FROM serfdom and neglect in Kaiping county, Guandong province of China, to a multi-million-kina state-of-the-art biscuit factory at Kamkumung, Lae, the Chow family spans four generations in this country.
“To have come this far, it has taken us 52 years of sweat, toil and hard work and, on the way, we have experienced failures, discouragement and many hurdles.
“It has not been fair sailing all the way and, with determination and will power, especially with the help of my good wife Lady Colette, we have come this far.”
So said chairman Sir Henry Francis Chow at the blessing, dedication and opening of the new Lae Biscuit Company manufacturing plant last Saturday.
It is a story of struggle, of single-minded determination and toil, of believing in oneself and the country that warms the heart and deserves the standing ovation Sir Henry received as he transferred the reigns of management to his fourth son, Ian Andrew Chow, the man credited with creating the popular Snax brand.
The baton has been passed from father to son. A generation passes as a new one steps up to take on the challenges.
The story continues and, all things being equal, it will be a continuing success story.
In this country of boundless riches and abject failures, such a success story must be told in the classrooms and forum areas of our villages to inspire Papua New Guineans on.
The story must be told that the multi-million-kina factory grew within the lifetime of one man from a small pastry and scone shop.
It did not take tens of thousands of kina. It took “sweat, toil and hard work” as the man himself put it.
Added somewhere in five decades of such sweat, toil and hard work were failures, discouragement and many hurdles. These then are the ingredients for success, the smoldering fires as it were where success is molded.
It is not easy money as many in Papua New Guinea seek it. Easy money is slippery; it slips out of the pocket, or from the bank.
We would today have tens of thousands of businessmen and women if the money that were earned in the gold fields of Bulolo and Wau, or on the icy plateau of Mt Kare or from scores of legitimate or illegitimate claims made against the State, were put to such diligent and careful use.
The excuse that comes easy to the PNG mind today is that those of Chinese descent, like the Chow family, were of a different mould where money and money-making is concerned.
It is the excuse of a lazy spendthrift.
Everyone can work like a Chinaman. Everyone can hoard and save like a Chinaman. Everyone can grow successful like a Chinaman.
It must be remembered that the Chinese fail too – lots of times as Sir Henry admitted.
The difference between success and failure is that the successful one picks himself up and try again, and again and again.
The story of the Chow family is as inspirational as it is gripping, heartwarming as it is sad, and one which typifies the kind of determination and focus that has given the Papua New Guinean Chinese of an earlier generation the success stories that they have become in this country.
There are many – the Chans, the Seetos, the Lams, the Chungs and the Tsangs among them.
All of these families, now scattered throughout the country, are hard at work building their businesses and, as they grow, they too grow the economy. They contribute meaningfully to religion and community work and to politics and commerce.
As they grow, they provide employment and educate their workers and their children.
What is particularly inspirational is that they are all Papua New Guineans.
They have grown up here and they have grown their businesses here.
In this globalising world, it is certain they will spread their wings and fly abroad to invest and do business but their roost is here, and it is home to roost they will mostly turn.
We must learn from the dedication of such families and, more especially, to emulate them.
Sir Henry and his family and group of companies deserve our thanks and praise.