Q: So then everything hits the fan and it feels like a big black eye to the
Asian community; does it?
Lang: I think so far all this negative coverage and all this accusation
and all this speculation definitely have had strong negative impact on our
community in terms of people's willingness to politically participate, because
I've already seen that during Gary Loc's campaign for governor of Washington.
We organized a big event for him here and a lot of people who committed to the
event before all this was brought out changed their minds later because they
were scared....[We] reassured them, "Hey, don't be scared. This is your right
to participate, and we do things in a legal manner." But still some people
decided not to show up at the event because of this negative thing.
...My concern is if this is going to continue, this would definitely affect
future Asian-American candidates wanting to run for high office.
Q: In what way?
Lang: Well, this will affect the fundraising, because then people would
be less willing to contribute, or people will find a new excuse not to
contribute. The press would look at every Asian dollar with a tainted
Q: Could you say, "There but for the grace of God go I. I could be John
Huang," given what's happening?
Lang: Well, I don't want to comment on John Huang because the John
Huang I know, he's really a community-minded person.....He's not guilty until
he's proven guilty. So I don't want to comment on that.
Q: But let's say you're working for Ron Brown in Washington. Look at what's
happening to Melinda for that matter.
Lang: Yeah, it could happen to another person. If it's not John Huang,
if another person decided to be active in this, this could happen to that
Q: Is it a big fear?
Lang: I won't say it's a big fear. A lot of us are very concerned, a
lot of us are angered by all of this, but on the other hand we realize that we
have a bigger agenda. We have to move on.
....We need to keep on recruiting good qualified candidates to run for office,
especially the lower level, school board and city council, because we are in
this country. We're here to stay.
Q: Do you think racism is behind the media frenzy?
Lang: I hope it's not racism, but when I read a lot of these stories I
can't help but just think, hey, what other explanations can I have...?....
Q: When people say, "All that money had to be turned back, " what do you
Lang: I would say that if the money was contributed illegally, if it
came from a foreign source, if it came from people who were not US citizens or
residents, then we've got to return it because it's illegal. But on the other
hand, there's a lot of wealthy Asians who had the means to contribute.
Sometimes I can't help but laugh when I read some of these stories. They
thought that there [are] no wealthy people in the Asian community. They
thought when some people can write a $300,000 check, there must be some
question about that guy's financial means.
I mean, if they go to Hong Kong, they go to Taipei, ...there are millionaires
everywhere. A flat in Hong Kong costs easily a million US dollars. You know
how many millionaires are there in Hong Kong? So I think it's just ridiculous
to think that Asians are poor. Maybe this is a stereotype that a lot of people
have: " These are new immigrants and they're just trying to establish
themselves, so where did they get the money from?" That just shows they don't
understand our community.
Q: Did you ever approach the Lums on behalf of any political
Lang: My impression at the time was that they were just solely
interested in presidential and federal races. I didn't approach them in 1992
for any local candidates, but as I recall, I think I did have a chance to talk
to them in '93 about supporting Mike Woo who was running for mayor of Los
Angeles at the time. They didn't say 'no' to me, but the impression I got from
them was they were not interested in a local race. So I just dropped the
Q: I had the impression that they liked the idea that they were connected
more to Ron Brown and the federal stuff than local Asian politics specifically.
Lang: You have to ask them, but I don't recall seeing them at any local
Asian-American candidate's fundraiser. I don't recall seeing them having any
close relationship with any Asian-American elected officials, and as you know
there were not that many of them. So that makes me think they were just
interested in presidential politics and federal campaigns.
Q: What was the buzz among the Asian community about why they came in from
Lang: I think a lot of people...didn't pay attention to that. ...Since
they took it upon themselves to organize the whole headquarters and all these
things, and the impression was they were spending a lot of money,...why would
people object to that? Nobody would say, "Hey, why are you doing this?"
On the other hand, I think a lot of people were saying, "Hey, it's great that
we have some people like the Lums who are spending their resources finding a
headquarters, hiring all these young people, running an operation."
Q: You attended the most recent presidential inauguration. How would you
Lang: It could have been a crowning achievement for the Asian-American
community, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. So far, we haven't seen any
major appointments in the Asian community....I don't want to use the term going
down the drain, but I think our involvement at the national level has a serious
setback. I think it's a serious setback.
I haven't seen any elected officials that are bold enough to come up and issue
a strong statement saying that, "I want to tell Asian communities to be
politically active, and I want Asian money as far as it's legal."
Q: What did it feel like to walk around that inauguration having that in
Lang: Well, if all these things didn't happen,...I think people would
be so joyous, I think we would have a lot of clout, I think we would have a lot
of recognition, I think we would be welcome with open arms by a lot of people,
I think there might be a lot of special events, functions organized by the
Asian community for the Asian community, attended by many politicians, ...
things like that. There would be a lot of community leaders that would take a
trip to Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately that didn't happen. A lot of people choose not to go because
they didn't want to be associated with that.