Chin defeated incumbent Sandra Pierantozzi in vice-presidential elections held on 2 November 2004, winning 71.1% of the vote.
Elias Camsek Chin was born in Peleliu, Palau, on October 11, 1949. His father, Taktai Chin was the son of a Chinese miner at Angaur and a Palauan mother, and became Palau's first doctor. His mother, Takeko Chin (née Kuratomi) was of Japanese heritage. As a boy, his fondness for ten-gallon hats and cowboy boots earned him the nickname "Cowboy." Passionate about baseball, but always the tiniest kid when picking teams for neighborhood games, Cowboy was, sadly, always picked last.
As a youth, Camsek attended Farrington High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. While attending University of Hawaii, Camsek met Miriam Rudimch. Camsek learned that Miriam was a tennis player and, in an attempt to impress Ms. Rudimch, decided to take on the sport (even though he initially found the sport to be boring and preferred to spend his days surfing Hawaii 's famous breaks). This time, however, Cowboy was picked first: Miriam Rudimch and Camsek Chin married on May 21, 1977.
Elias Camsek Chin attended the Electronic Institute of Hawaii, graduating with an AA degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he also completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps Curriculum and Education course of Study. In 1975 Second Lieutenant Chin was commissioned in the Armor Corps of the U.S. Army. He later branch transferred to Aviation Corps and spent over 20 years as a U.S. Army combat aviator.
Lieutenant Colonel Chin is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Course, United States Army Flight School, Air Ground Operations School, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College with emphasis on International Relations. He is also a graduate of U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Ranger School, U.S. Army Motor Officer School, and the U.S. Army Computer School.
His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merits, the Meritorious Service Medal with 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Army Master Aviator Badge, and the Ranger Tab.
Upon Lieutenant Colonel Chin's retirement from the U.S. Army in 1997, President Kuniwo Nakamura nominated him to the position of Minister of Justice. The Fifth Olbiil Era Kelulau unanimously approved.
During his three-year tenure from 1997 to 2000, Minister Chin initiated and completed a number of projects for the Ministry and the community of Palau . He designed and built the three-story BRT Building that now houses the Ministry of Justice Office and the Bureau of Public Safety Administration, using his own Ministry's operating funds and utilizing prisoners as construction workers to minimize costs.
Through an arrangement with Chief Rengulbai and the Governor of Aimeliik, Minister Chin turned a plot of land in Nekken into a successful Sublek Farm run by prisoners. Harvests of vegetables, fruit and root crops and meat from the piggery and poultry farm supplemented the prison menus. And the prisoners learned valuable lessons and skills for the future. Produce from the farm was also shared with Aimeliik Elementary School and the national hospital.
Minister Chin initiated an alternative juvenile justice program called Omengull ma Okurullel a Klechad, popularly dubbed Double OK, by enlisting traditional leaders, state governors and parents as partners to serve as mentors and guidance counselors to the young offenders on the Palauan traditional values and disciplines. He acquired a grant and, using prisoners again as workers, built buoys with solar lights around the islands of Babeldaob, Koror and Peleliu
In his private life following his term as Minister of Justice, he dedicated his time to designing, building and fundraising for the construction of Father Felix Yaoch Gymnasium. In November 2000, Mr. Chin was elected as a senator to the Sixth Olbiil Era Kelulau (Palau National Congress).
On 2 November 2004, the people overwhelmingly elected Chin Vice President of the Republic of Palau. He and his wife, Miriam, have two children, Lalii Antolina (27), an attorney, and Nathan Lee Beches (22), a University of Washington graduate and current medical school applicant.
In the 2008 election on 4 November 2008, Chin ran for the presidency, but was defeated in the second round, winning 49 per cent of the vote. Johnson Toribiong was elected president with 51 per cent.