|BRAVING THE WORLD WITH
THREE HONG KONG DOLLARS
What should one have contributed to society during his few decades
of life? What should one have left to the posterity? After all,
a man should not be like an animal that is born, grows up, matures
and then dies. Thus one should have done some good deeds and made
valuable contributions to society. This is a problem of life I have
often pondered over.
Among the billions of people in the world hundreds of millions have
quietly worked to increase the social wealth without attracting
public attention. Some of them are public figures who give the mankind
the benefit of their wisdom, technology, inventions and creations.
Others have distinguished themselves and brought honor to their
ancestors. Some have gained rapid promotions in their careers in
official circles, in the battlefield or in business circles. In
any case, no success has come from heaven as every successful person
has his own story of struggle and his own experiences.
I have made a fortune late in life and started from scratch. I am
not one of the above-mentioned outstanding persons. Nevertheless,
inspiration and encouragement may be drawn from my struggles, my
way of self-cultivation and ruling the family. Useful lessons may
be learned from my way of conducting myself in society, my temperament
and interest and my experiences in various ways of the world.
It is to this end that I have written this book of memories at the
age of seventy.
May 17, 2001.
Chapter I Being from a Charitable Family
A harmonious family is the most beautiful blooming flower in the
world. Nothing else is more lovable. It is the best atmosphere that
can cultivate the character of the family members to be charitable,
steadfast and upright.
My Ancestral Home -- Wenchang
Wenchang, my ancestral home, is a beautiful and legendary place.
Wenchang city, in China's Hainan Province, lies in the northeastern
part of the Hainan Island. It is 72 kilometers from Haikou, the
provincial capital. Bordered by the sea on the east, south and north,
it covers a land area of 2,403 square kilometers. It has a coastline
of 206 kilometers and 40 harbors. Qinglan Harbor is one of the seven
large ones. Wenchang abounds with aquatic products, including 800
kinds of fish and shrimps. Of them eels, roaches, lobsters and prawns
are large in number. Wenchang is also rich in mineral resources
such as ilmenite, quartz sands, and sapphire. Wenchang has some
scenic spots such as Coconut Groves and Copper Drum Ridge. Wenchang
is also a place where people of talent have come forth in large
numbers. It is the ancestral home of Soong Ching Ling, Honorary
Chairman of the People's Republic of China and the Soong family.
It is also the hometown of General Zhang Yunyi of the Chinese People's
Wenchang has a long history. Far back in the new Stone Age our forefathers
began to multiply there. During the Tang and Yu periods, it was
the southern border of the country. During the Xia, Shang and Zhou
dynasties it was inhabited by the descendants of the people from
Zhejiang and Yangzhou. During the Qin Dynasty it was the outlying
protective area of the Xiang Qun Prefecture. According to the Qiongzhou
Prefectural Annuals, the predecessor of Wenchang was Zibei County
set up in the first year of Yuan Feng (110 B.C.) of the Western
Han Dynasty under the jurisdiction of Zhuya Prefecture. Zibei county
was abolished in the third year of Cu Yuan (46 B.C.) when Emperor
Yuan Di approved Jia Juan's proposal to this effect. Later Wu De
county was set up in the ruins of Zibei in the third year of Da
Ye (607) of the Sui Dynasty. In the fifth year of Wu De (622) of
the Tang Dynasty it was renamed Pingchang County. By the first year
of Zhen Guan (627) its name was changed to Wenchang County. "Wenchang"
means to disband troops and attend to civilian affairs after conquest.
Wenchang was under the jurisdiction of Yazhou Prefecture. In the
fifth year of Kai Bao of the Song Dynasty it was under the jurisdiction
of Qiongzhou Prefecture. In the Yuan Dynasty it was a district under
the Ganning Pacification Department. After the third year of Hong
Wu (1370) of the Ming Dynasty it was under the jurisdiction of Qiongzhou
Prefecture, Guangdong Province. In the 37th year of the Republic
of China (1948) the Qiongya Democratic Government broke it into
two parts -- the Wennan (Southern Wenchang) and Wenbei (Northern
Wenchang). In April 1950 after the liberation the two again merged
into one and the former name Wenchang County was restored. It was
renamed Wenchang City on November 7, 1995 with the approval of the
Wenchang is China's well-known "home of culture" with
advanced education. People of talents came forth in large numbers.
According to the 1999 county annuals, there were 243 senior and
middle-rank government officials during the period of the Republic
of China, 445 cadres of middle and higher ranks in the people's
government (of them 40 being deputy provincial governors), 1,334
county magistrates, regimental commanders and department heads,
and 1,398 senior intellectuals, experts and scholars in various
fields. Wenchang is also the birthplace of the Soong family "who
have changed the look of modern China" as some foreign historians
The people of Wenchang were noted for their high degree of moral
courage and fighting spirit. Since the late Qing Dynasty they had
waged heroic struggles against feudal oppression and imperialist
aggression in various ways. From the 1920s the people of Wenchang
had gone through the First Revolutionary War (the Northern Expedition),
the land reform, the War of Resistance Against Japan and the War
of Liberation. During the struggles 4,562 martyrs had dedicated
their lives to the revolution. In addition, there were 194 generals
during the period of the Republic of China. That is why it is known
as the "home of generals".
From the late Song and early Ming dynasties the inhabitants of Wenchang
started going to Southeast Asian countries to make a living. In
the 24th year of Hong Wu (1392) of the Ming Dynasty, Wenchang County
was hit by repeated typhoons and droughts. Because of the natural
disasters and feudal exploitation the local people had no means
of livelihood and left for foreign countries. More than 2,000 people
of the 24,203 local inhabitants crossed the sea by sailing boats
to Siam (present-day Thailand) to eke out a living. During the period
between 1927 and 1949 Wenchang had 157,205 emigrants. Statistics
show that by the 1990s Wenchang emigrants reached 1.2 million in
over 50 countries and regions. Wenchang is thus also called the
"hometown of overseas Chinese".
With luxuriant coconut groves, mountains and azure seas, the scenery
of Wenchang is pleasant and agreeable. The tall coconut trees are
especially attractive. As the saying goes that "the coconuts
of Hainan top China," while "the coconuts of Wenchang
top Hainan". Hence Wenchang has won the fame as the "home
It is in this piece of land that my family has started its journey
Guoxing, descendant of the 51st generation of my ancestors, styled
himself Changming, with an alternative name of Guangdou. During
the Southern Song period (1127-1279) he left home for Qiongzhou
by sea, where he had a job of teaching in a government school.
My grandfather Deyi (1850-1917) was very poor in his childhood.
He was the second of three brothers. The five people of the family
crowded in a hut. The whole family lived by reclaiming and cultivating
wasteland. They satisfied their hunger with sweet potato porridge
and wild greens.
When I was a child, I learned by listening to the talks of old people
that my grandfather was forthright and fond of moving around. He
used to move from place to place trying to find a way out. When
he was still rather young, he alone left Hainan for Thailand by
sea. Later he got married and started his career. He was indeed
a courageous pioneer
It was said that after my grandfather arrived in Thailand, he worked
in a sawmill as a hard laborer. He gradually accumulated some funds
and opened a grocery. It was with great courage for him to live
in a foreign country in face of immense difficulties such as language
barriers and unfamiliar surroundings. It was courage and the motivation
that had changed his life from poverty to wealth.
My grandfather first married an offspring of a Thailand Chinese
surnamed Fu. For a long time they had no children after marriage.
According to the old Chinese tradition that one should not be without
offspring, so he married for the second time. His second wife, surnamed
Zhang, was again an offspring of a Thailand Chinese. She gave birth
to two sons and two daughters. As his two wives were all born in
Thailand, they knew no Hainan dialect. Although my grandfather lived
in a foreign land, he never forgot his ancestral country. Thus he
was thinking of marrying a woman from Hainan who would administer
his property in the hometown when he came back to China. In 1886
he married my grandmother, surnamed Wang, who was his third wife.
In 1901 my grandfather eventually returned to his home village in
Hainan along with my grandmother. After he built a new house, he
went back to Thailand while my grandmother settled down in the village
and took charge of the family property.
In 1910 my grandfather again came back from Thailand. He had the
old hut dismantled and built a new house at the former site. He
also bought some farmland. Before long our family became well-off
in the village.
Meanwhile came 1917, the last year of my grandfather. Before his
death he once more returned to our village and built three more
houses. The timber for building and furniture was of the best wood-teak
from Thailand. Upon completion of the new houses that were bright,
spacious and impressive, many villagers came to visit. For days
my grandmother was busy receiving the continuous flow of visitors.
My grandfather was overjoyed to see the fruits of his labor in his
At that time my grandfather was the richest of the village. His
family was a harmonious one and was free from any want or cares.
He had succeeded to change his poor lot by courage, intelligence
and industry. He had laid a solid economic foundation for us in
Thailand and in China.
In 1917 my grandfather passed away in his hometown at the age of
67. He was buried at the back of our house.
My grandmother Wang Shi was a virtuous wife and good mother. All
through her life she was merciful and selfless in social life while
in family she was industrious and frugal. She was respectful to
the seniors and kind to the young ones. She had set a good example
by her words and deeds.
My grandfather and my grandmother loved each other throughout their
lives. They had one daughter and three sons. My father was the fifth
of his brothers and sisters (including those of different mothers).
My aunt was married to a Thailand rich man. She helped my fourth
uncle to manage the Prosper Foreign Firm. The company that was founded
by my fourth uncle with her support had three consecutive shop fronts
in the Sibaye Road in Thailand. It handled imported equipment for
rice mill, petrol and tires. It was one of the earliest foreign
firms in Thailand. My fourth uncle already had a car at that time.
The Prosper Foreign Firm was quite well known, especially among
the overseas Chinese in Thailand.
At the peak of the Prosper Foreign Firm my grandfather and my fourth
uncle often came back to our village in Wenchang to see the family,
build houses or buy some land.
In Hainan everyone has a marked provincialism, especially the elder
people. There has been an unwritten rule that local dialect must
be spoken abroad or at home. The native dialect which conveys warm
rural feelings is a ribbon that links the hearts of all family members
With financial support of my grandfather and my fourth uncle, the
life of the villagers grew better and better as most of the males
left for Thailand to make a living. My grandmother was then the
head of our family. She was kind, even-tempered and charitable.
She was generous toward all in need and was enthusiastic in public
welfare. She volunteered to pay medical fees for the sick people.
She gave financial assistance to those with difficulties at weddings
or funerals. People in our village used to call her the "Living
In Wenchang the harvest was always poor due to the sand soil, water
shortage, droughts and typhoon. Most of the villagers lived mainly
on overseas remittances from abroad.
In those days most people in the village were women and children.
They could only do the light work. Heavy work like plowing must
be done by a farm laborer with a buffalo. At that time there was
a poor bachelor Chen Jingfan in our village. He had neither parents
nor other kin. Taking pity on him, my grandmother asked him to work
in our family. Though he was a farm laborer, he was treated like
a member of our family. We had meals at the same table side by side.
To show our politeness, we addressed him Fan Ge or Brother Fan.
My grandmother bought him clothes, shoes and other daily necessaries.
Time passed quickly. Brother Fan had come to our family for ten
years. When he came, he was forty years old. Now he was 50. On the
night of his 50th birthday, my grandmother prepared special dishes
and some wine for him. When the dinner was over, she asked him to
stay longer and she would have a talk with him. When the table was
cleared and other members had left she said slowly: "You've
worked ten years for us. You have helped us a lot. You are now fifty
and still single. To express our appreciation of your help, I am
thinking of giving you a sum of money to live on."
Hearing these words, Brother Fan was moved to tears but couldn't
utter a word. After a while he stammered, "Thanks, thanks,
thank you so much."
A few months later, a new house was put up in his former premises.
Then Brother Fan got married with my grandmother's assistance.
Rapid changes took place in China day after day. Meanwhile came
1953, seven years after my grandmother's death. Land reform was
carried out in our village. According to class status our family
belonged to the "Overseas Chinese industrial and commercial
landlord class." Public meetings were often held to criticize
and denounce the exploitation of the landlords. Several times Brother
Fan was persuaded to attend a meeting in the front of our house.
To the surprises of all attendants, he did not say a single word
against our family. Instead, he enumerated in detail all the friendly
treatment and financial assistance he had received from my grandmother.
In 1931 I was born in Houliang Village, Gongpo Xiang (now Gongpo
Township), Wenchang County (now Wenchang City), Hainan Island (now
Hainan Province). I was the second of six brothers and sisters.
As my mother had to go to the field to work, I remained at home
with my grandmother all day. She used to tell me stories, the family
history, and how to behave and study.
I remember there was a very hot day in one summer. My grandmother
told all members of the family to rest at home instead of going
to the field. She herself sat on a stool with a palm-leaf fan in
hand. Our buffalo was lying in the shade of a longan tree. Pointing
the buffalo with her fan she said, "You must study hard, or
you would like the buffalo toil all day in the field." I answered
quickly, "I will study hard, I don't want to be like a buffalo."
My grandmother's words had left a deep impression on me.
My grandmother was merciful, kind and selfless. She was respected
both in society and at home. Her good words and deeds had an everlasting
influence on me.
In 1946 I was 15 and went to study at the Qiongya Normal School
of Guangdong Province. I was happy and healthy every day. But one
morning I was suddenly seized with nausea and had difficulty in
breathing. I was in great discomfort all day.
Strange to say, I felt quite all right the next day. One week later
I received a letter from my father that my grandmother passed away
on that very day. I wondered whether her departed spirit was making
its farewell. My grandmother's grave was damaged during the land
reform. By 1959 her grave was moved to the side of my grandfather.
I hope that they would live together in paradise forever.
As a result of the strict home discipline enforced by my grandparents,
there had never been a quarrel among the dozens of people of our
family. Nor there was any scrambling for property. For three generations
we had not a single gambler. Our family is still not divided up
at its fourth generation. The houses in the village belong to all.
Now we have entered the 21st century and such harmony and kinship
are still going on.
I am now 70 years old. The splendor of benevolence and universal
love embodied by my grandmother is still shining brilliantly.
My father Chen Jingxiao, styled Cipo (1895-1952), was the fifth
of six brothers and sisters. When he was young, he went to Thailand
and then he married my mother. Influenced by my grandfather's instruction
that "don't put all eggs into the same basket," he left
Thailand and came back to Hainan with my mother. Later they settled
down in Haikou and started a small rice mill on Deshengsha Road
near a bridge. With the help of several hired laborers, he could
manage to make some money to support our family.
My father was sober, honest and industrious. He had no such bad
habits as drinking, smoking and gambling. He was a man who went
to work at sunrise and came home at sunset.
Being a dutiful son, he gave all the money he made at the rice mill
to my grandmother and asked her to take charge of the family expenses.
Influenced by my grandmother's benevolence and generosity, he was
respected in society and at home. He was usually addressed "Wu
Gong" (Master Fifth).
In 1952 my father was infected with lung trouble. By that time the
rice mill had already closed. My brothers and sister all had quitted
school for financial difficulties. Fortunately I had already worked
in Haikou. Though my monthly salary was only about a dozen yuan,
I enjoyed free meals. So I could send most of my payment back home
to support our family. As time passed, my father's illness grew
worse and worse due to the poor medical service and our lack of
money for medical treatment. Before long my father died at the age
of 56. He was buried at our hometown close to my grandfather's grave.
My mother Han Fengyu (1907-2000) married my father in Thailand in
1928. At that time our family was better off and she led a fairly
comfortable life. The second year after their marriage they came
back to our village in Wenchang. In the village my mother worked
hard in the fields just like other peasants. She had an even temper
and always spoke in a gentle tone.
During the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945) living conditions
became worse and worse. But my mother worked hard and never uttered
complaints. She tried her best to keep the family going well so
that my father could dedicate himself to his work and the children
had enough to eat. When the spring Festival came, she was busy cleaning
the house, washing our clothes and preparing nice dishes and rich
meals. My mother had all the moral virtues of my grandmother such
as kindness and generosity to the poor. However, she was not so
lucky as my grandmother who lived at the peak time of our family
prosperity, free from want or worry. Since the outbreak of the War
of Resistance my mother had lived a hard life over 30 years. In
her late years she could enjoy a happy life but she was near the
In 1988 I wrote to my young brother and sister to send my mother
to Thailand, who was then 82 years old. It had been 30 years since
I left my hometown and lived abroad. Whenever I thought of the hardships
my mother had suffered to bring me up, I eagerly wished that she
could come to Thailand and stay at my home.
Before long my mother, brother and sister came to Bangkok and stayed
at my home. By that time my life began to turn for the better but
was still not better off. My home, not far from my company, was
a quiet two-story house with three bedrooms and two sitting rooms.
My mother was very happy to see my success in career. She was particularly
pleased to hold her granddaughter in her arms and kept on talking
with her though what she said was not understandable.
By that time my mother had already some troubles with her eyes.
She could not see things clearly. I took her to the most renowned
eye specialist. After careful examination with various medical appliances,
the doctor kept shaking his head.
"Could it be cured, doctor?"
I asked impatiently.
"Sorry, it is too late." He paused
a moment and then continued, "she is too old and her optic
nerves were dead."
"But doctor, would you please try
your best to restore her eyesight? I would like to pay any price,"
"Her eyesight couldn't be restored even if you
pay ten million bahts. All I can do is to give her some eye drops
and some pills to take regularly."
The doctor's words made my heart broken. However I wouldn't give
up and took her to another famous eye specialist. Unfortunately
the result was practically the same.
Hopelessly all I could do was to ask my brother and sister to attend
her as what was told by the doctor.
Although my mother stayed at my home in Bangkok, she kept thinking
of her hometown in Hainan. Two months later she returned to Wenchang.
I continued to send her the medicine and eye drops. Five years later
she became totally blind.
During her last years I often went back home to see her. Whenever
I was sitting in her bed, she would hold my hands firmly and said,
"Brother Second, so you're back again!" Though she could
not see me, her face wreathed in smiles.
Every time I went back I would leave some money for her daily life
and medical expenses. During my absence my mother was looked after
by her brother Han Shengfeng and her elder grandson Chuandai, granddaughter-in-law,
and my two younger sisters. They all loved her dearly and attended
her devotedly. They would feed her, help her with the washings,
and send doctors for her. Later I was so busy with my work that
I couldn't return home and could only send the money to her.
In her last days my mother suffered miserably. She was blind and
deaf. She could neither stand nor sit. She could only lie in bed
day and night. I could only pray that Buddha would bring her comfort
and alleviate her pain. After my mother passed away, I was stabbed
to the heart. Often tears suddenly welled up in my eyes and trickled
down my face.
After my mother's death I wrote a few lines in memory of her. In
this short poem Little Sparrow I expressed my deep everlasting love
for my dear mother.
Little sparrow, little sparrow,
When the sun rises
You would sing and skip in flocks
In front of my door,
Pecking the millet seeds I spread
on the ground for you.
How happy and free you are!
But do you know the bitter grief in my heart?
My dearest mother was gone forever!
Little sparrow, little sparrow,
As you're flying in the sky,
Would you send a message to my mother?
Tell her that her son is thinking of her
day and night!
Bring my best wishes to her and
Her face may always wreathe in smiles.
As the saying goes that benevolent people live a long life. My mother
lived to the age of 94. But now she left me forever. However, her
love like the sun always radiates light and warmth.
Chapter II Growing up in the Abyss of Misery
Misery is the best teacher in one's life. It is also a spiritual
fortune. Only those who underwent the bitter winter could feel the
warmth of the sunshine. I went through two dynasties--old China
and new China. Since I spent my childhood and youth in misery, I
especially treasure my dear life.
The Outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japan
After the outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japan, the Japanese
invaders occupied my homeland --Hainan Island.
I was then only eight years old. I still remember that the Japanese
airplanes kept circling above us. The local people had never seen
the planes before. They were rather panic-stricken when they heard
the zooming of the aircraft.
When my father had learned that Haikou City was going to fall soon,
he walked 70 kilometers and promptly hurried back home in the village.
As it was night, my father lit a kerosene lamp and quickly called
the family members together to discuss the critical situation. Finally
a decision was reached that my grandmother and elder aunt would
stay at home, while my father would lead the rest of the family--my
mother, my brothers, my cousins and me to go to a safer place. The
concrete steps were to go to Tongguling (Copper Drum Ridge) first,
and then sailed to Leizhou Peninsula by boat. Our destination was
Guangzhouwan, the French concession at that time (now Zhanjiang
City which was returned to China after liberation).
Though I was then a child, I could sense that something was going
to happen. Before long I woke up with a start, as there were loud-confused
noises. I saw people walking to and fro and everybody had some clothes
and articles in hand. My father and the manservant were busy packing
the luggage. Soon I fell asleep.
Before daybreak the next morning, I was awakened by my mother and
I had a quick breakfast. Then I was put into a bamboo basket and
my younger brother was placed into another. The manservant took
a shoulder pole and secured the basket at its two ends. Lifting
the baskets from the ground, he hurried out of the room.
At dawn my parents with tears in their eyes bade farewell to my
grandmother. Carrying one bag of solid food and another bag of clothes
and daily necessaries, they set out for Tongguling.
The sun was rising slowly in the east. My father walked ahead followed
by the rest of the family. The country roads were muddy and bumpy.
But the scenery along the roads was wonderful. Sitting in the basket,
I curiously looked at the blue sky, the coconut groves, the mist
and floating clouds above the mountains. Turning back, I noticed
that all the adults were terribly panic-stricken. Though they were
tired and hungry after half a day's trek, no one stopped to eat.
Basking in the blazing sunlight and glistening with sweet, we passed
through the woods and bushes, and crossed the streams, ignoring
the snakes, pests or the ferocious dogs near the villages. Because
we were in a strange place, my father would ask the way whoever
he came across. After we walked about 30 kilometers, we arrived
at Tongguling at sunset.
The glow of the setting sun illuminated the rough sea, which was
surrounded by the crescent hills. The golden beach looked like an
unearthly fairyland. As soon as the manservant put down the basket,
I was thinking of jumping out. But I hesitated at the sight of my
parents' stern face.
"Hurry up! Hurry up! Get on the boat
with your luggage!" Shouted my father at the top of his hoarse
voice. We all quickly boarded the boat, which was set out the very
night. The boat was very small and its narrow cabin was already
crowded with passengers. We were sitting back against back and could
not move an inch. At dusk the boat left the shore and started out.
But the boat turned back half way because of the rugged waves. We
had to wait until the third day. In order to dodge the Japanese
warships, our boat could only sail at night. A number of boats loaded
with refugees had been shelled by Japanese warships and sank when
they moved at daytime.
During the night voyage my whole family suffered from seasickness
except me. They vomited and were seized with nausea.
Next morning the sun was rising again and a new day began. We were
lucky to get to our destination at Xiying in Guangzhouwan.
Days in the French Concession
It was a place quite different from our hometown as it had neither
the tall coconut trees nor the beautiful sun shine.
My father rented an unused cowshed in a village along the highway,
which was between Xiying and Chikan (now Xiashan). Despite the miserable
conditions we had a place to settle down at last.
The village had about ten huts, which were built with bamboo frames.
The walls were pasted with a mixture of clay and straw. The roofs
thatched with straw leaked when it was raining. On rainy days the
rainwater would stream down through the cracks. That is why we kept
moving our bamboo beds. The clay floor was muddy and bumpy just
as the land outside. There were also water pools.
The villagers were lean and haggard. They were dressed in rags.
There was practically nothing in their rooms except heaps of straws
and dried branches used for firewood. Some dogs were so skinny and
weak that they seldom barked at strangers. No chickens were seen
in the street as they had died of chicken pestilence the year before.
Pigs were not shut in the pigsty but were free to roam on the street.
It was pitch-dark at night as there were no electric lights. Kerosene
lamps were also seldom seen, for the peasants could not afford it.
Thus most people used to go to bed at sunset.
Trees and bushes were few in the village. There was not a single
bird. Even grass didn't grow on a clayey soil. It was a desolate
scene indeed. What's more horrible, there were lepers, loafing about
on the street. Most of them had crooked fingers and blood tumors
on their faces. The polluted air in the village was unbearably stuffy.
This was a gloomy picture of my motherland when it was rendered
into a colony of the imperialists!
During those hard times my parents who lived frugally still managed
to let my brother and me to attend a primary school not far from
our home. Hard life had completely changed my character. I was no
longer mischievous, but began to study diligently.
A few months later we left the village and moved to the vicinity
of Chikan station. There my father rented a small shop front and
kept a shop selling rice and edible oil. That was the only means
of livelihood for our family. The opposite side to our shop was
a hill with a cement road from the bottom to the top. On the top
of the hill stood a building surrounded by high walls. That was
the mansion of French colonialists. Looking at the arrogant foreigners
getting in and off the luxurious sedans and the foreign flags flying
over the hill, the local Chinese had bitter enmity at heart.
The arrogance of the aggressors had struck me with hatred. I was
determined to study hard and would contribute to the building of
a strong motherland.
As the war went on, life became harder and harder. Meanwhile my
brother quitted school to help my father in the shop. I had to walk
alone to school every day. After school I used to go home passing
a street on the way. On both sides of the street there were opium
addicts, beggars and jobless loafers. At street corners there were
tables for gamblers.
The good days of our small shop were not long. One morning a group
of famine refugees broke into our shop and walked away with bags
of rice. In a matter of minutes the shop was empty.
My father was out of job and life became harder. We moved into a
lane and rented a small room there. My father worked as a broker,
supporting the family with his meager commission.
In 1943 I entered Xiying Middle School. As it was a boarding school,
I went back home at weekends. As the fares were too expensive for
me, I had to walk ten kilometers. I used to carry a stick to guard
against the stray dogs on the way.
My Middle School Days
In 1945 the Japanese invaders were defeated and surrendered. Our
family came back to Hainan Island by sailing boat.
Before long my father started a soy sauce factory in Zhengdong Street
in Haikou City. My brother quitted school because of financial difficulties.
However, my parents decided to let me continue my schooling because
of my good record.
In 1946 I was enrolled in Qiongya Normal School (now the Hainan
Qiongtai Normal School). It was a century-old prestigious normal
school. When I signed up for entering the school, my father added
one year to my real age in view of the advanced age of other students.
Even though, I was still the youngest and shortest of the class.
As Qiongya Normal School was founded by the government and its tuition
was rather low, it was very difficult to be enrolled. The school,
however, was far from my home and I had to be a boarder.
On the day before a new semester began, my father would go with
me to the Qiongya City by bus. After getting off the bus, we would
go for 20 minutes before reaching the school. In those days the
road was paved with coarse square stones and had water pools on
rainy days. In front of the school gate was a narrow street. Opposite
the school across the street was a row of food stalls that especially
catered to students. I chose one of them and had three meals there
every day. For breakfast I had a bowl of rice porridge and a piece
of deep-fried twisted dough stick. At lunch and supper I would like
to eat a bowl of rice with a piece of fried pork liver.
Behind the food stall where I had my meals daily stood a row of
two-story brick and tile-roofed building which was the dormitory
for the students. The wooden stairs and railings were very old.
The floor and stairs would creak whenever you walked on them. The
bedrooms were large and rectangular in shape. In each room stood
a large long bed closely against the wall, which was shared by ten
students. The students put their clothes and other daily necessaries
under their pillows. Opposite the bed was a long board fixed firmly
to the wall, under which was a long chair. The board served as desks
for the students to do their homework. As there were no electric
lights, each student had a kerosene lamp for private use.
I was lucky to live on the second floor for there were cracks on
the floor, under which was the ceiling of the first floor. When
students walked heavily on the second floor, some dirt and dusts
would fall through the cracks on the students' heads and their beds
on the first floor.
On the left of the dormitory was a row of bathrooms and lavatories.
After school we used to line up for doing washing or taking bath.
Behind the bathroom was a football ground where we had our physical
Facing the school gate was an auditorium, where we had our memorial
meeting every Monday morning and regular music classes. Along both
sides of the auditorium there were classrooms that were dark and
narrow like the storerooms in the village. Two students shared one
desk and a long bench.
During my school days no course could beat me. But only once when
the teacher of our Chinese class asked me to read the text in Hainan
dialect, I was put on the spot. Later I explained that during the
war years I had left my home in Hainan and wandered with my family
in various parts of Guangdong. So I could only speak Cantonese.
Hearing my explanation, my teacher excused me with a smile. I knew
nothing about the history of Qiongtai Normal School when I studied
there. Half a century later I learned that Qiongtai Normal School
was founded in the 44th year during the reign of Emperor Kangxi
(1705) and one of the fairly earlier colleges in the Qing Dynasty.
It was also an institution of higher learning in Hainan Island.
By the end of the 19th century its name had been changed several
times. It was renamed Qiongzhou Prefecture Middle School in 1902,
Qiongya Middle School in 1906, No. 6 Provincial Normal School of
Guangdong in 1920, Qiongya Normal School of Guangdong Province in
1935, Qiongshan Normal School of Guangdong Province in 1950 and
Guangdong Qiongtai Normal School in 1951. After Hainan Province
was established in 1988, it became Hainan Qiongtai Normal School.
My three years of junior high school life in Qiongya Normal School
soon came to an end. My parents could not afford my further study.
So I transferred to a senior accounting school in Haikou. The tuition
for each term was six silver dollars. At the end of the first semester
I came first in the class. Because of my good record, I was rewarded
a free tuition for the second semester. A year later I graduated
from the accounting school.
When I was looking for a job in 1949, the People's Republic of China
was founded. In April 1950 the Hainan Island was liberated. A month
later I had a job in the commercial department of the government.
Since I left school, I kept on thinking of the successes both my
grandfather and my uncle had achieved in their careers in Thailand.
