The rally against racism -
a personal perspective.

Queens Park, Ipswich, 25th May 1997

Perhaps it was luck but more likely it was sheer ignorance that I arrived at 10am well before the crowds had gathered to the Brisbane Mayor's "Rally against racism" (or against Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party).


However, what I saw when I arrived at Queens Park was a group of elderly and middle aged Chinese men erecting a circle of flags around the rally against racism venue. If I had not been certain of my geography I would have been sure that I had stumbled upon a Chinese gathering. I had never seen the flags before. They had a number of red stars printed in a crescent shape on yellow material. They stood on thin poles about eight foot high.

I asked why the flags had been placed around the venue and was told that by a Chinese gentleman that it was to ward off evil spirits during the rally.

I took some photographs and was soon approached by a nice fellow, a Mr Lawrence Yan-Kwok Ma, who asked which newspaper I was from. I explained that I was from the Australian News of the Day and Mr Ma looked at me quite blankly. He had obviously never heard of the popular on-line daily newspaper.

His dialogue on the bull horn reflected the language that I heard all the time I dared to be part of this pre-rally gathering - Chinese.

I never heard a word of English being spoken by the group.

The fellow in the suit to the left seemed to be directing operations. He had a real aversion to having his photograph being taken.

Mr Ma (on the right) as I mentioned before, was an affable fellow, appeared to be his assistant. The card that he proudly presented me with described him as "Barrister-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court and Legal advisor - Queensland Chinese Community Voice."

(Now let us remember that the High Court was the body that caused the furore over native title with the Wik decision.)

There were three things that struck me about the preparations going on before the rally.

The first, that there was a clear division between the "Chinese area" a dominant raised area above the venue where large numbers of Chinese erected signs which read "Queensland Chinese Community Voice" as well as a large banner reading "We love Australia. Equality, Tolerance, Mutual Respect and Harmony" in both English and Chinese.

Then there were a number of white Australians standing watching from below the venue, like outsiders, the "goings-on" of a forum which, to all intents and purposes appeared to have been hi-jacked by a section of the Chinese community.

The second was that very few young Chinese appeared to be helping set up the signs. In fact I saw hardly any young Chinese there at all.

The third was, that I did not notice one person from Ipswich. Everybody appeared to have been trucked in from Brisbane or elsewhere.

Personally, as an Aussie, I found it quite an affront that a group within the Chinese community had taken over the venue rather like a gatecrasher and started putting their sales pitch up for the Queensland Chinese Community Voice up all over the place. Even the anti-racist literature was in Chinese... and in case you couldn't understand that one, here is another.

The last straw was when I saw busloads of Chinese walking up the pavement towards the venue. It was time for me to go home. This was not a rally against racism, to me, this was a PR exercise for a new political body called the Queensland Chinese Community Voice.

The questions I asked myself as I left were:
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