Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gurbachan Singh was a Labasa identity

from Peceli,
I knew him well when I was young.
from Fiji Times feature article today:
Dad's early struggles shape his characterSunday, December 02, 2007

SACRIFICES and struggles endured by Gurbachan Singh in the 1940s after arriving in Fiji from India definitely shaped and moulded the character of his youngest son Charan Jeath Singh, who clearly remembers his dad as a committed and honest businessman. Such childhood exposure taught Mr Singh to be honest and dedicated to achieve goals put down by one. "My dad did not come with the indentured labourers but arrived later to look for better jobs and better pay in Fiji," he said. "One of the first jobs he got was at Suva where he worked for a cocoa and copra manufacturing company known as Brown and Joskey"After working in Suva for about three years, he moved to Labasa and became a salesman and later started his clothing company as a hawker and that's where I saw how dedicated my dad was to his business," Mr Singh said. "At the time, there were no vehicles, so people had to walk if they wanted to visit other places away from their homes and do business.

"My dad was one of those people who walked with baskets of clothes to sell house to house beginning from Wainikoro to Dreketi (Macuata) braving the hot sun and heavy rain. "And he did this for us, his children and how I admired him so much because my mum was not working and she stayed home to be with the children."

He clearly remembers the young days of helping his mum at home and in running their small grocery store that they had opened. The earnings from his dad's small business put the 11 siblings through the education system.

"I take my hat off to my dad and just respect him and love him so much for all the dedication and sacrifices he put up for his children to get a successful future like where I am today.

"Without the hard work of my dad, I don't think I would have reached this far because after all, he sent me to the New Zealand College of Aviation in Auckland, costing him $15,000 in fees to pay, which was so much money those days," Mr Singh said.

"My dad managed to take us as far as tertiary education, including the pilot school and that's from selling clothes, imagine that?

"That is why I just use that as an encouragement and guidance to help me through business and more importantly it teaches me to be committed no matter what the circumstance," Mr Singh said.

He attended the aviation college in 1980 after completing primary and secondary education at the Saint Mary's Primary School, All Saints Secondary School and Labasa College from 1968 to 1979. After completing his secondary education, Mr Singh went straight into flying school and graduated in 1982 with a private and commercial piloting license. "I worked for Air Fiji and Air Pacific, which included flying international routes.

"It was a good experience for me before leaving for the business arena.

"And I used to share with my dad about being a pilot and how it can make you nervous when there is bad weather but he always advised me to not give up anytime, even if it's a stormy weather because sooner or later the situation will calm down and I use this saying a lot in making decisions for my business," Mr Singh said. "He suggested that if I wanted to be a millionaire then I needed to leave my flying career and look at seriously doing business and he was not wrong," he said.
----
And a second article by Serafina, the Labasa journalist:
A millionaire who walks around town in shorts
SERAFINA QALO
Sunday, December 02, 2007

With a personal worth of $30-million, no one can tell that as Charan Jeath Singh goes on his daily walk through the streets of Labasa Town.

With a plain white Tee-shirt that he labels as a favourite, and a pair of shorts and slippers on his feet, any first timer to Labasa can never tell that the man who walks in town every morning and evening is worth more than a million dollars.

Born in Suva but raised in Labasa, his parents mum Raj Kaur and dad Gurbachan Singh came from India in 1935 from Gosal, in Punjab.

Mr Singh is the youngest and twin brother of a sister of 11 children, most of whom are business people. But although the youngest, Mr Singh has never depended on advice from his siblings as he believes determination and commitment towards a goal always sees one through.

This is how he started his business ventures in 1989 after being a domestic pilot of five years, flying for Air Pacific and Air Fiji.

The vision of becoming business leader took root amid the political turmoil of 1987.

It was a time when many Fiji-Indians were worried about their future here, selling their properties cheaply to migrate.

"There was such a big panic that everyone wanted to leave and go away from Fiji, even selling their properties at low price and moving out of the country," Mr Singh said.

"At the piece of land the Countdown Supermarket sits on used to have a Government building, including the Commissioner Northern's office and that same year, government advertised that it wanted to lease the land.

"I had a vision that despite the coup, things would get better, there will always be sunshine after the rain and so I got a business partner, the late Ratu Soso Katonivere, the father of the Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Katonivere."

Mr Singh said they initiated a joint venture they called the Charan Katonivere business' and developed the area.

"We borrowed from FDB and basically this is how my interest started in business and when things were finalised in 1989, I resigned from flying.

"But things were not easy in the beginning because when news broke out that I and the chief were doing a joint venture there were a lot of objections and jealousy from other business community," Mr Singh said.

He said they battled the obstacles and went ahead with the joint venture.

"We crossed the hurdle of the business community and there was another one which was a department belonging to the military that refused to move out of this building.

