Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Thousand Miles of Dreams

Reviews forA Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters"Welland wisely refrains from intruding on the narration, allowing her fascinating topic to speak for itself. Scholarly and 'serious' in its depth and breadth of research, Welland's book is also highly readable and full of rich detail....This is a book that enlightens as much as it delights and remains with you long after the reading."—Seattle Times"Welland is an anthropologist with a novelist's eye for the art of both making lives and making books. She weaves biography, memoir, genealogy, social history, literary criticism, and theoretical reflection coherently, accessibly, and, indeed, beautifully."—Booklist (starred review)"Filled with fascinating glimpses of 20th-century Chinese women's intellectual history and insights into the Chinese-American and Anglo-Chinese experience."—Publishers Weekly"With magnificently fluid erudition and a compassionately wry eye, Sasha Su-Ling Welland forges the story of two remarkable women whose lives expand our knowledge of twentieth-century feminism in China, the U.S., and Britain. Weaving her own autobiographical accounts into the mix, Welland deftly depicts how the absurdities of racial and sexual constructs persist over time and place, while arguing for the resolute power of following one's heart."—Anna Maria Hong, editor of Growing Up Asian American: An Anthology"This is a wonderfully written account of two Chinese modern girls whose lives traversed the entire twentieth century from China to England and the United States. Their artistic and professional accomplishments through decades of war and exile may be legendary, but their personal lives were also filled with many human frailties. Intermixed with Welland's reminiscences of growing up in the United States as an Eurasian whose mother was partly raised by an African American housekeeper, the tales of these women weave an intricate tapestry of literary pursuit, transnational migration, an interracial affair, and middle-class domesticity. The author wields the pen of a historian, an ethnographer, and a poet, but ultimately it is the writer as a granddaughter and a grandniece that gives the story its most intimate human touch."—Shu-mei Shih, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917 to 1937"Sasha Su-Ling Welland is Heartland-born, with deep China roots. In A Thousand Miles of Dreams, she reaches back through family documents and her own scholarly reading of the historical record to create a portrait of a family's personal journey that is moving, passionate, and fully accessible."—Clark Blaise , author of I Had a Father, Time Lord, and others, and former director of the International Writers Program, University of Iowa"Sasha Welland's deft and gripping biography of her grandmother and great-aunt is elegiac but never sentimental. It is compelling, lucid, historically nuanced, and an absorbing read."—Gail Hershatter, University of California, Santa Cruz

