HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Very humble, yet with wealth, power and influence beyond comprehension
The Chinese owned fishing company “Luen Thai” has received media attention lately due to questions in parliament on Tuesday from Leader of the Opposition Hon Wilkie Rasmussen who referred the taking of shark fins and to the company as “insidious” in nature.
Rasmussen queried the company’s record in Saipan where it was sued over unlawful working conditions.
Minister for Marine Resources (MMR) Hon Teina Bishop told the House on Tuesday he would explain at a later date the company’s relationship with local partners and MMR which basically is to develop exports of our tuna.
The owner of Luen Thai, Sam Chou is also a special advisor to the Minister.
Chou is a multi-billionaire whose business interests span a range of high quality manufactured products.
All up his companies employ some 185,000 employees. His Headquarters is a 40 storey building.
When government invited overseas interests to come to Rarotonga to sign an MOU on exploratory fishing, Chou and his wife Lily arrived in Rarotonga unannounced, without any fanfare and booked into the Edgewater Resort. Later, at the signing of the MOU which took place in the Cabinet room, Chou who sat at the back, went forward, supported by a walking stick (he walks with a slight stoop) and signed the MOU. Chou and his wife then visited Aitutaki before returning to China.
It was not until Minister Bishop visited China late last year to follow up the signatories to the MOU that it became plain just who and how powerful and influential Sam Chou was not only in business circles but also at the political level.
The hospitality accorded the Minister and his delegation by Chou was extraordinary. The visit along with photos was covered by the Herald earlier. Thanks to Chou, many doors opened especially in the pearl sector and for that the Cook Islands can be grateful. Offers from Chinese experts in pearl research/production/ marketing were freely promised. Such was the diplomacy displayed by Minister Bishop that the Professor who heads the University specializing in Marine studies, got out of his seat, walked around the conference table and gave the Minister a hug.
When Chou visited Rarotonga the second time, government made sure the red carpet was down and Chou, deservedly, got VIP treatment.
It is not possible for the average Cook Islander to comprehend the high regard Chou is held in by the Chinese. Make no mistake, Chou is a sharp businessman. In public, in China, people bow to him. His wealth, power and influence is far beyond our comprehension yet he retains and exhibits a humbleness few can match. -Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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