Three candidates of Asian descent running for a seat in Auckland, New Zealand, were recently targeted by suspects who vandalized campaign billboards with the candidates’ faces.
Paul Young, Howick Ward’s current councilor who is running for a seat again this year, raised concerns to RNZ’s news show “Morning Report” after learning that his face on over 20 billboards was either covered with white paint or cut out. The picture of his running mate, Howick Local Board member Bo Burns, has not been targeted by vandals.
“It’s very bad for young east Asian or ethnic candidates who want to stand up to make a contribution for our community and Tāmaki Makaurau… such racism, it’s not acceptable,” Young said.
Although this is not the first time Young has encountered this type of incident, he considers the most recent attacks to be the worst.
While running for councilor in 2019, Young discovered that some of his billboards were vandalized with the acronym “CCP” (Communist Party of China), linking him to the current party in China even though he was born in Taiwan.
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“I have been living here for [the] last 33 years… Aotearoa, New Zealand, is our home – is my home – so it should not happen like this,” Young told “Morning Report.”
Vinson Yu, a first-time candidate running for a seat on the Howick Local Board, was disheartened after seeing his billboard defaced along Bucklands Beach.
“I wanted to run for the elections because I want to represent and better serve the Asian community, this deserves respect,” Yu, the deputy chair of the Botany & Flat Bush Ethnic Association, told “Morning Report.” “We are fairly participating in the elections.”
Robert Hu, a candidate running for mayor in Auckland, told “Morning Report” that he was also targeted by the vandalism attacks. Hu, who runs the firm Hong Hu Lawyers, said he discovered that his billboards on Somerville Road had been painted over with white paint.
“Are they saying our faces are not white enough? Are they saying that we must be white in order to qualify for the elections?” Hu said, adding that he has already reported the incident to both the police and the Human Rights Commission. He also plans to report it to international groups.
The Human Rights Commission is now investigating the case, Commissioner Meng Foon said.