OPINION: A recent warning by Samoa’s Chamber of Commerce of possible anti-Chinese riots similar to those in the Solomon Islands and Tonga is cause for concern.
Not so much the suggestion of riots – as we know there is little, if any, anti-Chinese sentiment in the country – but the motive by which the warning was given.
It could very well be interpreted as sinister, even instigating. Especially coming from an organization representing the interests of local business people.
Accompanying the warning from the chamber on the front page of the local daily were pictures of car-burning, looting and hooded thugs rampaging the streets of Nuku’alofa and Honiara.
It was very suggestive.
Now this column would like to think that, as a people, we are a much more intelligent bunch than our neighbours. After all, we’ve always been accommodating of foreigners and our culture is inclusive in nature, accepting of those with a genuine intent to embrace it.
Besides, there are far too many level heads out there that do not give in – even oppose – the destructive pack mentality that riot and loot in numbers as we’ve seen elsewhere in the Pacific region.
In saying that, let’s not kid ourselves. Asians are here to make money just as anyone who goes into business does.
The key is to learn from how they do business. And the Chinese are the best.
It’ll be good for our business people – and those who aspire to go into business – to observe them closely.
The long hours they put in, the prices they offer and their spending habits.
If the Chinese store opens 24 hours-a-day then yours should too. Your prices have to be competitive and you should be spending less on yourself.
And who benefits in the end? The general consumer certainly does. He will have access to services at all hours, buy at fair prices and will no longer have to foot the shop owner’s excesses.
As anyone who has run a business will tell you, the basis of running a successful business lies with the principle of double entry book-keeping. It provides a record of what you owe and what is owed to you. It’s a simple and uncomplicated accounting system where you can control your stocks, manage your cash flows and most importantly, factor in your own wages.
Far too many times businesses go into receivership, well bankrupt, because the owner has taken liberty with the business’s finances. The Chinese are very good at living within their means, saving their money and reinvesting in their business. Important attributes we can all learn from.
It is of no benefit to anyone – particular our consumers – that we cocoon our local business people with anti-foreigner anti-competition laws.
The call from our proud business people to the Chinese shop challenge should be, ‘We’ll show you how to do business, bring it!”
Now that’s the attitude.
POSTSCRIPT: Look at the bright side. It could’ve been a shopping magnate like Cost-U-Less rolling into town. Those people retail at wholesale prices. Now that would be a far bigger challenge to our retailers than the hard-working Chinese. Samoa faces a general election on Friday.
This editorial was first published in Savali on 15 February 2011.