|North & South: Asian Angst|
|Written by Steven Young|
|Monday, 06 August 2007|
NORTH & SOUTH
November 13, 2006
plethora of ethnic restaurants fill each night with noisy, cackling families.
The massive influx of Asian investment in our commerce and education has indeed been bounteous. In 2002 alone, 72,000 Asian students contributed $258 million. Our current annual income from export education is a staggering $2 billion, and that's not counting the millions brought in to the country by 60,000 business migrants. "
And, yes, we'll say it loud and clear from the start, the vast majority of Asians making New Zealand their new home are hard- working, focused on getting their children well educated, and ensuring they're not dependent on the state (unlike so many New Zealand-born citizens).
But not every
Asian is a good Asian arid -the human cost of the gathering crime tide aside -
As we shall see,
Asian criminals making millions pushing drugs frequently don't pay for legal
assistance once caught out. And others are helping themselves to our hospital
care and seafood and deliberately flouting commercial legislation
each week passes with news of yet another arrest involving a Chinese-sounding
name, disquiet grows in heartland
In less than two decades criminal behaviour among Asian immigrants has gone from a few uppity, wealthy boy racers to highly organised and ruthless criminals seemingly prepared to do anything for big profit. It's capitalism at play, crime following market forces, and currently the market is bullish in class-A drugs, poached paua, fraud, prostitution and, to a lesser extent, extortion.
So how does this affect the average New Zealander? Ask the carefree boaties motoring under bright and promising skies out of Auckland's picture-perfect Westhaven marina last Good Friday who tried to haul a large, floating suitcase out of the water. Shocked to peek human flesh they called the police, who discovered the body of English language student Wan Biao within. The 19- year-old had been kidnapped and taken to a central-city hotel where his head was sawed off (save for one flap of skin) and his body was folded into a suitcase that was hauled through the streets and pushed off a downtown wharf into the harbour.
Early in 2007 Li Zheng and Cui Xian, both 21, will be tried in the High Court at Auckland on charges of kidnapping and murder and their colleagues Wang Yuxi, 20, and Yin Lianda, 21, will face t charges of kidnapping and being accessories to murder.
At least one of the accused, Cui has been granted legal aid, but the full cost can't be calculated or made public until the case i (expected to last a month) is finalised and all appeals exhausted.
in smart Waitakere and
July 2005 Tam Yam Ah, known as an Asian gang "enforcer", was
assassinated outside the Top Karaoke Bar in
Not long before he
was shot to death, Tam had been freed after serving a prison term for attacking
someone with a meat cleaver while working as a bouncer at another
Not all Asian crime is gang-related but that doesn't make it any less bloodthirsty. Trauma doesn't begin to describe how residents of a quiet Unsworth Heights street on Auckland's North Shore felt in April 2003 when Chinese student Wen Hui Cui turned the neighbourhood into what police called a "bloodbath".
Annoyed at being jilted by his Chinese student girlfriend Bin Lin, also known as Ruby, Wen stabbed her in a frenzied attack. Her screams echoed down the road before he slit her throat from ear to ear. After washing his hands and changing his clothes Wen gathered his cell phone, some money and two kitchen knives and went out on the street, where he stabbed two of Ruby's friends - teenage boys -in the heart, killing one.
In September 2006 Alex Kwong Wong, a 37-year-old Chinese man who arrived here in 1987, received a 17-year jail term for importing methamphetamine hidden in a shipment of lava lamps intercepted by Customs. The drugs had a street value between $3.5 million and $12.5 million.
Despite proof he'd gambled away $1 million in the previous four years and paid cash for a $90,000 Porsche and a $120,000 Mercedes, Wong was granted legal aid. (In 1994 he'd been sentenced to nine years' jail, serving only three, for kidnapping.)
flick through the crime files shows the Asian menace has been steadily creeping
up on us. In 2000, Hing Hung Wong from
about Asians' attitude to
Lamb, later investigated by his superiors and banned from talking to the media, said he was so busy dealing with Asian students in downtown Auckland involved in "theft, fraud, fighting, assault, intimidation, vehicle crashes, drunkenness, disorder, domestics, stabbings and a sideline of extortion and weapon- carrying" he couldn't respond to calls from the public.
