The National,Monday 11th of February, 2013
By JEFFREY ELAPA
A NEW process for the granting of citizenship will be put in place, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has told parliament.
“We have to put stringent processes in place so that the process is not abused by the citizenship advisory committee,” he said in response to a question from Northern Governor Gary Juffa in the house last Friday.
Juffa had asked if the government could investigate how Indonesian businessman Djoko Tjandra, alias Joe Chan, was issued a passport and how those people involved in issuing “dubious” citizenships and passports to foreigners would be prosecuted.
O’Neill said that a new law on granting of citizenship would be drawn up by cabinet.
“All future applications will get the scrutiny of the 32 ministers of the cabinet before citizenships and passports are granted,” he said.
O’Neill said he did not have any right to terminate Tjandra’s citizenship which was granted by the Citizenship Board.
The only way to remove Tjandra’s citizenship was if it had been granted “dubiously”.
“We can also hold people accountable and have them disciplined if foul play was involved in the process.”
O’Neill said the Immigration Minister (Rimbink Pato) had cancelled Tjandra’s passport as recommended by the attorney-general and justice department which carried out an investigation.
However, Tjandra had been given citizenship and was entitled to the same rights of all citizens of this country.
“He is still a citizen. He is entitled to that right.
“I have to allow the process, which would be through the courts, to decide whether there were dubious circumstances involved,” he said.
Tjandra is a wanted man in Indonesia from where he fled in June 2010, a day before he was sentenced to two years jail by the country’s Supreme Court for his involvement in a A$57 million fraud.
Tjandra was granted PNG citizenship last year and changed his name to Joe Chan before applying for a passport.
His passport was cancelled last month but he is challenging the decision.
O’Neill said a ministerial committee comprising Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch, Finance Minister James Marape and Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari was appointed to review the decision to cancel Tjandra’s passport.