Will Simon Sia be PNG’s First Asian MP?

I recently wrote an article about how anti-Asian feeling could threaten the stability of PNG elections after an ugly incident happened in Rabaul last month between a Chinese-migrant shop supervisor and senior statesman Sir Ronald ToVue of East New Britain.

There is no doubt that there exists within PNG serious strands of anti-Asian feeling – and for understandable reasons, as the above incident demonstrates.

But to state that all Asian migrants are bad for PNG is incorrect and it ignores the considerable investment and contribution of those old and new Asian-migrants who have indeed played a constructive role in the development of PNG.

One such new Asian-migrant is Simon Sia, a Malaysian-Chinese migrant who has been in the country since the 1990’s, and is currently standing as the PNG Party candidate for the Eastern Highlands Regional seat.

Sia arrived in Goroka from Malaysia to try out his entrepreneurial skills and has since established his now famous and successful retail-centric Bintangor Trading business empire.

Part of the reason why Simon Sia is so popular in the Eastern Highlands is because of Bintangor’s sponsorship, since 2004, of the Goroka Lahanis – the provincial rugby league team which took part in the semi-professional national competition, the B-Mobile Cup, and now the Digicel Cup.

After winning his first championship as sponsor of the Bintangor Goroka Lahanis in 2010, Simon Sia stated:

“I’m now a celebrity. I didn’t not know that I would end up being elevated to the status of a celebrity, you know, I read and was aware of what rugby league does to a person. I thought that was for the players, I’m only [the] sponsor, the background, out of the limelight kind of person, but the Lahanis victory has really moved me. Its really touching”.

But Sia isn’t without controversy either.

In April 2009, the millionaire businessman was arrested and charged by the Organized Crime Squad for the alleged murder of a 16yr old girl in 2001 – after it was alleged she was beaten and locked in a freezer for stealing a sausage in Bintangor Supermarket in Goroka.

Later that year, Sia almost pulled Bingtangor’s sponsorship of the Goroka Lahanis after incumbent EHP Governor, Australian-born and also self-made millionaire Malcolm Smith-Kela (who Sia is now running against), publicly suggested the removal of Asians from PNG following a spate of anti-Asian riots in 2009, including in EHP.

Sia responded angrily to the suggestion and retorted:

“Not all Asians are bad people, some of us have been here, got married with kids and have followed normal business procedures to do business in the country and you as a Governor responsible for the people and affairs of EHP cannot go public and make comments like that.

If Governor Smith can come out publicly in the media, then why should the people of Goroka ask me to sponsor their rugby league team or any other social groups within the province?

The Governor has the power and not us [Asians]. We cannot do anything and coming out to the public like this is a slap in the face for some of us who had contributed so much for the development of Goroka and PNG.

The Governor has to do something for Lahanis now because he has the power and as governor he can look back to his people and help.

I might waste my time helping the people of Goroka and Eastern Highlands when somebody from above like Smith makes comments like that”.

A number of eyebrows were also raised when Simon Sia was granted PNG citizenship last month on May 18 – the same day as registrations closed – which allowed him to stand for elections for the first time.

Simon Sia is a very popular figure in the Eastern Highlands Province, but will be up against three very prominent individuals gunning for the regional seat.

This includes two-term and current governor, Malcolm Smith-Kela, Henganofi local and prominent businessman Noreo Beangke, and former governor, Peti Lafanama.

If Sia does indeed manage to win the regional seat – PNG will have its first Asian-born Member of Parliament.

~ by Tavurvur on June 1, 2012.

13 Responses to “Will Simon Sia be PNG’s First Asian MP?”

  1. Very interesting blog. This will be an interesting one to watch. Expect the unexpected as they say in this land of many tribes, and languages.

  2. Yes indeed…definitely a seat to watch this year considering also the “political party” involved. I’ve been following all along…I would say a strategic move by Sia ever since…

  3. Its a classic example of big powers playing on the poor mans ground. Its interesting to watch these Westerner and Asian. EHP people are beoming more stupid to allow foreign interest on their grounds. I will not vote for both cause I have travelled out of PNG and really know how Western and Asians deal of interest lie. If big powers come to play, the strategic plance to start is EHP, knowing that they are “col kaukau”, ignorantly allowing foreign aliens to reign. Westerner have bomarang aid while Asians have Guanshi aid, wish only benefit their race and business, so nothing will go back to empower our local people.

  4. these things are our birth right, our identity, our life, our destiny and our future. we are here to stay. we can not sell our birthright to a foreigner. please think 20 to 30 years ahead and cast your votes.

    • I guess this highlights the question of when does somebody become a Papua New Guinean? Similar questions have always been raised in regards to when one becomes an “Australian” or a “Kiwi”.

      To be fair to Simon Sia, he has been in PNG for at least two decades and has contributed significant investment into community projects around EHP. He has also now become a citizen.

      As long as Sia abides by the laws of the nation just as any other citizen; and fulfills his responsibilities as an MP if he is elected – is there really a problem?

  5. Upon the fact that no laws will be passed in darkness but only on the floor of parliament upon careful consideration by all 109 MPs, Simon Sia is eligible of contesting PNG elections because he has contributed much to the welfare of the entire province and country as a whole in terms of taxation etc.Why do we have to deprive his rights when he already under goes the normal way of claiming citizenship in a country like PNG?

  6. He will be the second, i think the first Asian MP was former Speaker and member for Kavieng Mr Perry Kwan.

    • Perry Kwan was born and raised in PNG – his parents had migrated to PNG pre-independence.

      Simon Sia, if elected, will be the first Asian-born PNG MP and will also represent the new wave of Asian migrants into PNG post-independence.

  7. Simon Sia will not win. The people of Eastern Highlands are not stupid. I know they will not handover their birth-right to a foreigner this time. If Sia wins, he will win by foul plays by brainwashing and buying votes from the vast populated areas of EHP like Okapa, Lufa, and Marawaka were the people are still in darkness. The elites and intellects of Goroka will not support nor vote for him!

    • ‘Asineha’ – It’s happened before, it may happen again. Everybody is entitled to their democratic right to cast their vote for the person they want to represent them. If Simon Sia wins, he may not be the choice of EHP’s elite, but he will be the choice for EHP’s non-elites.

  8. The Malaysian Chinese have destabilised Malaysia after raping it for its resources like its timber. The Malaysian Chinese operate to the exclusion of non Chinese and that means Black Papua New Guineans will only be their servants and prostitutes and concubines. They will help themselves to the forests what they have not already raped. bribe other politicians and create general havoc. Bob Carr’s wife is a Malaysian Chinese with an Indian father. She has acted as a channel for Malaysian Chinese into Australia. Unless PNG stands up for itself it will deserve the fate that awaits it. Those monkeys like Peter O’Neill and Somare who have raped it previously will die of political AIDS. God curse each of them and their monkey tribes.

    • ‘Amar Khan’ – Those are some strong comments. I think you could have made your point without using the phrase “monkeys”. Please comment appropriately in future, or I will not approve your comments on my blog.

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