Warning against two student groups

THE NSW government last week issued a warning to international students not to have any dealings with a group purporting to represent their interests.

The Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, made public the statement after receiving numerous complaints from universities and legitimate groups about the behaviour of individuals associated with the Overseas Students Association and the National Liaison Committee.

The warning, which was co-signed by 26 peak groups, universities, government departments and cultural outlets, said the group had been using harassing and intimidating behaviour towards members of the legitimate representative group, the Council of International Students Australia.

“CISA has received numerous reports from students who allege they have been harassed and intimidated by OSA representatives,” the warning said.

But its leader, who goes by the name of Master Shang, says that he will make a formal complaint to the NSW Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission “to make sure Mr Stoner is responsible for his remarks”.

“It’s a direct violation of human rights of international students to organise their own overseas student association on campus,” Mr Shang told the HES.

“We have made a decision to take the government and (University of Technology, Sydney) to the Australian Human Rights Commission for formal complaint.”

The government also warned students not to hand over personal details, including their passport and visa information.

Chin Pok Yap, 23, a Malaysian engineering student from Edith Cowan University, told the HES he was “tricked into joining” the NLC last August.

“They said they were from the government and they declared they were the peak body representing international students,” Mr Yap said.

“I found that the whole group is controlled by Master Shang and he has power over everything. I believe he is after money and power.”

Mr Yap said Mr Shang also tried to get his passport and visa details but when he refused Mr Shang “got very angry”.

“I was not sure what he would do with it, but he got angry when I refused to give it to him.”

When Mr Yap realised the activities of the NLC were not legitimate, he quit three or four months later.

“After I quit, (the NLC) started harassing me and ringing me.

“At first I was a little scared until I contacted my university.

“They threatened to get my visa cancelled and they said I would get in trouble with (the) Immigration (Department).

“I eventually stopped answering their calls.

“They went so far as contacting my sister.

“She didn’t speak to them but they rang her employer and harassed my sister’s boss.”

Mr Shang has now registered the name Council of International Students Australia in NSW.

It’s a similar strategy he used in 2008 when he registered the legitimate, Victorian-based National Liaison Committee in NSW.

“I cannot understand why Andrew Stoner wants to be the public enemy of the Chinese, the Indian, the Muslim and all other multicultural communities in Australia by defaming the NLC,” said NLC national convener ShuYang Sun in a statement.

“Our NLCommunity (sic) contributes $5.5 billion to NSW’s economy; we will decide whether international students come to study in NSW or spend the money elsewhere.”

Mr Stoner’s warning said that the OSA and NLC had been infringing trademark rights by unauthorised use of state governments’ logos on their websites.

In addition, the OSA website “carries false information about discounts” from a range of retailers and cultural outlets to holders of its student safety card. A spokeswoman for Woolworths said the company was attempting to get its logo removed from the website.

Target, Coles and others also said they had no knowledge of the group.

Mr Shang, who became a citizen in 1990, said he was the legitimate representative of Chinese students.

“We are the community. They are my children,” he said.

“The government can have a formal investigation of us to see what we have done wrong.”


NOVEMBER 13, 2013 

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