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Underbelly of the dragon

Saturday November 25, 2006By Phil Taylor
They once were brothers, united not by blood but by the self-serving bonds that knit criminal networks. They were opportunistic, doing business in the way of mafiosi everywhere. Both were enforcers, adept in using fear and violence.
As New Zealand's Chinese population grew, some bad came with the good. Wan Yee Chow and Tam Yam Ah arrived in New Zealand during the 1980s and settled in the Otaki area, where they had family connections involved in market gardening. They represent the underbelly of the dragon.
Tam grew up in Guangzhou, China, and arrived in New Zealand as a teenager. In 1991, when he was 22, he was in court for the first time charged with two others of "demanding with menaces" - $500 from a market gardening family. Within four years of his arrival in 1988, Chow was in prison on a five-year lag.
Because they prey on their own community, their lives of crime and casual violence exist beyond the public's perception unless some dramatic act pushes it into the headlines.
Such an act exploded on July 7 last year, about 4am, in the rear carpark of a karaoke bar on the upper end of Auckland's Symonds St. Whether it was rough justice, retribution or just a job done for money, it was summary.
Chow, peering through the eyelets of a black balaclava that encased his wild and wispy hair, was not there for a discussion with his erstwhile colleague.
He said nothing when Tam asked - in Cantonese - his last question, "Who are you?" A single .45 calibre bullet ripped through Tam's tan fleece jacket [the one Tam is pictured wearing], his red sport shirt and into his chest. Chow was probably back in his accomplice's car in nearby St Benedicts St by the time Tam died. The murder and the ensuing trial lifted the veil on organised crime in the Chinese communities of Auckland and Wellington.
The writers of The Sopranos know their subject. The show follows a New Jersey Mafia family but organised crime differs little between place and ethnicity. "Human nature doesn't vary between cultures, does it?" notes Mark Benefield, a sage detective on the police investigation team.
Anything goes, says the detective senior sergeant, as long as there's money at the end of it, "fraud, illegal gambling, drug dealing, standovers."
The Top Karaoke Bar - part-owned by Tam and the scene of his murder - was previously a brothel. In the court case, paua smuggling loomed large.
Both Tam, who was 37, and Chow, 54, whom a jury found guilty a week ago of murder, were "enforcers". Tam was a member of the New Zealand offshoot of the Hong Kong triad 14 K. Police believe Chow had connections to more than one criminal network.
In her evidence, Tam's girlfriend described the pair as "brothers". Tam, despite being younger, had seniority by dint of his standing. When Tam opened his restaurant, Flower City, on Anzac Ave near the stone court building where details of his life and death were heard, Chow flew from Wellington and worked washing dishes. That was May last year. Two months later Tam was dead.
The name 14 K stands for 14 Kowloon, a district in Hong Kong. Triad is the European name given to structured organised crime gangs in China and Hong Kong which rank members and have a godfather-type character at the top, operating in a similar way to the Mafia.
The Asian Crime Unit in Auckland does not call them triads because of their loose structure here and because the original triads began several hundred years ago as underground political groups. Now, they deal in drugs, prostitution, gambling, kidnapping, protection rackets - anything that makes money.
Tam had money. After his release from his latest stint in jail - three years for a meat-cleaver attack on patrons at a karaoke bar where he was the bouncer - he was building an empire of his own - the restaurant, a share in the Top Karaoke Bar, a $600,000 house.
There were also the accoutrements: the silver BMW, the trophy girlfriend who witnessed his murder from the passenger seat of the BMW.
Dressed in a pink jacket with fluffy white trim and tight jeans, she was doll-like, perched on the edge of the seat in the witness box, as the lawyers' questions and her answers were translated, to and fro, English and Cantonese.
Tam had paid $30,000 of the $120,000 house deposit in cash, had handed over a wad of notes amounting to $20,000 as part-payment for the restaurant. He'd paid $300,000 for the karaoke bar and she said she saw large amounts of cash at their flat above the karaoke bar. Yes, Tam was also a money lender, she said.
A Wellington businessman told police he had "loaned" Tam $20,000 interest free. He was happy to do so. The court suppressed the identity of 21 people who gave evidence at the murder trial. "This was a case where people zipped their lips," said Benefield.
George Koria, a detective sergeant who heads the Asian Crime Unit in Auckland, believes the pecking order changed while Tam was last in jail. "His group were old school and had somewhat been overtaken by new faces who hadn't had dealings with Tam. I just don't think he had the respect with some of these new up-and-comers."
It is perhaps surprising Tam was shot, rather than killed with a meat cleaver, the weapon he favoured and which is popular among Chinese gangs. Overseas, it is useful for chopping off fingers, so helpful in keeping up the level of intimidation necessary in extortion.
Tam used it in the karaoke bar incident, where one of his victims required 27 stitches to close a wound down the left of his face.
