Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Chinese business class urged to deepen local roots

Published:Monday | February 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Stephen Liao, head of National Self-Serve and Wholesale in May Pen, Clarendon.

A Chinese merchant who has built a thriving business in Clarendon and bridged the divide with locals with charity initiatives is appealing to other Asian entrepreneurs to engage in community projects and integrate in national life.

Stephen Liao, owner of National Self Serve and Wholesale in May Pen, said he is not intimidated by the incidence of violent crime that has scarred the Clarendon capital in recent years and is calling for more unity among Sino-Jamaicans.

Liao, who has made Clarendon his home for more than 25 years, has called on his fellow Chinese to shed their xenophobia.

“Some of them have the mindset of not have their home over here. So dem come mek dem money and gone. So we need to encourage them to build their home over here.

“That way, it will benefit the community more. They need to think long term. I live here, you know. Everything I have here, so mi nah go nowhere,” he told The Gleaner.

Liao is critical of much of the Chinese business class who have not set down deep enough roots. He insists that too many of them are not cognisant of the mandate of corporate social responsibility they have to the community.

“I feel good to help somebody in need. It’s just somebody to help, and it’s good to help ... . Nuff people out there want help, and if we know, we would help them, too.”

The Clarendon wholesaler also believes that the language barrier is a major source of discord. Many Chinese or Jamaicans of Chinese descent speak mainly Mandarin and halting English.

Last May, high drama unfolded in a section of May Pen called Guinep Tree, where several men armed with high-powered weapons robbed a Chinese store and repelled the police with their arsenal of firepower.

No one has since been charged with that crime.

And five months later, criminals snuffed out the life of 51-year-old Chinese businessman Wiyong Liu in May Pen.

Wiyong operated the Newman’s Wholesale and Liquor Store on Manchester Avenue.

But although the tentacles of crime have come closer and closer to Liao, he has painted himself as a stoic figure who is sticking with Clarendon amid the gloom.

Liao, who has engaged in a labour of love assisting several people with charitable interventions and business capitalisation, said that he offers help to the less fortunate of Clarendon but not for fame or recognition.

“Weh you a go do wid money? You can’t carry it wid you when yuh dead. You make money to spend, and if yuh spend it on a worthy cause and help out somebody, what wrong with that?” he asked, explaining his philosophy of benevolence.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com