Writers from China's Diaspora High in Sydney's Raffles Hotel, Lillian Ng is making the most of the free wine provided by her friend, the hotel's PR lady. Ng, who describes herself as 'the bad side of 60', admits she may struggle to walk in a straight line later. For now, she speaks incisively yet philosophically about issues that colour her adopted country. She even has a kind word for the founder of the racist One Nation party, Pauline Hanson. 'In a way, I think she's right,' Ng says. 'In a way, she's a mouthpiece for many Australians who don't like Asians to come into the country. She's just expressing something that's in her heart.' Ng (who says she sometimes feels taken aback by what newspapers quote her as having said) says Hanson is justified in accusing Asians of taking over. Ng attributes this encroachment to their industriousness, which she says is alien to white Australians. 'Without the Chinese, they're quite happy in the Outback riding their horses. But because of the Chinese they have to work harder. They have to compete with them,' Ng says. 'When I first came, no shops opened on Saturday and Sunday. Everything closed after six o'clock. When the Chinese came, they worked right up to 11 o'clock at night. The Australians didn't like the idea at all, but gradually they tried to compete with them. They started delaying the closing hours and they started opening the shops at weekends.' Ng, who admits to being quite lazy, says she approves of the development. Even more controversially, she says that Hanson has a point in portraying Asians as wicked. 'Some of them are wicked,' she says in her ingenuous yet provocative way. 'Triads kill people.' Raised in Singapore by a goldsmith father and a mother who played mahjong all day, Ng went on to study gynaecology at London's Royal Free hospital. She did her practical work at the Elizabeth Garret Anderson Hospital, which she describes as 'an exclusive hospital for females - even the porters and the rodents in the basement were females'. While in London, she met her husband, who she says 'lost his pants' playing blackjack and then left her in 1971. Not a happy time. Nonetheless, the loss proved productive. Ng's debut novel, Silver Sister (Mandarin), which won the 1995 Human Rights Award, stemmed from her hiring an amah to help raise her daughter. In the novel a poor rural girl takes on the role, which traditionally requires celibacy, after losing her family to war and famine. Ng's 1997 follow-up, Swallowing Clouds (Penguin), was a potboiler about a modern Chinese woman called Syn who is haunted by the past and tells steamy stories. In one, a mandarin swallows strange purple grapes 'large as plums' then is overcome by priapism that's forceful enough to lift his gown into the air. The book is intensely erotic: a contemporary Chinese literary equivalent of Sex and the City, featuring the same coy avoidance of expletives. Ng confesses that she can't use four-letter words when she writes about sex, and describes her inability to use dirty language as neurotic. Smiling sheepishly, she puts this down to her strict Chinese upbringing. But she doesn't repudiate Chinese culture. In general, the Chinese perspective encourages respect for family and tradition, she says approvingly. 'I find that western people are not taught these things, and they see their parents once a year at Christmas or Mothers' Day. We were told, because they gave us life, that we're obliged to look after them.' Ng, who lives with her mother, says her pro-family outlook finds an echo in both of her books 'because the daughter always gets back to the mother to take care of her'. Her next book, The Chinese Bushranger, centres for the first time on the plight of a man - and a crouching tiger kung fu expert, to boot. He is based on a real-life figure who was active in New South Wales during the 1860 gold rush - and who, Ng says, has been 'kicked under the carpet' because people prefer to focus on white outlaws such as Ned Kelly, Captain Moonlight and Captain Thunderbolt. The Chinese were 'very much trampled upon' because of their ability to extract gold from the rivers, Ng says. Race riots resulted, and many were killed. But her character is no race martyr. Rather than dig for gold, he chooses to steal it from mail coaches - which leads to the gallows. The book sounds like a ripping yarn, but Ng says she's uncertain about the value of her work. This may be because she's taken a bit of a critical kicking. She well remembers a 1998 review in the Post that compared Swallowing Clouds to 'a drunken, late night grope on a Bondi beach'. Still, Ng has good reason to drink up and celebrate nowadays. Penguin and Random House are bidding for the rights to her tale of the man she plans to drag back out from under the carpet.