"He was seen by the concierge of the City Life apartments running down Durham Lane holding a chopper above his head, chasing this guy sort of Hong Kong-style like some sort of bad movie," lawyer Graeme Newell, who defended Tam, last year told the Herald. "He'd used it on a couple of guys inside ... they were singing Taiwanese when he wanted people to be singing Mandarin."
He used it, too, on his former wife, Jai Fong Zhou, whom he married in 1990. Tam carried telling scars from the time she used the meat cleaver on him, provoked by repeated beatings and rapes. She landed nine or 10 blows, then took an overdose of the sleeping pills she'd used to stupefy Tam.
She was acquitted of a charge of attempted murder in a case that was a sensation in the early 1990s as it was the first time the defence of battered women's syndrome had succeeded in a New Zealand court. Their marriage produced a child, now aged 15.
It is unclear from the news report whether Tam used a meat cleaver in a 1997 incident in Wellington that gained him a three-year jail sentence after two people were cut with "a sharp object" in a restaurant dispute. Tam returned the next night, smashed the restaurant window then drove his car into a person who came out of the restaurant to investigate. The judge who sentenced him on charges of injuring with intent and dangerous driving causing injury, noted Tam was already serving a prison sentence for attacking a security guard.
Tam gained residency in 1989 but his application for citizenship was declined - presumably because of his offending - in 1995. Chow, however, somehow gained a New Zealand passport in his own name in 2003, despite an extensive criminal record.
In the dock this month in his daily uniform of white sandshoes, grey trackpants, and green T-shirt, his bedraggled hair flowing from a knot on top of his head, his thinness accentuated by his height (1.81m), he looked as if he could hardly blow out a candle. But his record shows he was capable of lighting one.
Convictions include committing a dangerous act with fire with intent to injure, assault with intent, wounding with intent, and demanding with menaces. Chow's longest prison sentence was five years and six months.
His feral appearance is deceiving. Chow doesn't smoke or drink alcohol, is particular about his diet, and is fit. He uses his body weight to provide resistance for exercises such as handstands and single-leg squats.
Most knew him by the Chinese name "Golo", which translates as "tall man". Police said many people they interviewed added the Cantonese word for crazy.
When police arrested him for the murder of Tam, Chow had been jailed again, this time for paua smuggling and the paua black market was a backdrop to the murder trial.
A Pakeha man, who provided key evidence against Chow in exchange for immunity against prosecution, was involved with Chow in the illicit trade of paua, or "chocolate" as the witness called it.
This man's cellphone linked the pair to the murder, betrayed their movements between Tam's restaurant and karaoke bar as they stalked him, and placed them in the vicinity when Tam was shot.
The witness said he and Chow made regular trips to Auckland supplying black market paua to Chinese restaurants. His harassment of a debtor, a Chinese man named Mark, brought him into contact with Tam.
"A Black Power member came to my house and told me if I didn't leave Mark alone he'd be back to see me," the witness testified. "He told me Mark had paid Tam $10,000 to 'trouble me, cause me trouble'."
The witness claimed to have sorted this out with Tam and denied knowing of a plan to murder him, although he acknowledged having the murder weapon before the hit, wiping it down and helping to dispose of it.
Crucially, Tam's girlfriend who was the only witness to the murder, said the killer was tall and reminded her of "Golo", whereas Chow's associate is pudgy and of medium height.
The police and Crown acknowledge that relying on testimony of a person such as Chow's associate is unpalatable but say without his evidence it was unlikely they would have had a case.
Black market gold
The legal national paua catch is 1057 tonnes but the Ministry of Fisheries estimates another 965 tonnes is traded on the black market, shipped overseas or sold domestically.
Dave Turner, the ministry's investigation services manager, describes the illegal trade as a "significant, serious problem". Domestic demand has increased with the proportion of the east and southeast Asian population.
"People talk about the trade in drugs, methamphetamine being really bad. Well, so is paua simply because the criminal gangs dealing in paua are also dealing in drugs.
"Paua is merely another commodity to make a profit on. It may be paua this week that they can make $20,000 or $30,000 on, and it might be methamphetamine the next week. All they are worried about is making dollars."
Turner is hopeful that the $11.6 million - including $2.9 million in the coming year for a "special tactics team" for covert operations - announced in September by the Government will go a long way to identifying the extent of the trade and combating it. "But it's going to take time and it's going to require patience," he says.
For all the talk of connections to the illicit paua trade in the Tam case, whether and how it was connected to his murder will probably never be known. "There is no evidence of motive, per se," says police investigator Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Benefield.
"There was a falling out between Chow and Tam at some stage. It could be personal. If it was, we don't know because Chow won't tell. It could be business. If it was, we don't know because people who use hitmen don't talk."