"So it took us a long time to get them out but we managed and we started operations from the building" Mr Singh said.

Business went well for the company which opened a supermarket.

But in 1995, Mr Singh's business partner, Ratu Soso, preferred to pull out of business as he had commitments to the vanua and preferred to spend more time in such area with the family.

"Old age was catching up with Ratu Soso and we had a good discussion where he told me that he preferred to have cash in his hand rather then having shares so we both agreed and all dues were paid to the chief and that's when I started venturing into the business world alone.

"Then I built a new building, changing it to a concrete one and started first with the supermarket, then the extension to house another three shops, then we built a milk bar in the supermarket and a restaurant upstairs," Mr Singh said.

The Oriental restaurant, is well known to many in Labasa and is considered a posh eatery in the town where many cocktail parties and functions have been held. Mr Singh said being a businessman was not difficult except that one needed to be committed and dedicated to the running of the business.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Charan singh talks about being fair, just and making it on his own, sorry, that is not true, he has snatched his sisters building which the father left for the daughters, he forced the mum to write a power of attorney to look after the building then without her knowledge transferred it on his name, there goes the daughters 1.5 million dollar asset, so all assets are of stolen property, the apartment in suva, that he and his wife got it transfeered for an old aunt, telling her she will be looked after, how can a person look after other people when he used to beat his own mother. go ask the family of the true story before publishing the story

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

The Fiji Times published the article so have you contacted them with your questions about the truth in the story?
w.

dolly said...

There is an old english saying "what goes around comes around".....please don't worry about who took what,because you do have to pay for your deeds right here and WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT.
LEAVE this work for GOD. What is meant to be the sisters they will get, only if it was meant to be. When you do a good deed it comes back in 10 folds so maybe Charan did do a good deed and we are not able to see the true picture. Regardless he is still a millioniare, I am proud of you.

Jeet said...

I am Charans older sister. I would like to say that i am very proud of my little brother. He has done well. He is a real business man. He has invested right and has worked hard like my father Late Mr. Gurbachan Singh, he is a carbon copy of him and very intelligent in making right decisions.

As far as the comment against him, it is bullshit, we all sisters know that he is fair and just person and will deliver our parents wishes to all sisters when the time is right.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

I will delete that last post. It could be called defamation.
w.

Anonymous said...

well let me say the comments made against Mr singh is correct as i can be a witness to it .Mrs Gurbachan Singh lived with me and told me the whole story ,how Mr singh forced her to sign on the papers and use the con man lawyer Raman Singh to verify the lot.I only wish there is justice in Gods home.As for Mr Gurbachan Singh he was a man with heart and respect and there won't be anyone like him but his grandson olderest son of Mr Daya Singh has all the goodness of Mr GB Singh and looks like his granddad .Only wish he would be given a chance to follow his grand dad.As for the rest of the family they all love their money either by hook or crook.

Anonymous said...

what about their BUSINESS HE claims was hard worked money is busllshit.
this business used to force workers to sign that they paid higher wages bet they used to actually pay half the rate so their goes the workers right. forget about overtime.
all those years they had slave labor
they owe people more then half the money of the unpaid wages
so mr Singh you have no choice
but to return this money to the people or pay it to government.

Anonymous said...

and what about the time when indira
gandhi was shot dead! how can people ever forget the same man celebrating with fire crackers and closing his business for the day and going to temple for a session. THAT IS NOT A NOBLE MAN.
LEST WE FORGET
AS THE GRAVES A DUG THEY GET DIRTIER AND MESSIER.
SO MR. SING GIVE TO POOR BEFORE YOU ALSO GET EATEN BY GLOBAL RECCESSON.

Anonymous said...

if people do justice
god will decide what fate will become of them.
there is also an old saying too
there is never anything that can defeat HONESTY in the world!

Anonymous said...

That man in his term as a mayor of labasa built swimming pool now he is using it for his own advantage.....National bank building saga you conclude....

Anonymous said...

Who told me this guy look very sick..

Anonymous said...

jeet kaur what about the cash in that bag and all the jewels that you took and shared with your bro and his doc wife and gave the other sisters loose change , could you please tell others or do i need to show the the pictures to others , What was in it ??? as the picture tells the story ?????which your darling mother took before passing away and posted to me .There was more cash and more jewels that was in that bag .Come clean you honest person or feel fear from god .

Anonymous said...

Ha.....ha.....I am loving this even more .
Power is fraudulent, beauty is fraudulent, and wealth is fraudulent, as is pride of ancestry. One may gather poison through deception and fraud, but without the Lord, nothing shall go along with him in the end.

Anonymous said...

can you please delete this comment...thx

Anonymous said...

He is in an evil man...I have heard a shocking news right now...will reveal soon...how can he think like that being father of two daughters! He should be torn in two parts bloody sick person!