi, said it was ''very hurtful when people judge you based on the colour of your skin''.

Two high school pupils from China, staying with the family, had been subjected to racial taunts in Dunedin, which reflected poorly on the city, she said.

Senior Sergeant Matenga Gray, Southern District Maori Pacific ethnic response adviser, said anyone who was victim of such racist incidents should contact their nearest police station.



Racial abuse

To Peter and Andrew Lim. Dunedin, like every city, has its fair share of nitwits. Please know that you are most welcome 'Kiwis', and never let the actions of a small minority ruin your day. Quite simply they are not worth a second thought. So come on Dunedinites, please take a moment and add your voice to mine. Let your fellow citizens know that this type of bigotry and bullying will not be tolerated in our city. 

We never learn from history

It never ceases to amaze me how horrible people can be to each other.  It is possible the old gentleman may have been having a bad day, a bad life and was lashing out. Perhaps there were mental health issues.  But the least he could have done was say nothing - would that have cost him anything?  Did he feel better targeting a young man who had done him no harm?  Maybe he is mirroring treatment he has received in the past.

I look around the world and am constantly amazed that we still see hate in all its guises in the media after things like World War 2 and all the myriad of examples of hate in action.

When I was a student a young Chinese man came running into my student flat - he was terrified.  Why?  Because some local hoons had driven so close to him they nearly ran over his feet as he waited to cross the road.  He jumped back and yelled so they pulled over and chased him.  He ran for his life in his opinion.  I called the Police who came and helped him.

We make progress in many things but not in the reduction of racial or religious intolerance. I hope you are ok Mr Lim.  We are not all intolerant - some of us like a bit of diversity.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Cycle SurgeryDunedinSporting Goods
Warren & MahoneyQueenstownArchitects & Architectural Designers
Central ColourplusAlexandraHomeware
Winton New WorldWintonSupermarkets