More by Phil Taylor

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Shanghai Trade

NZ set as 1st advanced nation with China FTA
Chen Liying
NEW Zealand is likely to be the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China, hopefully before April 2008, visiting New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff has said in Shanghai. "We look forward to working through the areas of outstanding differences and delivering an agreement that fulfills the leaders' mandate within the timeframe set in April this year," said Goff. He said the pact is set to be concluded between April 2007 and April 2008, making the country the first developed nation to sign an FTA with China. Goff was leading the largest ever New Zealand trade delegation in Shanghai from Monday until yesterday. The 120-member trade mission includes 75 Kiwi companies covering a range of areas from dairy to education. After nine rounds of FTA talks, the latest held last month in Wellington, solid progress is being made on the architecture of the agreement, said the trade minister. Talks on the FTA started in November 2004. "Chapter texts are beginning to take shape in most areas. We are beginning to traverse the details of market access for goods and services and commitments in the area of investment," Goff said. The next round of talks is planned for January next year, he added. "Removal of a range of barriers in both countries would lead to an expansion in the trade of goods and services and increased investment flows," Goff said. "The opportunities after a high-quality FTA are exciting." China is the fourth biggest trading partner of New Zealand and its fourth largest export market. Trade between the two countries totaled NZ$5.6 billion (US$3.9 billion) last year, up 9 percent over a year ago. China had invested NZ$1.4 billion in New Zealand by 2005. During Goff's visit, Shanghai and Dunedin, the Kiwi sister city, signed a deal to build a Chinese traditional garden in Dunedin as a major tourist site. New Zealand-based National Dairy Association also opened a plant in Shanghai which makes steel fabrication for the dairy and drug industries in China, he said.

Chinese Garden in Dunedin

City group to build garden in Dunedin
Wang Jie
A NEW Zealand mayor signed a deal yesterday with a Shanghai construction group to build a replica of a famous Suzhou garden in his city in tribute to its Chinese immigrants. "We will build an authentic classic Chinese garden in our city to commemorate the contributions Chinese people have made to New Zealand," said Peter Chin, mayor of Dunedin and chairman of the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust, at a ceremony in Yuyuan Garden. The Shanghai Construction and Decoration Group will build a copy of the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou in neighboring Jiangsu Province at a cost of about 35 million yuan (US$4.37 million), officials said. The garden will cover about 3,000 square meters in the center of Dunedin, which is twinned with Shanghai. "It is near the railway station," said Allison Rudd, deputy chief reporter at the Otago Daily Times. "Some Chinese trees and flowers will also be planted in the garden." The Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Construction and Decoration Group co-designed the garden. The group also provided free construction service. "We feel glad that the signing ceremony is being held in Yuyuan Garden," Chin said. "We hope to borrow the essence of the Chinese garden in Dunedin." Chin is on a visit to Shanghai this week as part of celebrations for the first direct flight between Shanghai and Aukland. According to the plan, the garden will be completed in 2008. Dunedin is the forth biggest city in New Zealand on the Otago Peninsula.

