KOTA KINABALU, March 15 ― Malaysians based in New Zealand expressed shock and disbelief today over the deadly mosque attacks in Christchurch.
With the city in lockdown hours after the shootings, Malaysians based there were struggling to grasp the severity of the shootings they were learning about in reports and a horrific livestream by one of the attackers.
Esther Lee, a Malaysian-Kiwi living in Christchurch, said most schools, malls and office buildings were closed as police hunt the gunmen.
“I was closeby in the area ― the Al Noor mosque is very close to my parent’s place where I’d gone after work,” she said when contacted by Malay Mail and referring to the site of one shooting.
“All the schools and businesses are closed, the streets and malls around the city are empty – it’s made the whole city feels awful. Everyone’s on edge.
“The whole city feels so strange. It’s so surreal ― these things don’t happen here! I didn’t even know we had those kind of guns here,” she said.
Lee said she had checked on her parents and found them safe but was worried about her sister-in-law who had a daughter in preschool.
Jonathan Chan, a Sabahan living in Auckland, said those in Christchurch were still plagued by the tragic 6.2 earthquake in 2011 and recovering from their losses.
“We have family there and we know that they’re still affected by that so this incident does not help. We definitely did not expect this knowing what a multicultural country New Zealand is.
“Most Kiwis are very accepting of foreigners through their education, economy and every aspect of daily living so this is a huge surprise,” he said.
Jeremy Tan, a Malaysian living in Auckland, said that friends and family were glued to live updates on the internet and watching from afar while checking on relatives living in Christchurch.
“This is by far the worst act of terror in New Zealand ever. We have been checking on our Muslim and Malaysian friends in Christchurch and thankfully all are ok for now. But offices there are in lockdown and no one is leaving work yet,” said Tan.
The lockdown of schools throughout Christchurch was lifted at 5.50pm.
At least one Malaysian is confirmed hurt in the 1.40pm (lNZ time) attack at the mosque while 30 others are confirmed dead as of writing.
NZ police have arrested four people ― three men and one woman ― in connection with the shootings.