Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Australia's Top 10 Asians: John So

Australia's Top 10 Asians

Number 2.
John So

Age: 62
State: Victoria
Origins of Asianess: Born in Hong Kong with family roots in Southern China
Occupation: 102nd Lord Mayor of Melbourne
In Office: July 2001 - November 2008
Quote: "Melbourne has become the city the world and Australia talks about - a place where people from all nations and all backgrounds are invited to contribute"

We will remember him as the jovial, old, Chinese guy who played side-kick to Livinia Nixon in those “That’s Melbourne!” ads, and who achieved cult status with the “John So – he’s our bro” T-shirts. But John So is much more than just a light-hearted, thick-accented caricature. Coming over to Australia in the 1960’s, So campaigned against the ‘White Australia Policy’ whilst studying at uni. He became a physics teacher, then a businessman, before entering the world of politics of which he held numerous positions.

During his time as Lord Mayor of Melbourne, So accomplished a lot for the city. In his first term, he saw Melbourne voted World’s Most Livable City three times; led the “That’s Melbourne!” campaign to encourage tourism; campaigned against crime, and was a member of the Police Minister's Crime Prevention Council; and pushed for the Federal Government to build a national indigenous museum in Melbourne. During his second term, So presided over several major developments such as Melbourne Central, Bourke St Mall and Docklands; and basked in the warm cheers he received during the 2006 Commonwealth Games. 2006 was also the year he was elected World Mayor and honoured with the ‘You Bring Charm to the World’ Award from Beijing University. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Victoria University in 2007.

John So is an Asian Australian success story. Not only was he a popular and engaging Lord Mayor who was genuinely concerned about his city and his people; he was also an inspiration to boat-loads of immigrants by proving that you can still be a success even if you speak English funny. John So – he’s my bro!

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