Love story of 2006 - Chinese man cuts 6,000 stairs for wife

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The tale of a 70-year-old Chinese man who hand-carved more than 6,000 stairs up a mountain for his 80-year-old wife has won the award for China's greatest love story of 2006.
Now the local government is attempting to supply electricity to the cave, which has been the couple's home for the last 50 years.
The story began half a century ago when 20-year-old Liu Guojiang fell in love with a widowed mother, Xu Chaoqing.
In a twist worthy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, friends and relatives criticized the relationship because of the age difference and the fact that Xu already had children.
Desperate to escape market gossip and the scorn of their communities, the pair eloped to live in a cave in Jiangjin county in southwest China's Chongqing municipality.
Their story came atop a list of China's top 10 love stories organised by the Chinese Women Weekly, which collected tales from around the country since July.
At the beginning, life was harsh and Xu felt that she had tied Liu down and repeatedly asked him: 'Are you regretful?'
Liu always replied: 'As long as we are industrious, life will improve.'
Liu and his wife were not present at the award ceremony due to their age but their son Liu Mingsheng came with a kerosene lamp that his father had made from an ink bottle.
'My parents have lived in seclusion for more than 50 years because of their love for each other. They had no electricity and my father made kerosene lamps to lighten our lives,' he said.
'My mother seldom goes down the mountain but my father cut the 6,000-plus stairs for her convenience,' Liu said. 'It's a ladder of love.'
Dai Rong, an official of Jiangjin county, said: 'We're glad to see the story of two senior citizens won and the local government will try to connect them to the electricity supply as soon as possible.'
- By Xinhua

Peter Chin Mayor of Dunedin

Peter Chin (mayor)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter (Wing Ho) Chin born 1941 is the current Mayor of Dunedin. He was elected in 2004, replacing the retiring Sukhi Turner. Mr Chin's family owned a take-away establishment in Stuart St. Chin was a student in the 1950s at Otago Boys' High School then the University of Otago. He has worked in Dunedin as a lawyer since 1968. Before becoming mayor, he served three terms on the Dunedin City Council (elected 1995) representing the Hills Ward.
He will give up his law practice in order to concentrate on his mayoral role. Chin also serves as the head of the Gambling Commission, the government-appointed panel that regulates casinos. Married, with four children, he lives in Roslyn and is a prominent operatic singer.

Asian Artists

Asian artists finding their voice
Saturday July 29, 2006By Lynn Chen
Comic writer Ant Sang is working to cook up a new Chinese dish for New Zealand - a kung-fu saga set in ancient China.
The Chinese New Zealander and designer of characters and backgrounds for hit television show Bro'Town is best known for his serialised comic The Dharma Punks, and has been adding Chinese faces in his works.
"I made the comic character the way I look," said Sang, 35.
He is part of a new wave of New Zealand Chinese artists.
New Zealand's best known literary magazine, Landfall, now has a New Zealand Chinese editor, and art galleries such as the Adam in Wellington and Te Tuhi in Pakuranga are exhibiting a wave of young Chinese talent.
Asian creative voices will feature in a forthcoming conference on the evolving identities of so-called "bananas" - New Zealand born-Chinese, yellow on the outside and white on the inside.
The "Going Bananas" conference in August will highlight the Kiwi Chinese creative voices, including film-makers, architects, visual designers and musicians, says the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association.
"Asia's young and creative people are changing the way Auckland looks," said Alistair Kwun, spokesman for the event. "We address them and see how different communities can work together for the well-being of New Zealand."
Tze Ming Mok, novel writer and the first Chinese editor of Landfall, said: "In terms of cultural creative voices of Chinese and Asians in New Zealand - and particularly Auckland - I do believe we are present in greater numbers in the sector than ever before.
"What is interesting about these Asians entering the creative industries, is that this is an avenue for an expression of a contemporary face of Asia and international urban influences that most New Zealanders have previously not associated with Asian artists or Asian people in New Zealand."
Sang said that although Chinese or Asian art was still developing it would become more noticeable and enter the Kiwi mainstream.
This year's event is expected to attract more non-Chinese to the audience, who are developing increasing interest in the Chinese communities. Last year, nearly 250 people attended the Banana conference.
* Going Bananas: August 12 at AUT, Auckland.