My father had returned to China because of the influence of my grandfather's
advice. As for myself, it is only natural that I want to stay in
China where I have grown up. But China is overpopulated. In my homeland
Wenchang, the economy is underdeveloped. The local inhabitants lived
a hard life despite their hard labor all the year round. Most of
them depended on the assistance from the overseas Chinese in Southeast
Asian countries. Thus I should follow the footsteps of my forefathers
to go abroad to carve out my career. In 1961 I presented an application
which was soon approved by the government.
It was really a turning point of my life. At the age of 30 I was
going abroad to brave the world.
Chapter III Braving the World with Three
Hong Kong Dollars
It is man's endowment to aspire after a happy life. On the life's
journey everyone should have two lamps: the lamp of hope and lamp
The First Step Toward the World
A philosopher had once said: "Courage was the light in adversity."
My life at the age of 30 began in the light engendered by courage.
It was an autumn morning with blue sky and crisp air. I walked from
Luohuqiao (now Shenzhen) to the border of Hong Kong with three Hong
Kong dollars in my pocket. I went to the booking office of the railway
station, where I bought a ticket to Kowloon. With the ticket in
hand, I felt very lucky. I was also very excited for my dream of
going abroad was coming true. Everything around me seemed so fine.
I quickened my steps and hurried to the train stopping at the platform.
As soon as I boarded the train and sat down in my seat, I noticed
that the ticket was only worth a half-dollar. I was much worried
and jumped out of the train, hurrying straight to the booking office.
"The ticket is only worth fifty cents. Why did you charge me
one dollar?" I asked.
"Why didn't you say so when
you bought the ticket?" answered the ticket seller impatiently.
"Now return me the fifty cents." I insisted on my demand.
The booking office clerk was a middle-aged man. He pulled a long
face for he never expected that a country folk like me dared to
ask for the change. After a while, he gave it to me reluctantly.
With half a dollar in hand, I rushed back to the train and sat down
in my seat again. I held a string bag filled with old clothes in
my left hand, while I put my right hand in my trouser pocket, tightly
grasping the two and a half Hong Kong dollars. These plus the suit
of clothes I was dressed and the pair of old leather shoes on my
feet were all my personal possessions at that time.
The whistles sounded and the train pulled out of the station. It
was very crowded in the carriage. The peddlers kept walking to and
fro, hawking cigarettes and soft drinks. The train gradually gathered
its speed. From the window I could see the splendid view of my motherland.
The green farmland spread all over the place. The farmers were busy
plowing the fields. The blue sky stretched to the horizon. As the
train rolled forward, the distant trees and hills were moving backward.
But I was in no mood to appreciate the beautiful scenery. My only
wish was to look for my cousin.
Before my application was approved, what I expected was to get the
approval. But after it was approved and I started my journey, I
began to hesitate. Hong Kong was an international metropolis and
I had never been there before. What should I do if I couldn't find
her? I had no other friends or relatives. Where should I put up
for the night? Thinking about these problems, I began to feel fidgeted.
Sitting in the carriage, I tried to think a way out. Well, I could
do heavy manual labor for I had good health. As I was literate and
educated, I could do the work of an office clerk. I was not afraid
of any difficulty as I had been through all kinds of hardships.
Thinking over all my advantages, I regained my confidence.
Settling Down in Hong Kong
The train was pulling into Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. The opposite
side of the strait was Hong Kong.
Getting off the train and looking around, I saw the street lined
with rows of high buildings. Luxurious cars flashed by. Everything
was so strange to me. I walked toward an old newspaper seller, asking
the way to Hong Kong.
"Could you please tell me how to
get to Hong Kong?"
The old man looked at me up and down for a while and said: "You
must have come from the mainland," pointing to the left, he
continued, "Go ahead along the street and you would see a ferry
boat sailing to Hong Kong. It's not far from here." When I
was going to thank him, he went on: "The ferry boat is double-decker.
The upper is the first-class cabin while the lower is an ordinary
one. The prices are different." Evidently he was a kind old
man. Judging from my appearance, he knew that I could not afford
the upper cabin. I heartily thanked him for his kind help and walked
Before long I reached the pier. When I lined up to buy the ticket,
I noticed that most of the upper-deck passengers were foreigners
and Chinese. Well-dressed and refined in manners, they lined up
orderly. As for the lower cabin passengers, most were Chinese. There
were also Indians, Pakistanis and black people. They looked like
laborers, housewives and local citizens.
Very soon the ferry boat reached Hong Kong and anchored at the Central
Pier. Getting off the ship, I asked a woman newspaper seller which
bus I should take to get to Marsh Road.
"Go straight ahead.
When you reach the second street, get on the trolley bus to North
Point. You'll see a basketball court on the way. Get off there and
you will find Marsh Road."
Getting to Hong Kong, I looked back at the Victoria Harbor. The
seawater was clear and without any floating litter. Ocean-going
steamers, inland barges and ferry boats moved forward and backward.
They were all busy with transport. Along the coast was lined with
tow upon row of high-rise buildings. Streamed cars flitted past.
On the street pedestrians were in a great hurry to pass by. It was
a society full of vigor and vitality.
Was it Hong Kong with the fine title of the Oriental Pearl? The
people of Hong Kong were cultivated, polite, human and congenial,
which left a deep impression on me.
The trolley bus stopped at the basketball court. I got off and found
Marsh Road. Looking up at the doorplate, I found it was No. 1. I
was very disappointed because my cousin's house numbered 520. After
walking a while along the road and looking up, I saw the number
on the doorplate being 400. As it was nearer to my cousin's house,
I felt better and relieved. I came near a street vendor and bought
a pack of cigarette. I took a rest and began to smoke intensively.
Then I resumed my searching. At last I saw No. 520 on the doorplate.
Overjoyed, I quickened my steps, and hurried up to the fifth floor
in one breath. I pressed the doorbell, and someone came out. It
was my very cousin whom I parted with over 20 years. She looked
older than her age, but I still recognized her. It was a pity, however,
that she didn't recognize me.
She never expected me to visit her. She was joyously happy to see
me again after 20 years' separation. I put aside my simple luggage
and sat down to have a cup of tea. After a while, she took me to
a nearby department store and bought me a suit of new clothes, a
pair of leather shoes and some articles of everyday use. That evening
I had a supper with my cousin's whole family--my cousin, her parents-in-law,
her husband Fu Hay Leung, her elder son and four daughters. During
the War of Resistance Against Japan both our two families had fled
to Guangzhouwan where they lived at Xiying and we lived at Chikan
ten kilometers apart. Twenty years had passed and we had many stories
to talk about. Memories that were awakened surged like rolling waves.
The more we chattered, the more we had to say.
This was the first day of my life in Hong Kong. After the supper
we had talked a long time before we left the table.
Fu Hay Leung, my brother-in-law, resembled his father in many ways.
Like his father, he was honest, kind, obedient to his parents, a
good husband and a kind father. He abstained from drinking and smoking.
He was always ready to help others. He was social and popular in
public. He had a teak business and had once been elected as Chairman
of the Timber Commerce.
At night my cousin arranged a small room for me, which was furnished
with a small writing table and a double-decker bed. I slept on the
lower deck while her elder son slept on the top deck.
As it was my first night in Hong Kong, I lay in the bed but could
not fall asleep. What I had seen in this strange new world in the
daytime reappeared in my mind scene after scene, just like a film.
In my mind Hong Kong was a beautiful and flourishing city. It was
really lucky to live and work in such a city. Judging by the way
of walking in the street, you might tell how busy and industrious
Hong Kong people were. Besides, they were polite and friendly. However,
the city was overpopulated and overcrowded. My cousin's family was
rich enough, yet they could not afford a better and more spacious
As regards my future, I felt confident and optimistic. As I was
educated and enjoyed good health, I could bear hardships and could
speak Cantonese, it was not difficult for me to get a job. Should
I fight for ten years and accumulate considerable business experiences,
I would become a boss myself some day.
The next morning I went to the Hong Kong government for the entrance
residential registration. From then on I began to brave the world
with three Hong Kong dollars.
Chapter IV Life's First Pass: Face Up to
What is a road? A road is trodden out from a place without roads.
It is carved out from a place covered with brambles and thorns.
A road is made when many men pass one way.
Work for Existence
I remember that at the beginning of my arrival in Hong Kong, I was
curious about everything. Similarly every thing was fresh to me.
This was because the living environment was quite different from
that of mine in the past. Hong Kong was a colorful world with prosperous
economy. I knew I should begin my life entirely fresh and new in
this strange world.
On the third day of my arrival, my brother-in-law Fu Hay Leung took
me to a Shoe Making Factory at San Po Kung, in Kowloon, looking
for a job.
San Po Kung was an industrial area. All the buildings were set up
for industry. The designs of the buildings there differed from those
of the residential quarters inside the city. The industrial buildings
had fewer stories but larger doors, windows and elevators. The roads
between the buildings on either side seemed rather wide. Trucks
were seen everywhere. Some of them were busy with loading and unloading.
On the pavements along the street, peddlers pulled carts selling
shoddy and counterfeit products, daily necessities and foods. The
street was crowded and filled with uproar and confusion.
Later we reached the Shoe Making Factory. Raising my head and looking
around, I saw a ten-story industrial building. The factory was on
the third floor, which specialized in women's shoes for export.
The boss of the Shoe Making Factory was also from Hainan Island.
In a not spacious office I met the boss and my brother-in-law who
gave a brief introduction about me. The boss looked 40 years old
with a large head, red round face, thick eyebrows and bright eyes.
His hair was tidy and shining. He was short and in good condition.
He was wearing a light color shirt and the blue trousers. He spoke
in a soft tone like a scholar. To my surprise, he looked not like
a capitalist with arrogant bearing.
After listening to my brother-in-law's recommendation, he looked
me up and down and then asked me in Hainan dialect:
long have you been in Hong Kong?"
"This is the third
day of my arrival," I answered.
"Is it the third day
He repeated my words with surprising look. At this moment he knitted
his brows and a wrinkle appeared in his forehead.
about your schooling?" he continued.
from the Normal Junior Middle School, I continued my study for one
year in an accounting vocational school."
you live now?" he spoke in a soft tone.
"In Wan Chai,
Hong Kong," I answered.
"What kind of work can you
do?" he suddenly asked me in Cantonese.
"I was educated
and could work hard, I should like to do any work you assign to
me," I replied firmly in Cantonese.
He was rather surprised for he didn't expect that I could speak
"Well, now we want a purchasing agent
in charge of buying everything the factory needs, for large articles
such as cloth, the imitation leather, rubber-soles and some other
raw materials; for small ones such as buttons, needles, strings
and nails. In addition, paper and stationary are being purchased
for the office as well as molds for the workshops. As for the molds,
special order has to be made for its making. Could you do this job?"
He thought that I dared not take this job for I had just got to
Hong Kong for three days.
"I could do that," I replied
I knew the boss gave me a test. He was clear that I knew nothing
about the geographical environment and couldn't tell the east from
the west, but he asked me to work as a purchasing agent.
right, please come and start to work tomorrow." Then the boss
led me to the shoe-making department and introduced me to the director
of the factory. There were over 100 workers in the factory, most
of them were women. The director was a thin, old man with a long
face, short eyebrows and bright eyes. He was clean-shaven, but the
skin of his face and hands was rough with excessive wrinkles.
I kept looking at him up and down. He wore a white shirt, the black
trousers and black leather shoes that were unusually bright. Kind
and friendly, he spokes in a pure Hong Kong accent. He seemed to
be born and brought up in Hong Kong. He told me the range of my
work and obligations in detail. Finally he said that if I had some
difficulties, I could come over to him at any time.
I felt lucky that I got a job on the third day of my arrival in
After leaving the factory, I hurried to a bookstore and bought a
traffic map of Kowloon and Hong Kong. Familiarizing myself with
the streets and bus routes of Hong Kong was of prime importance
Getting home, I spread the map on the table and studied it carefully.
At the same time I tried my best to learn by heart the names of
the districts, the name of each street, the bus routes, the large
buildings as well as the obviously marked places.
I was sure I would be familiar with the geographical environment
of Hong Kong in one month.
I was confident I could do a good job.
Being a Purchasing Agent
A purchasing agent was a new occupation to me. As to how to become
a good purchasing agent, I had no idea at all, nor had I any experience.
But I was young and quick-minded. If I studied hard, I could learn
whatever I wanted. Nothing would be in my way.
At sunrise a new day began.
That morning before I went to work, my cousin gave me some money,
and I got to the factory very early. The director and I exchanged
greetings in Cantonese. The director assigned me to buy silk ribbons
and buttons for the insteps while the master asked me to order the
molds. The accountant gave me a monthly bus ticket. Well, where
could I get such things? Probably the best way was to ask the master
who made the sample shoes.
"Master, could you tell me where
can I buy all these things?" I asked. He told me to go to Shixiawei
and Nanchangjie for silk ribbons and buttons, and to the Shanzhai
store in Qingshandao to order the molds. But I didn't know where
these streets were located.
Off the factory, I took out the traffic map, looking for the street
names and bus routes. Finally I found the bus stop. Getting on the
bus, I spread out the map and took notice of the names of the streets,
focusing my attention on the goods on sale in the stores, the attractive
signboards and the bus stops.
If a person set his mind on doing something, he would do it well.
On the afternoon of that day, I had done everything and came back
to the factory.
One month later, I familiarized myself with the main streets, the
commodity sales places in Hong Kong and Kowloon and knew the color,
the standards, the demand and the price for all kinds of necessaries
needed by the factory. I also made a lot of friends. The life of
a purchasing agent opened a new door to me.
Time passed quickly. Life was very busy in the factory.
One day from the purchase bill, I found that the artificial leather
for making shoe lining was what we needed most and what cost most.
In addition, this material was bought from one company. I thought
why shouldn't I ask the company to offer us a preferential price?
I remember that it was a sunny day with a light breeze. I went to
that company with a big purchase order.
This company was very large with a magnificent office building.
After I got there, I directly went to see the manager of the sales
department. His office was not spacious. It was furnished with a
large desk on which there were some letters, a file cabinet against
the wall, and a table piled with a lot of samples of the artificial
leather in different colors and designs. Near the office door stood
a couch, two sofas and a tea table, which served for the clients
to talk about business.
As I just entered the society, I bore in my mind the truth: "Modesty
helps one to go forward whereas conceit makes one lag behind."
I paid special attention to courtesy in social life. I spoke to
others politely and friendly. The manager's surname was also Chen.
Although we did business only several rounds, it seemed as if we
had been old acquaintances.
"Lao Zong, we are now ordering
large quantities of goods. Would you please give us a preferential
price?" In order to show friendship and goodwill, I addressed
him "Lao Zong" according to the local custom in Hong Kong.
"We set fixed prices for all goods and we keep the same price
to all the customers." He sat down with his back against the
"But we're long-term clients and the purchase orders
always cover large quantities of goods. I hope you would offer us
special prices." I insisted on my demand.
He pondered it over for a while, walked toward the file cabinet,
took out a file and carefully studied.
"Well, let it be
settled this way. I'll give you a percentage rebate, starting from
the order two months ago. After we received the cash, I'll gives
you the check."
Until then, I knew nothing at all about rebate. I only knew that
my job was to purchase while paying for the goods was the business
of the financial department. So long I always thought that my duty
was to buy the same goods at the lower price. In this way the production
cost might be lowered and more profits could be created.
One month later I went again to see the manager of the sales department
with a new purchase order. He was very pleased to see me. He took
out a check and a receipt from a drawer of his desk and asked me
When I got the check, I noticed that the sum on it was equal to
the total amount of my five-months' salaries. I signed my name and
put the check into my pocket. Having finished the purchase order
procedure, I thanked the manager and said good-bye to him.
Under the sunshine I made my way to the bus stop. After I got on
the bus, two words flashed through my mind: one was "greed"
and the other was "shame". I thought that if the check
was transferred into my savings account, the sum of money would
be mine and nobody else would know it. But on second thoughts that
during the campaigns against the "three evils" (corruption,
waste and bureaucracy) and the "five evils" (bribery,
tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts
and stealing of economic information), some senior officials were
put to death for taking bribes and embezzling public funds. Corruption
would bring disgrace and ruin oneself. One should have a sense of
propriety, justice, honesty and honor in his life.
Back to the company, I gave the check to the boss and told him that
it was the rebate of the purchase order for the last two months.
To his surprise, the boss took over the check and knitted his brows.
At the same time, his wife and the other staff members turned to
look at me with various expressions.
"Well, you've done
a good job. From now on, the rebate will be distributed equally
to all the staff members according to the number of people. Everyone
would get an equal share." Then he gave the check to his wife
who was in charge of the finance.
The rebate I got for the first month was close to 50 dollars, which
was equal to a quarter of my monthly wage. Each one got an equal
share and all were very happy.
Their attitude toward me had also changed. In the past they used
to call me the "mainlander" behind me. Now they began
to call me "Ya Chen" and even "Mr. Chen". My
monthly pay had increased from 190 Hong Kong dollars in the first
month to 200 in the second and third months. By the fourth month
I received 220 Hong Kong dollars.
While I worked as a purchase agent, I set a fine example of returning
the rebate and commission to the company for equal distribution.
Consequently, I won respect from all people for my moral integrity
and honesty. From this incident I realized that honesty is the best
The life of being a purchasing agent had enriched my experience
and laid a solid foundation for my successful career in the future.
Chapter V Going to Thailand
If one has nothing to pursue, his life will become a pool of stagnant
water. Life can attain perfect sublimation only by constant pursuit.
For Realizing the Ideal
One can live only by his ideal. Without an ideal, one will be demotivated
and his life will be meaningless.
While I was in Hong Kong, I had set two goals:
First, learning English from the very beginning. My experiences
proved that English is an international language. If you want to
do a pioneering work, communicate with foreigners, or do international
business, you must have a good command of English.
Second, working hard and practicing economy. Accumulating some capital,
so that someday in the future, I would establish my own company
and become a boss myself.
At that time, I did everything mainly for these two goals. Working
in the shoe-making factory, I spent 60 Hong Kong dollars from my
monthly wage of 200 dollars renting a small room in Nathan Road,
Kowloon in order to make it convenient for both my work and study.
The room had no windows and was furnished with only a double-decker
bed. The upper bed was piled with my clothes and daily necessaries
while the lower bed was for me to sleep. Later, I bought an electric
gramophone for learning English.
After work, I hurried to the evening English school. Sometimes I
had no time to take my supper. Back home from the school, I often
played gramophone and studied late into the night. On weekends and
holidays, I continued my study as usual.
Before long, I had won the trust of the boss for my hard work and
good performance. He assigned me more and more work to do. With
the prosperous economy in Hong Kong, there was a shortage of workers.
Thus in the morning I often went to the street to advertise for
workers and took charge of the newly recruited laborers. In the
afternoon, I had to do the purchasing job as usual.
The busy work took much of my spare time. Sometimes, I couldn't
attend the evening school due to extra work. Besides, there was
no rise in my pay. So despite the fixed income, permanent employment
and stable life, I couldn't realize my two goals. Thus after I thought
it over and over again, I decided to quit the job in the shoe-making
Later, I frequently changed jobs. I had worked as an accountant,
a salesman, a cashier, and a storekeeper of a storehouse in an electric
appliance firm. Because of its prosperous business, there were large
quantities of purchases and sales. Since it was short of hands,
I had great difficulties to dispatch vehicles and workers to deliver
the goods to the clients in time.
Life in those days was very hard indeed. I lived in Wan Chai, Hong
Kong while the storehouse was in Tsuen Wan, Kowloon. It was a long
distance. I left home very early every morning and hurried to the
storehouse to open the door for the workers. In the evening I was
responsible for closing the door. So I was the first to get to work
and the last to go home. In addition, sometimes I was so busy that
I couldn't have my lunch till 3 p.m..
Fourteen years had passed in Hong Kong with a wink.
Despite my low pay, I had to pay the rent and support my family.
For breakfast I had only two slices of bread and a cup of coffee.
I had my lunch and supper at the food stalls on the street. Even
so I still had no savings. Hong Kong was a capitalist society with
fierce competition. Its living standard was high. The average rent
for house was one third of one's income or even more. Evidently
I could never have enough funds to establish a company and become
a boss myself if I counted only on my normal income.
One day when I was thinking hard for a way out, an idea flashed
in my mind. Well, Thailand was my second hometown as my grandfather,
my uncle and my father all had earned a living there. In Thailand
I had some relatives. In addition, there were many overseas Chinese
there, who came from Hainan. The backward regions had more opportunities
for development. I told my friends and relatives about my idea and
solicited their opinions. Unexpectedly, no one agreed with me. In
their views, Hong Kong was a prosperous city with advanced economy
and stable social order. It was also the world's best place for
shopping. It was known as the "Oriental Pearl". In this
wonderful city you could always have a job if you were industrious.
Besides, as Hong Kong was the neighbor of the mainland, there was
no language barrier and it was convenient for one to go back home.
Compared with Hong Kong, the economy of Thailand was less developed.
Thailand's education was backward, its social order was unstable,
and its environment and material well-being were poor. Going to
Thailand and making a living there, one had to learn the Thai language
from the very beginning and adapt to the customs there. So they
unanimously persuaded me to stay in Hong Kong.
At that time I was confronted with two choices: One was progressive
while the other was conservative. After a few days of hard thinking,
I eventually decided to leave Hong Kong for Thailand.
At this juncture, a relative of mine who was a businessman in Hong
Kong wanted to set up a joint-venture board mill in Thailand and
asked me to be the manager. I accepted the offer willingly.
In 1975 I left Hong Kong for Thailand.
My Early Days in Thailand
Thailand was an entirely different place from Hong Kong.
At that time, Thailand's economy was backward and its social order
was unstable, especially in the remote rural areas.
In the first days of my arrival in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand,
I was not accustomed to the hot weather. In the mill, I was wet
through with sweat and my skin was deeply tanned under the scorching
sunshine. Because of language barrier, I mostly had my meals in
the restaurants run by the overseas Chinese.
During the early stage when the mill was built, I often worked day
and night in order to advance the production date. At that time,
traffic control was put into effect in Bangkok. According to the
regulation, trucks with ten wheels were not permitted to enter the
urban area at daytime. However, the machines and equipment that
were imported from Taiwan and unloaded at the port, had to be transported
to the factory through the city districts. Thus construction was
being carried out in the night. It was very common for me to work
at midnight with the workers at the worksite.
The mill was located in the suburbs. Since I came from abroad with
language barrier, some people suggested that I should be provided
with a pistol for self-defense. I thanked them for their thoughtfulness,
but I turned it down.
While I was supervising the construction work, I was also busy in
preparing for the logs. In order to purchase the logs, I often went
to the south or northeast part of Thailand, looking for the lumberman.
Sometimes I even went to the remote, thickly forested mountains
for check and acceptance of the timbers. In some mountainous regions
it was very tough going for the zigzagging paths. At night I had
to put up at a small inn.
On a hot day of April in the 1970s, I went with two Thai colleagues
to southern Thailand for buying logs from a lumber company. Since
the headquarters of the company was on the hilltop and had no telephone,
we had to drive our car up. But the mountain path was too steep,
so we rented a military jeep with bigger power. Having solved the
transport problem, we prepared foods for the next day and brought
bottles of water, bread and fruit with us. We got ready to set off
the next morning.
The next day after breakfast, we started our journey. Our jeep soon
reached the foot of the mountain. Looking up, we saw the towering
trees and the clay path zigzagging up the mountain. Flourishing
bushes grew on either side of the path, which looked like a natural
protective wall. If somebody hid inside, you certainly couldn't
find him. Some sections of the path were on the edge of the precipitous
cliffs. Looking down, you would be filled with anxiety and fear.
For the sake of safety, we limited our top speed to 30 kilometers
per hour. The jeep bumped along the path. It took us three hours
to reach the top of the mountain at noon.
On a platform of the top of the hill, we found the headquarters
of the lumbering company. When we got off the jeep, we were covered
with red clay powder from our hair to the shoes because the jeep
was windowless. The staff members of the lumbering company were
kind and warm to us. They hurried up to prepare lunch for us. But
it was a pity that the boss was not in. Then we told the staff members
what we came for. They said bluntly that they could not supply us
with any timber until two months later more trees were cut down.
"Aren't those timbers?" I pointed at the timbers
piled in front of and behind the building.
"They are not
for sale," answered one of them.
"Why? What do you
mean?" I insisted on my inquiry.
"It's really hard
to say," he said.
Upon my persistent inquiry, he finally told me the inside story:
"The social order is no good in this mountain. The hills are
infested with bandits armed with guns. Robbery and kidnapping are
quite common. These timbers are reserved for our self-defense against
any bandit attack. Well, for the sake of safety, you'd better leave
the mountain before three o'clock. It's very dangerous to you for
you've come from Hong Kong."
Then he said again: "I don't think you should stay any longer.
It's time for you to leave now".
So we drove down the mountain along the same path we came up. On
the slope half way we came across a crowd of men, women and children.
Each of them was carrying a bucket of water.
"Oh, my God!
Today is April 13th, the Water Sprinkling Festival," said my
When our jeep came near the crowd, they kept on splashing water
on us. This morning when we went up the hill, we were covered with
red clay powder. Now, water was streaming down us as if we were
reddened with blood. We had undergone the same unpleasant experience
at several sections of the road. Later, we asked the driver to go
along the river so that we could take a swim, washing off the red
clay on us and getting rid of the fatigue.
Those were really meaningful and memorable days in my life.
I remember that whenever I came back Bangkok from the hills for
the purchase of timbers, my elder cousin would blame me with tender
care: "What's matter with you? Even the local born and bred
people dared not go deep into the mountain to buy timber. Why should
you take the risk. Remember you have just come from Hong Kong and
are still a stranger with language barrier. If you were kidnapped,
what would you do? If you did that for a livelihood, just come to
my home. As you're still young, life is no kidding."
I knew very well that she was kind-hearted and she said that for
my sake. But I did it on my own responsibility. I had formed the
habit of doing things whole-heartedly and would never flinch from
risks or difficulties.
Now I realize that those hard times were a valuable asset for me.
I worked both as a manager and a salesman. I often drove a truck
to promote the sale of the products and found business channels
for export. In Bangkok many retail and wholesale board shops were
run by Hainan people. They were mainly located on several streets
in the urban area. Owing to my skillful promotion and extensive
social contacts, I soon had won the support of the Hainan compatriots.
As a result, I had widespread sales and the supply of the products
often fell short of the demands.
Looking back on the early days of my life in Thailand, I realized
that I had benefited in many ways. First, I had tempered my will
power of bearing hardships. I never gave up before difficulties.
Second, I had made many friends of the commercial circles and learned
a lot of knowledge about import and export business, as well as
the business channels and export market for Thailand products. Third,
I had a better understanding of Thailand and the Thai language.
All these had paved the way for the later development of my career.
Four years passed quickly, but I never forgot the goal of my life,
namely, founding a company and becoming the boss. On the one hand,
I collected export data; on the other, I studied export publications.
I also established extensive friendly contacts to enlist their help
and support. I practiced economy and raised funds myself. At the
same time, I looked for suitable location to set up a company.
As time went on, I felt that the goal of my life was in sight. I
had increasing confidence in my success. Time was precious. At the
age of 40, I made up my mind to reach my definite objective with
limited funds and the quickest speed. I had no other choice.
Chapter VI Founding a Company with 160,000
Success of life comes from earnest hope and persistent pursuit of
an ideal. In the arduous life's journey I opened the door of my
career with my sturdy will and untiring efforts.
The Birth of Prosper Co., Ltd.
May 1979 was an important turning point in my life.
Times flew like the flowing water. Several years passed in a wink.
I worked hard in the board mill in Thailand and lived frugally.
Finally I had savings of 160,000 bahts. I resolutely gave up the
position as the manager of the board mill and founded my own company.
The ideal that I had fought for many years began to be realized.
In the history of my family, "Prosper Foreign Firm" founded
and administrated by my fourth uncle was a pride of our family.
It brought fortune and honor to us. Therefore, I decided I would
continue to adopt the title of "Prosper Foreign Firm".
However, the newly founded company was named Prosper Co., Ltd..
By the end of the 1970s, the Prosper Co., Ltd. came into being.
I knew that I would shoulder a heavy responsibility. On the one
hand, I had to inherit the fine traditions of our family; on the
other hand, I had to carry forward the fine traditions and open
a new chapter in the annals of my family.
But I had only 160,000 bahts. This small sum of money was okay for
a vendor. But if it was used to do import and export business, it
would be a daydream.
In those days, I thought how to take the first step for Prosper
Co., Ltd. over and over. First of all, I should make investigations
and adopt a meticulous plan. If one did something rashly, he was
bound to fail. After the plan was drafted, you should carry it out
without hesitation. If you had no determination and were beset with
fears, you would accomplish nothing. I knew very well that it was
quite difficult to attain any achievement with limited funds and
without any back-stage support.
I was at the crossroads of success and failure. I could not wait
for God's help. I could only face reality and fight with strong
will and determination. I should strive for the best but prepare
for the worst. Should I fail in business, I would go to the Chinese
newspaper office, applying for a job as a journalist. I was qualified
to do the job because I was young and healthy. I could write articles,
and I was familiar with the environment and transport of Thailand.
In addition, I knew the Thai language and was adapted to the life
When the Prosper Co., Ltd. was just founded, I rented a large room
on the second floor of my cousin's company as my office. The furnishings
included four desks and one typewriter. I borrowed a telex from
my cousin. I spent 30,000 bahts to cover the floor with a carpet,
install an air conditioner and purchase a few desks, chairs and
some stationery goods. I also bought a second-hand car MAZDA made
in Japan with 60,000 bahts paid in installments. It was indispensable
for us to have a car, for with import and export business we often
received clients, went to factories looking for goods, and frequented
docks and air ports to supervise the loading and unloading of cargoes.
