Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Labasa Chinese man turns 100
Longest surviving Asian in Fiji turns 100
Tuesday June 27, 2006, adapted from Fijilive.
Harry Yee Foong Gau believes he can live for another decade after celebrating his 100th birth at the weekend in Suva. He said the secret of his long life was being cautious with his life. "I have a normal meal three times a day but I’m cautious and very particular with what I eat. I eat almost everything, but it’s the quantity I take," he said. "I have a glass or two of whisky every day. I take a walk every morning, exercise every day and I always try and go out for swimming to make my blood veins moving. If I have a chance and I walk to the grocery shop every day to open it. I drink a little bit of grog but I hardly smoke. The secret is eat on time and sleep on time. I have been doing it in the last 50 years and the rate I’m in I can live for another 10 years,’’ he said.
He is from the village of Mewkong, district of Tai Peng in the province of Canton, which is located in the south of mainland China. Yee Foong had been in school for seven years in China before coming to Fiji in 1927.
He knew Fiji through one of his uncles, who had a big vegetable farm in Tamavua.
The trip to Fiji took a month, travelling first to Hong Kong, then to the Philippines, Sydney and then to Suva.
He was one of the first students to be enrolled at the then St Paul Chinese School now Yat-Sen School to learn English. He said the school was set up by Anglican Priests for Chinese children who wanted to learn the English language.
To his understanding there were already 2000 Chinese people living in Fiji when he set foot here. His first job was at a bakery in Toorak, before working with other Chinese businesses in Suva for nine months.
He then went to Labasa in 1929, becoming the first Chinese immigrant in the North. He set up a small grocery shop in the town’s main street and named it Yuen Hing Store, which is now run by his youngest son Robert Keith Yee.
He has three daughters and a son. The eldest daughter lives in China and is 68 years old with three children. Another daughter lives in Canada while he lives with his only son in Labasa.
He has been to China four times and last visited his village in China in 1990. His wife, Tong Chinyan, died at the age of 85 two years ago. Yee Foong has 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, two of whom live in mainland China.