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Tech rich lister warns of ‘underlying racist narrative’ in coronavirus threat


His LinkedIn post has lead to more than 3,600 reactions and hundreds of comments from those in the business community, many challenging Mr Fung’s claim of sensationalist or racist framing in conversations about the virus.

Speaking to the The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mr Fung said he wanted to be clear he was not suggesting that Australians were broadly displaying racist perspectives or a lack of empathy in response to the virus.

A LinkedIn post from Airtasker founder Tim Fung on the fallout from coronavirus.

A LinkedIn post from Airtasker founder Tim Fung on the fallout from coronavirus.

However, said he’d wished the coverage of the situation had given more of a human face to those affected.

“There hasn’t been much of a human interest story that’s been explored here,” he said.

The post sparked debate on LinkedIn, with many commenters saying caution about the spread of the virus was not in itself problematic.

“I completely disagree with this view and I think it is outrageous,” said one LinkedIn user.

“This is about the safety, protection and wellbeing of humanity, which includes all races, nothing more, nothing less.”

Keynoteworthy Speakers founder Catherine Ngo said businesses must stick to the facts when discussing the risks of coronavirus.

Keynoteworthy Speakers founder Catherine Ngo said businesses must stick to the facts when discussing the risks of coronavirus.

Founder and chief executive of diverse public speakers bureau Keynoteworthy, Catherine Ngo, commented in support of Mr Fung on the post and said she had seen anti-Asian sentiment emerge in the wake of virus.

The focus on the origin of coronavirus in China was “drilling an unnecessary fear into people” by focusing on nationalities rather than the health issue itself, she said.

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Ms Ngo has worked in the diversity, inclusion and human resources spaces for several years and said employers should be mindful of sticking to fact-based information about the virus when talking to staff, stamping out any inappropriate commentary about racial backgrounds which might come from staff.

“I think it’s worthwhile to send a HR or senior leader in to educate people on this — I think it’s about sticking to the facts,” she said.

Ms Ngo said concerns about the business disruptions of the virus were a live issue, though companies should be treating this as a temporary business challenge rather than being alarmist about the situation.

“Just get on with business — this is a hurdle right now, but it’s going to go away.”

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