Later, I advertised for an office worker. At that time, although
I had some experience of business management and import and export,
I couldn't communicate fluently with foreigners in English and had
some difficulties in expressing myself. I could only write business
letters in Chinese. When I wrote business letters in English, I
often made mistakes either in grammar or in spelling. At that time,
I still couldn't afford to employ senior personnel with high pay
for the shortage of funds and the small size of the company. In
my case the best way was to have a graduate from a commercial school
as my assistant, who could speak and write English very well. I
was lucky enough to have a girl student, Miss Plensri Sriyuthakrai,
graduated from the Holy International Commercial Institute, as my
secretary. Later, she became a trustee and the general manager of
We two were the only people of the company at its initial stage.
At that time, the main export markets and trade targets were Mainland
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The telegrams and letters were often
written in Chinese with which I could cope easily. Whenever English
was used, my assistant would do that. Often I wrote the draft in
English and asked her to correct it, which would then be typed and
mailed out. Later, a typist was employed due to the increasing amount
It was in this way that the company had developed day after day.
My Way of Running Business
In the Japanese business circles a popular saying goes: The so-called
good business ethics were resourcefulness, credit and patience.
Early before the founding of the company, I had worked out a detailed
plan for the development of the company, formulating the management
orientation, the strategy and principles.
Thailand is a country with a large area and sparse population, favorable
climate, rich water resources, and without typhoons or other natural
disasters. It has enormous potential of agricultural development
and has favorable natural conditions. It abounds in farm produce,
aquatic products and animal husbandry. Owing to the less developed
economic growth, low income and low cost of commodities, it had
a highly competitiveness in export of commodities. Many countries
in the world, especially the developing countries attached great
importance to the development of industry at the expenses of agriculture.
The developed countries restricted the growth of agriculture in
order to protect the environment from being polluted. With the continuous
increase of the world population, the demand for agricultural products
in the world market became greater and greater. In view of the above-mentioned
situation, I decided that our management orientation was to export
Thailand's agricultural products.
Owing to lack of funds, we were not in a position to compete with
large companies that had immense financial strength.
Thus I decided that the business of our company was not involved
in the competitive products much in demand, but we tried to undertake
trade that received little attention. We would start from the small
scale and adopt the following strategy: What others scrambled for,
we gave it up. What others gave it up, we took it. We sought development
on the basis of making up for the inadequate funds. As regards the
management principle, we stuck to credibility, taking credit as
the life of our company. We adopted the policy of small profits
but quick turnover to win over the clients and gradually occupy
For many years, I put credit in the first place both in personal
behavior and in running business. After the founding of the Prosper
Co., Ltd., I had often instilled the following ideas into the minds
of the staff, for example, credit was life and credit was key to
a person's future as well as key to the existence of a company.
If a person or a company had no credit, he or it wouldn't be trusted
and would be friendless and isolated. Wealth was built on the foundation
of good credit. If you did business without credit and wanted to
become rich overnight, it was not realistic and dangerous. Nowadays
some people were eager for quick success and instant profit regardless
of the consequence. They went as far as cheating and committing
crimes. Therefore, I summed up a valuable experience for doing business:
Credit was of great importance to us both in doing business and
in personal conduct.
Brand Name Products
For years of business life, I realized that if a company wanted
to survive in fierce competition, it should have its brand name
products. In the business management one or two products that enjoyed
good sales should be chosen, updated and taken as the basic project.
We maintained the normal expenses as well as the regular business
operation of our company with the profits earned by the brand name
products. Once the daily business expenses were guaranteed, the
incomes from other items would be profits. Free from any burden,
the company would make continuous progress.
Building Good Relationship
Years' life experience told me that the personal relationship was
key to the existence and growth of an enterprise. It was the first
productivity of an enterprise. Since the establishment of my company,
I took building good relationship as its root. We should make friends
with sincerity and play special attention to the following: good
relationship between the company and the suppliers as well as the
buyers; the relationship between the company and the banks, the
Customs, the shipping agents as well as the government export departments.
It was also desirable to turn the relationship between selling and
buying into one between friends, turn the short-term orders of the
clients into long-term ones. By doing so, we laid a solid foundation
for the business operation of our company and for the expansion
of its business.
After deciding the management orientation, strategy and principles,
I collected and made a study of the relevant data. First of all,
I collected a lot of data about commodities, and sought business
outlets as well as the names and addresses of the purchasers. The
import and export data and the data of the import businessmen of
all trades and professions were all supplied by the export department
of the Thailand government and by the embassies and the commercial
counselors' offices of different countries in Thailand. The data
also included the published commercial newspapers, magazines and
the printed matter from the Trade Association and the advertising
agencies. The collection and accumulation of these data provided
a reliable basis for the adoption of the management policy and strategies.
Besides, the winning of many friends had opened a new horizon for
us. I eagerly absorbed the management experiences and knowledge
about commodities from my friends and the books. With the expansion
of the business and the wide contacts with all circles of the society,
the road of doing business broadened wider and wider. With exchange
of views and information of the markets and clients, the business
in our company expanded faster and faster.
The Happiness of Success
If one had never labored his way with difficulties, he would never
know the happiness of success.
In the mid-1980s, Prosper Co., Ltd. made fast progress. In the beginning,
the export business started with the export of water snake skins
to Hong Kong by air. The waste jute caddies were turned into commodities
and exported to Australia, which generated high profits and laid
solid economic foundation for the development of the company. The
waste ox horns were changed into commodities to create profits for
Prosper Co., Ltd. was consolidated on the basis of three brand name
export products--water snake skins, waste jute caddies and waste
Five years later, the import and export business expanded to 16
countries and regions.
At that time, the supply of vegetables to Hong Kong from Mainland
China couldn't meet the demand. I lost no time to ship yard long
beans, water convolvulus and fresh-lotus-leaves to Hong Kong by
air daily for preparing lotus-leaf rice in restaurants. When the
following products were in season, such as mung bean, pear barley,
watermelon seeds and dried longance arillus, they were exported
to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand. The ingredient
of gum benzoinum for making perfume was exported to France. The
dried hibiscus flowers were exported to Belgium and Germany for
making natural edible pigment and tea. The dried globosa flowers
and dried windmill pods were exported to the United States. The
Trocas and Mop were exported to South Korea and Hong Kong for manufacturing
arts and crafts. The handicrafts of Thailand were exported to the
United States. The rubber bands produced in Thailand were sold to
Switzerland. The latex of Thailand was sold to Indonesia and the
coconut fibers were sold to Pakistan. I exported Chinese traditional
medicinal herbs, such as malva nut and amomi semen to China and
imported some industrial raw materials, such as rubber smoke sheets
and latex from China. I imported chemical raw materials such as
cowhides, gum rosin and paraffin wax from China. I imported palm
oil from Singapore and imported the waste paper from Hong Kong.
I also imported amomi semen, malva nut and gum benzoinum from the
Laos. The Western medicines and handicrafts made in China were resold
to West Germany, Japan and Britain. I also sold the U.S. steel products
and Japanese cars to China.
Ten years later, our company had eight branches and affiliated companies,
sole-funded or joint ventures in Thailand proper and Mainland China.
They were as follows:
Double South Chemical (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (joint venture 1989.)
Hua Hai Co., Ltd. (joint venture 1990.)
Power Up Lubricants (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (joint venture 1991.) sole
representative of Power Up brand lubricant made in Canada.
Peninsula Restaurant in Pattaya (joint venture 1991.)
Hainan Hong Jian Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. (joint venture
built the 16-story "Hong Hai Building" in Haikou, Hainan
Hainan Hong Chang Erect and Building Co., Ltd. (joint venture 1992.)
Hainan Nantai Industry Co., Ltd. (sole-funded 1993.) having built
Buddhist Glory in Wenchang, Hainan.
Hainan Taiyang Agricultural and Tourism Development Co., Ltd. (joint
1994.) Planning to build a 2,000 mu Thai Flower-Fruit Garden in
Prosper Co., Ltd. grew rapidly from a small business to a large
company. At the beginning of its founding, there were only two people
and the main exports were agricultural products. A few years later,
its import and export business was expanded, and it had a fairly
strong financial strength. Afterwards, upon extensive investigations
of the world market, the focus of business management was shifted
to the production and export of potpourris. Twenty years later,
the Prosper Co., Ltd. took its preliminary shape and became well
known in European markets. It now takes the lead in producing and
exporting potpourris in Thailand. Its products were exported to
43 countries and regions all over the world, and it was awarded
the export standard commodity certificate by the Thai government.
Chapter VII Making Use of Waste Materials
-Touching a Stone and Turning it into Gold
Man needs dreams. When my dream of touching a stone and turning
it into gold became a reality, I felt that dreams were not unattainable.
With the wisdom of man, all the impossible can be made possible.
In the early days of the Prosper Co., Ltd., it developed on the
basis of exporting three waste materials: sea snake skins, waste
jute caddies, and ox horns. The fact that I had successfully turned
these waste materials into wealth means I obtained gold by panning
the gravel, and thus wrote the myth of utilizing waste materials.
Sea Snake Skins
Since the founding of the Prosper Co., Ltd., the first export trade
was sea snake skin.
I remember that one day a friend of mine came to see me in my office
with a dried sea snake skin and asked me if it could be sold abroad.
He also told me that the sea snakes could be found everywhere in
the inland rivers along the east seacoast in Thailand. The tributaries
of the inland rivers were especially rich in a kind of sea snakes
that grew fat and large with a length over one meter in the shape
of a bamboo cane. The snakes lived in groups in the shallow water.
The farmers used to catch the snakes with a net and could catch
over ten at a time. Then they would chop them up and foddered the
ducks. This kind of sea snake skins had beautiful designs. If the
skins were stripped off, dried in the sun and processed, they would
be very good materials for making women's handbags, shoes and belts.
But it was a pity that nobody made use of them.
My friend then continued that one of his relatives lived near the
east coast. If the sea snake skins could be sold abroad, he would
mobilize the villagers over there to catch, dry and process them.
Then he would collect the snake skins and send them to my company
in Bangkok. His suggestion gave me some useful hints. If I taught
the farmers to strip off the skins and get them dried for export,
it would generate profits for our company as well as increase the
farmers' income. It would satisfy both sides. Besides, this trade
so far still hadn't attracted any attention in the business circles.
So I eagerly sought out the export market. In my view, I should
first look for the clients in Taiwan and Hong Kong for they were
quick-witted and were willing to explore novel products.
I began to consult the data about the importers. By chance I found
an advertisement in a business magazine that a factory wanted to
import all kinds of real leather. I was overjoyed and tried to contact
the buyer by sending him some samples. Because I had been in Hong
Kong and was familiar with the situation over there, the negotiation
was carried out smoothly.
However, at that time I had only 70,000 bahts as working capital.
I had to pay cash for buying sea snake skins from the farmers. So
I had no adequate money to buy large quantity of sea snake skins
and store them up, waiting for shipment. Neither could I ask the
client to establish the letter of credit so as to get all the snake
skins ready for transport. Besides, I was not sure of the accurate
amount I could offer. The only thing I could do was to export what
I actually possessed, and as soon as the goods were unloaded, the
cash should be paid. In this way I would have funds for turnover.
In order to solve this difficult problem, I took the initiative
in asking the buyer not to establish the letter of credit. Instead,
the goods in small quantity were shipped by air and would be paid
by documents against payment. These favorable terms for supplying
goods were welcomed by the buyer. I was clear myself that I had
adopted this policy simply for lack of funds. As a beginner in business
circles, I had to be careful and prudent. The business could only
be carried out in small quantity. Thus credit was being secured,
working capital was being accumulated, experience was being gained
and the business was being expanded gradually.
Before long, I began to purchase the dried sea snake skins in large
quantities. At that time, there were only two people in our company.
I had to ask my friends to help us to check each skin before acceptance.
We checked each one to see whether there were holes on it and whether
it was well dried. We also measured its length and width and graded
them according to size. When we collected enough skins to load a
truck fully, we would send them to the airport for shipment.
In those days, I worked extra hours with my co-workers and friends,
checking each skin before acceptance, packing according to grade
and monitoring the quality strictly. I paid careful attention to
the whole process. I knew that if the purchaser was satisfied with
the quality of the goods, the purchase orders would come in continuously,
and profits would be earned.
The goods were partially shipped by air each day. The purchaser
was quite satisfied with the quality of the snake skins, the export
price and service credibility.
They paid me in time and imported the products from my company constantly.
Although the sea snake skins were popular only for a period of time,
the export trade brought me huge profits and laid a good foundation
for further success of my career.
Whenever I recall the successful export of the sea snake skins,
I not only felt confident in doing export, but also gained some
valuable experiences in running business. First, making friends
is of importance. Without the help of my friends, I couldn't find
the source of sea snake skins, nor could I supply the clients with
the goods in time. Second, credit was the second life for a person
as well as for a company. If I didn't send the goods according to
the sample specifications, the purchaser would be dissatisfied and
the export channel would be cut off. And if the goods were returned,
I would lose my capital. It was the same with a person. If one lost
his credit, he would not be trusted and would be isolated. Then
he could achieve nothing. Third, in doing business one should formulate
sound and effective policies. Should the purchaser establish letters
of credit, I had no sufficient working capital and had no fixed
assets as guarantee to borrow money from the bank, I couldn't purchase
snake skins and store them up for shipment, and I would be bound
After founding of the company, the first trade enriched my management
experience and made me more determined to follow our definite goal
for further development: We should look for the trade that received
little attention of others and thus it is less competitive with
higher profits. We should try to discover what was not discovered
by others and seize the opportunity when they came to us. Opportunities
always favored those who were well prepared.
The Waste Materials of Sack Factory -- Jute Caddies
With rapid growth of agriculture in Thailand, the production and
export volume of agricultural products increased greatly. This was
especially true of the export volume of rice and sweet potatoes
that ranked first in the world. As a result, sacks were needed for
harvests, storage, transportation and export, and the sack-making
industry was rapidly developed. With the advanced machinery, the
sack factories produced a large quantity of waste materials--the
One day I happened to see a group of workers sweeping the waste
jute caddies in the yard of a sack factory and then getting them
packed. Later, I learned that the laborers were sent by an Indian
company with a century-old history. The company charged the factory
fees for clearing the waste materials and then packed them for export,
so it reaped double profits. It was a good business indeed. Thus
I decided to have a try at it and compete with the Indian company.
Upon initial investigation I found that the jute caddies were exported
to Australia. Then I sent my secretary Miss Piensri Sriyuthakrai
to Australia to contact the businessmen there and make a study of
the use of the jute caddies. Before long, she wrote back that the
jute caddies were mainly used as pads for making carpets and as
materials for making heat insulators and they were in great demand.
Meanwhile, I found an Australian retired government employee, Mr.
Jensen and asked him to be my agent. He was about 70 years old and
in good health. He was serious at work and easy to get along with.
He was responsible to contact all the related factory clients in
After I got the source of supplies, I would directly send the goods
to each factory.
As the agent was only responsible for contacting through telecommunication,
he needed no funds. When the jute caddies were loaded and shipped
out, I would remit the commission to him according to the regulation.
I paid cash to the sack factory and sent people to clear and purchase
the jute caddies. The factory sold the wastes as rubbish to us.
Instead of paying any fee for cleaning as it did in the past, the
factory now could get some incomes. Thus they were quite willing
to sell all the jute caddies to me. With this policy, I soon monopolized
the source of market supplies.
Then I rented a storehouse and organized laborers to have the jute
caddies processed and the sands screened with the wire netting.
Scraps of paper and cigarette ends were all picked out to ensure
the quality. From the very beginning, I gave the first priority
to the quality of the waste materials.
With the export of jute caddies to Australia, I summed up the following
experiences: If you wanted to make use of the waste materials and
turn them into commodities, you should first pay attention to the
quality. Unless they were properly processed, they would not become
valuable. The fact that I defeated the Indian company was just because
the quality of my exported juste caddies was superior to that of
theirs. Another experience was that commodities from waste materials
were often cheap and valueless. Sometimes they were light in weight
and bulky in volume as the jute caddies. Consequently, the transport
fees were higher than the value of the commodities. Thus the profits
would be increased if the cost for transportation was lowered.
In order to reduce the transport fees, I rented a squeezer to compress
the wastes into bundles. Twenty containers that formerly held eight
tons now could hold twelve tons. The profits increased due to the
lower transport fees. Within a short period of time, the Indian
company was squeezed out of the market and our company became the
sole exporter of jute caddies in Thailand. The highest monthly export
had reached 20 containers.
The export of jute caddies to Australia inspired me to export palm
fibers to Taiwan. Later I made a trip to Taiwan, investigating the
market situation over there. By the same method, I exported the
palm fibers to Taiwan for making mattresses and furniture.
At that time, large quantities of palm fibers were exported from
Thailand to Taiwan, but most of them contained excessive moisture
content. Some dishonest factory owners and exporters added water
to the palm fibers in order to increase the weight before they were
weighed for shipment.
Investigations revealed that the palm fibers imported from Thailand
were mainly used to make mattresses for the hospitals in Taiwan.
Then on the one hand, I contacted the importers in Taiwan, and on
the other hand, I sent people to the factory in Thailand to supervise
the quality of the palm fibers and control the moisture percentage.
At the same time, the transport fees were lowered by compressed
packing and reduced volume.
The export of palm fibers created huge profits for our company and
brought about overall strength of its further development.
Cutting the Ox Horns' Tips from the Waste Ox Horns
Deep thoughts were the seeds of actions.
Confronted with fierce competition in the commercial circles, I
kept on thinking how to discover a "New Continent". Along
with the expansion of the business of our company and the increasing
exchange of information with various parts of the world, I discovered
a "New Continent" of fortune from the ox horns' tips.
In Japan and Taiwan, all the documents, certificates, proofs and
letters were considered legal unless they were stamped with a seal.
This was true with all companies and individuals. That was why every
company and person had seals. In the past most seals were carved
out of ivory as a sign of superior social stature.
However, since the elephant was ranked as the world protective animal,
ivory cutting and ivory sales were declared illegal. Consequently,
ox horns were used for seal engraving.
There were two kinds of ox horns -- the black and the milky white.
The latter looked much like the ivory and it was scarce, so it enjoyed
a higher price. Investigations showed that the quality of the ox
horns in Thailand was the best of the southeast Asian countries,
so many businessmen and importers of Japan and Taiwan came to Thailand,
looking for ox horns. The Japanese made strict demand on the quality
and specifications of the ox horns' tips. As a rule, the best ones
were selected for export to Japan, while the second-rate ones were
sold to Taiwan.
As a rule, ox horns of the slaughterhouses were sold to the ox horn
factories as the waste materials. Of them the pairs of good looking
ones were chosen and resold to the engraving Handicraft Workshops
while the rest were smashed to pieces by machines and sold as fertilizers
to farmers specialized in growing flowers. The managers of the ox
horn factories knew nothing about the market demands of ox horns'
tips in Japan and Taiwan, nor did they know the outlets abroad.
Thus it provided a good chance for me to make money.
Pretty soon, I established contacts with the importers of Taiwan
and Japan and exported the commodities to them. Accordingly, the
Thailand government kept records of the exports of our company.
From then on, when the Japanese and Taiwanese factory owners and
importers came to Thailand, looking for ox horns' tips, it was quite
easy for them to find our company from the export department of
the Thailand government.
As it was in the very early stage of our company, we had only three
people including myself. Usually it took us two or three days to
select two tons of ox horns' tips for export to Japan. Often early
in the morning I drove with my two colleagues to the ox horns factory
in the suburbs of Bangkok. The ox horns' tips were heaped at a corner
of the factory. We had to squat down, carefully selecting the ox
horns' tips one by one. When we were back home, we ached all over.
No matter how worse were the working conditions, we exercised close
supervision over the quality of the commodities. Each time we exported
several tons of ox horns' tips. We carefully examined each one before
we accepted it. Thus we obtained very high credit for our exports
and purchase orders came in continuously.
The Prosper Co., Ltd. took the export of the three waste materials
as its pillars, which formed the three brand name products. As a
result, it established full credibility for the fine quality of
its products and accumulated the working capital needed for management.
Personally, I also gained experiences in export business and built
extensive relationships. What's more important --- it increased
my confidence in expanding the export business and helped me to
see the bright prospect of further development.
The saying that making use of waste materials--touching a stone
and turning it into gold made my dream come true. Likewise, the
Prosper Co., Ltd. has also entered its days of spring full of hope.
Chapter VIII Stepping up towards the Kingdom
An accidental spark can start the bright flames.
In the life's path we often came across fragrant flowers that grew
by themselves from the fallen seeds. A casual opportunity had changed
the courses of my career and brought me into a magical, beautiful
world--the kingdom of potpourris.
Seizing the Opportunity
The occurrences of some miracles in life were often beyond man's
predictions. Therefore, people should have a sensitive mind, taking
notice of the changes around them from time to time. It was only
by doing so that you could grasp the miraculous chances.
The course of life was just like a line and the opportunity was
like a point on it. Without the line of life's course, there would
be no point of opportunity. In one's life, the opportunity came
only once. So when you had the opportunity, you should grasp it
tightly. Chances were rare in one's life. One couldn't afford to
let the opportunity slip through one's fingers, as lost time would
never come again. If you seized the opportunity, you would succeed.
Liu Qing, a noted Chinese writer, once said: "Although there
was a long way in one's life, there were only a few steps in the
In the mid-1980s, our company shifted from export of various commodities
to the establishment of a factory specialized in the production
of potpourris and went all out to enter the international market.
The strategic decision was inspired by three transactions of natural
The first person who came to purchases dried hibiscus flowers was
a young man from West Germany. He was handsome with blond hair and
blue eyes. He was gentle, refined and very well dressed. He told
me that his father was specialized in producing small packs of food
and wanted to buy dried hibiscus flowers as raw materials. The young
man was just graduated from a school and helped his father with
his business. He continued that for the time being he could not
tell me how much he wanted. However, his father's request was that
the dried hibiscus flowers should contain less moisture content
and be shipped in containers. He asked for the samples and price
list and said that he would let me know how much he was going to
buy after he returned home and discussed with his father.
Before leaving, he stressed over and over again that the goods for
shipment must be completely identical with the samples. So long
as the price was reasonable, he would purchase as much as we could
In the first year I didn't purchase much hibiscus flowers from the
farmers for export and thus couldn't meet the demands of the clients.
In order to know the real use of the dried hibiscus flowers and
the prospects of the sales, I conducted a survey of the market and
went to the University of Agriculture in Thailand, looking for the
According to the data, the Thai people used to boil the hibiscus
flowers in water with sugar. The water that tasted sour and sweet
was put into the refrigerator to cool for drinking. It was a kind
of beverage with a special flavor. The laboratory test report of
the Thailand Agricultural University disclosed that this kind of
flowers contained several kinds of vitamins which could reduce fat
and cholesterol as well as get rid of sputum and parasite in the
stomach. The boiling water with the flowers looked bright red and
beautiful. The Western countries used these flowers to make natural
edible pigment and tea, replacing the chemical edible pigment now
In addition, I learned that the hibiscus flowers cultivated in Sudan,
North Africa, were large in quantity and cheap in price. However,
the supply of these flowers was unstable due to social chaos and
was thus not trusted by the purchasers. Small areas of the hibiscus
flowers were also cultivated in China's Fujian Province, but the
products were rejected by Western countries for the use of chemical
fertilizers in the period of growth. That was why some small factories
sent people to Thailand, looking for the source of supplies. The
above information showed that the hibiscus flowers had big market
potential in Thailand. Consequently, the next year I assisted some
farmers in growing the flowers and purchased them for export. The
record of hibiscus export reached 200 tons a year.
The second customer who came to buy dried flowers was an American
importer. He was also a young man, who made his first trip to Thailand.
When he saw many beautiful flowers in Thailand, he had the idea
of importing them. Thus he came to my company for buying the dried
globosa flowers. His requirements were: the flowers were well dried
and retained the original colors; he wanted only three colors-white,
purple and pink; the flowers of each color were separately packed;
and the quantity must be large enough to fill a container each time.
The purchase order was on a long-term basis. As globosa was an ornamental
flower, it was impossible to purchase them in large quantities.
I had to help the farmers in cultivation. But I had not the slightest
idea about the use of the dried flowers as well as the demand in
the market. In order to know the real situation, I decided to send
Miss Piensri Sriyuthakrai, my former secretary and the present general
manager of my company, to the United States to sign contract with
the importers and make a survey of the real use and prospects of
the dried natural flowers.
Before long, she wrote back telling me the result of her survey:
In the American factories, various natural flowers were dried or
baked, most of them were dyed, and then mixed with a variety of
flowers, leaves, stalks and fruits. The mixture was perfumed with
a special oil and the fragrance could last for several months. The
mixture was then put into small packages with exquisite designs
and then pasted with beautiful labels. These small articles were
put on sales in the department stores and supermarkets known as
potpourris. They were popular commodities in Europe and the United
States. The Westerners bought the potpourris and placed them in
bedrooms, sitting rooms, studies, and washing rooms to emit fragrance
and clean the air as well as increase the enjoyment of life.
According to the survey, potpourris were dated back to the 16th
century. At that time, the English aristocrats lived an idle life.
They used to pick various flowers in the garden, perfume them and
put them into beautiful vessels, which were placed in their rooms
as a luxurious enjoyment. At first it was popular only among the
aristocrats. Later, the European merchants began to produce them
in large quantities. Gradually it became a practice among the common
The survey also revealed that England was the main producing and
exporting country of potpourris. The famous producers and exporters
were also in England. The largest sales market, however, was in
the United States, while the best sales price was in Europe.
After exhaustive market survey, I reached the conclusion that I
should make money from the rich people and update the new products.
The products should be in common demand and not durable; they could
be discarded at any moment. Potpourris were ideal for this purpose.
In addition, potpourris were handicrafts, which couldn't be mass-produced
by machines. As Thailand was rich in agricultural produce and had
an abundant supply of cheap labor, so I decided to set up a factory
and produce potpourris. I was confident that I could compete with
the factories in European countries and had a share in the world
Therefore, on the one hand, I helped the farmers to cultivate the
globosa flowers to ensure the supplies to the American clients;
on the other hand, I adjusted the development orientation of my
company and worked out a new marketing plan.
Even now, I still remember my third customer Mr. Ennio Racinelli,
an American, who came to buy the natural dried flowers.
When I first met with him in Thailand, I had the impression that
he was a tycoon. With curled blond hair, he had a protruding nose,
thin lips, and bright blue eyes. He was very well dressed and looked
natural and unrestrained. He had a group of attendants and lived
in Thailand's best hotel, which also ranked the first class in the
Though it was our first meeting, it seemed as if we were old acquaintances.
He was polite, friendly and eloquent. He asked me to supply him
with a kind of small flowers -- windmill pods -- growing on big
trees. Such trees could be seen on either side of the highways as
well as in the countryside in Thailand. After ripening, the small
light flowers would fall to the ground. They could be easily swept
together and collected.
Below was our conversation at the first meeting in the sitting room
of the distinguished hotel:
"What's your requirement for
the upgrade of the flowers?" asked I.
"They must be
well dried. The moisture content cannot be higher than ten per cent.
The flowers must be clean without any mixture of leaves, sands,
etc." His demands were clear-cut.
"How about the packaging
"Gunny bags. A sack is loaded with
ten kilograms. Containers of 10.3 meters are used for shipment.
It would be much better if you could dye the flowers according to
the colors designated."
"How much do you want?"
I continued to ask.
"One hundred and six tons." He
blurted out without any hesitation.
When he saw that I was taking out a calculator, he quickly added:
"No, no, it's no kidding! One sack can hold only ten kilograms,
so 16,000 sacks are needed. Thirty-three containers of 13.3 meters
long are needed for shipment."
When Mr. Racinelli noticed my dubious expression, he quickly added:
"No, no, it's no joke. I'll give you plenty of time to
do that. So long as you can send the goods to me by different shipments
within the next year, it'll be all right." He seemed to reaffirm
that there was nothing wrong with the purchasing order.
After signing the contract, I bought a piece of land covering an
area of 6,400 square meters and set up two large storehouses. At
the same time, I began to purchase large quantities of the windmill
pods in the countryside.
A few months later, the two large storehouses were filled up with
dried windmill pods. Soon we set up a third storehouse of three-stories
with an area of 2,256 square meters.
In the next year, our company adequately fulfilled the contract
of 16,000 kilograms on time according to the quality and quantity
The business had brought us unexpected profits and extra benefits.
The client didn't expect me to keep the promise. I supplied the
dried flowers and dyed them according to his requirements. It was
a transaction with a small sum of money but a large quantity of
goods. These dried flowers were waste materials as they could neither
be used as fertilizers nor be used for fuel. I promised to send
the goods by partial shipment but didn't ask him to establish letter
of credit. The only proof was the contract. That means the buyer
had confidence in me. Since then, we have developed good relationship
and become good friends. Later, I knew that he was the biggest manufacturer
and supplier of potpourris in the United States and his company
issued shares in the stock market.
It seems that the beautiful potpourris had not only brought fortune
but also deep friendship to me.
After we clinched the first deal, the customer continued to purchase
other kinds of dried flowers. Every year he would come to Thailand
and we would enjoy the seafood in the famous seafood market. He
used to pass on the expertise of making potpourris to me. Three
years later, I paid Mr. Racinelli a returned visit in Los Angeles.
