A businessman accused of casually racially abusing an Asian-Australian dad at a boat show has hit back with a furious denial.
Matthew Brown was filmed asking Asian fishing enthusiast John Lee “is some ting wong?” at the Sydney International Boat Show over the weekend.
The comment sparked a furious row between the pair, with Mr Lee branding Mr Brown “racist”.
The footage shows Mr Brown replying: “Aren’t you Aussie? Throw a shrimp on the barbie mate.”
Now Mr Brown and his girlfriend Honni Law – who is also seen in the video – claim they are the real victims of the furore.
He told Daily Mail Australia that he is “not a racist” and accused Mr Lee of starting the confrontation.
He also pointed out a section of the video where Mr Lee tells Mr Brown to “go back to where you came from”.
Ms Law also denied she was a racist and said the video made her “very upset”.
“The video did not show him screaming and swearing at me – where I was in fear for my safety as he marched after me, yelling: ‘Go back to your own country’.”
She added that she has Chinese and Filipino family members.
“I also sponsor Chinese New Year at casinos, I support and promote the Chinese community, I also sponsor schools and charities internationally in Indonesia, Fiji, Philippines and Thailand,” Ms Law added.
Mr Lee is an avid fisher who runs JYL Fishing TV, a fishing and boating YouTube channel, meaning he often films his fishing adventures.
The Aussie, who has a Korean background, was at a stand registering his details to enter a different area of the event with his friend when the incident occurred.
“I had bought a fishing rod from the exhibition so I had that in my hand and I was using my mobile phone to put in my details,” he told news.com.au.
“I saw someone’s arm come out and grab the fishing rod. I wasn’t paying attention but at this point I was just thinking that a staff member was helping me because obviously I was struggling with the rod and my phone.”
In the video, the blurred out man – now identified as Mr Brown – can be heard repeatedly saying the phrase “some ting wong” as he speaks to Mr Lee.
“It is a common thing to have a go at Chinese pronunciation – instead of saying is something wrong he said ‘is some ting wong’,” Mr Lee explained.
The fisherman immediately confronted Mr Brown, asking if he was trying to make a joke and informing him he was being filmed.
“What’s wrong then? Some ting wong?” Mr Brown says.
“It is a racist joke buddy,” Mr Lee replies. “Do you understand that?’
Mr Brown then asked what was “racist”, adding: “Are you not Aussie? Chuck another shrimp on the barbie mate.”
Mr Brown and Ms Law are then seen walking away as Mr Lee swears at them.
“Go back to where you came from you f***ing arsehole,” Mr Lee says.
“We are from here. Grow a f***ing penis, seriously,” Ms Law replies.
Mr Lee told news.com.au that he experiences similar situations on a monthly basis.
“I always try to stand up for myself, especially now I have kids I don’t want them to go through the same thing,” he said.
“So it does happen quite often and I just wanted everyone to be aware because it just happens far too often, especially in the boating scene as well.”
He and his friend then returned to the stand, which was for boating dealer Eyachts, with Mr Lee saying the woman working there immediately apologised for the situation and asked if they were all right.
A spokesperson for Eyachts confirmed to news.com.au that none of the people in the video are affiliated with their brand.
“Eyachts is incredibly disappointed that such unacceptable behaviour took place at SIBS. Neither Eyachts nor any of our associated companies condone racist or discriminatory behaviour of any type or at any time and it is very disappointing that such casual racism still appears to be prevalent,” the spokesperson said.
“Eyachts is known to be among the most welcoming and inclusive of exhibitors at the international boats shows ensuring that everybody is invited to step aboard and explore our luxury dayboats so we were especially sorry that this should happen close to our stand. Nobody should be subject to any form of abuse or discrimination.”
The company has also reached out to Mr Lee and extended their support, with the fisherman including a disclaimer in his video that Eyachts have been supportive throughout the ordeal.
“The boating industry does not condone or accept racist or abusive behaviour. We are currently investigating the incident,” a spokesperson for the Sydney International Boat Show told news.com.au
Mr Lee said he has received hundreds of comments and messages of support after uploading the video online.
“I’m just glad that the awareness is out there,” he said.
He said he wasn’t looking for an apology but he wanted people to see that racism is still something many people experience in Australia every day.
“99.9 per cent of Aussies from all backgrounds are totally against racism, but there is a small number of people who are ruining it for all and unfortunately they are the ones who are very vocal,” Mr Lee said.
“It has changed a lot. In the 90s, they were very upfront. They would come up to you and hit you and bash you and call you racist slurs, but these days it is very subtle.”