The same week, Auckland District Court Judge Cecilie Rushton echoed Lamb's sentiments when sentencing a 25-year-old Chinese kidnapper, Da Wan, to eight years' jail: "Hardly a week goes by in this court without a case involving the kidnap of a Chinese student and a ransom demand," she railed.
But still the criminals continued their brazen pursuit of big money.
2005 three Asians -Changsong Li, 33, Xiang Quan Chen, 28, and Zu Ping Zhou, 19 (recipients of
$11,105 in legal aid) - were each jailed for 10 years after admitting
kidnapping Howick woman Qing Zhao and demanding a $1 million ransom. The
ringleader, Wanzhe Gui, 31, an over-stayer who already had a criminal record in
These examples are
just that, and by no means a comprehensive list of Asians hauled before our
courts for serious crimes within the past decade. Alongside the undeniable
benefits of Asian immigration,
commentary on Asian immigration 'has been overwhelmingly positive. Until
recently, that is. In the past 12 months a few lone Asian voices have started
speaking out against the behaviour of recent immigrants. One regular critic is
Auckland-based Lincoln Tan, editor of the English-language, Asian-focused iBall
magazine, who regularly rails against Asian crime in his weekly Herald column.
If deterrents are not given in the form of harsh penalties, he says, then
Tan, who moved
what, if anything, to do about Asian crime? In a featureless multi-storey
building in Otahuhu,
no coincidence both units are housed in the same building. "Of our big
Sowter, in the
drug squad since 1998, has seen major change in our big drug dealers.
"There's a real criminal element of Asian people in
acquittal in February 2006 of
Until 2003 "flu" and cold medications could be purchased ~ relatively easily from pharmacies. But intense lobbying by the ~ Police Association, coupled with voluntary restrictions by some ~ chemists, has resulted in pharmacies now being required to limit ~ and register sales per customer of any drugs containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
But instead of
stifling the illegal manufacture of P, this has simply created a niche for
Asian gangs to make huge profits by importing the precursor tablets from
P-related offences here, according to the latest police crime statistics released in October, increased a staggering 50 percent in just 12 months to June 2006. Police Commissioner Howard Broad calls the drug "a driving force" behind spiralling crime rates. "It's a particularly pernicious drug, one that very quickly causes addiction, one that takes an average person and makes them violent,"
such a big deal that we now have our very own
But it's difficult
to see what one man in
In May, Customs
and police seized methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine worth $135 million hidden
in shipping containers sent from China -the largest single haul ever and a good
example "of the lengths these transnational organised crime groups will go
to smuggle drugs", according to Comptroller of Customs Martyn Dunne.
"By concealing their activities in the legitimate flow of goods they're
Six men (five unemployed and one a tour guide) were arrested. Guo Wei Deng, 43, Li Fan, 28, Weifeng Pan, 35,' Kin Kwok Leung, 66, Ming Chin Chen, 42, and Kai Lok Fung.. 41, will goon trial in 2007.
In September in
one swoop Customs seized $5 million worth of crystal methamphetamine -pure P
Customs would not reveal the pair's ethnicity to North 0. South, but they next appear in court, for a depositions hearing, in December.
This bust brought
the total amount of methamphetamine intercepted at
Such alarming figures come as no surprise to Police Association president Greg O'Connor, who's been banging on about P-labs and gang-related crimes for more than a decade.
"All this was predicted in 1990 but police philosophy then was about centralisation. While the police force, particularly CIB, was being centralised the organised crims were centralising. Asian organised crime is now a major problem."
And the crime bosses have a ready supply of distributors -drug mules -who speak English as well as Cantonese or Mandarin: inter- national students. These are the pushers who seem innocent enough -in universities, English language schools, technical institutes, cafes and nightclubs -with easy access to anyone wanting to buy P.