Going Bananas http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=147&objectid=10393508

Job Door Closed

Wei Yuen Loo: Even NZ-born Chinese find job doors closed
Tuesday October 3, 2006
As a New Zealand-born Chinese who worked as a civil engineer in Hong Kong for many years and is now back home, I can confirm from personal experience that there is indeed discrimination by NZ employers against those with non Anglo-Saxon names - especially Asian names - and those who do not happen to have "Kiwi" experience.
If you happen to fall into both categories your chances of finding meaningful employment in your chosen profession start to get pretty slim.
I have Kiwi-born friends of Chinese descent who refuse to waste their time trying to further their careers in this country, mainly because they know of the difficulties they face in securing a position commensurate with their qualifications and talents.
Many consider Australians to have a far more fair and open attitude, and now some of these people have good positions in Australian companies, positions that they would never have been able to achieve in NZ unless they worked in the public sector.
Herald guest columnist Mark Berghan accuses immigrant businesses of refusing to hire Pakeha or Maori. This is a rather spurious argument. Many of these businesses are entirely family-run affairs and some are niche market businesses set up to meet the needs of foreign-language clientele and recent immigrants.
Thus you have Mandarin-speaking travel agencies, Cantonese restaurants and Hindi video shops. There would be very few native born Kiwis of any ethnic extraction who would be suitable for employment in such places.
As for Mr Berghan's time in Japan, all I can say is that as a Caucasian he would certainly have an easier time finding a job there than I would - again from personal experience. And I'm certain that he did not have to provide evidence of "Japanese experience" prior to the interview stage.
He should know that in Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai and Brunei you will see many New Zealand, Australian, English and American professionals doing very well, in charge of local staff or in high management. Most have zero command, the rest only a rudimentary command, of the local language.
Of course this is because English is virtually an international language, definitely the language of business, but my point is that so-called 'cultural context' is not nearly as important as Mr Berghan would have you believe.
The technical professions such as engineering, IT, and accounting should know no borders. That is why you find New Zealand geologists working in Hong Kong and German foundation engineers in Singapore. Indian hospitality workers find their skills highly valued in Dubai. And American companies go to India to poach Indian IT and business graduates - the same type of people who here in New Zealand would have to resort to driving taxis to make ends meet.
So just why is NZ so different? Is it really prejudice - or does this country really have a unique set of cultural values and norms that immigrants, and even native born non-whites such as myself, will never be able to understand and appreciate - thus rendering us useless for anything apart from driving taxis and cooking fish and chips?
* Wei Yuen Loo is a lecturer at Unitec in Auckland


Uni degree forger jailed for 4 years

Uni degree forger jailed for four years
2.00pm Friday November 10, 2006
An Auckland company director who forged university degrees so well they were "indistinguishable" from the real thing has been jailed for four years.
Rebecca Li, 35, appeared in Auckland District Court today for sentencing after a jury found her guilty last month of 49 charges of forgery.
The court heard the operation she ran for four years was "sophisticated and professional."
Some of the forged degree documents sold for $2000 each.
Li was also ordered to serve a minimum of two years in prison before she became eligible for parole, when the judge said if she was to serve the traditional one third of her sentence, it would not be enough to punish, deter and denounce her offending.

