Kenneth Low

Kenneth Low

Kenneth Mang-Kwong Low is a Fijian businessman and political leader of Chinese descent. He unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary election of 1999 as a candidate for the General Voters Party (GVP) for the Western Central (General Electors) Communal Constituency. He also lost the Fiji national elections in 2001 for the Suva City (General Electors) Communal Constituency, where he was the candidate of the United Fiji Party (SDL), but was appointed to the Senate as one of nine nominees of the Fijian Prime Minister, and became Vice-President of the Senate on 28 February 2005, the first Chinese-Fijian to do so, following the appointment of the previous Vice-President, Dr Ahmed Ali to a Government Cabinet position.

According to Low, he was born in Chongqing, China at the end of World War II and came to Fiji at the age of 10. He is a third generation Fiji-Chinese with his grandfather Low Fong arriving in Fiji in 1908. Low's father Low Kum-Tim, came with his family to Fiji from Hong Kong in 1955 as a school teacher in the Lautoka Chinese School. In Hong Kong, Low Kum-Tim and his two partners, Chiang Yu-Loong and Ma Kok-Yu operated the "Green Sea Farm" for 5 years after leaving mainland China. The farm had received government awards for being the best and most progressive chicken farm, and Low Kum-Tim had published 3 books on "Diseases of Chicken and the cure" during this time from experience in raising chicken commercially.

Low Kum-Tim was an artist in traditional chinese painting of the famous Chinese grand master Qi BaiShi school, and had held many an exhibition in the Fiji Arts Club in the 1960's together with his old friend Sec-Poy Fong, managing director of On Wah Chang, Suva. In June 1966, Low's parents and brothers migrated to the United States of America and lived in New York city. Low Kum-Tim continued his passion in painting in NYC and had held several exhibitions in NY and Philadelphia. He passed away in 1993 after battling Parkinson's disease for almost 20 years.

In 1966, Low left Fiji to study architecture at the university of New South Wales. After graduation in 1970, he remained in Sydney Australia and commenced private practice in architecture from 1974. He was also a registerd Gold Licensed Builder in N.S.W. from 1978. Low taught Architecture and Construction at the Sydney College of Technical and Further Education from 1976-1978. Whilst teaching, he also completed his Diploma in Education in 1978.

Low returned to Fiji in 1983 and set up his private practice in architecture and construction until the 1987 coup. He then returned to Sydney and undertook construction contracts.

But in 1991, Low again returned to Fiji, to practise architecture and also as a property developer and investor.

Low, who is the founder (1994) and President of the All Chinese Business Association of Fiji, was instrumental to promote trade directly between Fiji and China.

During his time as Senator, Low has joined much of the Fiji-born Chinese community in calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration (mainly from mainland China)which he says is detrimental to the local-born Chinese and the Chinese reputation as a whole. He alleged in the Senate on 8 November 2005 that corrupt immigration officials in Fiji were granting Fijian citizenship and visas to illegal Chinese immigrants, for financial and sexual favours, and called for a full inquiry into what was going on.

Low retired from the Senate in June 2006and did not participate in the 2006 national elections. Low is now actively promoting and fostering better relationships between Fiji and China.

Today, Low remains the Chairman of Board of Directors, and is the current Manager of the Lautoka Chinese School. In 2003-2004, Low increased the number of classrooms and upgraded the school hall. Low is fully committed to education which he says is the only way forward for the young people of today. Low aims to entice students from China to study at this School, because he believes it is easier for the Chinese to learn English in Fiji and Fiji provides a very natural, simple and healthy environment for young people of all races. And the weather is always sunny in the western city, Lautoka.

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