Making it even more difficult for police, says drug squad boss Sowter, is "that they all look the same to us so you wouldn't know [they're gang members] if you passed them on the street. We've got Asian cleaners and I look at them sometimes and wonder."
While Sowter doesn't have a problem with our immigration policies as such, he'd like swifter action to be taken against immigrants who offend. "There should be laws not giving them a second chance. I've heard them plead in court they can't go back for all sorts of reasons, but that's just fairy tales. If they come in and commit a serious crime within 10 to 15 years they should immediately get the boot."
August, the audience at
Koria runs the Asian Crime Unit just down the Otahuhu corridor from the drug squad.
On the entrance foyer wall someone has pinned pages of case histories under the heading "Maori Deaths Resulting From Family Violence".
So, why a special crime unit for Asians and not for Maori?
question," grins Koria, a tall shaven-headed Samoan with a Manchu moustache
who explains his four-man unit, first established in 1992, focuses on trying to
infiltrate and understand Asian crime organised by two or more people. He says
it's a media myth that Asian gangs in this country are triads. "They've
taken on that moniker, but triads were actually a political group who tried to
overthrow the government in
gangs here don't have an organised hierarchy like the Mafia, nor are they
founded on undivided loyalty like the Mongrel Mob, he explains. Asian gang
One recent success was the October conviction of 35-year-old Grey Lynn company director Rebecca Li, who was operating a "high- tech elaborate operation producing a large number of documents to the Asian community", according to Koria. She was convicted on 49 fraud-related charges after a six-day Auckland District Court trial. The Asian Crime Unit arrested Li in June 2004 and seized fake university degrees, educational diplomas and certificates, birth certificates, immigration documents including visa permits, and even mobility parking permits.
Hong Kong-born Li, who arrived on a student visa and obtained permanent residency after finishing her computer science degree, had been counterfeiting for at least five years, advertising in Chinese language newspapers and selling documents, destined for overseas clients according to the police, for $5000 a pop.
And yes, Li was granted legal aid, but as with drug pusher Alex Wong, the total taxpayer damage won't be made public until she has exhausted all avenues of appeal.
does the generalisation, reported in North & South in May
2003, that people of Asian origin have long been known in
The snapshot of this country's population provided in the 2001 Census showed 270,000 people identified themselves as Asians, up 37 per cent from 1996. Not as big a jump as in the previous five years, when Asian New Zealanders increased by 74 per cent.
In December, the release of the 2006 Census data is expected to put the number of Asians here at nearly 400,000, or just under 10 per cent of the population. Projections suggest that In 20 years Asians will number 860,000-10,000 more than Maori.
The largest single Asian ethnicity is Chinese, at 44 per cent. In 2001 they made up three per cent of our population. Overseas- born Chinese hugely outnumber New Zealand-born Chinese, largely due to the influx of international students who've come here for secondary or tertiary training, then been granted residency.
2001 more than 78,000 Chinese New Zealanders were overseas born, compared with just 25,473 born
At that time, although Asians made up 6.6 per cent of the population, they were responsible for just 1.7 percent of all criminal convictions.
However, according to Statistics New Zealand national apprehension figures from 1996 to 2005, total offences committed by Asiatics not including Indian) aged 17 to 50 rose 53 per cent, from 1791 to 2751. Compare that with offences committed by Pacific Islanders, who make up 6.5 percent of the population. They certainly committed more offences -11,292 in the same decade -but their increase was only 2.9 per cent.
couldn't we be more careful about Asian students, especially since the
government has just announced another $15 million to be spent on recruiting
them? "How we deal with them is no different from any other sector wanting
to come to
Some 60 per cent
of Asian immigrants qualify under the skilled migrant/business category, and
products promising good skin, great sex and eternal youth just by taking daily doses of sheep placenta, deer velvet, shark cartilage or royal jelly.
