Tuna tycoon runs for lands of birth, adoption

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 May, 2008, 12:00am

Among the world's 22,008 torch-bearers, tuna tycoon Chen Hanshi knows the meaning of double happiness. The 73-year-old Thailand resident, who was born in Shantou and owns the world's second-largest manufacturer of canned tuna, carried the torch for another 200 metres in his city of birth yesterday, having also run in the relay's Bangkok leg on April 19.

Mr Chen also secured the distinction of being the oldest torch-bearer in the flame's four-day tour of Guangdong.

'I'm really proud to serve as a bearer in my hometown and in Thailand, a country where I have lived for 45 years,' he said. He travelled from Thailand with 11 family members to take part in the event. 'My wife, younger brother, three sons, daughters-in-law and grandsons arrived Shantou on Wednesday.'

Mr Chen said he had walked 5km and jogged 300 metres a day for the past two months to prepare for the 200-metre stretch. But not all went according to plan. As the third carrier of the day, he took off as soon as he saw the second torch-bearer, neglecting to light his torch. He later returned to the start after a reminder from attendants.

But he held his head high. 'Being a torch-bearer is a lifetime glory given by the Shantou people. I have also been invited by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council to the Beijing 2008 opening ceremony in August.'

Mr Chen has sponsored more than 2,520 poor undergraduates from Guangdong, hundreds of whom cheered him on. 'University education will enable those children to turn over a new leaf. I would like to assist them, as I had suffered the miseries of illiteracy.'