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Why Are There Asian Australians Running As One Nation Candidates?

One Nation has endorsed a candidate in Western Australia who is from an Asian Australian background for the state’s upcoming election next month. You would think that after the Shan Ju Lin debacle, that would be the end of any candidates of an Asian heritage publicly running and supporting this political party, so please do not shoot the messenger when I say that this befuddles me. Asides from geo political stances and positions, there is no rational reason for any Asian Australian to run for a party which is shaded with strong undertones of racism and bigotry. Even the geo-political reasons are not an adequate excuse for being loud and proud One Nationers. Tshung Chang feels that One Nation and its leader Pauline Hanson have moved on from its 1996 anti-Asian platform rhetoric and is on the path of being “inclusive”. Chang who is contesting the WA Treasurer Mike Nahan’s seat of Riverton told the ABC in January that Pauline Hanson and her party have come a long way:

“Yes I do, I think that was the infamous speech, however that was I think 20, as you rightly said, 25 years ago and I think she’s actually become more and more experienced since then and the views back then are not reflective of what they are today because of her life experiences.”

“Pauline has got nothing against Asians, nothing against Asians that work hard, that come here and are good citizens.

Image Via ABC News Online

There is not a lot online about Chang’s background, so I did some digging and found that he has his own international consultancy business and has a corporate career that spans twenty three years with leading financial services providers including NAB, QBE and Fitch Ratings. His passion is education (according to his political campaign page on Facebook) and his primary concerns and issues which he is standing firm on appear to be about finance and the economy. He states on his Facebook political campaign page:

“Everyone I talk to is worried about the financial mess that we are in and how the government squandered the boom with state debt out of control. West Australians rightly feel they have been ripped off for years, with only 30% of GST being returned to the state. The government has proved time and again it is incapable of doing anything about this.”

“PHON is the only chance I see to make a real difference, and I am incredibly proud to be given an opportunity to stand as a candidate against Dr. Nahan who was at the helm when WA lost its AAA credit rating and presided over the worst performing economy in the nation.”

“My international ratings agency experience gave me insights into restoring the states ratings and finances”

So the question is why PHON? Why not join the LNP or the ALP or even run as an independent? Understandably, his frustrations are targeted at the Colin Barnett Liberal Government, but I don’t see how standing as a PHON candidate will allow him to impact on change? Considering there may be a PHON and WA Liberals preference deal, there is desperation on all sides to win the election in March. But moving away from the political games there is still no rational justification for Chang to run as a PHON candidate. So let’s analyse and assess Chang’s statements, because on the surface they appear to just be a typical assimilast approach and sounds pretty similar (but possibly a little more articulate) than Lin’s words. His statements about why he supports PHON are extremely problematic in that, he is willing to forgive and forget racism within the party which he plans to represent. Racist people don’t change their stripes, and this resentment within PHON is ingrained in the values and the agendas the political party runs on.  His second point stating “…nothing against Asians that work hard, that come here and are good citizens.”… is extremely ignorant because why do Asian Australians need to work hard to be recognised in Australia? Are Asians the lower class of Australians which need to show hard work to earn their keep in Australia? Chang’s words as stated earlier are just a more articulate and smarter way of saying “Good Asians will like me and Pauline Hanson” ( Lin’s words).

 A growing fear is that there are a growing number of Asian Australians who will vote for PHON. To see two Australians of Asian descent (with one who was dumped) running as candidates is quite telling of the ignorance within the community. We can laugh, make jokes and call them race traitors etc, but the issue is a lot more serious than the usual banter. So the question is why? Why do some Asian Australians feel proud to support PHON, knowing that it is built on racism and fear? Well if you think about it, it still goes back to geo-politics and the misconception of what it means to be a patriotic “Australian”. Many feel to run with the mainstream fear mongering is a show of patriotism, without an understanding of the history of Australian racism and oppression. Groups such as PHON and other “alt right” white supremacist type groups have publicly come out as “anti China” and this has earned the support of various Asian Australian diaspora groups whose roots are from Asian countries where China is seen as a “bully” of sorts. Many are unaware and ignorant that being anti a regime/Government does not give you a free pass to be anti an entire nation of people and they forget that this is essentially racism. In addition, in certain parts of Asia there is animosity towards Muslim Asians, and this is really as stated earlier all about geo-politics and the politics of blaming a group of people for the problems of a country. For many Asian migrants who have moved to Australia and who left countries which are dominated by Muslim Asians their anger is due to misunderstandings and how countries have misused religion for politics. The final reason which this piece will end on is that there are Asian Australians who are believe in the mainstream stereotypes of pure ignorance and lack an understanding of the intersectionality of race relations and its history in Australia.