Queen St's Strand Arcade is crammed with fashion boutiques where Asian girls speaking minimum English sell glittery frilly frocks to equally tiny-sized Asian girls.
Some of these retailers keep Commerce Commission inspectors busy issuing warnings about selling clothes with no country-of-origin or care labels or slapping writs on purveyors of placenta pills advertised as clean, green and Kiwi but actually manufactured in China from Australian sheep.
Graham Gill, the Commerce Commission's Auckland-based fair trading manager, chooses words carefully when discussing his organisation's responsibilities. He's anxious not to single out Asians for criticism.. "I try to avoid talking of Asian this or that. Chinese, Korean, Japanese -they're as different from each other as Germans, Australians and New Zealanders."
Put on the spot, he will acknowledge that "anecdotally, at least, there's a huge problem out there with recent immigrant traders not complying with the Fair Trading Act".
The full extent of the problem is "a little unclear", says Gill. "We find they're often employing family members, or people of the same ethnicity, recent arrivals, who don't know their rights and obligations."
commission tries to educate migrants about
In November 2005 the commission prosecuted Jonathan Ken (also known as Sang Rae Kim) and his company, Tomorrow Dream Line, .for falsely labelling and selling ordinary honey as UMF (unique manuka factor). UMF honey, also known as active manuka honey, has natural antiseptic qualities, sells at a premium above ordinary honey and is a multimillion-dollar export earner. Ken was fined more than $50,000 for his second prosecution in less than six months for the same offence.
Eric Yin, director of Merric Apparel, had lived in
Graham Gill is at pains to point out there are "ratbags who regardless of their ethnicity will break laws put in place to protect the public". But he concedes the Commerce Commission hasn't translated product safety information or fair trading laws into any other languages apart from Korean and Mandarin.
"We are actively working to get on top of it but the issue is not going away."
evening at an
"How come all you students can never speak English when we come along but you're all over here attending English language schools?" he snaps.
the same convenient language barrier encountered by
In October it was revealed a 66-year-old Chinese woman, legally in New Zealand in 2004 on a temporary student visa (but not entitled to taxpayer-funded health care), used the passport of another Chinese woman who'd died in 2002 (but who would have qualified for free health care) to scam $51,189 worth of treatment from blood and heart clinics.
Auckland District Health Board chairman Wayne Brown told North 0. South it's very hard to believe the woman (who's since skipped the country) didn't deliberately set out to rort the system. "Most of them say they didn't know they had to bring their passport, and you can possibly believe that, but it's a bit hard to claim you didn't know you had to bring your own passport."
So how does a 66-year-old
Chinese woman get a student visa? Incredibly, there's no age limit on students
applying to study here.. Api Fiso again: "
Medical insurance is compulsory for international students, but not for tourists or business migrants. So was this a one-off or the start of a trend where we may be targeted by those who want to avoid paying for expensive medical treatment in their own countries?
November 2005 the government introduced new health screening policies. Anyone
wanting to stay in
regulations came too late to protect
Despite the fact the school had to employ a staff member to Mantoux-test all 1750 pupils, plus teachers, follow up with consultation, co-ordinate a daily information campaign and calm parents wanting to withdraw their children from the school, Health i ministry senior adviser Dr Andrea Forde is anxious to avoid any public panic over the situation. "It's so important to remove the stigma around tuberculosis. It's a disease that is eminently treatable and people have to be aware it's treatable."
Nevertheless last year there were 344 recorded cases of TB in this country, 250 of them in people born overseas.
Over the phone Wellingtonian
Which is exactly
what she was in 1966 arriving in
Jones has been vice-president of the Wellington Ethnic Council, chairperson of the Wellington Chinese language school and founder of the Chinese Operatic Society. She also worked for the New Zealand Dairy Board, ran her own marketing and financial services company, and in 1972 was crowned Mrs Otaki.
Which all shows she's successfully straddled the two ethnic worlds. But now she's sad and angry at increasing criminality among recent Asian immigrants. "It's too easy to come here now. Immigration policies are largely economically driven, and it's all about money."
