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Finding the Chinese Australian Voice

How will Chinese Australians have a voice in redesignating the “Lambing Flat Riots” in our National History Curriculum?

For the Chinese in 1861, it was expulsion through brutal persecution, by a lawless white mob, heralded by guns on horseback.
‘Have we inadvertently short-changed generations of school children on our human tendency to mistreat those for whom we have a dislike, for one reason or another?’, asked Dr Anthony Pun, National President of the Chinese Community Council of Australia.

‘Lambing Flat is one issue that will be raised, discussed and debated at our national conference in Sydney on the 9 &10 April weekend.

‘The Chinese Australian voice is often absent when it should have been audible. This is the catalyst for our conference, Finding the Chinese Australian Voice, the first of its kind.’
During the White Australia era, many well-meaning White Australians tried to rehabilitate the deplorable image of John Chinaman that was created to justify his exclusion from the “New Britannia” before Federation. In due course John Chinaman became the “better Chinaman” with “white hearts” in Australian fiction of that era – hardworking, honest, reliable, and above all loyal to his white employers. But he had no voice of his own. His patrons grafted on to him a voice that was comfortable to the ears of White Australia.

Now, despite 30 years of multiculturalism, it would appear that some cultural gatekeepers of our society are still imbued with a version of that attitude. They decide when Chinese Australian voices are accepted into their realm, and some continue to speak on behalf of us, as though we are adolescents, yet to earn their trust in terms of our maturity to judge what is good for us and good for all those who come after us.
Fortunately, some voices have broken through. Dr John Yu, spoke up in the media against the Federal Government’s policy to incarcerate children in asylum detention centres, just a few years after he was cited as
Australian of the Year in recognition of his pioneering efforts in marrying colour and art to paediatric medicine in the building of a new children’s hospital. Hong Lim, an MP in the Victorian Parliament, spoke up in public against his own Party’s policy on boat people.

These are voices from the liberated Chinese Australian, a voice that pays no heed to the cultural gatekeepers of our society, one that is passionate about the soul and character of the homeland of all future generations. In time such voices will usher in John Citizen, and say goodbye to John Chinaman.

本报悉尼讯4 月9、10 日两天,来自澳洲各个州,以及新西兰的华人代表们齐聚悉尼,出席了澳华社区议会(Chinese Community Council of Australia)举办的年度大会。主题是: 寻找能够代表澳洲华人的,统一而团结的声音。

澳洲内阁唯一的华裔、澳洲金融部长黄英贤(Penny Wong)百忙之中专程从南澳飞来为大会开幕。在澳华社区议会会长潘瑞亮博士(Dr Tony Pun) 和大会召集者Chek Ling 的主持下,来自维州、新州、昆州等地区的澳洲华人代表包括澳华社区议会维州分部会长蒋天麟医生,澳华社区议会维州分部顾问团主席林美丰议员等;来自新西兰的屋仑华侨会所副会长吕显华,来自美国加州洛杉矶大学亚裔美国研究学院的资深院长Don Nakanishi 教授等嘉宾不辞辛苦,远道而来出席大会,并积极献策献计。

作为旨在能够代表澳洲华人、为华人利益说话、没有任何政党及政治倾向的高端组织,澳华社区议会希冀利用这次难得的时机,深入探讨澳洲华人所面对的各种问题,团结起来,在需要的时候,能够有效发出代表澳洲华人的最强音。

经过两天的探讨,大会通过了一系列决议。包括起草文件,要求澳洲政府对华人曾经遭受的待遇正式道歉。19 世纪50 年代,华人远渡重洋来澳洲淘金。甘愿去已经被白人开垦过的金矿,分工合作的华人比先来一步的欧洲人掘得更深,结果往往在已经被认定无金可寻的金矿上又发现了金子,引得很多欧洲移民者眼红。短短几年,华人大增,几乎占据维州总人口百分之十,造成了当权者和欧洲移民的不安。经时任维州财长推行,维州议会为限制华人移民而设立了税金,这充满种族歧视意味的政策,后来成为澳洲历史上“白澳”政策的前身。为了躲避税金,华人必须长途跋涉500 公里,沿途承受大量无法想象的痛苦。淘金热时代,华人因为遭到欧洲移民的嫉恨,曾引发驱赶华人的大规模暴乱,史称“Lambing Flat ”暴乱,导致大量华人死伤。

因为华人的类似遭遇,2007年时任新西兰总理代表国家正式向新西兰华人社区道歉。澳洲政府却至今还没有向华人道歉。澳华社区认为,来自政府的道歉,能够彰显这个国家和社会对华族先辈和后人真正意义上的接受和重视。
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