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Response To Asian Anti-Crime Protest

Media Release

7 July 2008

Response To Asian Anti-Crime Protest

It is easy to dismiss the Asian Anti-Crime Group organised protest in Botany as politically incorrect because of calls to arm volunteer patrols, "use triads" and the like.

But we ignore 15,000 people who are prepared to march in the rain and hail at our peril.

The Prime Minister, Acting Minister Phil Goff, Opposition MP Pansy Wong and Acting Manukau Mayor Gary Troup and particularly the media have been quick to condemn organiser Peter Low's comments. I have two pieces of advice for them:

1. Listen to the 15,000 not the 1. 2. The more extreme the proposed solutions, the bigger the problem is likely to be.

Three years ago, I invited the Police Minister and Police Commissioner to a Botany Community Board meeting to discuss high burglary numbers and the need for more police. They came and went and our requests were ignored.

Since then my colleague Dick Quax, Community Safety Leader on Manukau City Council has met with successive Police Ministers and Commissioners as have Mayor Curtis and Mayor Brown. Still the government has not listened.

In three years crimes against property have given rise to crimes against the person, with bag-snatching, robbery, assault and murder reaching epidemic proportions in Manukau and affecting Asian people in particular.

In response to the level of crime, the Botany Crime Watch Patrol has become the largest and best organised community patrol in New Zealand, but there are limits to what a volunteer group can do.

I have met with Mr. Low and listened to his ideas and these are the things I agree with him on:

1. We don't have enough police 2. Crime is a Community Problem 3. If the Government doesn't protect the community, the Community has a right to take back that responsibility. 4. In the absence of adequate police numbers, we need Community Security Patrols. 5. It is worthwhile teaching people self defense techniques.

When I listen to the Chinese Community, this is what I hear: "Surely community safety is a basic human right. How can the New Zealand Government criticise the Chinese Government over human rights when it cannot provide safety to its own citizens?". I can't help but agree.

We often talk about Treaty principles. One principle written in black and white in the Treaty is that the crown takes responsibility for the provision of law and order. Community Safety is not just a basic human right, but a Treaty Right for every New Zealander.

I support the proposition by Councillor Quax that if the Government does not meet its responsibility to provide sufficient police to deal with crime in Manukau City, the Council is honour-bound to step into the government's shoes and provide on the ground paid community security patrols to keep our community safe.

And I call on the media and the political establishment to listen to what the community is saying and act, rather than using extreme ideas presented by an individual member of the community as a cop-out.

ENDS


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