Jones makes the point that the business migrant scheme assumes wealthy immigrants automatically make good citizens, when the reverse can be true. To prove her point, she refers to the 19th- century gold miners who came here with no English skills and were treated harshly. Against all these odds, some chose to stay and made good lives for themselves as market gardeners, restaurant owners, laundry proprietors, greengrocers.
In turn, their New Zealand-born children went to universities and entered professions such as education, medicine, accountancy, law. These families became integrated.
Now, she says, there's "a wee bit of conflict" as these very Kiwi Asians see all the effort they made to overcome discrimination and establish reputations as law-abiding and hard-working being eroded by the bad behaviour of international students and some new residents.
"We call our
children bananas -white on the inside, yellow outside. They're Kiwis, locally
born. Their heritage is
mainland Chinese have become very wealthy in the last 20 years, and the Chinese
mentality is if you have money you give your children the best, so they send
them abroad with a pile of money for their
education. A lot of these international students are spoilt rotten. I see these
little emperors at restaurants, with their credit cards, spending up large, with unlimited freedom and
no parental control or discipline. They see
policies used to be so tough and
Right now the government is looking at bolstering immigration. In
August Associate Education minister Dr Michael Cullen announced $15 million
will be spent on seven overseas education counsellors, plus increased
ministerial missions to Northern Asia, including
Statistics New Zealand predictions aside, the Asianisation of New Zealand may
be on the wane. In 1996 most of our immigrants came from
The Department of Labour's Migrant Trends report in January 2006 showed the proportion of Chinese and Indian people granted residency was declining. It attributed this to the introduction in 2003 of the skilled migrant category, which toughened standards for English language testing and favoured applicants from comparable labour markets -Europe rather than China, for instance.
While these changes -at the time dubbed racist and a knee- jerk reaction to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' trenchant criticism of our immigration policies -appear to have quelled the number of Asian immigrants, that may prove to be temporary.
In October, Trade minister Phil Goff said that as part of a free- trade deal with China, New Zealand could consider allowing Chinese workers easier access to this country in exchange for the people's republic importing more New Zealand products. Goff admitted he had concerns about such an arrangement, but said we could consider taking "chefs, traditional medicine specialists, Mandarin teachers and young Chinese on working holidays."
And the government
sees no need to toughen the screening process of immigrants from
Harsher deportation rules, Cunliffe says, would have an adverse effect on our international reputation and cause "considerable damage" to our economy.
Currently, some migrants who commit serious offences can face deportation, but it's not automatic. The toughest we get is on anyone who's had permanent residency for less than 10 years. If they commit a crime which earns a minimum of five years' jail they may be kicked out. It depends on the sentencing judge, and the defendant has extensive appeal rights.
Cunliffe also says
he’s seen no evidence Asian crime rates are higher than any other ethnic groups
and challenged Auckland Drug Squad boss John Sowter's assertion that the vast
majority of recent big
National's .Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith was also surprised when told of the disproportionately high number of Asians involved in drug peddling. "There's a tremendous need to get tough on drug gangs and if we've got an Asian gang problem we need to deal with it."
But how tough, exactly, when two senior politicians from opposing parties are both ignorant of a major problem under their very noses? When nearly everyone in authority approached for comment, including Smith's own leader Don Brash, seems more concerned about praising law-abiding and industrious Asian immigrants than getting tough on the ones who go bad? Haven't we all become a bit too PC?
"Yes," says Smith, "While I wouldn't condone racism, we have to be honest about certain types of Asians who are organised criminals. We can't be seen as a soft touch. Personally my gut reaction is why the hell are taxpayers paying for these bastards."
Meanwhile, Asian crime continues to greet us with monotonous regularity as we open daily papers and turn on the telly.
mid-October Zeshen Zhou was jailed for 17 years after being found guilty of
murdering his wife, Shunlian Huang. The 35-year-old unemployed Papatoetoe man,
who'd lived in
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