On the other hand, the non-white Vietnamese, most of whom were equally poor and equally disadvantaged in terms of settlement as the white Moslems, had no trouble in obtaining grants and in using them. How was this so?
My team’s initial contact with the Vietnamese community was inauspicious. A man claiming to be a representative of his people initially asked for money to rent premises for use as an office, and to buy equipment to produce a newsletter. However, policy did not provide for money for such an objective. The representative was advised to come back with a proposal for additional welfare assistance under the new policy; welfare was already being provided to the community by grants to an organisation led mainly by Anglo-Celts and which was established specifically to assist the Vietnamese refugees. For a nation which had feared the ‘yellow hordes from the north’ for so long, it was a fantastic and humane response to the plight of these refugees.
A little later, the ‘representative’ came back to repeat his request. In the meantime, we had begun to have doubts about his position in the community. When we repeated our advice, he said that some of his friends were saying that I must be a communist because I would not help them. At that, I laughed and told him that he was barking up the wrong tree; threats would not work, and I would tell the Minister that I was being threatened. Not surprisingly, we did not see him again.
Threats and bullying seemed to be in fashion at that stage. We were told publicly that there were, among these refugees, leaders who wished to organise an armed return to Vietnam. We were also told publicly of gangs from interstate inflicting personal and property damage to the local Vietnamese community, and vice versa. There was no explanation as to why this was happening. Since formal complaints from within that community are as rare as hens’ teeth, all that was hearsay, but very reliable hearsay.
Indeed, some Vietnamese went even further. One morning, they rioted in a public place and a number of police were injured. Later in the day, there was to be a peaceful demonstration by those who had objected to Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War. Our information was that the Vietnamese were planning to disrupt the demonstration with violence. That was great news; these were the people seeking a free life in a democratic country. Firearms were also found.
My team had two hours in which to prevent the Vietnamese from shooting themselves in the foot. We were directed to advise the community that if any Vietnamese were involved in a riot or were violent there would be no more Vietnamese entering the country. If a policeman was ever injured again, the Vietnamese could not expect any protection from the police; and we asked the Vietnamese leaders we had come to identify how it was that our information came from two independent non-Vietnamese sources? Could we expect prior information and co-operation from them in the future?
We then spoke to the police, advising them that the “good guys” would be coming to stand with them in order to counsel and contain their hot-head fellow countrymen. I am not sure that some of the police wanted that. In fact, we spread so much grease everywhere and in such a short time too, that it all worked.
When a colleague and I drove past the site where the Vietnamese had gathered, we saw the tough-looking men with headbands, baseball bats and sticks, and they all looked very threatening. However, they were not stupid. By their intention and appearance, they were thugs. The ordinary Aussie, seeing them face to face or through the TV, was soon asking why the Communist government in Vietnam would bother with such people; had they really fled in fear of political persecution?
(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ confirm that kind-hearted Anglo-Celt Australians ignored the previous media-fed prejudice against the ‘yellow hordes from the North’ to offer settlement assistance. The small ethnic team led by an Asian official (that was me) worked hard to deflect the opprobrium brought onto themselves by some Vietnamese who forgot that they were guests; and that we were offering a free life in a democratic nation.
Would it be so unusual for criminal opportunists to ‘take the boat,’ etc. in search of a richer playground? Looking back cold-bloodedly, we do seem to have facilitated the entry of undesirables during troubled times in a number of countries; was not the illegal drug trade in Australia involving some youths from ‘refugee’ families indicative?)