He came to the airport to pick me up in his lengthened Benz car
complete with a TV set and a refrigerator. He treated me to a roast
beef cooked by himself beside a swimming pool in his garden. We
chattered cheerfully and humorously. We had his wife, his friends
and a black shepherd dog to accompany us.
This unforgettable experience brought the kingdom of potpourris
nearer to me. It also taught me how to conduct oneself in the society.
Striving for Development and Prosperity
One should always hold the piloting instrument in his own hands.
The saying is quite true that the wise man knew ahead of others
and the brave man arrived first.
The establishment of the kingdom of potpourris opened a new chapter
in my life. In this kingdom I created my splendid achievements with
my wisdom and industry.
Looking back on the journey I'd traveled and the tactics I had adopted,
there were some experiences that might be helpful to the younger
First, I collected the samples of flowers, fruits, leaves and stalks
of various plants throughout the whole country. After careful selection,
I helped the farmers cultivate the popular ones such as hibiscus
flowers, cock comb, etc. As we had a variety of plants, we had adequate
supplies the whole year round.
Then we set up the dyeing factory. The flowers were dyed according
to the international standards. All products were supplied according
to the customers' requirements for the colors. At the same time,
frequent surveys were conducted about the popular colors in different
countries and at different times.
Professional designers were employed with high pay. I collected
the international popular styles and relevant advertisements of
the same trade and adopted different kinds of packaging. With these
measures, we produced exquisite products and continuously updated
the products according to different markets and the demands of different
We invited the internationally recognized "SGS" company
to have the products disinfected and pasteurized before and after
production so as to ensure the potpourris free from bacteria and
pests. The internationally authorized "SGS fumigation certificate"
was attached to each batch of exports.
The perfume oil in use was imported from Britain and France, which
would enable the fragrance last over six months
Strict supervision was exercised over the production process and
quality control so as to upgrade the products. By the measures of
manifold varieties, higher quality, unique designs, exquisite packaging
plus small profit and quick turnover, we dumped our products into
the markets and reaped the highest profit by enlarging the volume
Qualified personnel from home and abroad were being invited to come
and help our company. We hired a young German Mr. Holgerma Tschuck
as our market manager. He was quick-witted, kind, and enterprising.
He was serious at work and had a high sense of responsibility. He
was responsible for exploring the European markets. Later, two college
graduates were sent to our company by the French Embassy in Thailand
to work as trainees. They were assigned the job to help explore
the markets in Australia, America and Africa. Since the European
countries were well off and were the birthplace of potpourris, I
focussed my attention on the European markets and made up my mind
to compete with England, the most famous and original country of
The years passed by. Our company could now produced hundred kinds
of potpourris with different raw and processed materials, packaging,
designs, colors and fragrances. It could also turn out potpourris'
ornaments and gifts. Later on, our company expanded its production
to the making of fragrant candles and incense sticks. At the same
time, it sent people to attend the International Commodity Fairs
held in various countries, bringing along with them samples of products
for publicity and promotion.
After ten years of ups and downs and hard struggle, we had established
the brand identity of a series of potpourris in the European markets.
Now the Prosper Co., Ltd. became the largest producer and exporter
of potpourris in Thailand. An article was carried in Tong Hua Daily
News on April 30, 1997, praising me as the "king of potpourris".
I was afraid that I was not worthy of the crown. It was true, however,
that no other company in Thailand could match ours in the production
scale and export volume of potpourris as well as our brand identity
The kingdom of potpourris became a pride of my life and brought
me brilliant career and prosperity. While I was leading my whole
staff to create a beautiful life for mankind, I myself also enjoyed
a better life day after day.
Chapter I X Braving the Financial Crisis
Those who had never met with a misfortune were the unlucky persons,
for they had no chance to test their own ability. In one's life,
it was inevitable to encounter adversity. Therefore, people should
take advantage of adversity, making full use of the time for learning.
When the adversity was over, they would find it immensely significant
in the face of the rewards and progress.
Befalling of the Misfortune
In the late 1990s, Thailand closely followed Singapore, Hong Kong,
South Korea and Taiwan in an attempt to become the fifth "small
dragon" in Asia by shifting from an agricultural society into
an industrial one. It promoted a free economy and both the government
and individuals borrowed a large sum of money from foreign countries.
They invested their capital in real estate, stocks and share and
promissory notes. They also made investments in setting up factories,
building apartments, hotels and department stores. It seemed that
the economy was flourishing.
In fact, this was an inevitable result of a "bubble economy."
With more money in hand, many people spent freely, going for ostentation
and extravagance, or seeking after enjoyment and excessive consumption.
They borrowed mortgage loans to be invested in the real estate that
was, in turn, mortgaged to the bank for further loans.
With the vicious circle, the debts were snowballing. Factories,
star-level hotels, department stores, supermarkets, residential
and office buildings sprang up everywhere. Villas, new villages
and golf courses were under construction. The construction sites
bustled with workers and activity day and night. The building machines
At that time, it seemed that everyone became a rich man. The luxurious
"Benz" cars were very popular. The banks encouraged the
households to consume. The market was flooded with credit cards.
With a credit card in hand, people could almost buy everything,
ranging from household appliances such as TV sets, refrigerators,
and electric cookers to expensive items like apartments and cars
which could be paid by installments. By then, excessive consumption
was like a hurricane, which made people muddleheaded. The market
was flourishing prosperously. The prices of land were skyrocketing
at tenfold or even hundredfold. Many clerks, even housewives, bought
land, villas, shares, promissory notes by installments with their
lifelong savings, money borrowed from others, or their houses mortgaged.
Some people even pooled their savings to buy land while they didn't
know where their land was. The whole society was overshadowed by
the artificial prosperity.
In July 1997, Thailand, following Mexico, became the first country
to break out the Asian financial crisis. As a result of the "bubble
economy," the Thai currency was devaluated by the international
speculators. Thirty-two billion of foreign exchange reserves came
to naught. The exchange rate dropped from 25 bahts against one U.S.
dollar to 55 bahts against one U.S. dollar. The stock index plummeted
from 1,700 points to below 300 points. Especially the stocks in
real estate that soared to 2,226 points in 1993, plummeted to 100
points from 1997 to 1999, and to 50 points in early 1999, the lowest
was 25 points. The bottom price of one bank’s share dropped from
10 bahts to one cent.
The Asian financial crisis was an unprecedented catastrophe due
to its suddenness, widespread impact and terrible havoc.
Many factories, companies and enterprises in Thailand went bankrupt
one after another. The collapse of Thailand's economy was like a
landslide. The unemployed of the whole country reached over two
million. Some managers of the branch banks became street vendors.
Jobless blue-collar workers motorcycled to carry passengers. Stories
about people who committed suicide because of financial difficulties
appeared in the newspapers almost every day. Since many factories
and enterprises were deeply in debts, the banks stopped granting
loans. The shortage of working capital led to shrinkage of import
and export trades, business depression and weakened purchasing power.
As a result, most factories, enterprises and banks streamlined the
administrative structure, cut down the number of employees, reduced
the salary, cancelled the bonus and cut down the administrative
expenses in order to survive.
With the befalling of the financial disaster, dark clouds hung over
the nation's economy and a shadow was cast over the people's lives.
Braving the Adversity
Adversity was a path leading to the truth, but it must be guided
by wisdom and courage.
In the face of the economic retrogression and depression, everyone
was seized with a panic and worried about his future. This financial
panic had naturally affected our staff members, who were anxious
to know the future of the company.
One day, I called a meeting and addressed the whole staff on the
policy of our company: When others retreated, we marched forward
against the adversity.
After study and analysis, I decided to take resolute actions according
to the actual situation and the economic strength of our company.
For many years, the products of our company were exported abroad
and they were not sold on the domestic market. Thus the sluggish
market had no direct influence on our company. As the main markets
for our products were in Europe and the United States, the Asian
financial crisis had little effects on our exports.
The "bubble economy" resulted in the bad debts in the
bank. With liquidity crunch, the bank stopped granting loans. The
importers had no foreign exchange earnings for imports while the
exporters had no capital to buy raw materials. However, we had neither
got into debts nor relied on the bank loans. The liquidity crunch
had no impact on the normal operation of our business, for our products
were wholly for export and our earnings were U.S. dollars. On the
contrary, owing to the devaluation of bahts, our earnings in foreign
exchange increased our income in Thai currency.
For this, I made a prompt decision and took a series of actions:
We reprinted 5,000 copies of complete, comprehensive catalogue of
new products with exquisite designing and printing to be mailed
to the old and new purchasers, the importers of the same trade,
the big department stores and supermarkets the world over. We also
took the initiative asking for reference materials about the importers
by contacting the commercial counselor's offices of various embassies
in Thailand and the commercial counselor's offices of Thailand in
other parts of the world.
Besides, with the advanced high-tech means we established the commercial
Internet. By employing multi-channel electronic network, we collected
the data of the clients and of the businesses of the same trade.
Through Internet we promoted our products.
By collecting the data of potpourris of other countries, our company
improved the designs and packaging of the products. In accordance
with the different demands for different colors, fragrances, designs,
packaging, and the different purchasing powers, the company designed
new brands, which would suit to each country or region respectively.
By updating our products, we attracted more clients.
At the same time, the company had trained a vocational backbone
by organizing a contingent of professionals being headed by the
general manager to attend International Commodity Fairs. We selected
the sophisticated products and promoted the sales the world over.
Along with the devaluation of the Thai currency, we reduced the
sales price of U.S. dollars by a big margin and insisted on the
policy of less profit and quick turnovers with the same quality.
We reduced the storage of the raw materials. If only we could earn
the U.S. dollars, we accepted all the orders.
We improved the production process by distributing the orders to
the unemployed in the society to process the raw materials on piece
work basis. By doing so, we reduced the production cost and raised
the efficiency. With strict control of upgrading, we also ensured
the quality of the products.
We reduced our daily expenditure and mobilized all staff members
to practice economy.
I make it known that we would neither dismiss employees nor cut
down the wages or bonuses so as to set their heart at ease. However,
everyone was required to examine his defects or shortcomings in
the past and raise the efficiency of work and production in the
As for the office clerks, everyone was required to fulfill his own
work and break down the barriers of the division of labor. They
all went out to look for customers via the Internet or by going
through the files.
This resolute decision and clear-cut measures aroused the enthusiasm
of all staff in 1998. Everyone worked hard and volunteered to work
in extra shifts. It was a striking embodiment of teamwork, cooperation
and enterprising spirit.
The annual export volume, export value and profits spiraled and
set a historical record. By the end of the year, every staff member
had a raise in pay and bonus according to his ability and his contribution.
Everyone was overjoyed.
During the Asian financial crisis, we didn't suffer any setbacks.
Instead, we achieved brilliant success.
After the founding of the Prosper Co., Ltd., we realized two decades
of leap forward.
In 1989, I moved from the former rented office in 1979 with a floor
space of 32 square meters to the newly built five connected five-story
buildings covering a floor space of 1500 square meters. We also
set up a dyeing plant covering an area of 6,400 square meters and
a three-story storehouse with a floor space of 2,256 square meters.
This was our first-decade leap forward.
In 1999, I moved from the packaging department used in 1989 with
a floor space of 900 square meters to the newly built two connected
structures of five-story packaging building, covering a floor space
of 3,000 square meters. This was our second-decade leap forward.
Now, the Asian financial crisis was over, but the experiences and
lessons I had learned were unforgettable.
The progress and development of a person as well as an enterprise
relied only on a down-to-earth style of work. No one could make
fortune or succeed in any work by luck.
Anyone who wanted to achieve a successful career should work out
both long –term and short-term plans based on investigation and
Life was realistic and power came from actual strength. In time
of emergency, you couldn't expect any help from your past achievements.
If one fell down, he should stand up bravely. It was not worth of
pity, if one became a street vendor while formerly he was well-dressed
in the office. So long as his will power remained unbroken, he would
some day go to the office in Western suit again.
One should not be self-conceited when he was successful, for pride
goes before fall. Only when man could continue to sum up his experiences
and correct his mistakes, could he forge ahead like the earth moving
around the sun generation after generation.
Chapter X Instituting a New System that Benefits
Feelings have an enormously encouraging power. They are
the essential prerequisite for all moral conduct. A good enterprise
is just like an intimate family. The whole staff, like family members,
love and help each other, sharing their joys and sorrows.
Being Kind and Helpful to the Staff
For many years I took the staff as my family members. I was aware
that the accomplishments I had achieved were the result of the united
efforts of the staff members rather than my personal endeavor. I
often thought that if a new system was adopted by which each person
could share the fruits of his labor and would receive the reward
of his contribution, then the personal interests would be closely
integrated with the interests of the company. In that case, one
working in the company was not simply for the pay, but became part
of the company. Consequently, the initiative of the staff would
be brought into full play and the business of the company would
make further progress.
It was on one morning at the weekend in mid-July 2000 that I called
a meeting and presided over it, summing up half a year's work and
formulating the goal for development.
Before the kicking off of the meeting, some people came to the meeting-place
earlier with paper and pens. They were given advance notice two
days before. The staff was very concerned with the meeting, for
they were anxious to know the achievements and administration of
the company as well as the orientation of its development.
"Come downstairs, hurry up! Mr. Chan is coming to open the
meeting!" Someone shouted upstairs.
Since the founding of the company in 1979, a fine tradition had
been carried on. The staff called me Mr. Chan instead of Boss Chan.
The general manager, the department heads and the staff had rather
call each other brothers or sisters than their titles. In the past
we used to have free lunch. At the lunch we always shared the same
meal together. By the end of the year, we used to go for an outing.
As a rule, we always went on the same bus. At work, the leaders
were on intimate terms with the staff, as dear to each other as
members of one family.
At the meeting, I first summed up the business achievements in the
past half a year and the opinions on improvement of the work. Then
I addressed the meeting what I had thought for a long time. While
I was speaking, everyone listened attentively. It was very quiet
in the meeting room.
I started my address with a Chinese saying that since ancient times
few people had lived to the age of 70. However, as the world has
changed now, this saying was no longer in keeping with the actual
situation. At present, the average life span has increased with
the progress of technology, the development of economy, and the
improvement of medical service. In ancient times, when people lived
to 40 years of age, it was considered as a long life. People who
lived to 70 years were considered rare. Nowadays, many people started
their careers at the age of 40, and people at the age of 70 are
not considered as old at all. It is not uncommon for people to reach
100 years old.
I'm 70 years old this year. Some of my friends said to me that in
view of my age I should let the young people take over the leadership
of the company. It is unnecessary for me to work hard and worry
about the business, while I should stay at home and enjoy my remaining
years. But I don’t think so. I feel I still have a lot of work to
do. I am still planning to expand the business of the company.
Think a moment, please! What am I working for? It is neither for
my fame or position, nor for making money. If a man of 70 still
risks his life for money, it's a great pity! A wise person shouldn't
be the slave of money. For me, money is merely worldly possession.
You are neither born with money, nor will you go to the grave with
it when you leave the world. I often taught my children to rely
on themselves. When they grow up, they will carve out their careers
in their own world. They should not expect to inherit a legacy and
sit idle to enjoy the fruits of other's work. That's why I continue
to work. I expect to fulfill my duty and make more contributions
to the society in my lifetime. I work for the expansion of the business
of our company as well as for the benefit of each of you present
If I want to live a comfortable life, it is quite easy. I can do
that by simply changing the present orientation of management. If
the office and packaging buildings and warehouses are converted
to apartment houses to let, I'll collect the rents every month and
have nothing to do but enjoy a leisurely life. However, I'll then
no longer need many people and many of you will be unemployed. I
know that many of you have a family to support. Once you're out
of job, hundreds of people would get into trouble. I can't do anything
for my own comforts at your expenses. If I do that, it will go against
my conscience. That’s why our company can't be at a standstill or
go backward but should expand and move forward.
Since the founding of our company, those who came earliest had a
standing of 21 years. Some of our staff have over 10 years of service.
There are many more that have worked over five years. I don't expect
you to work all your life for the company. I hope you will work
hard, accumulate your experience, save some money and follow my
example to become a boss yourselves some day in the future. Each
of you is qualified to be a boss. You are much richer than what
I was 30 years ago. Your pay now is 11 times as much as mine 30
years ago. As for education, all of you in the office are college
graduates while my schooling was only junior middle school. If you're
going to leave the company and start your own business, I’ll support
you. If you want to stick to your post here, you're warmly welcomed.
As for the administration of the company, I'll withdraw gradually
and let you take over the business step by step. In view of the
present foundation, conditions, scale and strength of our company
as well as the education, experience and ability of our staff members,
our company will expand rapidly and our business will grow faster
and faster. The road to success for all of you will be wider and
The speech I gave from the bottom of my heart at the summing-up
meeting provoked strong response among the staff members.
Sharing the Fruits of Labor
During the unforgettable meeting, I declared that a series of reforms
would be carried out from the beginning of the new century in order
to have every staff member to share the fruits of his labor.
The annual sales target would increase by 20 per cent, which was
the goal we should strive to reach.
At the same time, five criteria were established for the staff,
on the basis of which each person is judged for his increase in
wage and distribution of bonus.
The five criteria were as follows:
First, doing a good job. This means that one works hard on his own
initiative and not doing work because he was asked to do it. For
example, if you are a messenger and have finished your work, you
should go back to the office and help other persons with typing,
packing or mailing work. For a member of the export department,
it is not enough to deal with the letters and telegrams. He should
also try to explore new markets, look for new clients and increase
new orders. Here is another example. A worker who was assigned to
produce one hundred pieces of products a day should overfulfill
his quota with high quality and economize the raw materials. He
should also take good care of the production tools. When it is time
to go off work, he should put the instruments and materials in order
and then return them to their fixed original place. Last, he should
clean his workplace before he leaves for home.
Second, fine moral integrity. As for this point, we had some fine
traditions. Many staff members took the company as their own family.
The company had never paid for extra work. However, when anyone
didn't finish his work, he would volunteer to work at spare time.
The staff aired their views openly. They never told lies, nor resorted
to deception. As everyone had a key to the office building, he or
she could come freely to work at night. Though nobody was on duty
to watch, so far nothing had been stolen. This was a concrete embodiment
of the moral integrity. I felt very satisfied that everyone worked
wholeheartedly for the company.
I was proud to say that there were no people of misconduct in our
company, who had such unhealthy habits as drinking, smoking and
gambling. These fine traditions should be maintained and carried
Third, solid unity and mutual help. The company was like a big family,
while the staff members were like brothers and sisters. They got
along with mutual respect and modesty, mutual help and cooperation.
Our company had never been divided into factions; incidents as quarrels
and fights had never occurred. Nobody slandered or spoke ill of
others behind their backs. These fine qualities were also one of
our fine traditions which had continued for 20 years and should
be carried forward.
Fourth, protect the reputation and property of the company. Honor
the credit of the company and practice economy for the company.
As for the latter, there was still a lot of room for improvement.
The phenomenon of waste was rather serious. The charges for water
and electricity were high in the three dormitories. Sometimes the
lights were on all day in the upstairs of the office building when
nobody was working there. In production, there was something wrong
with the ordering of goods. In the packaging department, many goods
ordered were not in need and were laid aside in a mess to be discarded.
The monthly expenditure of our company amounted to hundreds of thousands
yuan. If everyone of us could save a bit, the total sum would be
considerable in a year, for we had a large number of people in our
Fifth, keep secrets of the company. This was very important, for
there were many competitors in our trade, who tried every means
to get the internal business information, such as our new products
and the sales prices. They wanted to win over our clients. That
was why the business of our company and other related internal information
were not allowed to be revealed out, nor were the documents and
samples allowed to be taken home. All kinds of waste paper with
printed words must be put into the paper crusher and not allowed
to be thrown into the garbage can.
Hereafter, we would hold a meeting every six months to check up
the fulfillment of various targets and the business earnings, sum
up the six months' work, evaluate everybody’s work according to
the five criteria and make wage adjustment. Bonuses that were distributed
annually in the past would be given half a year. The sum of the
bonus would be granted according to the profits of the company,
the attainment of the five criteria, work performance and personal
contributions to the company.
A new system was being introduced. Those who had worked over 20
years would receive his or her pension if they measured up to the
five criteria during their working period. The retirement age was
60 for male and 55 for female.
I reiterated that as a boss I was not working only for my personal
gains, while I was always thinking how every staff member could
share the fruits of labor. The company set up the male and female
dormitories separately free of rents and paid the premiums for the
staff’s insurance. Subsidies were distributed to the needy. All
these measures were taken for the benefits of the staff members.
I sincerely hope that we could work together with one heart to make
more profits for our company and you would have a share of the fruits
of his or her labor.
After I finished my speech, Mrs. Pienspri Sriyuthakrai, the general
manager of the company, took to the floor. She said, "The comparison
between the volume of business of last six months with the same
period of last year was calculated on the basis of Thai currency.
The growth rate would be bigger if it was calculated on the basis
of U.S. dollars because the Thai currency rebounded during the first
six months this year."
Then Ms. Niramol Sirisuwat, the executive director, spoke:"
I would like to make some additional remarks. Mr. Chan said that
from now on, we would make wage adjustment and distribute bonus
on six months’ basis. This is not for everyone. Only those who have
fairly low pay and have done a good job will get a raise in pay.
As for bonus, it will be distributed according to the attainment
of the five criteria. Some will get more and some will receive less.
It is not shared alike."
After the meeting, everyone was quite happy and was talking animatedly.
They expressed their warm support to the new policy and measures.
Every staff member considered himself as part of the company or
as if he had a share and integrated his interest closely with that
of the company.
As the enthusiasm of each person was aroused, they threw their whole
strength into the work. For instance, when it was time to load the
cargoes, the freighter was anchored at the wharf waiting for the
containers to be lifted up and put in, back in the company the truck
parking at the gate of the factory was waiting for the loading of
goods to be carried to the wharf. However, the packaging department
had excessive orders but few workers. At such crucial moment, all
the workers of the company would join in the work without a letup.
Sometimes they worked till midnight and never made a complaint.
Clerks of the office building also often came to the factory and
joined the workers doing extra shifts regardless of the rewards
or working conditions.
What was the power that motivated the staff members to do so? It
was no other than the affection of the staff for the company and
the mutual concern between the leadership and the led as well as
that among the colleagues.
Indeed, what a wonderful thing was it for us to help and take care
of each other in our lives. In my daily life, let me think more
about others, try to help others and get my happiness and satisfaction
myself by doing so.
Chapter XI My Experiences in Life
Experience is the best teacher. A real knowledge comes from
direct experience. If one possesses beneficial experiences, he will
find a much smoother road in his life.
Opening the Window of Life with Books
I traveled a long, arduous way in my life. Looking back on my life's
journey of half a century, I benefited a lot from the knowledge
and experience gained from books.
I was a lover of books. Every moment of my life was linked with
books that like a lantern lightened the road of my life. It was
the books that helped me to conquer the difficulties and led me
to the road of success.
In my childhood, my parents couldn’t afford to support us three
brothers for schooling due to financial difficulties. Consequently
my two brothers were forced to quit school early. Since I studied
hard and achieved good records, the whole family managed to support
me to complete my junior middle schooling through innumerable hardships.
In fact, what first aroused my interest in books was neither my
teachers nor my parents. They were the Zhanghui novels—a type of
traditional novel with each chapter headed by a couplet giving the
gist of its content.
During the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945), our family
became refugees and fled to Chikan in Guangzhouwan. Our neighbor
was a down and out scholar tall and thin, he looked like a bamboo
cane. He had thin, gray hair and unshaven beard. His face and hands
were covered with excessive wrinkles. He was wearing a pair of thick
glasses. Whenever he was reading, his protruding nose nearly touched
He lived alone without any family members. He used to sit in a wooden
chair near the door, reading books by the sunlight streaming in
from outside. Though his room was simply furnished with some wooden
furniture, it had a large collection of books like a small library.
I couldn't understand the thread-bound old Chinese books, but I
was attracted by the eye-catching titles, such as Luo Tong Swept
away the North and Xue Rengui Conquered the West. I often borrowed
these books back home to read. Gradually I was fond of reading.
Being very lonely, the scholar was very kind and friendly to me.
He was willing to tell me stories and volunteered to lend me some
books. Sometimes he also showed me how to read. When he was in a
very good mood, he would invite me to play the Chinese chess with
him. Though he deliberately gave me a handicap by giving up two
chess pieces, I still lost the game each time. By then, I had a
good friend –books that opened the outside world to me. As I had
no electric lights at home, I often squatted down on the nearby
street reading by the light of the street lamp. I kept on reading
until my mother called me to go to bed at night.
Before I graduated from the primary school, I had read the Chinese
classical literature, such as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms,
Outlaws of the Marsh, The Canonization of the God, Journey to the
West, and the novels with lots of swordplay and dashing heroes.
In the middle school, I read some famous Chinese and foreign literary
works, such as Crime and Punishment by Fedor Dostoyevsky, Dead Souls
by Nikolai V. Gogol, and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. As for the
modern Chinese literature, I had read Family, Spring, and Autumn
by Ba Jin, Midnight by Mao Dun, The True Story of Ah Q by Lu Xun,
and Letters to my Young Readers by Bing Xin.
Upon graduation from the school, I entered the society and began
to read some contemporary Chinese novels such as Red Crag and Track
in the Snowy Forests. I also had read the world famous writings
The Gadfly and The Seagull. The above literary works produced great
influence on my life as I was deeply moved by the heroic thoughts
and deeds of the characters.
Though many years had passed, I could still remember the intense
emotion I was awakened by Maxim Gorky’s trilogy—Childhood, In the
World, My College as well as Mother. I had great sympathy for Gorky’s
life and experience. And at the same time I highly admired his great
literary achievements. I hoped that some day I would be a writer
and could expose the darkness of the society and give publicity
to heroes and social justice so as to promote the advancement of
the civilization of mankind.
Below was a passage quoted from How the Steel Was Tempered by Nikolai
"Man's dearest possession is life, and it is given to him to
live but once. He must live so as to feel no torturing regrets for
years without purpose, never know the burning shame of a mean and
petty past; so live that dying, he can say: all my life, all my
strength were given to the finest cause in all the world—the fight
for the Liberation of Mankind. And one must make use of every moment
of life, lest some sudden illness or tragic accident cut it short."
The words of this passage said by Paval Korchagin were deeply imprinted
on my mind and became the motto of my life. It was books that brought
me to this mystical and beautiful world.
I read extensively. At each stage of my life, I focused my reading
on some books according to the requirements in different times.
At school, I enjoyed reading literature, while entering the society
I studied books on sociology and history. Before the founding of
my company, I studied English and read books on business for existence
and for the further development of my career. After the establishment
of my company, I endeavored to gain professional knowledge and read
books about business management of the enterprises. After coming
to the age of 65, I gradually withdrew from my business post and
turned my attention to history of successes of the world famous
people and books about health care.
The great writer M. Gorky said: "Books are the ladder of the
progress of mankind." The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy
said: "The ideal book is the key to wisdom." What they
said explained the true meaning of reading books.
Looking back on my past life, I had a special feeling for and interest
in books. Even when I was very busy with my work and I reached 70
years of age, I kept on reading books and newspapers. Besides, reading
helped me cultivate a very good habit. Whenever I came across good
books, I’d recommend them or give them to my friends and relatives
as presents. Sometimes, I bought many copies at a time for distribution.
Francis Bacon once said, "The book is a ship of thoughts sailing
on the waves of times. With great care, it gives the dearest present
to people from generation to generation."
Recalling the past, I felt deeply that it was the books that opened
the window for me to know the outside world and led me into a new
life. And it was the books that inspired me to go ahead. With three
Hong Kong dollars in hand, I braved a new world for my life and
career. Although my schooling was very short, I built up from nothing
and expanded my business from time to time. It was the books that
gave me the knowledge, wisdom and strength. I solved puzzling problems
through reading and made progress forward. Therefore, books became
the indispensable, intimate partner of my life and career.
Going all out to Strive for the Goal of Life
Some people live aimlessly. They are like a grass in the river,
drifting with the tide.
That was not the life style I appreciated. I had gone through frustrations,
ups and downs for seventy years. My own experiences made me realize
that a man in the world should have a definite goal. Once the goal
was set, he should go all out to strive for its realization.
At school, my goal was to become a writer when I grew up. But at
that time I was so poor that I couldn't afford to buy paper. Therefore,
it was only the times that produced heroes and it was not the other
way around. In the foreign lands, I had to be an employee in order
to survive. But I didn't give up the ideal of becoming a writer
some day. I placed the hope on the future. Being an employee, I
was not satisfied with my fixed income and the stable life. But
I set another goal. Someday in the future I would have my own company
and become the boss. When I was an employee, I began to create conditions
for being a boss.
I knew that a qualified boss should have ability, knowledge, friends,
clients as well as capital. That was why I did my utmost to create
the above prerequisites. Being a small boss, I set a long-term goal
and a short-term one. Recalling the past, when I went abroad without
a penny, I never flinched from difficulties. I was clear that there
were difficulties, but I was determined to face and overcome them.
When I went to Hong Kong looking for my cousin to find a foothold,
I had planned to do odd jobs if I failed to find her.
At that time I went to Hong Kong alone. On arrival at Hong Kong,
the international metropolis, I lived in a new, strange environment
and had no working experience. However, I bravely took the job as
the purchasing agent in order to gain a foothold for survival. My
objective was to familiarize myself with the social environment
and the situation in the factory as well as my job within a short
period of time. By every possible means I tried to complete my task
and do a good job. If I were not equal to my work, I would become
the unemployed and look for another job.
