Mon | May 22, 2017

Chinese businesses get support despite calls for boycott

Published:Friday | September 4, 2015 | 9:00 AMChristopher Serju

Some Chinese business operators are in fact contributing to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which they operate. It is for this reason that the Hanover and St Catherine Chambers of Commerce are not lending their support to Wednesday's call for a wide scale boycott and censorship of these businesses by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The call comes against the background of allegation that despite repeated entreaties, Chinese business operators in the western city continued to turn their backs on the communities in which they operate. The accusations include an unwillingness to provide any support for social upliftment or economic enhancement of the towns where the Chinese allegedly derive huge profits. But while the situation in Montego was said to be a reflection of what happens across all the parishes, Dennis Robotham, president of the St Catherine Chamber of Commerce says things are changing for the better, in Spanish Town, the parish capital.

He shared with The Gleaner their formula for engaging the new wave of Chinese immigrants and which is bearing fruit.

"The same view used to run rife in St Catherine, but we had a meeting some time ago with the police, along with them. We called them into a meeting and got their views on a number of things, and we were pleasantly surprised to see the number of Chinese that turned up for the meeting. They were willing to support our social programmes and, as a matter of fact, they did support a programme the police was doing with the youth at Inswood High School, and (helped) to nurture them - a camp,' Robotham explained.

He said the chamber engaged the services of a well-respected Chinese businessman who was instrumental in bridging the cultural chasm, working along with the police under the leadership of head of the St Catherine North Division, Senior Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth.

Gloria Henry, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry told Wednesday's Editors' Forum that the Chinese used their inabi-lity to speak English fluently as a major excuse for not getting more involved in the Jamaican lifestyle. However, she dismissed it as implausible.

 

Language barrier

 

George Taylor president of the Black River Chamber of Commerce supports this view.

He told The Gleaner: "What I know these people do, they just come and learn enough language just to get through doing their business. They learn enough of our language to do their business, so we don't have the cooperation from them."

However, Kelvin Hall, chairman of the steering committee of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, differs.

"What I found out, and I shared with the other business leaders is that some of them are not able to read English. So if you write a letter asking for assistance and deliver it to them, you'll get no response, because they don't know what is in it. So, what we do here is that we visit them; we would take the letter so they'll have it on their files but when we take the letter, we also speak to them and tell them what it is that we want them to assist us with. Whether it's a school needing something or it's for JCDC (Jamaican Cultural Development Commission), and so on, we find that they are supportive and they help," he disclosed.

He added: "I can tell you that what I've read of in The Gleaner, if it exists its in the minority, because over the past 18 months, the secretary/manager and the mayor have been in direct contact with the Chinese community in terms of the areas to be kept clean and so on. From the business side, in terms of the supporting of activities, we have been getting support whenever we request. What we find is that they will not go out and do it on their own, but once the request is made then they will assist."

Meanwhile, Pixley Jones president of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce was scathing in his criticism of the Chinese business operators in that parish, voicing overwhelming support for the stance taken by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"My view on this issue is that we don't get no support from the Chinese, ... at all, neither in business nor social activities, and they are not a part of anything in the community of Ocho Rios," he declared.

"Nutten at all, they are not a part of the chamber, not a part of no service clubs - nothing at all; they don't give. (If) you go to them for contribution, they don't give anything and (yet) they are benefiting ... . I'm involved in a couple of organisations and a lot of times I go to them and say we need fi stop supporting them."

An incensed Jones cited a personal experience where he approached the owner of a Chinese business he had supported since startup.

"I had a function for my church and went and asked him for a contribution towards the function.

You know weh the man gi me?

"Two tin a bully (corned) beef."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com