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Asian murders prompt calls for bodyguards -

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Asian murders prompt calls for bodyguards

The World Today - Monday, 7 July , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Kerri Ritchie

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

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.

New Zealand correspondent, Kerri Ritchie, reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: Businessman Peter Low moved to Auckland from Singapore 20 years ago. 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.

PETER LOW: When we came to New Zealand, we expect New Zealand to be green, clean and safe, this is
out of our expectation now. 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. It also organised an
anti-violence rally in Auckland on the weekend which attracted 10,000 people. Many of those who
marched were victims of crime.

VOX POP: These three robbers came in with a mask and they hold a gun and a knife pointed at me,
then me to do whatever they want, and finally rob all the cash money and they gone away.

KERRI RITCHIE: 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.

PETER LOW: They've been turned away and saying that we are busy or we cannot do it or they're
blaming the Government have not given them enough manpower.

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

PETER LOW: We will hire the Triad gang maybe as a security because, you know, they are brave enough
to do things because you know police don't do anything. We have to find something to protect
ourselves or we leave New Zealand and go back to our country.

KERRI RITCHIE: The suggestion has sparked debate around New Zealand this morning 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 on a lower level.

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

HELEN CLARK: 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 gang are crime, they are a curse on any society, we
don't want them here".

KERRI RITCHIE: 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 ever Asian MP, Pansy Wong, doesn't think the idea has support in the wider
Asian Community.

PANSY WONG: There is a lot of fear and frustration of the violence, crime. A lot of community feel
very unsafe. People should not take law into their own hands because otherwise they will endanger
their life.

KERRI RITCHIE: Peter 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.

PETER LOW: No, they act as a security and this is in our community. We might get people from the
Australia, we may get people from Singapore, Malaysia or China and Vietnam, we don't know.

But I 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.

EMMA ALBERICI: Businessman Peter Low there with our New Zealand correspondent, Kerri Ritchie.