Later on, to realize my goal of establishing a company and being
a boss, I went to the evening school at the age of thirty, and began
to learn English from ABC. In order to improve my English and have
a good command of it, I didn't feel ashamed to ask and learn from
others. In class, I listened to the teachers attentively. After
school, I followed the gramophone and learned English by myself,
usually studying late into the night.
In the course of my life's journey, there was an unusual "memento"
I've kept it for 24 years. Up to date, the "memento" that
was deeply engraved on my heart was still put under the glass plate
of my desk, which motivated me to go all out and strive for the
goal of life.
It was a check for 20,000 bahts that had not been cashed for 24
In 1977 soon after I came to Thailand from Hong Kong and became
the manager of the Board Mill, a friend of mine asked me to pool
our funds to buy a machine for the production of the tapes for sale.
At that time the tapes were very popular in the market and sold
For many years, I resolved to conduct business. However, my dream
didn’t come true due to rare opportunities and lack of funds. In
the face of the arrival of this opportunity, I couldn't let it go
easily. But where could I find the 20,000 Thai bahts?
At this moment, it occurred to me that I had a relative who was
very rich and the friendship between our two families could be traced
to our parents. This relative had many properties. I remembered
that on my arrival in Thailand from Hong Kong, he warmly invited
me to have a dinner with his family and put me up for the night.
That was a beautiful mansion, which left a deep impression on me.
After secondary consideration, I decided to go to his office and
borrow 20,000 Thai bahts for doing business. I thought that it was
a small amount of money, he would lend it to me. However, it was
the first time for me to borrow money from others, so I plucked
my courage to do it.
That day I went to his office. At first, he didn't know why I came
to see him, so he warmly received me, asking his secretary to bring
in a cup of coffee. When I told him the purpose of my coming and
asked him to lend me 20,000 Thai bahts, with his brows knitted,
he said, "It's all right to lend you 20,000 baths, you may
come and get it on Sunday."
On Sunday, I went to his home. He took out the checkbook and personally
wrote a check for 20,000 Thai bahts for me. I received the check
with both hands and thanked him. Putting it into the pocket of my
suit with great care, I hurried back to the apartment. On the way
I imagined how to carry out my plan for doing the business.
No sooner had I reached the door of my apartment than the landlady
told me: "A moment ago, somebody was phoning you. He asked
you to make a phone call to him as soon as you get home. He had
something urgent for you. Here is his telephone number.” The landlady
handed me a piece of paper, on which was the very phone number of
my relative. Therefore, I hurried to ring him up and asked: "Brother
Ya, what urgent matter did you call me for?" I asked anxiously.
It was my relative who answered the call.
"You are not supposed to withdraw money with the check I wrote
to you just now," he said coldly.
"All right, I don't go to withdraw the money." I hung
up. I felt very heavy-hearted, for I didn’t know why he had changed
his mind so quickly.
Then I rang up another relative of mine. She always showed loving
care for me and was familiar with the relative I borrowed money
from. After listening to my complaint, she couldn't help calling
and questioning him:
"Why did you write a check for 20,000 Thai bahts and not allow
others to withdraw money from the bank?"
"How could he return me the money?"
"He was sent by a boss in Hong Kong to be a manager in Thailand.
He would use the money he borrowed as capital for doing business,
not for pleasure seeking. You should support him and encourage him.
With a monthly wage of 10,000 Thai bahts, he was a hard-working
young man without any bad habits. Are you afraid that he couldn't
return 20,000 Thai bahts to you?"
I took this matter as a deep disgrace in my life, from which I learned
a lesson and understood something in life. This was the first time
I borrowed money from others as well as the last time. With that
check in hand, I vowed to avenge this deep disgrace. Through self-reliance,
I would fight for twenty years and surpass him in wealth. From then
on, this check was placed under the glass plate of my desk, which
was like a bell, sounding alarm near my ear from time to time. Whenever
I met with difficulties, I would look at the check and said to myself:
Overcome the difficulties and surpass him! At this moment, I felt
as if an unimaginable force pushed me forward to surmount all the
With 160,000 Thai bahts in hand, for the sake of becoming a boss,
I quitted the job with high pay, and gave up the stable life, risking
dangers to begin the business. I knew I had limited capital, but
through a meticulous plan and the long-term preparation, I boldly
set up the company at last and worked hard with wisdom and willpower.
I hoped for the success but prepared for the failure. In case of
failure, I would become a journalist or a purchasing agent and start
from the very beginning.
The business market was like a battlefield. Competition needed information.
Without hesitation I invested a lot of manpower as well as capital
to conduct surveys in order to realize one goal. To know one's own
strength and the enemy's is the sure way to victory.
After the company was founded and I became the boss, the first step
of my career started from doing business of exports and later developed
into doing the business of both imports and exports. When I found
that the new project of potpourris had bright future for development,
I conducted overall survey. I personally went to some major countries
to observe the styles of the products as well as the situation for
sales. I made a survey of the sales and the sale price in some metropolises
throughout the world, such as Amsterdam, Hamburg, London, Paris,
Milan, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Kuwait, etc. Comparing the
difference of the production cost between Thailand and the Western
countries, I found the potential and advantages for production in
Thailand. With the large variety of plants, it was easy to collect
and mobilize the peasants for cultivation of flowers for making
potpourris. With cheap labor, adequate manpower, low production
cost, as well as developed air and sea transportation, we could
reach every corner of the world. Therefore, I made a prompt decision
that the company would change its marketing orientation and gradually
withdraw from the business of imports and exports and set up factories
that specialize in the production of potpourris. With the entry
into the market I aimed to enlarge the business and do it well,
establishing the brand name products and brand identity. For realization
of this goal, I spared no efforts to carry out my work centering
All through my life I have been striving for the realization of
the definite goal.
After the goal was set, I would overcome all the difficulties and
Determination could produce boundless strength.
In my opinion, any person who succeeded has made sustained efforts
and striven for the definite goal. I reached the goal step by step,
neither by luck nor by the mercy of God. Instead, I did down-to-earth
Twenty years later, through my own efforts, I attained the objective
of my life. In the process of my struggle, I was fully aware that
unless one aimed high in life, he could not be successful. This
was the meaning of life I comprehended through half a century's
Fame and Wealth is not the only Thing in Life
Life is like a vast ocean. Numerous treasures are covered by the
blue seawater. So wealth and fame is not the only thing we chased
Through decades of social experiences, I came to know the truth
in life. If one only sought after wealth and fame in life, and threw
his limited life into the complicated, kaleidoscopic and dangerous
whirlpool of life, it was worthless and the great waste of life.
Too much wealth meant a burden.
The ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus said: "Those rich with
a huge sum of money were often unfortunate. Those people who were
well off were really happy."
Living in this society, one could not go on living if he was penniless.
Being short of money, one had no social position. Being too rich,
he would live in constant fear. He was afraid that his son and grandson
would turn into prodigals; going out, he was afraid that he might
be kidnapped; taking the plane, he was afraid an accident; eating
something, he was afraid of being poisoned; making friend, he was
afraid of being cheated; getting married, he was afraid of being
divorced. With an economic chaos, he was afraid of the bankruptcy
of the banks. In a word, he was fidgeted all day. What’s the point
of being troubled?
I had read an article on wealth, in which there was a paragraph
like this: In Latin language, the word "fortune" meant
the same as the word "burden". Then it went on: The American
petroleum King John D. Rockefeller grew up on a farm from his childhood
and enjoyed a good health. He began to make money at the age of
33. At 43 he established the unprecedented monopolized enterprise—"the
Standard Petroleum Company". At the age of 50, the wealth of
the astronomical figure didn't bring him happiness and blessing,
but highly tension of life and worries. With drooping shoulders,
he waggled along when he was walking at the age of 50. John Wenkler,
author of his biography, said that Rockefeller looked like a mummy.
This was a typical case in point.
Let's look at the doccom billionaire Bill Gates, whose wealth brought
many lawsuits to him. You could imagine what blessings would unlimited
wealth bring to you?
There was a jingle in the Western countries: More money more funny,
no money no funny.
I didn’t think it was right. One must have money for livelihood
and survival. But the happiness of life was not decided by the amount
of money, nor was it that the case no money, no funny. The key to
this problem was how to face the reality with our outlook on life
and our outlook on value.
Owing to the above-mentioned viewpoints, I neither sought after
ill-gotten wealth, nor became the slave of money. I thought that
being as parents we had the responsibility for educating the next
generation to become useful. It was unnecessary to accumulate tremendous
wealth for them to enjoy life idly. Too much inheritance could only
bring them more harms than benefits.
Therefore, the saying that contentment means happiness is the best
way to keep in sound health.
Fame and Gains are both Honor and Poison
Fame and gains are the identical integration, which produced reputation.
What is reputation? In my opinion, reputation is the symbol of virtue,
which was bestowed upon the outstanding people who made great contributions;
reputation was bestowed upon the elite who promoted the social progress
of the history of mankind; reputation was bestowed upon those of
integrity who fought all their lives for the benefits of the society
and people; reputation was bestowed upon the benevolent and virtuous
people who saved the masses of mankind.
In the community of the Thai society, I was elected the Deputy Director
and Advisor to Hainan Association of Thailand; the Vice-Chairman
and Advisor to Thai Hainanese Trade Association. I also accepted
the invitation to assume the post as the Advisor to the Deputy-Minister
of Commerce of Thailand. But I thought that these titles could only
make me fulfill more duties for the society and make more contributions
to the country, the society as well as mankind.
But in the kaleidoscopic society, some people fished for fame and
compliments. Even if they had their names appear once in the newspapers,
regardless of justice and morality, they went against their conscience
to make troubles, undermine unity, sow discords, and frame up innocent
people. With a bag of tricks, some ignorant and incompetent persons
secured their personal gains by every possible means. They sought
after fame and gains at the expense of others. For them fame, gains
and reputation were poisons instead of the symbol of virtue. Chasing
after fame, gains and reputation could only bring disgrace and ruin
Looking back on my life, I hated evil as my enemy. I was clear about
what to love and what to hate and stayed away from all the bad elements
as well as the evil things. The philosophy of life was as follows:
Be kind to others, be open-minded, never show off, never seek fame
and gains and never harbor enmity against others.
I often taught my daughter and son that they should make careful
choice of their friends and stay away from the bad eggs. They should
stand aloof from the worldly success and ignore fame and gains.
Only by doing so, one could feel at ease and live happily.
Hence my viewpoint is: Wealth and fame is not the only thing in
Chapter XII My Taste, Interest and Temperament
A man's life is limited and time is money. Try your best
to fulfill your daily schedule and don't idle away your life. Let
your life be full of taste, interest and temperament.
Lead an Honest and Clean Life
With self-esteem, self-respect, self-knowledge, and self-control,
one could better his life.
Reaching the age of 70 and looking back on my life's journey, I
wrote with emotions a poem entitled Life.
Life is a poem
Brimming with vigor, love and joy
Each line shines with happiness
Each word should be kept
Life is like a flower
When blooming, it is richly colored and gorgeous
But it also will wither and fall
So each moment is highly prized
I treasured my life, I observed proprieties, I had a sense of honor
and I led an honest and clean life. On arrival in Hong Kong, I found
an abnormal phenomenon in Hong Kong society. There were some shops
specially providing facilities for playing mahjong. In these shops
some tables were placed, and many people gathered, sitting around
and playing mahjong day and night. In many families, men and women,
old and young got together and played mahjong whenever they were
free. Before the banquet and the wedding party, people usually played
mahjong for a while, and then began the feast. With less business
in some companies, people prepared the table for playing in the
back of the shop or in the office upstairs during the business hours.
On weekends or holidays, people wouldn't let slip this opportunity.
Loud noises of playing mahjong came out from the windows of many
buildings. It seemed that this was a kind of fashion in Hong Kong
society. Living in Hong Kong, if you didn't know how to play mahjong,
you would be looked upon as a real "country folk". In
Hong Kong people's words, you were a "bumpkin".
However, I had lived in Hong Kong for over a decade and didn't know
how to play it. When Hong Kong people met with each other in the
morning, they would like to ask: "How much did you gain last
night?" I felt it uncomfortable hearing these words. I didn’t
like and didn't know how to play it at all.
In my opinion, playing mahjong was a waste of the limited time of
life. It was a sort of gambling that made people crazy about. Playing
mahjong could also hurt people's feelings and undermine friendship
due to loss or gain. It also could ruin the happiness of a family.
Without a proper diet, sitting for a long time to play mahjong could
wear you down and make you lose your health.
Back in my hometown Wenchang, I found that some of the young and
the old, men and women indulged themselves in playing mahjong under
the shade of the trees for the whole day. As to their farmland,
they hired the floating laborers from the mainland to plough the
fields and they even gave up production. In the face of financial
difficulties, they would ask for aid from their overseas relatives.
This unhealthy social atmosphere was disgusting.
Living in Hong Kong for many years, I had never been to racehorse
course. I was not in the least interested in gambling. Getting money
without hard work was not my pursuit. In gambling there were loss
and gain. I couldn't stake my life on loss or gain, nor could I
make fortune by means of gambling.
In the business market, I came into contact with all kinds of people.
I remember that a friend of mine told me his experience: In order
to do a deal with a businessman in Taiwan, he had to bear unhappy
feelings to share the betel nuts with the purchaser and accompanied
him to go to the red-light district. I said that I would rather
not do this kind of business. Even if I was very poor, I couldn't
make such dirty money. I once came across some buyers. Before we
had made a deal, they asked me to take them to the red-light district.
I always turned it down politely by saying either no time or no
Up to now, I didn't forget that on arrival in Thailand, somebody
asked me to make an investment in a business. He said: "There
is a good opportunity. A friend of mine wanted to open a bathhouse
and asked me to make an investment. If you invest 10,000 bahts,
you could at least get bonuses of 1,000 bahts for each month. The
bonus will be distributed on a monthly basis. You will get repayment
of the capital within less than a year." This man said in an
exultant way as if he had already earned a lot of bonuses.
"What kind of business is the bathhouse?" I asked with
"Ah! You are a real pumpkin. In Thailand you even don't know
what the bathhouse is. In Biwulishidak Road, Bangkok, there are
a lot of bathhouses. You should go around and have a look so as
to gain some experiences. Bathhouse is usually a huge building with
a lot of rooms upstairs. Below ground level, there is a huge hall,
which is partitioned by glass. There are dozens or even hundreds
of beauties. A plate with the serial number is tied to the chest
of each one for the visitors to select. If one is chosen by the
visitor, she would take the visitor upstairs to a single room and
help him with bathing as well as offer other services…" Judging
by the way he spoke, he seemed as a professional. "Sorry, I
don’t want to do this sort of business, for I have no interest in
it." I rejected it flatly.
While staying in Thailand for a long time, I came to know most of
the girls who were forced into prostitution had been bought cheaply
from the poor families in the villages and some of them were cheated
to do such business by illegal means. I felt pity for these girls
and I hated bitterly this morally degenerated trade. Sometimes,
I thought that money was really evil. In the society, some people
sold out their souls for money. They had no sense of responsibility,
nor did they consider the social consequences. They forsook human
justice and virtue. For them money was so dirty that it was filled
The living example in society told us how to run business. I set
a rule for myself. Doing business was for making money, but I must
make clean money. My principle was as follows: I would rather give
up business, and would rather become poor than become a slave of
money. I couldn't sell my soul for money, nor could I go against
my conscience to do things offensive to God and reason.
I could never bow before the money and degrade my moral integrity
and dignity. I had done business over decades. I insisted on legitimate
business activities instead of engaging in speculation and profiteering,
or making ill-gotten wealth This was the basic principle which I
had never violated since I had been in business.
Many years' experience in life told me: One should lead an honest
and clean life not to be contaminated by evil influence in the society.
It was a social virtue as well as a noble character man should have.
Beauty Remaining Everywhere
For life itself, beauty is a sort of need by life and an enjoyment
of life. I treasured time dearly. I would never waste a minute or
a second at will every day. I had a full schedule each day. Therefore,
I had a rich and colorful life.
I remember on my early arrival in Thailand, for the first time I
attended a wedding party that a friend of mine arranged for his
daughter in a hotel. By regular ride, it needed half an hour. In
order to avoid traffic jam, I took my friend’s car and we arrived
half an hour earlier. But when we got there, the parking lot of
the hotel had been full already. My friend had to park his car in
the filling station, which was far away, and we had to take a taxi
for the party. As a result, we were late.
No sooner had we entered the hall of the hotel than we found it
was a cocktail party. The hall was very crowded with thousands of
guests. Some people stood along the corridor with a cup of wine
in hand. It was impossible to find a familiar friend and have a
chat. After the party, it was very hard for me to squeeze out of
the crowds. What's more, I experienced traffic jam for the second
time. When I was back home, it was already midnight. Learning a
lesson from this experience, I seldom participated in this sort
of meaningless social activity. I thought as a man’s life expectancy
was only several decades, it was really short enough. How could
we waste our lives?
Reading books was my favorite hobby and a great pleasure in my life.
No matter how busy I was, I'd go over the books before going to
sleep. It became a habit in my life. I did reading according to
the different needs at different times. Reading books was not only
my interest; what’s more, it became a necessity of my life and was
indispensable to my life.
Reading was important to me as water is essential to life.
Listening to music was also a necessity for my daily life. Both
in the morning and in the afternoon, music was lingering in the
air, which aroused the memories of my past. Music also brought me
back to nature. With a peaceful mind, I forgot all the worries and
sorrows in the world. The beautiful melody made me dreamlike, enchanting
and intoxicated. Some songs, especially the love songs, made me
feel the flying of time. Sometimes, when I was in a good mood, I
would like to sing a few pieces of kanok or listen to some light
music before going to bed. While listening, I was also reading books.
With aesthetic enjoyment, I went off to my dreamland.
I had a special like for folk songs, both Chinese and foreign classical
ones, such as Xinjiang is Good, In a Far Distant Land, and Kangding
Love Song. As I left my hometown at the age of 30, I had a special
like for the English folk song Home, Sweet Home. "Mid pleasure
and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no
place like home, A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
which seek through the world, is never met elsewhere, I gaze on
the moon as I tread the drear wild, And feel that my mother now
thinks of her child; as she looks on that moon from our own cottage
door, Through the wood-bine whose fragrance shall cheer me no more…"
The sweetest melody and the simple words of the song made my heart
filled with the tender feelings and nostalgia. The theme song in
the Korea film The Flower Girl has these lines:"I sell flowers
for curing my mother's illness. There is no spring scenery in life's
road. I sell flowers in tears for the whole day." In the Russian
folk song Three Carriages: "The Volga is covered with ice and
snow, on which are running three carriages. Someone is singing the
melancholy song, who is the driver of the cart. Look at the old
and pitiful horse, who followed me all over the world. The evil,
rich man is going to buy him and the sufferings are waiting for
him.” Whenever I was humming these songs, I couldn't help feeling
sympathy for the unfortunate in the society. Whenever I was singing
this line " When we were young" in the Spring Morning
at the Green Dyke, all of a sudden, I felt that I returned to my
youth. I regained my youth that faded away. My world became bright
with rays of sunlight.
It was music that dominated my feelings, my inner world and my life.
But I didn't like the Western music—rock and roll, nor did I like
to see the movie, for they lasted for a long time. I didn't like
to watch the TV serial with the contents of killing and sentimental
feelings. The least I would like to watch was the scene of murder.
I couldn't shed tears for the elaborated sentimental stories.
I liked calligraphy. The freehand and expressive styles of the Chinese
calligraphy made me crazy. When I was free, I'd spread the Xuan
paper and prepared ink for brush writing. Then I would hold a brush
through concentration and produce a piece of writing. This interest
added aesthetic content to my life. I once learned the calligraphy
of Yan Zhenqing and Liu Gongquan styles and also tried to develop
my own style. Calligraphy, being a part of Chinese splendid culture
for five thousand years, brought beauty to my life, which was like
the waters of the river, rolling on incessantly. My writing was
no good due to the lack of practice, a fact that made me always
feel sorry for it.
Engaging in the international trade for over 20 years, I was given
chances of collecting the stamps of various countries which were
kept well. I had worked out a plan that after 90 years old, I would
sort out the finest ones and put them to order.
I also had another special like -- the cultivation of flowers and
trees. At my home in Bangkok, with an open ground of limited space
in front of my house, I grew three Fate flowers along the bottom
of the wall. As a decade passed, the three Fate flowers fought with
each other to grow higher and higher; now they already reached the
height of the second floor's window. They looked like three supernatural
incense sticks, facing the east and praying for peace and happiness
of mankind. The three Fate flowers had burst into bloom twice. When
they were in bloom, strings of white flowers stretched downwards
from the top to the bottom. They were beautiful indeed. From the
night to the next morning, the flowers sent forth a delicate sweet
fragrance, which made one feel dreamlike and intoxicated. The flowers
were in full bloom for ten days. During this period, if you feasted
your eyes on its beauty and inhaled in the special fragrance, you
would find it a beauty and enjoyment in life.
In the small yard near the edge of the movable iron gate, I planted
a mango tree. Now it grew more and more lovely. The branches and
leaves grew luxuriantly and the boughs and trunk bent outwards toward
the street, which looked like a large umbrella. I often parked my
car under the shade of the mango tree to keep away from the sunshine.
When the fruit was in season, the mango tree produced big and sweet
mangoes, which could be picked within your reach as God’s bestowal.
It was a pity that the mangoes were not in great number.
In the empty space of the yard, I also planted a lemon tree, a hot
pepper as well as a Dragon fruit tree. The yard was decorated beautifully
and naturally like a mini experimental plot, sending forth the fresh
smell of nature and adding much pleasure to my family.
Let beauty remain everywhere so that one's life could be enriched
and abundant. It was my own personal temperament and interest that
brought me the dearest life's experiences.
Description of the Society and Life
China's reform and opening up was like a strong spring breeze, which
opened a new window for the overseas Chinese living abroad.
I remember that in the year 1994, I had been to my hometown Hainan
for 12 times. I almost returned to Hainan from Bangkok once every
month. Travelling to and fro between China and Thailand, I came
into frequent contact with people of all ranks and classes, including
officials, merchants, scholars, urban citizens, workers and peasants.
Through a penetrating observation of the society, I noticed that
in my hometown Hainan a lot of young people never read books or
newspapers. Once I paid a visit to their homes, they had neither
a book nor a copy of newspaper. I knew nothing about their enthusiasm
for their work. But after work the rich young people would frequent
bars for kanok in small groups. Those who were short of money would
linger in cafe, wineshop or gather together for gambling. It was
said that some even were addicted to drugs. Some young people would
be loafing about in the street and returned home at midnight. Some
country folks in rural areas gave up production and got together
playing mahjong under the shade of trees. They would rather lead
a hard life than work hard and fight for a better life. They were
devoid of their bold, aggressive spirit.
At that time, I had a chat with some country folks. What we talked
was still engraved in my memory. "As the saying goes, those
living on a mountain live off the mountain; those living near the
water live off the water. Your village facing the sea has a good
natural fishing ground. Why don't you go to catch fish for sale
to better your life, instead of playing mahjong?" "We
have no capital to buy ship and fishing net," answered the
young people. "The capital is accumulated bit by bit. You cannot
expect that the capital will fall from the sky," I said and
they had nothing to reply.
This was what I saw in my hometown. What a terrible reality it was!
I thought then, if a nation went on like this, what the future of
the country would be.
I knew about a big and influential family. The father was a boss
with much financial strength and gained considerable fame among
his contemporaries. But when he died, the business of his family
went bankrupt in less than half a year. With internal conflicts
and disintegration of the family, none of his sons finished middle
school and none of them lived to the age of 60. This might be a
natural retribution. There is a proverb in Hainan that says, "Wealth
of a family cannot last for three generations." This family
lasted for one generation. How did the sons of the family get along?
I didn't know, and nor did I want to know. But you could imagine
What a serious and harsh reality it was!
I spent the rest of my life in Thailand. But I often went back to
China and invested in my hometown. I found that a straightforward
person like me should advance gradually and entrench at each step.
There were too many cases of cheating and trickery, which were hard
for you to guard against. I had been taken in and learned a good
lesson from it. On the other hand, I had made some true friends
and met with a lot of good people, including a group of the elite
of society. It was from them that I learned a lot of dear life experiences
and knowledge. At this time, I was seized with sudden impulse to
describe the society and lives of the people.
When I reached the age of 60, with the rapid development of science
and technology worldwide, Internet changed the traditional commercial
transaction pattern. Our company applied for our own web site, establishing
our own web pages. A lot of businesses were done through Internet
transaction. The birth of Internet changed the world as well as
my life. For development and expansion of the business, we had special
personnel to gather information throughout the world via the Internet
every day. I began to learn how to operate the computer and use
it for writing. The mystery of the computer awakened my desire to
become a writer.
At the age of 70, I entrusted my wife with the whole business of
the company. She handled the routine matters as well as the important
ones. As usual, I got up at five o’clock and did the morning exercise.
In the new village where I lived, I did jogging, breathed the fresh
air, and practiced patting-body movements of the Chinese gongfu.
Afterwards, I prepared breakfast for the whole family and read the
daily newspaper. The rest of the time was up to me for arrangement.
When I had spare time, I still thought how I could fulfill the dream
of my boyhood to become a writer. Looking back on the journey I
had traveled, I felt that part of my experiences was similar to
the sufferings of Gorky. But the time was different. In the new
era of highly developed economy, the society was full of cheating
and trickery, and people made money regardless of propriety, justice
and sense of honor. All these ugly social phenomena were beyond
the imagination of the people in the time of Gorky. In consideration
of the social evils, I felt it vital to teach the younger generation
how to lead an honest and clean life. That was why I began to write
my reminiscences My Road in Chinese, in which I presented a true
picture of my past life: How I braved the world with three Hong
Kong dollars, how I started a business with 160,000 bahts, how I
achieved my career and how I suffered the setbacks, frustrations
and cheat. My aim was to teach the younger generation with my personal
experience. But my wife and the children didn’t understand Chinese,
so I asked someone to translate it into the Thai language. Some
friends read the book and encouraged me to get it published. Because
some facts were not proper to be made known to the public, I rewrote
it into the present book Braving the World with Three Hong Kong
Dollars on the basis of my reminiscences.
Once I took my wife to see a doctor for acupuncture treatment and
I came across cheating in the new times. I thought I should expose
the dark side of the society and let it become the target of universal
condemnation. The honest people would also be aware of it. This
should be my duty as a writer. That was why I wrote my first novel
The Witch Doctor that was published in Tong Hua Daily News in Thailand
and in Overseas Chinese News in succession. During this period,
I compiled Copper Drum Buddhist Glory and edited The Way to Keep
in Good Health. With my financial support, The Famous Artists of
Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy in the 20th Century was published.
These publications aroused my interest in writing. Meanwhile, I
tried my hand at writing the new poetry. My maiden work Life was
soon published in the magazine At Home and Overseas sponsored by
the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese in Beijing.
The description of society and life broadened my field of vision.
It also helped me to recognize the noble mission of mankind. Writing
itself brought me boundless happiness. I felt that with the increase
of my age, my life became richer and more wonderful. Wasn’t it that
the best of one's life rest in his remaining years?
Living for Good Health
We should live for both mental health and physical fitness. Without
a sound ideology, one would become the rubbish of the society. Without
a healthy body, what’s the use of possessing billions of property?
Since my childhood, I liked physical exercises and manual labor.
I paid special attention to keep in good health.
In my daily life, I worked hard, but I didn’t force me to do the
work that I wasn’t equal to. I would stop working when I was feeling
Being optimistic, I tried to forget the past, in particular, not
to recall the setbacks, failures, grievances and insults in the
Up to date, we hired no servant girl, nor a driver. We shared the
housework together and drove by ourselves when we were out. We complemented
the shortage of physical exercises by manual labor.
I had an impression in my childhood as the follows: In the old days
in my hometown Wenchang, women used to manage the household affairs,
such as doing house chores, cleaning the table and clearing away
the dishes. Men seldom took care of such work. After meals, they
used to sit down smoking and read newspapers. With less exercises
and less labor, probably that was why man’s average life span was
shorter than that of women’s.
I lived a regular life, early to bed and early to rise. No matter
at weekends or on holidays, I got up at five o’clock in the morning,
either doing exercises or doing manual labor. I never overslept.
As regards the ways of longevity, there were accounts and proofs
both in the Chinese classical works and in the modern Western researches:
Less eating means slower aging. I insisted on having breakfast but
never overate at the three meals.
At the age of 50, I quitted smoking on the doctor’s advice.
I had simple meals and never drank spirituous liquor. When I was
in a good mood, I would have half a glass of beer. My recipes were
based on fresh vegetables and fruit. I seldom ate fish or meat beyond
the limit. I preferred to boil in water the fruit of Chinese wolfberry,
dried dates without stones and dried longan for tea.
Referring to the fruit of Chinese wolfberry, here was an amusing
anecdote that I’d like to share with the readers:
In ancient times, a tourist once passed a village and saw a middle-aged
woman running after an old lady and trying to beat her. The tourist
hurried over to stop her. He asked the middle-age woman: "Is
she your mother? Why are you trying to beat her?” The middle-aged
woman answered: “No, she isn’t my mother, she is my daughter! I
persuaded her to eat the fruit of the Chinese wolfberry but she
refused to do so. She is now only 30 years old and looks like an
Nowadays, every morning a flock of sparrows gathered in front of
my door waiting for me. I would grasp a handful of rice to feed
them. While pecking at the rice, the sparrows kept jumping and chirping.
