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Australian CEO of Airtasker told to ‘go back to China’ in racist encounter at a dog beach

An Australian CEO has recalled how he was told to ‘go back to China’ after his dog kicked sand on another beachgoer.

Tim Fung, the 38-year-old founder of tech start-up Airtasker, was at a dog-friendly  beach with his wife on Friday when his pet Harvey started ‘mucking around’. 

Mr Fung said he and his wife felt ‘a little embarrassed’ for the mess the dog made and apologised to the woman – who then yelled out the racist remark. 

‘I could see that getting sand flicked on me would have been super annoying and that we’d sort of stuffed up her beach day,’ Mr Fung wrote on LinkedIn.

‘The woman then started muttering a number of racist remarks and as she packed up her stuff to leave the beach yelled at us: ”go back to China”.’

Tim Fung, the CEO of Airtasker was shockingly told to ‘go back to China’ after his dog flicked sand onto a woman nearby

To make matters worse, the Airtasker founder had dubbed Friday a ‘recharge day’ for all his employees to have the day off and focus on their wellbeing.

The businessman shared the encounter to his LinkedIn page and asked for feedback on what he could have done to handle the situation better.  

‘On one hand, the woman seemed really angry and it feels like calling her out for being racist would likely result in an escalating confrontation which would probably lead to very little impact (or something worse eg. violence),’ he said.

‘On the other hand, Asian folks in many countries have recently been experiencing increasingly racist behaviour, including violence (exacerbated by a Covid/China narrative) and not calling her out seems somewhat irresponsible.’

The post was flooded with hundreds of comments from many other CEOs and high profile businessmen and women, divided on what the right thing to do was. 

Christina Chun, co-chair of SECNA said she felt she needed to say something if she was in a similar position in order to show her children how people should be treated. 

TIM FUNG’S RACIST ENCOUNTER 

I’d like to get some advice on how to deal with racism based on an experience I had today with my family.

Today at Airtasker was a recharge day – a day for the people of Airtasker to get away from their screens and focus on wellbeing. 

So together with my wife and our dog Harvey, we decided to head down to a dog friendly beach.

Whilst we were playing on the beach, Harvey’s mucking around flicked some sand on to a nearby beachgoer. 

Self conscious and a little embarrassed, my wife and I apologised to the woman. 

I could see that getting sand flicked on me would have been super annoying and that we’d sort of stuffed up her beach day.

The woman then started muttering a number of racist remarks and as she packed up her stuff to leave the beach yelled at us: go back to China.

I’d like to hear any advice on what the right thing to do is here…

On one hand, the woman seemed really angry and it feels like calling her out for being racist would likely result in an escalating confrontation which would probably lead to very little impact (or something worse eg. violence).

On the other hand, Asian folks in many countries have recently been experiencing increasingly racist behaviour, including violence (exacerbated by a Covid/China narrative) and not calling her out seems somewhat irresponsible.

Is there a ‘right’ way to handle situations like this?

‘We’ve been much more conscious in calling it out (but in a calm manner) because we’ve got two little girls watching our behaviour as parents / how we respond to things most of the time now,’ she said.

Solicitor Johnathan Pham said victims of racial abuse should stand up for themselves.

Mr Fung said he and his wife apologised to the woman but she rudely replied with a racist remark

‘In today’s world it’s not enough to simply be a ‘non-racist’, we need to be ‘anti-racist’,’ he commented.

‘Not saying you had to confront her, but when someone sinks to racism, they need to be made to feel uncomfortable. Calling them out is not meant to cause some big cathartic moment, but it lets them know that their behaviour is simply not acceptable.’

Melissa Ran, head of community at Airtree Ventures said she had been in similar situations and just ‘let it go’.

‘I do it because I don’t think me confronting them will change their opinion – it’s not like people don’t know they are being racist,’ she said.

‘I also think: this person in front of me is in a lot of pain. I live a wonderfully privileged life surrounded by people who love me, I can be the bigger person here.’

Mr Fung’s case is just one of many racist incidents in Australia within recent months, with the Covid-19 pandemic seemingly adding to the tension.

The businessman shared his encounter on LinkedIn and asked what he could have done in the situation

The businessman shared his encounter on LinkedIn and asked what he could have done in the situation

Earlier this month a man was filmed tearing down a suburban sign that said the virus was ‘made in China’. 

The video shared on TikTok next to the caption ‘say no to racism’ showed the man cutting the metal sign in half before smashing it to pieces with a hammer in Glen Waverley in Melbourne’s east.

The sign read ‘Made in China – Covid-19’ – a reference to the pandemic’s origin in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The video drew widespread support on the viral video site, with commenters praising the man for standing up to discrimination. 

‘Can’t believe this is happening in 2021. Hope the cowards responsible for this are held accountable,’ another said.

‘No matter where [the virus] is from, it shouldn’t lead to racism – that’s never forgivable,’ one commented.  

A man has been filmed destroying a sign on a residential street that claimed Covid-19 was 'made in China'

He was shown cutting the metal sign in half before smashing it to pieces with a hammer in Glen Waverley in Melbourne's eastern suburbs

A Melbourne man was filmed destroying a sign on a suburban street which claimed Covid-19 was ‘made in China’

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