'Popiah King' receives China award

Mr Goi said he benefited from his Chinese roots and Singaporean upbringing to achieve his Chinese dream as an overseas Chinese. His award was part of a forum to discuss the Chinese dream of successful Chinese with links overseas.
Mr Goi said he benefited from his Chinese roots and Singaporean upbringing to achieve his Chinese dream as an overseas Chinese. His award was part of a forum to discuss the Chinese dream of successful Chinese with links overseas.BT FILE PHOTO

Singaporean tycoon Sam Goi, known as the Popiah King, has received an award in Beijing in recognition of his contributions and success as an overseas Chinese.

Mr Goi, 67, well known for his popiah skin business, Tee Yih Jia, was honoured by The People's Tribune magazine, which is linked to the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily.

Mr Long Yongtu, China's chief negotiator for its World Trade Organisation accession, and Mr Cao Dewang, a car glass tycoon, were the other two recipients of the Special Tribute Award yesterday.

The award was part of an annual forum to discuss the Chinese dream of successful Chinese with links overseas, including the so-called returnees, or "haigui", who had studied or worked abroad, overseas Chinese and Chinese entrepreneurs who have ventured abroad.

The Chinese dream is a vision expounded by Chinese President Xi Jinping to build a moderately prosperous society and to restore the Chinese nation to its former glory.

Mr Goi said in a speech yesterday that Singapore and China have put in effort and showed willingness to cooperate in achieving a common Chinese dream. The Suzhou Industrial Park that Singapore helped to build in 1994 is one good example. He added that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew made it a point to visit China every year because he had hoped that China's rise could benefit ethnic Chinese all over the world.

As for himself, he benefited from his Chinese roots and Singaporean upbringing to achieve his Chinese dream as an overseas Chinese.

Starting out with a modest popiah skin factory in 1977, he eventually turned it into a global food empire that churns out US$1.3 billion (S$1.9 billion) worth of sales annually.

He returned to his hometown, Fuqing, in southern Fujian province for the first time in 1979, more than 20 years after leaving as a six- year-old. His first major investment in China came in 1993 when he succeeded in buying a state-owned brewery in Fuzhou. "This was the first foreign-owned brewery in China since the reform and opening-up policy (launched in 1978), and this purchase marked the start of my Chinese dream in the place where I was born," he said.

Mr Goi told the media on the sidelines of the forum that Singapore had been investing in China since the early 1990s due to the astute vision of the late Mr Lee.

"He saw the vastness of the Chinese market and encouraged Singaporeans to speak Mandarin and venture out (to China)," said Mr Goi.

"Singapore is very concerned with the development of China and the Chinese society," he added.

Mr Long, who is also a former vice-minister for trade, said in his speech that, in the face of uncertainties surrounding trade ties between China and the United States, China must strive to maintain certainty and stability in its own growth trajectory.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline ''Popiah King' receives China award'. Print Edition | Subscribe