Sometimes, they wandered into my sitting room and even flew onto
the dinning table, looking for something to eat. At this moment,
I would like to watch their mischievous and naive manner, and have
ease of mind. I also experienced the pleasure of doing some good
Having a peaceful mind, doing exercises and taking good care of
my health daily were three essential factors in keeping good health.
Chapter XIII My Family Instruction
Whether one is noble or mean should be measured by what kind of
character he has, while he should not be measured by how much wealth
he possesses. The child's heart was touched by fine examples I set
and by every bit I did in the daily life. Let children be accompanied
with industry, thrift, goodness and love all through their lives,
which will become important parts of their character.
The Reliable Wealth
What is the most reliable wealth? Looking back on my life's journey
of 70 years, I feel profoundly that industry and thrift are the
most reliable wealth.
I led a simple life all through my life and I was industrious by
nature. I remained the same, no matter I was an employee or I was
Being an employee, I was honest and sincere. I tried my best to
do the job well and finish the work on time. Being a boss, I didn't
forget my past sufferings and did most of the work myself. At home,
I did cleaning, shopping as well as cooking by myself. In the first
decade of the founding of the company, we should begin to work at
half past eight by rule. My wife often drove the children to school
before sunrise, and then she went to work. Usually I began to work
at eight o'clock in the office. I kept on working like this for
If someone passed by my house, he would notice that I was in shorts
with a pair of plastic slippers on feet, washing the car. Those
who were unfamiliar with me might mistake me for a driver. They
couldn’t imagine that I was the owner of the Benz car.
One day my wife took our boy aged 9 to see the skin specialist,
for his back was covered with herpes. The doctor prescribed some
ointment for him and said:"Apply the ointment to your back
every day. Don’t use soap for bathing, especially don't touch the
detergent that contains chemical elements."
"Oh, I am unable to wash the dishes today, am I?" the
boy turned to ask his mother.
"Are you going to wash the dishes?" the doctor asked with
"My sister and I do washing the dishes in turn every day,"
he answered it naively.
We had a two-story apartment with four people living there. For
years, I preferred not to hire a servant girl nor a driver. As for
the housework, we all shared it and cooperated with each other.
In my opinion, we were too busy at work and lacked exercises due
to less free time. We could make up for the inadequate physical
exercises by doing housework. What's more important -- through taking
part in physical labor, we taught the next generation to foster
the ideology and the good habit of independence and laboring.
I never missed the opportunity of making use of the living examples
to teach the children
At the dinner table, sometimes there was a plate of fried black
bean sprouts without slices of meat, specially cooked for me. The
children didn't like the dish. At this moment, I would tell them
the incident of my childhood.
I told them that when I was a child, my family was very poor. My
mother used to get a bunch of water convolvulus each day. Without
oil, she boiled it in water to fill the stomach for the whole family.
One day we were sitting round the table at a meal.
"Mum, we are not going to have the water convolvulus tomorrow,
shall we?" I begged her.
"Child, what would you want to have?" she asked.
Thinking for a while, I said:"Mum, I want to eat soybean sprouts."
"We cannot afford it unless your father has money. Now, we
should have frugal meals," mum answered in low voice with red
When I saw my mother in tears, I quickly ran over to her and hugged
her. In my memories of the childhood, the soybean sprouts were the
most luxurious and delicious dish. Later on, my life became well
off. Sometimes, I went to the vegetable market or supermarket, at
the sight of the black bean sprouts, I'd buy some and fry them without
a slice of meat. By doing so, I wouldn't forget my past and educate
the young people not to forget the hardships of their parents so
that they should be grateful to their parents.
At home, sometimes, the children were particular about the foods.
I told them that at that time, I just entered the middle school.
I had to walk 10 kilometers to the boarding school. Back home at
weekends, my mother would put some sausages into my pocket and I'd
take them to school. At mealtime, I cut a sausage into four sections
and stuck each section with a wire, putting it over the fire to
roast in the kitchen. With it I bought a bowl of coarse rice for
Sometimes, I told my children about the sufferings in my childhood.
They were doubtful about what I said and found it hard to understand.
They would ask me:"Dad, how could one live if he has to eat
water convolvulus? How could one sausage be cut into four sections
for four meals?" The two children who grew up in affluence
couldn’t imagine what I described. However, I still kept on reeducating
them with my past sufferings.
I was clear that my intention was to let them learn the hardships
their parents had suffered in the past and make them understand
benevolence, love, loyalty and filial respect. I felt that many
young people in modern times were indifferent to the quintessence
of Chinese culture for thousands years, such as loyalty, filial
piety, benevolence and love. One who had been brought up by his
parents showed no filial respect to them, when he grew up, it made
no difference from animals. If one showed no filial respect for
his parents, what contributions could he make to the society.
I meant to make the children understand the existence of injustice
in human society. There were a lot of people, struggling in poverty
or even on the death line, who needed help and care. Let the child's
heart be filled with sympathy and benevolence. When he grew up and
entered the society, no matter what he would become—an entrepreneur,
a scientist or a statesman, he should be a philanthropist at the
same time. He should make contributions to the mankind as well as
to the society. In this way, life was meaningful.
I often educated my children with the living examples in life to
show that they should lead a simple life without waste and extravagance.
They were told that many people still lived in extreme poverty.
Especially in Africa, millions of children died of hunger each year.
The poor had nothing to eat. We should feel happy since we could
eat our fill.
One day, I brought my work back to do at home. The children found
my old outdated calculator with its body decolored and the back
cover of the battery lost. With the calculator in hand, they looked
at it over and over again, as if they felt it funny and curious.
They asked: “Dad, where did you pick up the calculator?”
"It was the one that your father used while he did odd jobs
in Hong Kong. Later he brought it with him to Thailand. Now he becomes
the boss, but he doesn't want to part with the old one. This calculator
has been used for more than 20 years, which is older than you."
My wife said to the children.
Then I continued:"The little calculator is worth less than
200 bahts. Since the old one can be used, why should I throw it
away and buy a new one? In your life, you should learn to practice
thrift. As it is hard to make money, you shouldn't waste it at will.
You should deposit your money for the use in the remaining years."
"Do you know? When your dad just became the boss, he went to
the neighborhood store and bought a pair of trousers worth 200 bahts.
Sometimes he went to work wearing that pair of trousers." My
wife revealed the inside story of mine, which made the whole family
members laugh. However, the children learned an interesting and
instructive lesson from the laughter.
Owing to the day to day and bit by bit education, especially the
teaching by setting an example, whenever my children went to the
department store buying dress or toys, or went to the restaurant
ordering dishes, the first thing they would like to do was to look
at the price. They often said: "This is too expensive, we don't
In the evening, at home, if there were extra lights on, or the tap
was leaking water, the children would turn off at once. Usually
they put the leftovers on the table into the refrigerator, or ate
them up, instead of throwing them away. Good habits had been formed
bit by bit, which benefited them a lot.
In the Thai stores or supermarkets, the commodities for sale were
usually packed into the paper bags or plastic bags. The foods were
packed into the plastic bags and were tied with rubber bands. When
we were back home from shopping, none of us threw away the bags
or the rubber bands. Instead, we kept them at home or took them
to the office for reuse.
I set a fine example, from which the children understood that industry
and thrift were the most reliable assets.
A Fine Example Has Boundless Power
There is an old saying in China."Those who stay near vermilion
get stained red, and those who stay near ink get stained black."
Experience for years told me that if you wanted to be successful
in life, you must choose and follow the diligent persons.
A fine example has boundless power.
Eliga of 13 and Melissa of 11 were two lovely sisters. Their home
was 20 meters away from ours. After school, if they had no homework,
they would come to my home and play computer games with my children.
During the summer vacation, they would be taken to America for schooling.
Before opening of the school in Thailand, they would come back in
advance and came to my home to play with my children.
Eliga's mother graduated from an American university and could speak
idiomatic English. Judging by her accent without seeing her, you
might mistake her for an American. She was slim, gentle and graceful,
but with strong will. In order to support her husband's career,
she gave up her specialty and devoted herself to the housework.
For the education of her children, she was as busy as a bee. The
school was far away from their home. Early in the morning, she would
drive her children to school and take them back in the afternoon.
At weekends, when there was no class, she would send the children
to take extra lessons, such as music, painting and playing badminton.
They had two Benz cars and a servant girl. Everything in the family
had been arranged very well by Eliga's mother. As her husband often
did the extra night shifts, sometimes he came back at midnight.
But the next morning, before he left for work, the car had been
washed clean and parked in front of the door. Besides, she had already
prepared the breakfast before her husband got up. Although her children
were young, they could speak perfect English, draw pictures, play
piano, and play badminton. They enjoyed good health and showed respects
for others. They were pleasant. All these were attributed to their
mother's meticulous cultivation.
Eliga's father, known as Doctor Prin, was just over 40, short and
looking very ordinary in appearance, he was a renowned professor
at Chulalongkorn University, the institution of higher learning
in Thailand. He was also an eye specialist in Chulalongkorn Hospital,
which was run by the government. Some patients would rather wait
two weeks or even one month for their turn to see him. Therefore,
he worked over ten hours a day. Even at weekends, you could only
find him in the hospital. He was often invited or sent by the government
to attend international conferences, give lectures, or to be rewarded
prizes. He was really an amazing person.
Eliga's family and ours got along so well as one family. We had
close contacts with each other in daily life. Doctor Prin's wife
would like to give us some of the foods offered by the patients.
No matter whose child’s birthday occurred, we would celebrate it
together in both families.
In 1999, Eliga’s father bought a high class apartment flat from
the high class residential quarters in the downtown area, which
cost him over 10 million bahts. Since it was near his work unit,
he moved into the new house.
Once during the holidays, Eliga's parents invited us to visit their
villa on the Rayong seashore in the western part of Thailand. The
scenery there was very beautiful. There was a two-story, Italian-style
villa of red-tiled roof with white walls and a flower garden in
front of the house. When you went out from the garden, you could
see the beach and the sea. On the left, there was a fresh water
swimming pool. Because Eliga's parents had no free time to go there
frequently and the location of the villa was along the seaside with
the moist air, the house was simply furnished.
I remember that on the way back from doctor Prin's villa, my son
William in the car asked first:
"Mum, why does doctor Prin have so much money?"
Before his mother opened her mouth, my daughter blurted out:
"Eliga's parents are returned American college graduates. They
are professionals. They have skillful ability."
While I was driving, I listened to my wife’s interruption:
"Your father didn't study in America, he left his hometown
for Hong Kong with three Hong Kong dollars at the age of 30, and
began to learn ABC at that age. He has no skillful ability. But
how could you sit in Benz car?"
The girl answered:"My papa has ability too."
"Where does one acquire his ability?" mum continued to
"My papa reads books everyday," the boy answered.
Mum said: "Ability is acquired by reading books. But if one
is lazy, in spite of his ability he cannot be successful. Eliga's
father has professional skills. He goes out at daybreak and comes
back late at night. On Sundays and Saturdays, when Chulalongkorn
Hospital is closed, he would go to work in Sukhumvit Hospital. It
takes the patients half a month to see him. He succeeded, owing
to his professional skills and his painstaking efforts. What's more,
one should have a kind heart. Both Eliga's father and mother are
very good. They have a lot of friends. Eliga's father has treated
illness not only for making money, but for making the patients fully
recover from their illness with his medical skills. He charges fewer
fees for the poor. Therefore, some patients who have been cured
of their illness send him gifts to express their gratitude. When
the fruit is in season, the peasants would send him a basket of
fruit. Hence, you should study hard and by doing so you may acquire
ability in the future; ability plus diligence could make you successful,
but you should be kindhearted. In that way you'll be completely
Listening to what their mother said, the children remained silent
for quite a long time. The living examples exerted an imperceptible
influence on their thinking.
The Most Beautiful Theme
Of all the virtues, kindness is needed most in the world. Kindness
and love are most beautiful theme.
At the age of 70, looking back on the road I traveled, I went through
many setbacks and ups and downs. If someone asked me what was the
most needed in life? I would say without hesitation, what one needed
most were love, goodness and care.
Love is the source of strength in life. Without love, it seems there
is neither sunshine nor water in the world; for one, the world is
gray and life becomes dull; and one is demotivated and lacking in
In our lives, happiness and pleasure are not measured by how much
money you possess, but by how much love you have.
Living in Thailand for many years, I was not a Buddhist. However,
our whole family showed great respect for Buddhism. Buddhism continued
to flourish through 2,500 years. The criminal rate in Buddhist countries
was generally lower than that of other countries, which demonstrated
the greatness of Buddhism. I often made strict demand on myself
and taught the next generation with the foundation of Buddhism—karma
theory. That is: "Good will be rewarded with good, and evil
with evil. The time is not ripe. When the day of retribution comes,
all will surely be reciprocated."
What is goodness? The ideas and conducts that are beneficial to
the happiness and existence of the broad masses are goodness. What
is evil? The ideas and conducts that are not beneficial to the happiness
and survival of the masses are evils Goodness and evils are based
on the criterion of the interests of the broad masses. The retribution
refers to the consequences of ideas and conducts.
In my opinion, this is the quintessence of Buddhism and the very
reason for the existence of Buddhism for several thousand years.
In 1998 the worst floods in a century hit the mainland, which was
televised live through the international channel in CCTV every evening
at that time. I thought that it was a good opportunity for educating
the children to know their roots in China and know how to give love
to the people. So after dinner, the whole family members would sit
in front of TV. When they saw on the screen the collapsed houses
destroyed by the merciless waters, the victims living in the tents
on the embankment and the crops submerged in the waters, I would
ask the children the following questions:
"If we were in the flood-stricken areas, our houses were collapsed
in the water, our property was lost, and we had nothing to eat,
what should we do?"
The two children looked at each other without a word.
"How about donating some money to help the people in these
areas?" I proposed.
"All right, dad." The boy rose at first. He went to the
cupboard, opened it and took out the heavy savings pot with great
care. In it was his pocket money he had saved for several years.
He unlocked the pot and emptied it on the floor. The girl followed
suit. In front of them, there was a pile of coins mixed with some
paper money. Then they began to count.
"One, two, three…"Half an hour later, the boy shouted:"I
have 15,205 bahts." A moment later, the girl said:"I have
I said: "All right, mum donates 40,000 bahts and so do I. The
sum we put together amounts to 112,000 bahts. Tomorrow I'll send
it to the victims in China." The family members all agreed
The next day, I gave the money to Secretary Li Wengui of Chinese
Embassy in Thailand and asked him to forward it to the flood-stricken
In life, goodness and love could make one’s soul nobler and the
world more beautiful.
Over the past years, though I had no financial strength to build
a school or a hospital for the society, I believed the words of
Buddhism: It is better to give the poor 10 bahts than give the Buddha
1,000 bahts, for Buddha doesn't need your support. What Buddha cares
are the broad masses.
On New Year’s Day, our company bought a large quantity of food as
well as stationary and books for the orphanage. I mobilized all
the staff members in the office to visit the orphanage for distribution
of the foods we had prepared. They also brought our children along
As soon as my children got to the orphanage, they had mixed feelings
in heart. When they saw that the orphans of their own age had no
parents and lived in poor conditions, they felt spontaneous sympathy
for the orphans. When they gave foods to the orphans, who tightly
grasped their hands. The children felt really happy and instructive
by giving love to others.
As people lived in groups in the society, they should cooperate
and help each other. This was a principle I always advocated.
With the founding of Prosper Co., Ltd., there were 70,000 Thai Bahts
of working capital. In 1980, the second year of its founding, the
only son of my cousin was hit by a car and hospitalized for emergency
treatment. The hospital asked her to pay in advance and then save
the child. No sooner had I learned this than I sent the cash of
30,000 bahts to the hospital and paid the medical treatment expenses
for my cousin’s son.
Our company purchased no less than 100,000 kilograms of windmill
pods each year. The average sales price for per kilogram was six
bahts. One day a middle-aged village teacher came to sell this sort
of flowers at the price of seven bahts per kilogram. It was later
known that she sold the flowers to subsidize the expenditure for
school's operation. I informed the company at once that from then
on, we would purchase this sort of flowers from the village teacher
at the price of seven bahts per kilogram.
Someone said that the business market was like a battlefield. There
were no father and son before money. I didn't agree to this viewpoint.
Human beings are emotional animals. While doing business, we should
pay attention to feelings.
For years, we set such a rule in our company. The products delivered
by the peasants should be weighed on the scales on the very day,
and not allowed to reduce the weight of the products. They should
be paid the cash at once. The peasants of the flower cultivation
all knew Prosper, Co,. Ltd., and were quite willing to sell their
best products at the most reasonable price to our company.
Each staff member of our company worked hard. Sometimes, in order
to load the cargoes for shipment, the workers worked late into the
night. The staff members went to the factory and joined the workers
to complete the task. The reason was that they understood they were
taken good care of by the company. When some parents and children
of the staff got ill and had financial difficulties, the company
would give the subsidies. One of the staff members couldn’t afford
his child’s tuition, then the company paid the fee for him. Two
staff members crippled due to the accidents outside the company,
for which our company was not responsible. Since they were no way
out, the company took the responsibility and supported them to go
on living. Some staff members asked to borrow money from the company
due to financial difficulties. The company would lend them without
interest and set no deadline for returning the money.
I remember that one day, as usual, I came to the office earlier.
A young man and a young woman were standing in front of the door,
waiting for me.
"Oh, boss, my brother has poor eye sight. I beg you to let
him stay in your company and work there." The young woman spoke
in a sincere tone. After I had a conversation with them, I came
to know that their family was poor. The young woman worked in a
company near ours. The young man hadn’t found a job. At that time
our company was not short of hands. However, I let the young man
stay in the company and work as a transport worker. Having worked
for less than one month, he asked to borrow some money to have his
eyes operated on. The accountant of the company didn’t agree because
his length of service was too short and he was still on probation.
Besides, the sum he wanted to borrow was equal to several folds
of his wages. If we lent the money to him and he went away with
it, what should we do? I told the staff in the accounting department
to lend him the money so as to help him receive the eye treatment
earlier. You shouldn’t always think of the dark side of the society.
If he was cured of his eye disease, he’d return to work. As I expected,
the young man’s eye disease was cured, he remained in the company
and worked very hard. Three years later, when this young man crossed
a street, he was knocked down by a car and his legs were broken.
He could no longer be a transporter. He was reluctant to go back
to his home in the village and add the burden to his parents. He
asked to stay in the company and do what he could. Out of benevolence,
I promised him to stay on.
Most of the workers in our company came from the rural areas. The
company set up quarters for single man and woman. If the couples
worked in the company, they would be provided with their own rooms
complete with TV sets for amusement without paying the rent. The
company paid insurance for the staff. If the workers got ill, a
special car was arranged for them to be sent to the hospital for
treatment. The medical expenses that were not included in the medical
insurance would be paid by the company. The company had been founded
for over 20 years while the appointments of the employees were relatively
I often taught my children, why did the staff show deep love for
the company and work hard for the company? The reason was that the
boss should love their staff members first. That was reciprocated.
One should have love for others, have a benevolent heart and show
concern for others.
There was a renowned billionaire, an Indian of the Thai nationality.
Before the Asian financial crisis, he bought a land of 2,000 lai
(4,800 mu) in Pattankarn Road, Bangkok and planned to build a“ President
Park”. Since it was near my home as well as our company, I purchased
one house in advance and paid by installments. When the construction
project was carried on half way and I had paid 2 million bahts in
advance, the Asian financial crisis broke out, 2,000 lai of land
was confiscated by the bank and the company run by the Indian of
Thai nationality went bankrupt. Then, many house purchasers who
had paid by installments went to the court and brought a lawsuit
against him. A friend of mine asked me to jointly hire a lawyer
and bring a suit against him in the hope of getting back the payments.
However, I turned it down politely. I thought that with the rises
and fall, success and failure in life, the Indian of the Thai nationality
was not cheating on purpose. As he suffered misfortune, I should
feel sympathy for him instead of hitting him when he was down. Since
I was satisfied with the location, environment and the designs of
that building, I still hoped that I could buy the house. Therefore,
one day, I went out to look for that Indian in order to make it
clear if the construction could be resumed. The Indian received
me in his office. When he knew that unlike other clients, I didn’t
bring a suit against him, he felt very grateful to me. With regret
he said that the failure of the investment in the " President
Park" was the gigantic one in his career. With a guilty conscience,
he repeatedly apologized to me. He offered to return me 200,000
bahts of the deposit monthly. I thought that everyone might experience
ups and downs, and we should learn to be lenient towards others
and treat them kindly. I often told the children this incident with
the aim to let them have a kind and sympathetic heart.
I am not a billionaire, but I am warm-hearted and sympathetic for
the benefits of the broad masses, which might be inherited from
Kindness and love are the most beautiful theme in life. Under the
lights of aurora, the world has produced so many touching stories
and left so many colorful, splendid pictures. As for me, under the
influence of the principle of life based on benevolence and love,
I have lived a life full of sunshine.
Chapter XIV A Capable and Virtuous Wife—A Protector of Wealth
A happy marriage is the beginning of a new life and a starting point
of pleasure and happiness. A kind and virtuous wife, like a treasure
house in one's life, brings one no end of happy hours.
Fighting Single-handed for a Decade
There is an old saying in China for thousands of years: A harmonious
family leads to overall prosperity. Only if a person has a warm
family, can he have ease of mind, live a happy life, make a success
in his career, and enjoy good health.
My first wife got married with me in Hainan. After our marriage,
we had two boys and a girl. In 1961, I went to Hong Kong. After
I gained a foothold, I took her and my younger son to Hong Kong
and settled down there. In 1975 I went alone to Thailand to pursue
my career. She remarried somebody else.
The failure of my first marriage made me realize the importance
of a harmonious and intimate family to one's life.
Then I didn't feel much disappointed by her departure without saying
good-bye. In my opinion, if husband and wife have no love, no common
ideal, no mutual care and no mutual help, that was the gravest misfortune
of marriage. This sort of marriage would surely lead to distractions,
physical or mental constraint, and frustration of one's willpower
as well as constant worries in daily life. One couldn't be absorbed
in learning, nor could he be successful in his career.
In order to start a business in Thailand and reach the goal of my
life, I was determined to forget the past, get rid of the burden
and lead a monk's life. I would never give up until I achieved success.
I was determined to blaze a new way full of sunshine in my life's
In Thailand, I began to lead a lonely life for a decade.
I rented a room with a kitchen from an apartment building that was
near my company and a vegetable market. After work every day, I
directly went to the vegetable market, buying some meat, vegetables
and fruit for supper. Back to my apartment, I began to prepare a
meal. For supper, I used to have a little bit of meat, a bundle
of vegetables, a handful of rice, or a bowl of noodles with meat
broth, or bread and butter. My breakfast was a regular one, simply
two pieces of bread or biscuits plus a cup of coffee. For lunch
I ate in the food stalls near the office. I seldom went to the dining
hall or the restaurants for supper because I didn’t like the dish
with gourmet powder. I worried about the hygienic conditions of
the small restaurants. The financial conditions didn't permit me
to frequent the big restaurants every day. Fortunately, I put all
my heart into the development of my career. I didn't ask too much
about my life so long as I could get along.
One year, it was very hot. My daughter came to see me from Hong
Kong. When she entered my flat and saw the simple living environment
and my dreary life, her tears kept streaming down. Then, the good-hearted
relatives of mine persuaded me to look for a marriage partner to
take care of me and end this sort of lonely life as soon as possible.
It was an unforgettable day in my life.
I remember that it was in the afternoon of the Lunar New Year’s
Day. My sixth cousin, who was called Sister Six in Hainan dialect,
came to see me. She brought me some special delicacies from my hometown
Hainan Island—cold carved chicken and several well-cooked courses,
and accompanied me to a dinner on the Lunar New Year's Eve.
That evening, I was deeply moved by my cousin's tender affection
for me. During this time of the family reunion, my cousin didn't
stay at home with her husband and her children, but she came to
see me with well prepared dishes and had a dinner with me instead.
This kind of family care was really the dearest to me. My cousin
asked about my personal life with great care. But was it easy for
me to reestablish a family? Where could I find a marriage partner,
who could have a common ideal with me, who could take care of me
in life, help me in work, and comfort me in spirit? As regards my
career, I was single-hearted and devoted myself completely to my
job. In life, I lived alone and didn't ask too much. Nor did I have
any extravagant hopes.
At that time, as for the reestablishment of the family, I thought
it over and over again. Should I marry one who was not an ideal
partner, both sides would have no affections, no love, no common
ideal and no common language. In that case, there would be no conjugal
harmony in life, no mutual help in work, and no mutual encouragement
in spirit. Why should I ask for trouble with such a marriage? Once
a person shouldered the burden of the family with a heavy heart,
he couldn't lead a happy life. Consequently, his energy would be
distracted and his career might be affected. The chances of success
might be slim.
On the contrary, if I could find a good-hearted, learned marriage
partner, we might share our mutual love, our common ideal and common
goal to strive for; if we could share weal and woe, take care of
each other, show concerns for each other, support and help each
other, we would live a conjugal bliss, from which I could gain boundless
strength. A harmonious and happy family was the key foundation,
on which one might expect to achieve success in his career. However,
it was simply my fondly wishes that were not easy to realize. For
this reason, I gave up illusions and devoted myself to the pursuit
of my career. At that time, my life was very simple. I lived alone
in a room. With the door closed, there was no disturbance except
for the mosquitoes' buzz. In my own world, I read books, looked
up the data, thought deeply and planned for the future… I used to
study and work late into the night. I devoted all my energy to my
job during the spare time in the evening. I kept on thinking over
my work. Without any mental pressure or any other worries, I felt
my world was vast and I was free to think about a lot of things
and expected the appearance of miracles. I hope my wishes would
Time slipped by. A decade passed in a flash. Meanwhile I reached
the age of 50.
At the end of 1984, I received a purchase order from Hainan for
importing 300 tons of natural rubber from Thailand.
Hence, I looked for the rubber factories and the exporters in the
telephone book. Then I made a phone call to T.T. Robbery. Co., Ltd..
The telephone operator passed it to the boss, a female, who was
very polite and spoke fluent Chinese. Through conversations on the
phone, we made an appointment for the order from Hainan. It was
later known that she was the boss of a large company of rubber production
and export, whose name was Nuansri Sirisuwat. Both her family and
she owned large rubber plantations and a rubber factory. The rubber
company was large too, which surely had huge financial strength.
Its main target of export was China.
In order to make a deal, I decided to go to Hainan and have a negotiation
with the importer.
At that time, Nuansri Sirisuwat learned that there were plantations
of rubber trees and production of rubber in Hainan. Since she had
never been there, she was willing to visit Hainan with me and conduct
a survey of the market there. Then there was no direct flight from
Bangkok to Hainan. We could only fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong,
where we would take the steamer sailing from Hong Kong to Haikou;
or we'd take the coach from Guangzhou through Zhanjiang to Hainan,
there we'd take the ferry sailing to Haikou.
Therefore, I decided to fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong, then we'd
go to Haikou by steamer.
On the day we started off, Nuansri Sirisuwat brought her younger
sister Niramol Sirisuwat with her. She told me that her younger
sister worked in the computer department in Thai Farmers Bank. The
work was very challenging. She often worked extra hours. Sometimes,
she worked till late hours and returned home at midnight. When she
just got back home, the bank rang her. She was told that something
was wrong with the computer and she had to return to the bank at
once. Seizing this opportunity Nuansri Sirisuwat took her younger
sister to Hainan and let her relax herself thoroughly. This was
my first meeting with Niramol Sirisuwat.
On the steamer from Hong Kong to Haikou, we had plenty of time for
chatting. Nuansri Sirisuwat was a good talker, but her sister, who
was over 30, said few words. She looked gentle and quiet. Through
our conversation, I came to know a lot about their family and Niramol
When Niramol Sirisuwat’s father was young, he emigrated from Jinmen
in Fujian province into Thailand and settled down in southern part
of the country. Then he grew rubber trees there. In 1952, Niramol
Sirisuwat was born in a small town in southern Thailand. By then,
her family was well off. She was the fifth among her ten brothers
and sisters. She was excellent in school records and ranked among
the best of the top students from the primary school through middle
school to the university.
In 1974, she graduated from the department of economy in Thailand’s
prestigious University of Law and Political Science. She became
a lecturer for a period of time. Soon after she was employed and
worked in the computer department of Thai Farmers Bank, the second
largest bank in Thailand. There were 200 staff members in her computer
department. She was responsible for VISA credit card, collecting
money throughout the world.
Unexpectedly, during this tour to Hainan, a miracle happened. I
fell in love with Niramol Sirisuwat at first sight. We were in love
with each other.
I got married with Niramol Sirisuwat by lot.
At a supper before our marriage, I first proposed to her. Both she
and her family agreed. But they hoped that I'd buy an apartment
house so as to have our own home. At that time it was a difficult
problem for me. With the limited working capital, if I bought an
apartment for marriage, the capital turnover might be affected.
I was reluctant to increases the financial burden to pay for it
by installments. At that time, I didn’t think that it was the right
time to buy an apartment for marriage. I suggested again and again
that we get married first, then buy the house. At last both sides
reached an agreement that after marriage we would rent an apartment
house for the time being.
In February 1985, I got married with Niramol Sirisuwat in Bangkok.
Then the wedding gift I presented her was only a wedding ring inlaid
with a small diamond, which I bought in Hong Kong, and nothing else.
She was very happy to receive it. Her family members made no other
demands, except that we would live to ripe old age in conjugal bliss.
On the wedding day, Niramol Sirisuwat's family and I dined out in
the restaurant. We didn’t invite any guests to a wedding feast as
we were supposed to do according to the traditional folk customs.
