Port Moresby (PTI): For Sasindran Muthuvel, the first Indian-origin Governor in Papua New Guinea (PNG), it has been an eventful journey since he left Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu in search of livelihood over 20 years ago and arrived here after seeing a job advertisement.
41-year-old Muthuvel said he came to PNG to take up a job as a manager in a retail shop. “I thought I will be getting closer to Australia and later I will migrate to that country as a skilled immigrant,” he recalled.
But destiny had planned something else for him. The shop was shut down and he started his own outlet which expanded into a chain. With rising popularity, he decided to jump into the electoral fray and became Governor of West New Britain in 2009.
“I came to Malaysia in 1995 after completing Bachelor of Science in Horticulture, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Periyakulam and spotted an advertisement in a newspaper in 1997 about an opening in PNG,” he told PTI here.
“It is actually this advertisement which changed my life completely,” he said. Muthuvel became manager of a retail outlet which was owned by a Singaporean national. But “my owner decided to wind up business here and return.
“I was shocked with the sudden turn of events. I was left with two options — either to return or to find my way out in the Island and I chose the latter,” he said and added with a smile “I do not have any regrets”.
“I started a small chain of retail outlets by the name of Hamammas which means in local language ‘I am happy’ and returned home to get married,” he said. His wife Subha hails from Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Both husband and wife worked hard to expand their business. “We started charity work and extended help to the needy. I do not know how I became popular but then I decided to jump into the electoral arena as I got my citizenship in May 2007.
“I floated a new party and contested the elections and won. Later I joined the ruling People’s National Party,” he said.
The initial years were tough. “I have survived merely on rice and yogurt for nearly a year till I started cooking local green vegetables,” Muthuvel, who is a vegetarian, said.
“I used to miss my sambar and rice and other vegetarian delicacies of my state but as they say when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” he said.
He enjoys his work today. “I have a sensitive province to handle but nevertheless the cooperation from my people always helps me in solving problems,” he said. His wife looks after the business.
The Governor, who was awarded ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award’ by Indian Government in 2012, feels that there is a lot of potential for Indian companies to set up their base in PNG.
“The operating cost may be high but the profit is equally high,” he said.
“I am looking forward to Indian companies coming here and helping us in areas like growing rice and other vegetables, exploration of oil and natural gas, gold mining,” he said, adding “I hope that they (Indian businessmen) will come one day.”