Jason Yat-sen Li is the newly elected Member for the NSW State seat of Strathfield and won it in the recent NSW by-elections a month ago. He took over the seat after former NSW Labor Party leader Jodi McKay retired. Li’s win is one which is meaningful to Asian/Asian Australians and shows what happens when diversity works. At his victory speech he cited issues around racism, anti-Asian hate etc. Throughout the campaign there were incidents of racism targeted at his campaign and volunteers of his campaign team, so he used his victory speech as a way to address these issues. Here are 2 quotes of what he said:
“Race is used as a partisan political weapon for short-term gain but with devastating long-term consequences.”
“It is not OK that the patriotism of candidates or the Labor Party is questioned with no basis in fact”
On the 22nd of March he was formally sworn into NSW State Parliament as the Member for Strathfield and made his maiden speech on the 23rd. His speech was awesome and he paid homage to his Chinese Australian upbringing (here are a few excerpts):
I grew up in a red double‑brick house in Bexley, playing with my next‑door neighbour, riding our BMX bikes up to the corner store to buy milk bottle lollies or to play the new space invader machines. We played cricket on warm summer afternoons in the middle of the street with an old bat, a tennis ball and those metal rubbish bins that used to line the streets of Sydney. But at school, kids would call me “Ching Chong Chinaman” and laugh at the soy sauce chicken drumsticks that Mum would pack me for lunch.
We did things differently from other Aussie families. We took our shoes off at the front door. We drank hot water, not cold. We showered at night, not in the morning. Dad would engage in guerrilla warfare tactics to pay the restaurant bill before his dinner companions even had a chance to finish their meal. Mum did not bake cakes or scones but made tofu in the kitchen. We only spoke Chinese at home, Mum and Dad knowing that as soon as I went to school I would refuse to speak Chinese because I would just want to fit in. And they were right. I wished I did not look different and sound different. I asked Mum to make me devon sandwiches with tomato sauce for lunch, like everyone else, and she dutifully made them with white bread stuffed with barbecue pork char siu.
You can read the full speech by clicking here. Jason is the 8th state politician to enter NSW state Parliament with an Asian/ASIAN AUSTRALIAN background (this is inclusive of both Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council) and the 6th in the Assembly after Prue Carr (Member for Londonderry), Anoulack Chanthivong (Member for Macquarie Fields), Geoff Lee ( Member for Parramatta), Jenny Leong (Member for Newtown) and Gurmesh Singh (Member for Coffs Harbour).
We look forward to interviewing and seeing your career flourish Jason!
Images via Jason Li Facebook page