I thought that marriage was a matter between the two families. It
was unnecessary to make a fuss about it. The traffic jam in Bangkok
was known to everyone. The relatives and friends came here from
far away places just for a wedding feast, which was a waste of time
indeed. What's more, there would be some other weddings among the
relatives and friends, who would hold return feasts. In this case,
it would go on end. Plenty of precious time would slip away in this
way. I didn't want to do so.
Two years later after marriage, she continued working in Thai Farmers
Bank, and supported the small family with her higher income.
At that time, early in the morning, I first drove her to the office
and then returned to my company. After work, I drove her home. She
was busy at work in the computer department, and often did work
the extra hours. Sometimes, she worked in the night shift. If she
went off shift late, I would wait for her down stairs till she walked
out of the elevator; then I would take her back home. If she worked
the extra shifts at night, the bank would arrange for the car to
drive her home, and I would read books and wait for her return in
the sitting room.
After marriage, for supper, we prepared together. Ever since her
birth, she had never cooked rice nor stir-fried vegetables. Since
our new life began, everything started from the very beginning.
Then, I did washing the vegetables and she stir-fried them. After
supper, she washed the dishes and I cleared the table. We worked
together in doing everything. Occasionally, when we returned home
too late, we would dine out in the restaurant.
After marriage, we had a girl and a boy.
From the warm, affectionate life, I began to realize what was true
love, and what was the meaning of sharing weal and woe.
Soon after our marriage, my wife disclosed a secret to me. She said
that one year, she paid a visit to Suphanburi in the middle part
of Thailand, and entered a Buddhist temple. She was not superstitious
and didn't believe in fortune telling. But a monk volunteered to
tell her fortune. The monk said to her:"You'll be very rich
and influential. You'll have wealth and power. Your husband will
be much older than you. He is a divorcee with children. Furthermore,
he has come from abroad." She continued:"After listening
to what the monk had said, I felt very funny and remained indifferent
to it. I thought what the monk said was nonsense. I didn't expect
that I married you later."
I said: “Now you are neither rich nor influential.”
"I shall be in the future," said she. Both of us laughed.
We tasted the sweets of married life. Once I asked her with a smile:
"As you are pretty and learned, and of a wealthy family, quite
a few men have courted you. Your boy friend came to Bangkok from
Singapore to propose to you. And what's more, some of your classmates
in the university, who are now high officials, have chased after
you, but were all rejected. Why do you take a fancy to me, a poor
boss, who is 21 years older than you. When we went to Hainan, via
Hong Kong, you had seen my daughter who was a few years younger
than you. I have no house. There are only three people, including
me in the company. Why did you turn down so many men who had courted
you, and married me?" She replied:"You are a business
man. Apart from your friends doing business, the government officials
of Hainan received you. On our way back through Dianbai county,
the officials of the Dianbai county government received you too,
and arranged a special car for you to go to Guangzhou. On several
occasions, I’ve noticed that you are very popular and get along
well with your friends. You have a good manner. You talk eloquently.
You are more like a politician than a businessman. Therefore, I
have chosen you."
Up to date, we got married for 16 years. With emotional compatibility,
we loved each other and took good care of each other in life. We
cooperated in our career. We lived in conjugal bliss.
The Happy Family
The great writer Goethe said:"No matter who he is, the emperor
or the common person, the one who can enjoy the family harmoniousness
at home, is the happiest in the world."
After we got married, I felt deeply that a good, virtuous wife was
half of the success in one's career and the whole of one's happiness.
While I devoted myself to my job, forgetting food and sleep, I got
attentive care and timely help from my wife. While I met with difficulties
in working out strategies, she gave me shrewd advice.
While the continuous expansion of the company led to complicated
personal relationships, she helped me to mediate and smooth it over.
I was not good at handling money. Her perfect financial management
made up for it.
A good wife was an important component of one’s mental health and
In particular, when I was faced with the business and social pressure,
and I got excited and lost temper, her kindly and soothing persuasion
would calm my mood.
I was busy at work every day. However, she made good arrangement
of life and let me enjoy a harmonious, comfortable and warm family
For years, I devoted myself to my job. She took the responsibility
of bringing up the children and educating them.
She urged me to rise early and do outdoor exercises in the morning,
or take a walk in the evening in order to keep fit.
When I was not feeling well, she took me as a child and accompanied
me to see the doctor, reminding me to take medicine on time.
Her affections provided me with spiritual and health sustenance.
My good health, successful career and happy life were all due to
my industry, wisdom, willpower, and ability and also due to the
concerted efforts of the whole staff members. But the meticulous
care and consideration on the part of my able, virtuous wife was
also one of the key factors, which enabled me to devote myself wholeheartedly
to my career without any worries.
In the spring of 2001, I decided to retire from the business of
the company and handed it over to my wife. Then I could concentrate
on what I’d like to do: reading and writing.
On one beautiful Sunday morning, when I was writing with the computer,
my wife drove back from the free market. She parked the car in front
of the door and came out from the car with several plastic bags
filled with fish, meat, vegetables and fruit.
Although the supermarket was just opposite our apartment, where
food and other goods were on sale, we preferred to buy the food
from the farmers. With the advancement of science and technology,
the human society entered the 21st century. But psychologically,
people might feel that the food sold in the supermarket was not
safe enough with the added antiseptics or preservative chemicals.
The chickens sold in the supermarket were fed with chicken feed,
while the eggs were produced in the chicken farm. All the chicken
feed was mixed with chemical elements. If you bought them from the
farmers in the free market, all of them were individual products
without chemicals. Therefore, on Sunday morning, we used to drive
to the free market to do shopping.
No sooner had my wife entered the house than she shouted to me for
helping her carry the goods.
Hearing her call, I stopped my work with the computer and ran out
to help carry the plastic bags.
"Ah, a college graduate has to go to the market and buy vegetables
for you. She has to prepare meals for you at home and drive the
children to school every day. She has to take charge of the affairs
in the company and make money for you. Now you're going to be a
writer. How happy you are!" My wife teased me while she handed
the bags to me.
" Well, I've to make bed for you after you get up in the morning.
When you go to do morning exercises and play tennis, I have to prepare
breakfast and wait for you to eat. Every morning, I prepare a bottle
of drink for you to take to the office. I have washed the fish,
meat and vegetables until you come back to cook and steam. After
dinner, you sit down watching TV while I clean the table. When you
eat eggs, I remove the shells for you. As for fish, you eat the
body but I eat the head. Finally, I started the business, and you
have carried on what has been achieved. Where could you find such
a good husband on earth?" Before I had finished my words, my
wife was almost bursting with laughter.
This was a life portrayal of my happy family.
Home was the place of love to return to; it was also a place of
happiness to return to. All the great expectations in my heart centered
round this holy place.
Looking back on my life's journey, I went through ups and downs
for 70 years. The most valuable experience I have summed up is:
A capable and virtuous wife is the protector of wealth and health.
Chapter XV Roots in China
The water has sources and the trees have roots. With the elapsing
of time, everything in the world has been in a constant change.
What remains unchanged for ever and ever is my nostalgic attachment
to China, to my mother and to the stretch of land where I have been
The Source of Life
The hometown is like the source of one’s life. No other place in
the world can be compared with one’s hometown, which makes one feel
so close to.
The past life was like a dream. I left my hometown for half a century.
But with the passing of days, I became more and more nostalgic.
Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the great son of Chinese people, was a great
man of the world, whom I respected most. In his life, he had done
three things for the Chinese people. He introduced the household
contract responsibility system in the countryside. He advocated
the establishment of the special economic zones in Southern China.
He declared reform and opening up and proposed solving Hong Kong
question based on the principle of “one country, two systems”, which
resulted in the return of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland.
All these contributions have changed the face of China and the destiny
of the Chinese people. They have also pushed forward and affected
the development of the world peace.
In the early stage of 1980s, Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reform and
opening up was like a beacon in the boundless ocean, which lit up
the road of China’s advancement.
The door that had been closed for years opened. The wind from the
world began to awaken this ancient land. The traditional concept
of the people began to change gradually. China’s economic development
had entered a new phase.
Along with the speeding of the reform and opening up, China has
taken a new look day after day. The overseas Chinese, especially
the older generation, went abroad to make a living while they were
young. Nowadays, no matter how the living environment has changed,
each of them has flesh and blood feelings for their hometown. They
are homesick. And they are eager to visit their hometown and relatives
during their lifetime if there are opportunities.
In the second year of China’s reform and opening up, I returned
to my hometown Hainan, which I had departed for 20 years and I kept
thinking of day and night.
I remember that on my way back to my hometown, the scenes of my
hometown in my childhood unfolded in my mind just like cinema pictures.
It was a small village with only eighty households and 16 houses
of brick walls and tiled-roofs. Of them eight houses belonged to
my grandfather. What impressed me most was the arrangement of the
houses. In the middle, six large houses were connected together,
with a courtyard in front of each house. Three of them were built
by my grandfather, and the next two houses belonged to Chen Bangren
who was a well-known landlord. At that time, both our two families
were well off. A kerosene lamp with a large white lamp-chimney was
hung from the beam of every sitting room for each house of our two
families. Every year from the first day of the Lunar New Year to
the 15th day of the first Lunar month, the front doors and the back
doors of the five houses were open and all the lamps in the sitting
rooms were lit up. You could see the lights linked together like
a flood of light. It was really beautiful.
For years I still remember it clearly. There was a stream with clear
water in front of the village I lived. In my childhood, I used to
go there, playing with water and catching fish and shrimps. With
the silver-white sands on both banks of the stream, I used to walk
barefooted along the bank. I felt that the fine white sands were
as soft as silk.
On the upper reaches of the stream, there was a section that had
the same name of our village, Houliangwan. It was a very beautiful
place. The depth of the water was about two persons in height. It
was 30 meters wide. When the flood came, it extended to 50 meters.
In my boyhood, all year round, we boys used to go swimming in that
natural swimming pool—Houliangwan. When it was getting colder in
winter, we stripped on bank and dived in, swimming as fast as we
could. Reaching the opposite bank, we would return immediately.
Once we got on the bank, we dried ourselves with towels, hurried
to dress up, and quickly ran back home.
The bus moved forward. It came nearer and nearer to our hometown.
I recalled the Tamarind tree, the longan tree and the carambola
tree in front of our door. When the fruit was in season, the fruit
hung heavy on the three trees. The Tamarind fruit was big and fleshy.
Though its name was Tamarind, actually it tasted sweet. The Tamarind
fruit hung heavy from the branches of the tree. People used to knock
them off the tree with bamboo poles. The longan had a big stone
and thin flesh, which was not much favored by the people. As for
the carambola fruit, it was too sour to eat. We picked them from
the tree and cut them into pieces, which were then soaked with salt
for some time till they produced juice. When some water was added
to the juice, which would taste light salty and sour and would be
the best drink for quenching thirst in summer. Beside our house,
there was a shaddock tree, which produced pomelos each year only
with skin and no flesh. They were not eatable. We picked them from
the tree and kicked them as footballs. The memories of childhood
were happy and sweet. Scene after scene of my childhood life reappeared
before my eyes.
My bus stopped on a stretch of meadow in front of the village—my
hometown, “Old, I return to the homeland I left while young. Thinner
has grown my hair, though I speak the same tongue. My children,
whom I meet, do not know, who am I. ‘Where are you from, dear Sir?’
they ask with beaming eyes.” At the sight of this scene, I had mixed
feelings of joy and grief. Perhaps it was the poem Home Coming by
the Tang Dynasty poet He Zhizhang that could best express my complicated
state of mind.
The hometown was the same as it used to be. As it had no highways,
the bus could only zigzag along the path or the slope of a meadow.
At last the bus stopped on a tract of grassland in front of the
village, as it was hindered by an irrigation canal. We had no other
choice but got off the bus and went home on foot.
The frontal building of our ancestral house where I used to live
during my childhood, which had been rebuilt in 1911 collapsed. Even
the rubble no longer remained.
As soon as I entered the house, I hurried to see my beloved mother
whom I kept on thinking day and night. “Brother Second is coming
back! Brother Second is coming back!” Mother gripped my hand tightly
and kept on calling me as she used to do in my childhood. As I got
hold of my mother’s hand, tears kept streaming down her face. What
she said further was not heard, for her words were overwhelmed by
a burst of firecrackers in front of the door. Then I supported my
mother with my hand, coming to the place where my beloved grandmother
had lived. But to my disappointment, there was only a pile of broken
bricks in front of me. Where was the bed of my grandmother? Where
was it? I hurried to look for the photos of my grandparents, which
were used to be put into a wooden frame hanging in the hall. Alas,
it was no where to be found. It was said that the photos were burnt
up during the “Cultural Revolution.” Tears gathered in my eyes when
I heard the sad news.
I could still recognize some elderly people, but didn’t see any
of my old friends. A group of children came round me, but I didn’t
know which family they came from.
Was this the hometown that I dreamed of day and night? The village
was the same as it used to be. Only the houses were weatherworn
and some walls of the houses peeled off.
I came to Houlingwan where I used to swim in my childhood. Oh, my
God, there was nothing left. The beautiful river bend was almost
completely covered with sands, only a small tributary trickled.
The stream in front of the village had been dry. The small fish
that used to abound in the stream during my childhood had all disappeared.
I went to look for the private school where I used to study, which
was then both an ancestral temple and a school. Now, the weeds spread
all over the place. It was said that during the land reform, this
large courtyard was distributed to a poor peasant, who was reluctant
to move into. He demolished all the rooms and sold the roof beams,
square rafters and the sacrificial altar made of teak. Even the
bricks were sold out.
There was no electricity in the village. We had to light the kerosene
lamps. The TV set I brought back became an ornament, which couldn’t
be put into use. As for drinking water, the villagers still adopted
the age-old method. They pumped water from the well and then carried
water on the shoulder pole back home. As for washing clothes or
taking bath, they had to go to the stream in front of the village,
just as what used to be done in my childhood.
The former primary school disappeared. The children had nowhere
to attend the class. Every family was poor. The farmers showed no
interest in farming for they had no funds to buy seeds as well as
fertilizers. What’s more, the highway was not available. After harvest,
the crops couldn’t be transported to the outside markets for sale.
The open ground round the houses in the village was either overgrown
with weeds or piled with rubbish.
It was many years since I had left my hometown. Now it was the first
time that I came back. At noon, I prepared several tables of feast
inside and outside the rooms and invited some villagers of our own
village and some of the neighboring villages to lunch.
Owing to the lack of electricity, the electric fan couldn’t be used.
I came to the table under the longan tree, and took a seat. Looking
up, I found that the longan tree was in full blossom.
“We have a bumper harvest of longans this year. The tree is clothed
in bloom.” At the sight of this beautiful scene, I uttered admiration
from the bottom of my heart.
“Ah! We haven’t seen the longans for a dozen years!” I heard the
remarks from the nearby table. I didn’t know who said so.
“Why?” I couldn’t believe what he said.
“Why! The flowers of the longan tree were eaten up by the pests,”
one of my nephews answered.
When I had hardly finished speaking, a red worm dropped onto the
plate of the cold carved chicken. Then, another one fell to the
A villager who has been living in the village for decades told me:
“ In the past, with the elimination of the three pests, not only
the sparrows were killed but all the birds and beasts were wiped
out. Now you cannot find one bird. In the past, the squirrels used
to run about, even entered onto the roof beams. At present, you
are unable to find one for the specimen. Because of no birds, there
are pests everywhere. The tree is plagued with pests all over.”
“Why don’t you buy pesticides to kill the pests?” asked I naively
like a child.
“Uncle Second, you give us money to buy the pesticides!” My nephew’s
words led to peals of laughter.
This was my hometown, which I dreamed of day and night. Witnessing
the scene of my hometown, I couldn’t calm down for a long time.
Then, despite my limited financial strength, I still wanted to do
something to improve the environment of the village where I was
brought up by making it more beautiful.
Before long, I mobilized the overseas fellow villagers to pool funds
building bridge and roads so as to improve the traffic round the
hometown, and enable the buses directly reach the peasant' houses.
Later on, we had the piles driven, the power lines set up, so that
the electricity would come to the village. All houses were lit up
with electricity. The TV sets could be watched. The news and recreation
programs both at home and abroad entered the farmers’ home. Villagers
who had been living for generations in the countryside came to know
the outside world through the TV set.
I mobilized the overseas clan brothers to restore the ancestral
house that had been rebuilt in 1911 and later collapsed.
Later on, I raised funds to build a water tower in the village,
which led the running water into every household.
Afterwards, I returned to Bangkok and sent back money to build the
wells of the village. A great number of bamboo canes were cut down
and the road surface leading to the village was broadened. Consequently,
trucks could go into the village, and rubbish was disposed. The
silver while sands along both sides of the stream were transported
back to the village by hired trucks, which were used to cover the
ground formerly piled with rubbish. Then, several sets of stone
tables and benches were bought and laid there. Flowers and trees
were planted. The former ground for garbage was turned into a flower
garden for recreation and amusement of the villagers.
I also found that some farmland left uncultivated for a long time.
One of the reasons was lack of funds to explore. I offered to grant
loans free of interest and set no deadline for repaying the loans.
I lent money to the villagers to turn the wasteland into fishponds
so that economic value could be generated and the living standard
of the local people in the hometown could be improved.
The environment of the hometown was improved, but there was the
existence of some unhealthy social trends. If we didn’t give proper
guidance, the younger generation might be affected and harmed.
At that time, the most serious social problems were as follows:
Some children didn’t go to school, and some villagers didn’t do
the farm work, while they gathered together for gambling. I once
proposed to pool funds and build new classrooms for the primary
school. However, due to the shortage of teachers, the children had
to be sent to the primary school in the neighboring village.
I remember that later on, one day before lunch, when the villagers
got together and had a chat with each other, I took the opportunity
of speaking to them and expressing my strong hopes.
I sincerely said to them: First, there were only a few households
in our village. We all came from the same ancestors. We should unite
as one; help each other and take care of each other. No quarrel
should arise. Secondly, no one should indulge himself in gambling.
Gambling was the root of all evils. Now people still were not well
off. Should one continue to indulge in gambling and ignore the production,
he would affect the happiness of his family, and the social stability.
That day, I emphasized the serious consequences of disunity and
gambling. Afterwards, the villages fostered unity and fraternity,
and nobody played at gambling. Our village was elected a civilized
one for several years running by the government of the Wenchang
County, and our family was elected a civilized household.
In 1993, in memory of my mother and in coordination with the economic
development strategy of making tourism the engine of the local industry,
the Temple of Copper Drum Buddhist Glory was completed with an investment
of three million yuan after three years of construction. Located
in Copper Drum Ridge’s tourist development region, Wenchang County,
it opened to public with free admission and was donated to society
gratis. A new scenic spot was added to the tourist region in Wenchang.
It was also my modest contribution to the development of tourism
Dedication was a sort of virtue. For years I had done my best to
make donations to help finance public welfare in my hometown. I
had made efforts and contributed donations in the construction of
residential buildings for the returned overseas Chinese by the township
government. I had also donated money to the library of the Hainan
University as well as to the library of the Dahua Middle School
in Dazhipo, Qiongshan City.
In my opinion, it is the greatest happiness in life if one could
give his love for his beloved homeland.
In 1998, I was conferred the honorary title of "Model of Chi
Zi" by the government of Hainan Province. ("Chi Zi"
literally means a newborn baby. It is a symbol of purity, honesty
The Pride of my Hometown
My hometown Wenchang is a renowned hometown of overseas Chinese;
it is also well-known for being the home of culture, home of generals
and home of coconuts. Ever since teachers have been respected and
great attention has been paid to teaching. With developed culture,
the people of talent have come forth in large numbers. Thus my hometown
Wenchang has long since attracted public attention.
The ancestral residence of the Soong family, well-known both at
home and abroad, is located in Guluyuan Village, Changsa Town in
Wenchang County. It is 20 kilometers away from the village where
I was born. The well-known ancestors of Soong Ching Ling and her
two sisters were born there.
Guluyuan Village is located on the hills south of the Changsa Town.
Surrounded by longan, litchi and coconut trees, the village is permeated
with the fragrance of flowers and fruit all the year round. The
scenery there is beautiful indeed.
Walking about 100 meters along the shaded avenue, one would reach
the ancestral residence of the Soong family.
It was said that the ancestral house was built by Soong Ching Ling's
great-great grandfather Han Ruxun during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing
in the Qing Dynasty, which was the birthplace of Soong Ching Ling’s
grandfather and father. Soong Ching Ling’s great-great grandfather,
great grandfather and grandfather all lived there and did farm work.
The ancestral residence covers an area of 1,500 square meters with
the floor space of 200 square meters, which is of brick and wood
structure. Situated in the southwest and facing the northeast, and
with the design of two entrances to the rear, the residence consists
of two main rooms, two cross-rooms, two gateways and the yard walls.
It is the typical local farmer’s house.
When you walk near this old, simple farmer's courtyard, you are
at once attracted by a horizontal inscribed board, bearing golden
characters the “Ancestral Residence of the Soong family,” autographed
by Deng Xiaoping. The board hangs on the cross beam of the gateway.
Inside the residence, some articles that had been used by Soong
Ching Ling’s grandfather and father were on display. Soong Ching
Ling’s grandfather Han Hongyi had three sons, namely, Han Zhengzhun,
Han Jiaozhun and Han Zhizhun. Owing to family financial difficulties,
Han Jiaozhun, the second son, followed his maternal uncle to go
to the United States and make a living there. Later on, he was adopted
by his maternal uncle as a foster son and changed his name into
Soong Jiashu with alternative name Yaoru.
Soong Jiashu had three daughters and three sons. They were respectively
Soong Ai Ling, Soong Ching Ling, Soong Mei Ling, Soong Zi Wen, Soong
Zi Liang and Soong Zi An. The six sisters and brothers of the Soong
family were well-known personages in China’s contemporary history.
Especially, Soong Ching Ling, the “founding mother” of China, was
admired and respected by people all over the world.
Not far from the Ancestral Residence of the Soong Family was the
newly built Life Exhibition Hall of Soong Ching Ling, which was
built in 1985 by the local government when the Ancestral Residence
was renovated. Soong Ching Ling was born in 1893 in Shanghai. Later,
she studied in the United States. In 1915 she was married to Dr.
Sun Yat-sen. In the Exhibition Hall were displayed over 380 precious
photos and replicas of objects that showed the glorious life of
the late Honorary President of the People’s Republic of China.
One year, I took my whole family to visit the Ancestral Residence
of the Soong Family. Before we entered the gate of the Ancestral
Residence of the Soong Family, at the corner of the road we found
that the gateway was built with bamboo and it looked rather simple
and crude. After returning to Bangkok, I talked about the matter
with some overseas Chinese friends and we raised a sum of 200,000
yuan. With the money a tall, impressive gate was built on the roadside
of the highway leading to the Ancestral residence. From then on,
there was a notable mark at the entrance to the Ancestral Residence
of the Soong Family.
In my opinion, Soong Ching Ling was the pride of our hometown Wenchang
as well as the pride of the Chinese people. We should let the people
all over the world share this honor and learn from her noble moral
character and her absolute selflessness and utter devotion to mankind.
The Pride of China
"Dressed in Western suit, my heart is in China…"
This line is from my favorite song My China’s Heart.
I left my hometown for decades, but I have never changed my love
for my hometown. China is my birthplace. My life’s roots are deep
in that vast expanse of land, which would never be changed.
China’s progress, development and prosperity have had a great influence
on the overseas Chinese. In 1995, invited by the Overseas Chinese
Affairs Office of the State Council of the PRC, I had the honor
to go to Beijing to attend the National Day celebration of the 46th
anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. It was a long time
before I could calm down.
I have personally gone through both the old and the new societies.
The sufferings in the old society left a deep impression on me.
Witnessing the overall strength and prosperity of China today and
the happy, peaceful life of the people, I feel proud of being a
During the first spring of the new century, at the invitation of
the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC),
an Industrial and Commercial Entrepreneurs’ Inspection Delegation
of the Thai Overseas Chinese was organized. With Dr. Songsakdi Owlarn
as the head, Mr. Pongsak Pichitnapakul and Mr. Viroj Dhirapharbwongse
as the deputy heads, and me as the secretary-general, the delegation
of 24 people would visit Beijing, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen
and Hainan from May 28-June 11, 2000.
On the afternoon of May 28, when the plane reached Beijing, we were
warmly welcomed by the leaders of the Chinese People’s Political
Consultative Conference, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of
the State Council and the Association of Former Diplomats of China
at the door of the cabin. We were much touched by the warm welcome
as soon as we got off the plane.
Afterwards, we went to Diao Yu Tai State Guest House to attend a
welcome banquet at the Si Ji (Four Seasons) Hall, the former off
ice of the late premier Zhou Enlai, given by the Association of
Former Diplomats of China. The host of the banquet was the Former
Executive Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s
Republic of China and former President of the Association of Diplomats
of China. Among the attendants were the incumbent government officials
and especially retired ambassadors, ministers and diplomats. Of
them, three were former Chinese Ambassadors to Thailand—Chai Zemin,
Zhang Dewei and Li Shichun. There were also Zhang Jiuhuan, Director
of the Asian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Luo
Tianguang, Deputy Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs; and Li Mao, former Counselor to Thailand.
The next day, Wang Guangying, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee
of the National People’s Congress of China, warmly received us at
the Great Hall of the People. On the wall in the middle of the hall
is hanging a huge traditional Chinese landscape painting which once
more illustrates the enchanting beauty of our motherland.
The meeting was going on in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. Vice
Chairman Wang Guangying paid much attention to our visit. He told
us that the hall where we were entertained was specially used to
receive the heads of states of various countries and all the cultural
relics displayed there were national treasures. He hoped that all
of us present would frequently come back to China and have a look.
At noon on May 29, our delegation called on Guo Dongpo, Minister
of Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council of the People’s
Republic of China and other leaders concerned. We were warmly received
In the afternoon of the same day, we were received and entertained
by Sun Fuling, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Conference. The reception was also attended by Zhu Xun, Minister
of the Office of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Compatriots and Overseas
Chinese Affairs and Zhang Weichao, Vice Minister of the office.
In Beijing, we also met Liu Jianfeng and Liu Mingqi, the former
governor and vice governor of the Hainan Province respectively,
Lin Mingjiang, Vice Chairman of All-China Federation of returned
Overseas Chinese, and Gu Fenghuang, Deputy Director-General of the
Office of Overseas Chinese Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Of them, many were our old friends. We all felt happy to meet again
after long separation.
Apart from calling on the central state units and leaders concerned,
we also squeezed some time to visit China Science and Technology
Museum. We learned a lot about the high-tech industry in China,
especially aviation, aerospace, energy, transportation and information
technology as well as the basic science. We took pride in the great
accomplishment of the development of China’s science and technology.
We also visited the Palace Museum, the Great Wall and some other
historical sites. We had a better understanding of the age-old Chinese
history and culture.
On June 2, the inspection delegation reached the beautiful harbor
city, Dalian. Bo Xilai, mayor of Dalian, vice mayor Nan Changming
and some other leaders held a forum with us in the meeting hall
of the municipal government. We inspected the Dalian High and New
Technological Industrial Zone and visited the garden-like city resulting
from Greening Project. Later, we went to see the Lushun area known
as “half book of modern Chinese history”. We came to the Dongjiguan
Mountain, which was the site of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895)
and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Witnessing the historical
sites, we all were more deeply aware that the birth of New China
was hard won. The peak that the imperialists had been fighting for
now became a patriotic educational base.
In Qingdao, we first visited the Haier Group, whose products sell
well in 136 countries and regions. It had specialized dealers in
62 countries. In 1999, the total export sales revenue amounted to
20 billion yuan. Later we were cordially received by Hu Yansen,
CPPCC Chairman of Qingdao Committee, Vice Chairman Min Xiangchao
and Secretary-general Wang Xintai.
In Shanghai, the key place for our visit was Lujiazui development
zone in Pudong. After the visit we were received by Zhu Daren and
Wu Hanmin, Vice Chairman and Secretary-general of the CPPCC Shanghai
Committee respectively. We were also received by Mao Zhiqiong and
He Tianfa, Director and Vice Director of the Office of Hong Kong,
Macao and Taiwan Compatriots and Overseas Chinese Affairs. We were
briefed on the rapid development and amazing changes of this international
In Shenzhen, Wang Zhengmin, Vice Chairman of the CPPCC Shenzhen
Committee, gave us a vivid report on the fast growth of this vigorous,
modern young city.
The terminal for the delegation was my hometown, Hainan Island.
In Haikou we visited Hainan Airlines Co., Ltd. At the beginning
of its founding, the company had assets worth no more than 10 million
yuan. Within a few years, it developed into a company with a fleet
of 35 latest passenger planes, which was a remarkable miracle and
worth of pride. The delegation highly praised Chen Feng, president
of Hainan Airlines, for he was a man of great talent and bold vision
with ability of leadership and management concept. The accomplishment
of Hainan Airline Co., Ltd. was not only the honor of Chen Feng
himself, but also the honor of the whole people in Hainan as well
as the honor of China.
Great attention was paid by the Chinese government to the delegation’s
return visit from abroad. We were accompanied throughout the tour
by Suo Shihui and Zhang Haomin, Inspection Officer and Department
Head of the Office of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Compatriots and
Overseas Chinese Affairs of the CPPCC National Committee respectively.
At the same time, we were accompanied by Feng Eryuan, Department
Head of the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs of the State Council.
