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 / 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 / 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.

- Otago Daily Times

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