TAIPING, Dec 10 — Arowana fish dealer John Wayne Kee did not think any of the 12 Arowanas he entered in an international competition here would win so he did not bother to name any of them.
And that is how this year’s grand champion of the first Bukit Merah International Arowana Exhibition and Competition got its name — Grand Champion — after it won.
Kee, 43, who is Taiwanese said he was shocked when the judges announced that his fish had won the grand prize as the other contenders were owned by more experienced breeders.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to win anything in the competition. I only bought this fish last year in Bukit Merah here for US$2,000 (RM8,162.20). In fact, I didn’t even have a name for the fish yet,” he told reporters.
“The current price of the fish is RM150,000, but I have no intention of selling it as I’m going to contest the fish again in another competition in Shanghai, China next May,” said Kee, who has been in the business for 25 years.
Kee walks away with a cash prize of RM5,000 together with a trophy and a certificate.
The competition, which was held for the first time, received about 120 entries from countries like Thailand, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and as well as Malaysia.
There were different categories of competition, namely the Crossback Arowana (Blue Base), Crossback Arowana (Golden Base), Super Red Arowana and Best Future Young Fish.
The event, organised by the Malaysia Arowana Friendship Club, managed to attract thousands of visitors.
Local participant William Hoe, 36, from Johor whose fish won the title for the Best Future Young Fish and Crossback Arowana (Golden Base) said that he didn’t expect to win any title as his participation in the event was merely for fun.
“I came here to exhibit my fish and at the same time I just tried my luck in the competition.
“But, I was surprised my fish managed to grab some prizes in the competition,” said Hoe, who also won Second Runner-up in the Red Arowana small fish category.
“Arowana fish requires proper care. The fish has to be fed on time and the water has to be cleaned every day,” said Hoe, who owns the Dynasty Aquatic Sdn Bhd.
After the competition, Hoe sold the Best Future Young Fish winner to a Korean for US$5,800 and the Crossback Arowana (Golden Base) winner to a Vietnamese for US$3,800.
Malaysia Arowana Friendship Club president Chin Hai Loong said that the objective of the competition is to promote the Arowana industry in Bukit Merah, especially the famous Blue Base and Golden Base Crossback Arowana.
“We hope through this event, more people would become aware of this Arowana fish and attract many buyers and investors,” he said.
Chin also said the event has successfully attracted international buyers and hobbyists from Singapore, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and India.
Northern Corridor Implementation Authority chief executive Datuk Redza Rafiq who officiated the prize giving ceremony said such events do not only promote the Arowana industry, but also improve the tourism industry here.
“With proper planning and strategy, Bukit Merah can be turned into a tourist destination where visitors can visit the large Arowana fish farms.
“It will also provide business and job opportunities for the locals here,” he said.