Among the members of the delegation, half of us were over 65 years
old. We experienced both old and new China. Undergoing through vicissitudes
of half a century, we descendants of the Yellow Emperor were elated
at the great accomplishments China has made. With the rapid economic
development, China has caught up with and overtaken the international
level. Since the reform and opening up, China has scored tremendous
achievements. The prospect of China’s development is bright. The
days when the Chinese people were bullied and humiliated are gone
The 21st century is the century of the Chinese people. China is
growing more prosperous and powerful day by day. Hong Kong and Macao
have returned to the motherland in succession. The descendants of
the Yellow Emperor with yellow skin and black eyes throughout the
world have strong wishes to see the national reunification as soon
On August 26, 2000, I was invited by “the European China’s Peaceful
Reunification Promotion Association” to attend the conference of
“the Global Overseas Chinese and Chinese Promotion of China’s Peaceful
Reunification.” At the coming of the new century, this world conference
held by the European Overseas Chinese, who raised funds themselves,
was of historic significance. It was held at a time when the development
of cross-Straits relations faced the serious test and the future
of the Chinese nation and the fate of millions and millions of the
compatriots both at home and abroad were matters of world concern.
The conference aimed at realizing the peaceful reunification of
China and safeguarding the state sovereignty and territorial integrity.
All the compatriots throughout the world who were willing to make
contributions to the promotion of China’s peaceful reunification
should have more contacts with each other and unite together so
as to accomplish the great cause of the national reunification.
Altogether more than 600 delegates attended this conference of historic
significance. Participants in the conference included overseas Chinese
leaders from 63 countries in the five continents of Asia, Africa,
Europe, America and Australia. They also included leaders of Chinese
associations and organizations, representatives of well-known institutions,
famous Chinese industrialists, distinguished writers and artists
as well as experts and scholars on both sides of the Straits as
well as in various parts of the world.
A delegation of 50 people was dispatched by the Chinese mainland
including Overseas Chinese Association, Taiwan Research Association,
the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, the Association
of the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Economy and Trade and the Chinese Taiwan
Affairs Office. The delegation was headed by Wan Guoquan, Vice Chairman
of CPPCC National Committee. Members of the delegation included
Zhang Jincheng and Sun Yafu, Vice President of the Association for
Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. Among the participants were
also distinguished scholars Yu Keli, Xin Qi and Li Jiaquan.
The conference was attended by a Taiwan delegation of 110 people
from various mass organizations including the Taiwan Association
for the Promotion of cross-Straits Peaceful Reunification. The head
of the delegation was Liang Surong, President of the Taiwan Association
for the Promotion of cross-Straits Peaceful Reunification. The consultant
was Li Nongren, Vice Chairman of National Reunification Association.
Members of the delegation were from the following associations and
organizations: Xin Tongmenhui, China Reunification League, Commercial
Reunification Association, China Cultural Society, Democratic Foundation,
etc. Among the attendants there were also some social celebrities
such as Zhu Gaozheng, Wang Xiaopo, Zhang Linzheng, and Bu Youfu.
The conference lasted two days. Aiming at promotion of the development
of cross-Straits relations and advancement of the peaceful reunification
of China, the attendants published 217 papers. They had a heated
discussion of the development of cross-Straits relations under the
one-China principle, and of expansion of exchange and cooperation
between the people on both sides of the Straits. They also talked
about the important role played by the overseas Chinese in promotion
of the peaceful reunification of China. A consensus was also reached:
Taiwan is an inseparate part of China’s territory. Taiwan compatriots
are our own flesh and blood. Both of us are the descendants of the
Yellow Emperor. To see the national reunification and prosperity
of our motherland is the common wishes and aspirations of everyone
The conference ended on August 27 in Berlin. A common statement
was declared, calling on the sons and daughters of China throughout
the world to strive for the peaceful reunification. Being a member
of the descendants of the Yellow Emperor, I feel that it is of great
significance to take part in this kind of activities.
My roots are in China. I am proud of China. This sort of feelings
is an important component of my life, which would accompany me to
the end of my life’s journey.
Copper Drum Ridge and the “Copper Drum Buddhist Glory”
I returned to another starting point of my life. Let the
love and kind heart of Buddha save the masses of mankind.
The Beautiful Legend
There is a beautiful peak in my hometown, Wenchang, Hainan, which
is called Copper Drum Ridge.
Here is a moving story that has been handed down from generation
to generation. Legends have it that along the east coast of Wenchang,
with jagged rocks of strange shapes and sparse population, the Guans
father and son came here and settled down.
The father was named Guan Shan, and the son was named Guan Hai.
They depended on each other for survival. They reclaimed the wasteland,
sowing the seeds in the field and cultivating. They went out early
in the morning and returned late at night. Eventually their efforts
were rewarded as they got good harvest in return. They gathered
in crops and had enough to eat and wear. Their days were filled
with sunshine and laughter.
Before long, the villagers who had lived nearby brought their family
members here and settled down. With the warm and sunny weather,
they lived and worked in peace and contentment.
However, good times didn’t last long. One spring, the fierce wind
and raging tide hit this area. The fertile fields and houses were
submerged in the tidewater. The villagers left here one after another.
Only the Guans father and son remained. Faced with the turbulent
waves, they were lost in thought.
Goddess Nu Wa could repair the azure sky, why couldn't we block
the sea by piling up stones so as to keep us away from the flooding
of the tidal water.
From then on, Guan Shan and Guan Hai braved the wind and rain, day
and night, removing rocks and carrying baskets of earth on their
shoulder poles. They threw themselves into the battle against the
Day after day and year after year, they worked hard and built the
hills continuously. The seawater washed away the stone hills over
and over again, but they never gave up. However, one day father
Guan Shan passed away at the age of 72. Before his death he left
eight big characters for the later generations: "Build up hills
and block the sea, bringing benefits to the people."
After Guan Hai had buried his father, he continued his work. Fairy
Swan was moved by his spirit and she married Guan Hai. They went
on carrying stones and building the hills. Finally, they got the
sea tide under control and rebuilt their homeland.
Zhang Guolao, one of the Eight Immortals, once went to Nantian (Southern
Sky) to congratulate Jade Emperor on his birthday. When he passed
this place, he was greatly touched by what he saw. He took out 18
peaks from the magic bag he carried with him and scattered them
on the hills. From then on, the barren hills turned into fertile
fields. The villagers came back one after another. At this time,
the 18 children born by Guan Hai and Fairy Swan had grown up. They
led a happy life separately in the 18 villages they set up.
But they never expected that one year an unprecedented drought swept
across this area. Without water, all crops in the fields had withered.
Without harvest, how could people live on?
At this moment, Fairy Swan remembered the talismanic needle, which
Jade Emperor presented to her when she left the heavenly palace.
She took it out and pricked a hole in the arid soil. All of a sudden,
the miracle appeared. Spring water gushed out and the dry earth
came back to life again. The calamity was gone. The people led a
happy and peaceful life again. But Fairy Swan who had presented
the talismanic needle couldn't go on staying in the human world.
She reluctantly parted with her husband and children and grandchildren.
Guan Hai died at the age of 107. After his death, a bronze statue
was erected on the peak in memory of his family's beneficence. And
this peak was called Copper Gong Ridge. (Formerly, gong is a term
of respect for a male person.)
It was said that in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), a general
named Fu Po was pursued and attacked by the rebel army. He fled
to take refugee here. By chance, he got help and protection from
Fairy Swan. A heavy rain suddenly poured down and the rebel army
was engulfed in the boundless water. Before General Fu Po went back
to the imperial court, he presented a copper drum that had been
used in the battle to Fairy Swan so as to express his gratitude.
Later on, when a Buddhist monk grew a celestial fruit tree in the
valley, he unearthed this copper drum that had been buried there.
From then on, this peak was renamed Copper Drum Ridge.
Revisit to Copper Drum Ridge
In 1939, two years after the outbreak of the War of Resistance against
Japan, the Japanese aggressors invaded and occupied Hainan Island.
My parents brought the whole family to Copper Drum Ridge and then
we sailed across the sea to Guangzhouwan that was then under the
French colonial occupation.
In 1993, on a fine day with bright sunshine and gentle breeze, I
revisited Copper Drum Ridge.
Situated on the seashore east of Wenchang City and in the northeast
part of Hainan Island, copper Drum Ridge was 108 kilometers from
Haikou City, the seat of the provincial capital, and 25 kilometers
from the Ancestral Residence of the Soong Family. In the east, the
sea extends to the horizon and the stormy waves lash the coast.
In the west, it is adjacent to the inland with a plain. The narrow
Jinshui River snakes into the South China Sea. In the south, there
is a vast primeval forest with antique trees towering into the clouds.
In the north it is surrounded by the Yueliang Bay with silver sands
stretching out for several kilometers. The whole ridge rises sharply
from the sea with 18 peaks in different sizes. The main peak is
388 meters above sea level while the sub-peak is 241 meters. Peaks
rise one higher than another; mists and clouds entwine around. The
ridge looks imposing when you are near, but it is picturesque when
you stand at a distance. That is why it is called a paradise on
earth as well as "the first peak in east Hainan." It is
also generally acknowledged as one of the top ten scenic spots on
Copper Drum Ridge is renowned for its primeval natural beauty with
oddly shaped rocks, the beautiful sea and the lush valley.
There is plenty of granite on the ridge that was formed in the Quaternary
glacial period. Many rocks are grotesquely shaped due to the erosion
of weather and sea waves. There are altogether 72 well-known rocks.
The most famous one is called Feng Dong Shi (Wind Moving Rock),
which is three meters high, four meters wide and 20 tons in weight.
The rock, sharp and tapered at the bottom and round at the top,
hangs above two foundation stones which resemble two lampstands.
It rustles with the wind and shakes with a push, but has never fallen
down. For thousands of years, this rock has been exposed to weather
and hit by typhoons repeatedly, but has stood imposingly there.
A legend has it that once upon a time Jade Emperor in the heaven
got ill seriously. The Empress had a dream at that night. There
was a kind of Chinese medicinal herbs that could cure Jade Emperor's
sickness. Thus, she dispatched Fairy Jin Si to look for and collect
such herbs in Copper Drum Ridge. On her way she came across macaque
monkeys and fell off into the valley. A young hunter came to her
help and saved her. Out of gratitude, after taking the herbs back
to the heaven, Fairy Jin Si returned to the human world and married
that young man. They lived happily ever since.
One day, the couple went hunting in the mountain. While Fairy Jin
Si climbed to the top of the mountain, she encountered a bandit
who wanted to kidnap her. She shouted at her husband for help, who
was at the foot of the hill. Having heard her shouting, the bandit
drew his sword and killed Fairy Jin Si. Then he shot her husband
with the arrows, who had come to rescue her. All of a sudden, the
couple turned into two grotesquely shaped rocks. One is called Shen
Bi Lang (Stretching Arms Man), and the other is named Feng Dong
Shi (Wind Moving Rock).
One rock stands on the top of the peak, and the other stands at
the foot of the mountain. For years, one stretches his arms, while
the other nods her head, showing their true love.
On Copper Drum Ridge, besides Feng Dong Shi, there are many other
stones interestingly shaped. Some are named after their images.
For example, Cock Crowing Rock is shaped like a cock, crowing with
an open mouth. Tortoise Head Rock looks as if going to move. There
are many more rocks with suggestive names such as Ape Rock, Frog
Rock, Shepherd Rock, Swan Rock and Fish Rock. All these rocks with
various shapes and sizes are vividly lifelike.
Climbing to the peak of Copper Drum Ridge, you can enjoy a good
view of the seawater and peaks nearby as well as those in the distance.
It is a spectacular view indeed. To the east, you can see the South
China Sea. The seawater and the sky melt into one. The gulls spread
their wings and soar in the air over the sea. The rolling sea stretches
to the horizon. Looking into the distance, you can see the Qizhou
Islands 17 kilometers away. There, the seven peaks are linked together,
and two islets stand facing each other. Looking down at the foot
of the mountain, you can see the rugged waves beating the coast
with flying sprays. Looking northward, you can see the Baoling River
flowing into the sea like a silk ribbon. Overlooking the inland
in the far west, you would find villages and farmhouses sheltering
among the thick green coconut groves, which have smokes rising from
the kitchen chimneys. It is a typical poetical rural landscape.
Looking downward, you can see in the southwest a group of rocks
in the shape of a flock of sheep. Some of them look as if they were
grazing with lowered heads; others seem as if they were looking
up at the clouds in the sky; and still others appear to be frisking
about. This is one of the scenic spots in Copper Drum Ridge, which
is known as the "Everlasting Shepherding Picture".
Facing the sea, with the irregular coastline, Copper Drum Ridge
has ten small berths, four bays and four beaches with silver-white
sands that are flat and broad. With clear seawater and gentle downward
sloping of the beach from the shallow to the deep, you could see
the stones at the bottom of the sea. With proper water temperatures,
it is an ideal natural swimming pool, and a good place for fishing,
surfing and boating. The surface of the sea in Copper Drum Ridge
is a natural fishing ground. In daytime, the azure water and the
blue sky seem to merge into one color. The sea is dotted with fishing
boats. The Qizhou Islands, several nautical miles away, are half-hidden
and half-visible. During the fishing season, at night the myriad
lights of fishing boats link together. Illuminated by the lights,
it looks like an enchanting palace on the sea.
In the jungles of Copper Drum Ridge, there are a number of caverns
and fairy sites, such as Fairy Palace and Fairy Cave. The caverns
were formed with huge natural rocks. In the mountain there are stone
houses, Buddhist monasteries, Buddhist nunneries, Fu Bo Cave and
some Gods' temples.
Copper Drum Ridge is listed as a nature reserve. Going deep into
the mountain, you would see a large tract of primeval forest, abounding
in antique trees towering into clouds, precious sandalwood and centuries-old
banyans with a mass of foliage. There are also dense shrubs. As
for animals, there are more than 20 kinds, including rhesus monkeys,
pangolins, hedgehogs, foxes and big pythons. There are also over
50 kinds of birds. Of them are partridge, cuckoo and egret. In the
forest the birds are singing, the flowers are giving forth their
fragrance, and the monkeys are bounding and skipping around. Over
the sea the gulls are soaring and screaming in the air. In the sea
live abalone, groupers, lobsters, octopus and starfish. The seaweed
is reproduced on the reefs along the seashore, and crabs crawl on
the sand beach. The natural ecological balance is noticeable over
Copper Drum Ridge has an agreeable climate. With plenty of rain,
it is free from frost or snow. It also enjoys long hours of sunshine.
The ridge is like spring all the year round.
It is said that in ancient times some local people had commended
this place as follows:
"When the swan lays eggs, it is
bound to give birth to monarchs and ministers. For generations people
around here have been good, wealthy and talented while the landscape
is always beautiful."
After visiting Copper Drum Ridge, Wang Honghui, Minister of the
Ministry of Rites in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), wrote these lines:
Overleaping to the crest of the ridge,
I looked into the distance at the endless expanse of the universe.
A stream rippled between two hills,
The clouds were scattered by the cliffs.
The fish and dragons were fighting against each other,
Surging waves were raging like drums and bugles.
Scaling the height alone and shouting for a long time,
I felt as if I were in a crystal palace.
On May 5, 1962, Tian Han, the famous Chinese playwright, wrote this
poem about Copper Drum Ridge:
Overlooking the clouds on the mountain drifting in the breeze,
I smelled the fragrance of coconut juice and wild fruit.
Fu Bo left the copper drum after he had gone,
Which facing the blue sea still warns us of the danger of the enemy.
In autumn 1983, Guan Shanyue, one of the greatest masters of traditional
Chinese painting in the 20th century and the representative of the
painting of Lingnan School, went to Hainan sketching from nature.
After his visit to Copper Drum Ridge, he composed the poem My Visit
to Copper Drum Ridge in Rain.
There are many famous scenic spots in Wenchang,
I visited Copper Drum Ridge after the rain.
Driving along the mountain path overgrown with brambles,
I went sketching at Dongzuigou.
The stormy waves were like ten thousand galloping horses,
The oddly shaped rocks were like a thousand fighting bulls.
The roar of thunder and the flash of lightning presaged a storm,
I hastened back to my abode at Longlou.
Inspired by the legends and charms of Copper Drum Ridge,
many scholars, writers and poets have composed excellent poems that
have been widely read to date.
An Everlasting Memorial Dedicated to My Mother
In 1992 my mother went blind and deaf at the age of 85. Her teeth
decayed too. After falling to the ground, she couldn't move by herself.
With other's help she could only take several steps from the bedroom
to the sitting room. She couldn't see the beautiful scenes in the
world, nor could she taste the delicious food or enjoy the happiness
of life. Whenever I returned to my hometown, I felt as if I were
stabbed to the heart. Thinking of the hardship she suffered to bring
me up, I had the idea of building a Buddhist statue for my mother
in Copper Drum Ridge, which would be an everlasting memorial dedicated
to her. At the same time, in coordination with the policy of making
tourism the engine of local industry, I could support the development
of the tourism industry in Hainan.
I am an atheist, I believe neither God nor evil cult. But I believe
physiognomy and palmistry. Looking at one's appearance, manners
and even signature or handwriting, some people could tell one's
character and moral qualities, for which I thought it believable.
As for some wise fortune tellers, they even could tell something
close to one's experience in the past, which was really a puzzle
and not understandable. This may be the wonder of The Book of Changes.
But for those who predict one's future or fate simply by watching
the constellation, by the date of one's birth, by using computers,
by drawing lots or by divination. I think they are superstitious
and ignorant. They simply fool people by evil cult.
I have resided in Thailand for a long time. I am not a Buddhist,
nor do I believe in any religion. I don't follow the traditional
rural customs to worship God on festive occasions. But I have great
respect for Buddhism. In my opinion, the reason that Buddhism with
a history of over 2,000 year can still continue to prosper is mainly
as follows: The fundamental principal of Buddhism is to save the
masses of all mankind with ardent love and selfless benevolence.
Buddhism teaches people to practice benevolence. Thailand has been
prosperous and stable for a long time. The Thai people are simple
and good just because they believe in Buddhism and have attained
a high degree of spiritual enlightenment. The Karma theory of Buddhism
is as follows: "Good will be rewarded with good, and evil with
evil. The time is not ripe. When the day of retribution comes, all
will surely be reciprocated." The theory had made people attain
spiritual sustenance and encouragement and curb their misconduct
and evil thoughts. Therefore, I decided to build a Buddhist temple
in traditional Thai structure and a statue of Sakyamuni in Copper
Drum Ridge to commemorate my mother.
First, I applied to the government of Wenchang County (later changed
to city) for the construction. After I received the approval, I
bought 19.5 mu of barren hilltop at Xiaoaogang in Copper Drum Ridge
and then had the hilltop leveled with bulldozers. Next, I invited
a professor of Chinese architecture and sent him to make an instruction
tour of Pattaya, the famous Thai scenic spot. He was asked to build
a statue of Sakyamuni and a Buddhist temple in traditional Thai
structure in Copper Drum Ridge, which were expected to be exactly
the same as those built on the top of Pattaya Mountain.
The construction of "Copper Drum Buddhist Glory" started
in October 1993 and was completed at the end of 1996. It was mainly
composed of three parts: One, the statue of a golden sitting Buddha
of Sakyamuni with a weight of 180 tons and height of 16 meters,
including a pedestal. Sitting in the west and facing the east, the
statue faces the vast sea. There is also a relief sculpture of seven
small Buddha figures on the pedestal. Two, there is an antique Buddhist
temple in traditional Thai structure. Three, a stairway to pay homage
was built with a length of 98 meters and a width of 21.6 meters
plus 151 steps extending to the seaside. Besides, in front of the
statue, a flagpole was erected. The flag bears an inscription of
four characters "Guo Tai Min An", which means "The
country is prosperous and the people live in peace."
Inside the Buddhist temple I left the following two written accounts
about this incident.
The Origin of Construction of Buddhist Glory in Copper Drum
Chan Sirisuwat Thailand
My beloved mother Han Fengyu has been already 80 years old. She
still regretted that she had no schooling in her childhood due to
the poverty of her family. She even couldn't write her own name.
She never forgot to teach her children and grandchildren to study
hard. In her opinion, everyone should be able to read and write
so that he is able to do something for his country. All of us should
make contributions to our country and make it strong and prosperous.
This is the best wish of an ordinary farmer in her life.
With the reform and opening up of our motherland, its poor and backward
history for thousands of years began to be rewritten. It offers
favorable conditions for the overseas Chinese descendants of the
Yellow emperor to return to take part in the construction of our
motherland. In view of the fact that schooling is still inaccessible
to many children in Hainan and throughout the country, what should
I do to realize my mother's wishes? That is to make every child
literate. I think that it's better to solve this social problem
with the efforts of the broad masses.
Our country is so vast that we should start to do everything within
our reach. First, efforts were being made to transform my hometown.
Within a few years, the living and production conditions of the
local people have been improved and the problem of children's schooling
has been solved. Then I began the construction of "Copper Drum
Buddhist Glory" on Copper Drum Ridge.
I have lived in Thailand for several decades. Thailand is not a
developed country, but the Thai people are simple, kind, enthusiastic,
hospitable and polite. They show piety and respect towards the elders.
They unite with each other and help each other. Illiteracy has been
wiped out. Thailand is a Buddhist country. People deeply believe
in karma of Buddhism:" Good will be rewarded with good and
evil with evil. The time is not ripe. When the day of retribution
comes, all will surely be reciprocated." The Thai people are
self-disciplined. They do good deeds, practice benevolence, avoid
all evil thoughts and evil deeds. With this spiritual strength the
people's moral quality has greatly improved. In turn, it has accelerated
the progress of the society and promoted the prosperity of Thailand.
Therefore, the Buddhist Statue of Sakyamuni, the originator of Buddhism,
has been erected in Copper Drum Ridge. I hope that the tourists
could pour forth charity with pure mind and heart and volunteer
to offer donations to the "Charity Collection Box". Only
a small amount of donated money was allocated to the staff members
and used for the expenses of maintenance, while the rest would be
contributed to the primary schools in the backward rural areas in
Hainan Island for the development of education.
As many a little makes a mickle and many drops make a shower, we
should pull together for the development of rural education.
The 21st century is a century in which China will make significant
achievements. In order to reach the glorious goal, it is prerequisite
to popularize culture and education, develop science and technology
as well as improve the level of culture and science. The high-rise
buildings couldn't be erected in the desert. I hope that my wishes
would receive sympathy and response from the society.
April 12, 1996.
A Brief Introduction to the Buddhist Statue of Sakyamuni
in Copper Drum Ridge
The Buddhist Statue of Sakyamuni and the traditional Buddhist Temple
in Thai structure were designed by Mr. Wu Zhaozhao, a garden designer
and a famous professor in China, who won the Golden Prize at the
International Garden Exposition 1993 in Stuttgart, Germany. The
prize was awarded once every ten years.
Molded after a large Statue of the Buddha in the open and the Buddhist
Temple located on the top of Pattaya Mountain and opposite to the
Thai Imperial Palace (for short stay away from the capital), the
Statue of Sakyamuni and the Buddhist Temple in Copper Drum Ridge
were constructed by the architect Chen Jinggui, the artist Chen
Hao and the engineering contractor Gan Shupo. They are larger and
higher than the Statue of Buddha and the Buddhist Temple on the
top of Pattaya Mountain.
The golden Statue of Sakyamuni on Copper Drum Ridge is 11 meters
high. After molding for three times, the design was finalized one
to one in Yangzhou. The matrix was transported to Copper Drum Ridge
in October 1994 and the construction promptly started. The pedestal
plus the lotus throne is five meters high. On the front face of
the pedestal, there is a relief sculpture of seven small Buddha
figures. The Buddhist statue and the pedestal plus the lotus throne
are 16 meters high. The Statue is made of reinforced concrete with
a weight of 180 tons. A stairway with 151 steps and a length of
86 meters and a width of 21.6 meters was built. The total length
from the first step to the pedestal is 98 meters.
The architecture molding, artistic carving, lacquering and coloring
of the "Temple of Buddhist Glory" are exactly the same
as the Thai Buddhist Temple on Pattaya Mountain. The name of the
temple was inscribed by Mr. Cheng Shifa, the famous Chinese painter
The construction of the Buddhist Statue of Sakyamuni and the "Temple
of Buddhist Glory" was completed by the end of 1996. It took
The "Temple of Buddhist Glory" is noted for its collection
of the blood Buddhist scripture of Banruo Boluomi Duoxin. It was
written by a warrior monk, a 32nd-generation descendant in the Buddhist
Shao Lin Monastery in Songshan Mountain, Henan Province. He pricked
his tongue and wrote the Buddhist scripture with the blood. It is
the only blood Buddhist scripture collected by the Buddhist circle
The Buddhist Statue of Sakyamuni and the "Temple of Buddhist
Glory" in Copper Drum Ridge were built and constructed by Mr.
Chan Sirisuwat in memory of his mother Han Fengyu.
It is not a story but a true record of my lifelong journey.
In 2001 I reached the age of 70. As a Chinese saying goes that since
ancient times it is rare for a person to live to 70 in age. I don't
agree to this view. I think such a view is out of date. In the present
society, with the progress of world science, the development of
economy and advancement of medicine, it is no longer rare to live
to the age of 70. In my view, 70 years old is a new starting point
in one's life.
Looking back on the life's road I've traveled, it is a long way
to go, but it is a short one too. I have gone through two dynasties
and tasted both joys and sorrows. I've not only experienced the
hardest times, but also enjoyed the happiness I gained through lifelong
struggle. There are both tears and joys. I feel that my life is
filled with hardships and endurance. However, I've never bowed to
difficulties. I was determined to work energetically and surmount
every difficulty. I'd never give up until I achieved my goal.
Looking at the human society, from what I've seen, heard and met
with, I found that it is a kaleidoscopic one. There is prosperity
brought about by the development of science, but there is also a
polarization--the division of the society into the rich and the
poor, the advanced and the backward. It is a society full of grave
contradictions. In the society, some people are trying to cheat
or outwit others. There have been conflicts and wars between countries…
In the face of such a reality, I think if I write down my experiences,
sufferings, my deeds as well as my thoughts, they might be vivid
teaching materials for the next generation.
In the beginning of 1999, I wrote a book of reminiscences, entitled
My Road. At that time, the purpose of my writing was to educate
the younger generation. In life, one should not only look at the
bright side but also look at the dark side. One should not only
share the happiness created by the society, but never neglect the
existence of unfairness and the harsh reality caused by social polarization.
What's more, one should not forget that he is a member of the descendants
of the Yellow Emperor. I wanted to educate the next generation with
this book, making them understand that nobody has succeeded by chance.
They achieved success through severe tests and hard struggle. For
every successful person, the purpose of success is not only for
his personal fame or gains, social position or enjoyment, but for
making greater contributions to the human society.
I spent half a year finishing my book of reminiscences--My Road.
For the convenience of my children's reading, I've it printed in
Chinese and Thai language. Some copies have been distributed to
my relatives and friends. After reading, they thought it instructive
and encouraged me to have it published. However, I know my own limitations.
While I was young, I used to dream of becoming a writer in future.
But for decades, I've been busy fighting for existence. To date,
I still don't think I have reached the level of a writer to have
my book published. Therefore, the publication of this book has been
In the summer of 1999, Mr. Chen Kegong, my senior friend of the
older generation, spent his holidays in Thailand, asking me about
the publication of the book. Mr. Chen Xianfang, an associate professor
and Mr. Wu Kunhong, Principal of Hainan Qiongtai Normal School that
has a history of 99 years, also had given me encouragement and support
to have the book published in China, which could be used as teaching
materials for the students in my old school. But I still felt some
hesitation in doing so.
In April this year, being an advisor to the Seventh World Hainanese
Association, I returned to Hainan, attending the preparatory meeting
for the association. I met Ms. Liu Jian by chance, who is a writer
and a reporter of China Educational Daily. Being a book lover, I
like books and have special respect for writers. I asked her if
she could do me the favor of giving me some of her works. She gave
me a book with the title of Li Xiangqun, the Heroic Soldier in Modern
Times, bearing the inscription by President, Jiang Zemin, and another
one -- A River of Love in the Sunlight Zone with the title inscribed
by Guan Shanyue, master of traditional Chinese painting. After going
over her books, I decided to ask her to grant me a favor of revising
my book. With her help, on the basis of my former book My Road,
I spent three months on revision and supplement. Finally, I finished
this book Braving the World with Three Hong Kong Dollars.
On the eve of the book's coming out, I have the honor to have the
title of the book Braving the World with Three Hong Kong Dollars
inscribed by Wang Guangying, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee
of the National People's Congress of China, and Honorary Chairman
of All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. I also have the
honor to have a preface to this book by Lin Mingjiang, Vice Chairman
of All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, and President
of Association of Chinese Overseas Writers and Artists as well as
by Chen Kegong, former Vice Chairman of Hainan Committee of C.P.P.C.C.
respectively. Chinese Overseas Publishing House listed this book
as "The Overseas Chinese Yellow Emperor Elite Series"
and got it published.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks for
the contributions of Mr. Wang Guangying, the state leader and other
leaders concerned who offered their great support and help in publishing
I greatly appreciate the help offered by Chinese Overseas Publishing
House, Mr. Qu Jiangwen, my old school--Qiongtai Normal School and
author Ms. Liu Jian.
And finally, I wish to express my best thanks to my wife, Ms. Niramol
Sirisuwat, for her spiritual support and encouragement; to my 14-year-old
daughter Miss Duangthip Sirisuwat, and to my 12-year-old son, Master
Thanapol Sirisuwat for drawing the illustrations for this book
I hope that this book will be liked by the Chinese readers. I also
hope that I may exchange ideas with the Chinese readers and listen
to their opinions. I appreciate all suggestions and criticisms from