Coronavirus-Racism: S’porean Student Attacked in London

There has been a steady rise attacks on people of Asian heritage, or who look Asian, in the past few weeks. Many believe that the fear of corona virus is fuelling these attacks which are happening mainly in Europe and America. Closer to home, we have also seen, on a daily basis, dozens of racist netizens calling for ethnic Chinese-Malaysians to “balik Wuhan” (“go back to Wuhan”). Heck, we even have this guy who spits in our food. But it’s becoming clear that these attacks have got nothing to do with Covid-19 or the fear of it.

Today, news of an attack on a Singaporean student who has been studying in London for the past 2 years appeared in several online publications. Straits Times reported that the Metropolitan Police in London are investigating the racially-motivated assault in which the student (Jonathan Mok) was beaten by a group of young people in a coronavirus-related attack. The incident happened at Oxford Street (one of the busiest streets in London) near Tottenham Court Road station at around 9.15pm on 24 Feb.

The attack happened when Mok passed by a group of young people. Someone from the group said “coronavirus” as their paths crossed which led Mok to turn around. A man from the group then shouted at Mok, “don’t you dare look at me”.

It was then when Mok was “sucker punched” by more than one person from the group. According to Mok, passers-by tried to stop the fight. A passer-by even tried to reason with the attackers that “4 on 1 was not fair” while another passer-by recorded the attack on her phone and called the police.

However, he was kicked by another attacker while trying to explain to a passer-by that he had not done anything wrong.

The attacker who kicked him allegedly said, “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country”, before taking another punch at Mok.

Mok was taken to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of a local hospital and was told that he had suffered a few fractures in his face and might need to undergo reconstructive surgery to fix some of the bones.

He took to Facebook recently to reveal the details of his ordeal.

In his FB post, Mok reveal that this isn’t the first time he has experienced racism in London. His brushes with racist behaviour has been happening long before coronavirus was even thing. He wrote:

“I’ve studied in London for the past 2 years and every year, I am subjected to racist remarks (whether innocent or made with malice). To those people who told me that London isn’t racist, think again.”

The group of attackers fled before the police arrived. No arrests have been made as the police are trying to identify the suspects through inquiries and CCTV footage.

Many, including Mok himself, have called out the act of violence as racism that is thinly veiled by the concerns of the virus. In his FB post, Mok wrote:

“Racism is not stupidity – racism is hate. Racists constantly find excuses to expound their hatred – and in this current backdrop of the coronavirus, they’ve found yet another excuse.”

As the number of Covid-19 cases increase, let’s hope paranoia and fake news doesn’t get the best of some people. And if you see something, like what happened to Mok, taking place here in Malaysia, do your best to stop it or at least call the police.

Well, it’s gonna be a tough year, guys, so let’s turn to the dark side.