Native American tribe to honour Goh Tong for his help

Genting Highlands: The late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong’s legacy does not only live on in Genting, but halfway round the world in the Native American tribe of the Mashantucket Pequot.

Unknown to most Malaysians, in 1991 the late Goh Tong helped the tribe – that was struggling to grow cabbage – by investing in their idea of building a casino, the Foxwoods Resort & Casino, which has now become the largest casino in the world.

The chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, a sovereign nation within the US located in the state of Connecticut, Michael Thomas said the tribe owed a great deal to Lim for his vision and his confidence in them.

“When we wanted to start the casino, we approached 23 lending institutions who all turned us down because there was no guarantee we would pay back the loans,” he said.

As a result of a meeting with the business partner of Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Nicky Brown, Thomas and his tribe were introduced to the late Goh Tong who turned out to be the only one who would help them.

“He heard about our situation and actually came to our place to meet our people and see for himself what we were about and what our values were,” he said after meeting with Lim’s family for over two hours at the wake yesterday.

“Within 48 hours of meeting us, he agreed to give his support in the form of a USD 60mil (MYR 200mil) investment,” he said, adding that Americans widely credited the Pequot tribe for opening the doors for hundreds of other Native American tribes to open their own gaming centres.

Thomas said the success of the Pequot tribe, together with another Native American tribe, now created USD 2.7bil (MYR 9.02bil) in revenue for the Connecticut state government from “taxes” levied from their slot machines.

Thomas, who led a nine-man delegation from the US, arrived yesterday without some of his luggage as it had been delayed, apologised for his informal dress and said that he would be dressed in traditional attire when giving a eulogy at Goh Tong’s funeral today.

“A number of customs that are only extended to our own people have been and will be bestowed on Goh Tong to mark his passing,” he said.

Thomas said this included all buildings in the nation flying their flag at half-mast for a week, while a sacred stone called Wampum which is sourced from a clam called the Quohog would be given to the family.

“The stone is valuable because it is usually only given to our leaders,” he said.

Thomas said it was important for the world to know that it was the faith Goh Tong had in them that allowed them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

Pequot tribe vice-chairman Kenneth Reels said Goh Tong’s help allowed their nation to be self-sufficient while creating some 10,000 jobs there.

“As a nation, if you have to be dependent on somebody else then you are not exercising sovereignty to the fullest.

“He has enabled us to do that. We are here today because we feel it is appropriate to pay our respects to someone who gave respect to us.”

“He is part of our history and we have a family relationship that we will cherish forever. His family is part of ours as ours is part of theirs.”