Conviction caps major play in dud NZ degrees

Saturday October 14, 2006By David Eames
The conviction this week of Auckland forger and fraudster Rebecca Li has shut down a major player in the blackmarket for fake degrees and documents but police can only guess the extent of her offending.
The 35-year-old owner of Grey Lynn-based Reddix Productions spent seven years forging university degree certificates, stamps and official seals.
Hong Kong-born Li also produced fake tax invoices, fake driver licences and fake immigrant stamps, then sold them for up to $5000 apiece.
Former Asian Crime Squad detective Jimmy Jin yesterday told the Weekend Herald it was likely that numerous fake qualifications were still in circulation, but how many was anyone's guess.
The degree certificates - from numerous institutions - were likely destined overseas but scores of International English Language Testing System certificates could be used to help foreign students hoping to work or study in New Zealand.
And Li was good at it.
"I think Rebecca Li is the major manufacturer of those [types of] documents," Mr Jin said. "To be able to make those documents you need quite an in-depth knowledge of computers and programmes."
Li has a computer science degree from Auckland University, a real one.
Mr Jin said Li's services were advertised by word of mouth or through discreet placements in The Mandarin Times, but her work did not come cheaply.
She would charge about $1500 for a university degree, sold through a middleman who was free to add his own mark-up.
A fake driver's licence was worth around $300, while one man is understood to have paid $5000 for a phoney IELTS certificate.
The scale of Li's business has left Auckland University shaken.
Registrar Tim Greville said Li's offending was the first example of organised, professional forgery here.
The mass production of fraudulent degrees and other university certificates was "a major corrosion" of university credibility and he urged would-be employers to verify qualifications by checking student records.
Massey University deputy vice-chancellor Nigel Long reiterated Mr Greville's comments.


More by David Eames

Triad's killing 'TV-style', court told

UPDATED 1.45pm Wednesday November 8, 2006By David Eames
A reputed triad gang enforcer was killed in a TV-style murder, the High Court in Auckland heard today.
Wan Yee Chow, 54, faces a charge of murder following the July 2005 killing of Tam Yam Ah, 37, outside the Top Karaoke bar on Symonds Street in central Auckland.
Wan is alleged to have travelled from Wellington on July 6 last year then, after visiting a number of places frequented by Tam, waited for him outside the karaoke bar.
Tam lived above the business. Wan is accused of gunning down the victim as he climbed from his silver BMW car in the early hours of July 7.
Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery described the killing as "a textbook television-type murder", in his opening address to the jury.
"It was a simple cold-blooded act of killing."
Tam - already out of the car - is understood to have seen Wan approaching him, and hurriedly locked his car to protect a woman who was still inside.
"As he got out of the car he obviously saw the man who was there to kill him," Mr Raftery told the court.
"Within seconds he was shot, within minutes he died."
The woman managed to escape after smashing her way out of the BMW window, and is due to give evidence at trial,
However, her description of Tam's killer would likely be sketchy, Mr Raftery said.
"All that she can tell you?is something about his physical appearance, because his face was covered in a balaclava."
Mr Raftery's lengthy opening address included a number of details regarding issues peripheral to the killing, but defence counsel Peter Kaye urged jurors not to be distracted by other issues.
In his opening remarks, Mr Kaye said the "crucial issue" in the trial was whether Chow murdered Mr Tam.
"Make no mistake about this... It's just about the be all and end all of this case.
"It's that important."
About 40 witnesses will be heard from during the trial, which is presided over by Justice Patricia Courtney.
It is set down for about two weeks.


Murder-accused 'was victim's mate'

