A Sikh migrant who was targeted in a racially-charged online video has been elected to a South Australian regional council, an achievement he says proves anything is possible in Australia.
Port Augusta taxi company manager Sunny Singh was the subject of a social media video that went viral weeks before the close of voting.
The video showed a truck driver directing racial slurs at a life-sized cut-out made from one of Mr Singh’s election placards, which was eventually run over by the truck.
Despite the video, Mr Singh attracted 753 first-preference votes — the highest in the local election.
Following his victory, Mr Singh was congratulated by the truck driver behind the video, who apologised for his actions.
Mr Singh said truck driver Grant Moroney, who made the racially-charged video featuring his election corflute, met him in person to congratulate him on his election.
“We had a chat about all these things that have happened … we had a chat about his work and he has plenty of work lined up,” Mr Singh said.
“His other message is that he never wanted to hurt anyone, it was never his intention and he apologised.
“He’s a great man, I met him yesterday, it’s all sorted and I gave him some information about my religion and culture.”
He fully accepted Grant Moroney’s apology for making the video.
“We will stay in touch for a long time now,” he said.
He said it was hard to determine what impact the video had on his campaign.
National Sikh Council of Australia public liaison officer, Vikram Singh Grewal, said the elections of Mr Singh in Port Augusta and 22-year old Simrat Pal Singh Malhi in Renmark were great results.
Mr Grewal said the numbers of racially-motivated attacks on Sikhs had grown since the 9/11 terrorist attacks due to a lack of education, but that was changing.
“Sikhs in Australia have been around since the late 1800s … in the last 10 years there has been a 500 per cent increase in the Sikh population,” he said.
“People are getting to know Sikhs and they are more actively taking part in their local communities.”
He said education was key to ensuring Sikhs were not racially vilified in the future.
“Anybody who thinks someone wearing a turban is a mystery, don’t think that, just go and ask them,” Mr Grewal said.