Chinese Association of T&T committee member, David Lee Kim, yesterday called on the police to go after the gangs at Santa Rosa Heights, Arima, who have been terrorising the community and targeting Chinese businesses.
He made the call in the wake of a report in yesterday's T&T Guardian, headlined "Santa Rosa Terror," which highlighted attacks against Chinese business owners and residents by armed criminals in their community.
The crimes, the residents claimed, have been taking place right under the noses of police at the Pinto Road Post, forcing them to live like prisoners in their homes and under siege.
Within hours of the residents' complaint being highlighted, officers yesterday initiated regular patrols for which they were commended by Santa Rosa mini mart operator Rose Ferdinand.
She said in an hour she had seen two vehicles on patrol while armed officers were seen walking around.
"We are feeling a sense of relief now that the police are on patrol in the area," said Ferdinand, who thanked the T&T Guardian for its intervention.
The patrols came after Assistant Commissioner of Police, Superdense Persas, promised to look into the police's failure to guard the community.
Contacted yesterday, Lee Kim said it was no secret that Chinese businesses were being targeted. He referred to two Chinese business owners–Chong Cato and Hi Hong Huang–who were killed months apart by gunmen.
"Chinese people have become an easy target by the criminal elements. They are not known to retaliate or fight back when under the barrel of a gun or being beaten mercilessly," Lee Kim said.
By nature, Lee Kim said Chinese were not confrontational and were quiet people.
"How can you retaliate when criminals are coming at you with guns and cutlasses? They would easily give in because they don't want to be killed.
"I feel sorry for them (Chinese) but what can we do? There is so much crime in the country and to me the police have their hands filled," he said.
Unable to say how many Chinese businesses operate in Trinidad, Lee Kim said in the last two years there had been a proliferation of restaurants, supermarkets and casinos set up by Chinese in the country, which criminals view as a "gold mine" and "easy pickings."
Lee Kim said citizens have often seen bandits beating, humiliating and manhandling Chinese nationals during robberies.
"We have seen it many times on Crime Watch and Beyond The Tape. It's a frightening situation not only for the Chinese. The crime situation is really bad. We hope the police catch these perpetrators and go after the gangs that are creating havoc in the community," he said.
Arima Mayor George Hadeed also called on the police to step up patrols in the area to allay the business community and residents' fears.
He said while the police generally worked in Arima, it was embarrassing to read that a crime had been committed 50 feet from the Pinto Road Police Post and the police were unaware of it.
"This is worrying. It just goes to show that the criminals have no respect for the law or no one," he added.
Hadeed felt the Chinese were becoming prime targets because of the lucrative businesses they operated.
He said many of them have opened casinos and supermarkets which gave the criminals the perception they walked around with huge sums of cash.
Although Santa Rosa did not fall within the jurisdiction of his borough but the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, Hadeed said as mayor the robberies were of great concern to him.
"It appears that the Chinese are being targeted recently in term of robberies. A further investigation should take place to understand why this has been happening.
"Yes, crime is a problem in Trinidad. We have been experiencing this problem for a number of years. I am sure the police are trying their best since no one can predict when a crime will take place but at the same time they need to step up their patrols," Hadeed added.
He said while it would be impossible to put law officers at every street corner, they needed to be more visible.
Hadeed admitted he had not received any reports of Chinese being robbed outside of Santa Rosa.
"They (Chinese) create employment and I would suppose they contribute towards paying taxes and helping with the economy," he added.
Asked if the criminals were winning the war on crime, Hadeed said: "I would not say they are winning the war but as it is now, I would say they are ahead."
He said it was time for our criminal justice system to be revamped.
Several calls to Arima Business Association president Winston Boodoo's cellphone yesterday went unanswered.
In January, Chinese businessman Chong Cao was gunned down outside his business place Zhong Guo Cheng Chinese Restaurant and Bar at Tumpuna Road, La Horquetta. Cao, 30, was shot three times in the face by a lone gunman.
Last April, Hi Hong Huang, 35, was fatally shot as he struggled with two bandits during a robbery outside his business, Happiness Supermarket, Curepe.
In 2012, China-born businessman, Yang Jiang Hua, 60, and his wife, Wu Xiu Hua, also died at the hands of gunmen who entered their Tiger's Chinese Restaurant and Bar in Cunupia.