Thursday November 9, 2006By David Eames
A man said to have carried out a contract killing for an Asian gang considered his victim as a "brother", at one time working for him in his Auckland restaurant, a court was told yesterday.
Wan Yee Chow is accused of shooting Tam Yam Ah as he climbed from his BMW car outside the Top Karaoke Bar in Symonds Street, central Auckland, in the early hours of July 7 last year.
Mr Tam, 37, was a part-owner of the bar. He also owned the Flower City Restaurant in Anzac Ave, ran a loansharking business, and was a reputed enforcer for the 14-k Triad gang.
The Crown says Chow, who at the time was based in Wellington, made the trip to Auckland with an accomplice to carry out the killing, but prosecutor Kieran Raftery was yesterday unsure of a motive for the killing. A paua deal gone bad was one possible explanation, retribution for money unpaid was another, he told the High Court at Auckland.
Mr Tam's murder could also have been a contract killing, he said.
"It was a simple, cold-blooded act of killing."
Chow's alleged accomplice - whose identity is suppressed - will give evidence against him later in the trial, and has been granted immunity from prosecution.
A woman who saw the killing from the passenger seat of Mr Tam's car yesterday gave her recollection of the shooting.
Mr Tam had locked her in the car after seeing his assailant approaching, the court was told, and she had to smash the passenger window to escape. Speaking through an interpreter, she said: "I felt very strange. I thought it was a robbery, and then suddenly a gun fired."
She broke out of the car to find Mr Tam lying on the ground, his killer gone. "I found he had breathing difficulties. Then I asked him what had happened. He didn't give me any answer."
Mr Tam had been shot once in the chest, and was dead before the ambulance arrived.
She said Chow had arrived in New Zealand about two weeks before the opening of the Flower City Restaurant, in May last year, and had been met at the airport by Mr Tam.
The woman - whose name is suppressed - said the pair greeted one another in a "friendly way, like a brother".
However, she said the pair appeared to have a falling out about a month before the killing, after Chow was hit in the face during an argument involving Mr Tam and an unidentified Maori man.
On the night of the shooting, the woman stared into the balaclava-clad face of Mr Tam's attacker, and yesterday told the court the man's build reminded her of Chow, who denies murder.
But under cross examination by defence counsel Peter Kaye, the woman hinted at possible gang tensions between the Triad-affiliated Mr Tam and another man connected with Taiwanese organised crime.
She agreed with an assertion by Mr Kaye that Mr Tam had been accused of destroying the Taiwanese gang's business, and creating problems between the Taiwanese and the Hong Kong-based 14-k. She also outlined some of Mr Tam's business dealings, which included a cash payment of $110,000 as part payment for the Top Karaoke Bar, and $30,000 cash paid as part of a deposit on a Mt Albert property.
The woman was to continue giving evidence today. The trial, before Justice Patricia Courtney, is set to last two weeks.


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top 100 Chinese-Canadians in British Columbia

Head Tax payment - Canada


Arms raised in triumph! Head Tax redress campaigners Victor Wong, Gim Wong, Sid Tan stand behind the second and first head tax ex-gratia payments to Thomas Soon and Charlie Quan - photo Todd Wong
Ninety-nine year old Charlie Quan recieved the very first ex-gratia cheque for Chinese head tax redress, presented by Bev Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women. Oda and David Emerson, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacifc Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, were in town to present the cheques to Quan, Thomas Soon (aged 95) and Ah Foon Chin (aged 96) who could not attend and was represented by his daughter-in-law.
In 1923, Quan had to pay $500 to enter Canada, estimated to be the cost of a house or two years wages back then. Only ethnic Chinese were charged the head tax. It was a concerted effort to keep Canada white, and discourage Chinese from coming to Canada. Beginning in 1885, the Canadian government imposed a $50 fee on Chinese immigrants, which was raised to $100 in 1900 and to $500 in 1903. But by 1923, Chinese were still coming, so the Canadian government passed the "Chinese Exclusion Act" which effectively banned all Chinese immigration, and was not rescinded untl 1947, after WW2,
During the head tax redress campaign, Charlie Quan repeatedly stated that he wanted his money back. Quan was interviewed for the NFB documentary " In the Shadow of Gold Mountain," written and directed by head tax descendant Karen Cho. Earlier in 2006, Quan stated that he thought a head tax redress settlement would be worth $35,000. After Quan received his cheque and posed for pictures with Minister Bev Oda, he sat down beside his friend Gim Wong, also a veteran of Chinese head tax who completed a "Ride for Redress" on his motorcycle across Canada to Ottawa in 2005 to draw attention to the head tax/exclusion act redress campaign. Wong was also featured in the movie "In the Shadow of Gold Mountain." Quan and Gim immediately looked at the cheque and began to count to check the number of "zeroes"on it. After so many years of seemingly hopeless campagining, they still found it hard to believe that redress payments were actually happening. Payments for surviving spouses will begin in November, 2006.

Thursday, November 02, 2006