The MasterChef Australia 2020 contestant Sarah Tiong, who got eliminated recently from the cooking competition series, has called out a radio station in the country for "racism" after the presenter greeted her in Chinese.
The Asian origin Australia resident Tiong said she was greeted by a presenter from Triple M Sunraysia saying "ni hao ma" when she called in for a phone interview and then the presenter said, "Oh wait, would it be 'lei ho ma?' Anyway."
It Was 'Uncomfortable'
Tiong shared her experience in an Instagram story where she noted that it felt uncomfortable so she ended the call immediately. The MasterChef contestant, who was born and brought up in Australia, wrote in her post: "This is racism. What an insensitive, tone-deaf thing to say. Please, check yourself and do better."
When a follower asked her why using the Mandarin and Cantonese greetings for "how are you" is offensive to her, Tiong explained that it is racist to assume that she is identified as Chinese and speaks the Chinese language.
"Even if I have referenced such heritage or knowledge in the past, it is privileged and ignorant to assume anything about me based on the color of my skin," she added. As per Tiong, it is rude and privileged to assume that she understands the particular language, just because she is an Asian origin.
Apology for Being Racist
After Tiong's social media post went viral, the radio station apologized for the encounter and issued a statement, noting that, "Triple M Sunraysia unreservedly apologizes for the offense caused by comments made to Sarah Tiong off-air this morning."
One of the judges of this year's MasterChef show, Melissa Leong, who earlier co-hosted another show called "The Chefs' Line," sided with Tiong in a post on Instagram Story, saying the words from the radio presenter were not "funny or clever." She added that it illustrates how deep-rooted racial toxicity is in Australia, and "anyone with a voice in media should know better."
Widespread Racism in Australia
Since the Coronavirus pandemic started to spread worldwide after its emergence in China's Wuhan city, incidents of people from Asian countries being attacked and asked to go back to their native countries have spiked in several parts of the world, including Australia.
In April, a viral video showed a woman screamed at some workers at Telstra, which is an Australian telecom company, saying "Go back to China." In an another incident, a Filipino family received a hate note in Port Macquarie in New South Wales, asking them to go back to their country with the disease.
Recently, Beijing released a travel advisory describing the current spike in racism against Asian people, especially people of Chinese descent, as "alarming" in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia," advised the ministry.