Vigilantes threaten to up stakes

We'll call in the triads if we have to

Last updated 10:12 06/07/2008
Sunday News
UPPING THE ANTE: The man behind a march against crime in Auckland says his vigilante group is training it's members in martial arts to protect their community.

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The businessman behind yesterday's march on crime against Asians says he has a vigilante group of up to 300 members training in martial arts to protect their community against street thugs.

And east Auckland importer Peter Low says if authorities try to stop the vigilantes looking after their own, then his Asian Anti-Crime Group will consider hiring Triad gangsters to keep the Kiwi hoodlums at bay.

"We are a vigilante group and are training now," said Low, who emigrated from Singapore 21 years ago. Since settling in New Zealand his home and business have been burgled and his bag snatched.

"We are training people in hand-to-hand combat and how to handle situations.

"I want this group to be legalised. If they don't allow it, that's when we might have to employ Triads to protect our community," he said.

Low, 55, had planned the Asian Anti-Crime Group for months but brought forward its start date because of three Asians dying as a result of violence in south Auckland in nine days.

Navtej Singh was fatally shot in his Manurewa liquor store on June 7, 80-year-old Yin Ping Yang died after being viciously beaten in her Manurewa home on June 11 and bakery owner Joanne Wang, 39, was killed in an alleged hit-and-run at the Manukau shopping centre car park as she attempted to retrieve her snatched purse on June 16.

"Joanne died a hero," Low told Sunday News. "Because of her and others, this (anti-crime group) is the reaction from Asians.

"It is time for talk to stop and some decisive action to be taken.

"We Asians have become the targets because most of us don't speak good English and criminals think we have lots of money ... and don't resist.

"My wife is frightened to go to the supermarket now and I'm always worrying about my daughter going to the bank.

"Is this the kind of place we want our families living in?

"We live in fear. We live in anger."

Low said many Asians had lost faith in the police's ability to protect them.

"New Zealand is promoted as a green and peaceful country. That's not true," he said.

"We don't deserve to be humiliated by this crime while the government does nothing about it.

"I have gotten fed up because the police response is not good enough."

Counties-Manukau community services manager Senior Sergeant Mike Fulcher said Low's group could work alongside police but he warned them against taking the law into their own hands.

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"You can't go over the top," Fulcher said.

"They need to go through proper channels and there are organisations out there they could join to assist police."

Fears have also recently been expressed for Asian tourists, who were being told not to travel or go out alone after a spate of crimes against ethnic visitors.

The New Zealand-Japan Society advised visitors to travel in groups, rather than individually.

Police last month arrested three men for the murder of Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim, 25, on the West Coast and were reviewing the disappearance of 64-year-old Japanese tourist Mikimoro Nakanishi in the same area.

Low said yesterday's march through east Auckland, which has a heavy concentration of Asians gave a voice to members of the community who want action by the government, the justice system and the police.

Until such action came, he was preparing trained patrols to be able to answer calls for help.

Low, who admitted there was opposition from within the Asian community to the concept of a vigilante force, is funding the Asian Anti-Crime Group from his own pocket.

"A lot of people have offered financial support but I have said no. This is not about money," he said.

"This is non-profit, non-religion, non-politics and non-racist.

"It is open to all to become a member.

"We want to talk to the gangs and tell them, `Hey get a job, start a business, be a man'."

Low said many young people today lacked the four basic skills for life discipline, respect, morals and responsibility.

"Kids don't respect their parents any more because of law changes," he said.

New Zealand's first Asian MP, National's Pansy Wong, said the Asian Anti-Crime Group must stay within the law.

"We cannot have people taking the law into their own hands," Wong said.

"And if laws aren't working, it's up to politicians to make better laws.

"National believes more has to be done on crime prevention, rather than having dozens of police officers working on homicides."

 

- Sunday News

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