MINISTER’S CITIZENSHIP STATUS QUERIED
With Issues of Writs set to be out next Thursday, New Ireland politics has taken a new twist.
A senior political party official has expressed grave concerns over alleged gross negligence and failure by relevant State agencies to act on complaints and issues referred to them for appropriate remedial action. The National President for the People’s Progress Party (PPP), Sumasy Singin said it was very frustrating for certain law enforcement agencies that are mandated by the Constitution to simply carry out their duties and responsibilities shamelessly fail to do so.
Mr Singin made a specific references to the Ombudsman Commission (OC), Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) and the Electoral Commission (EC) over citizenship status of Civil Aviation Minister and Namatanai MP, Walter Schnaubelt outstanding since 2017.
He said it has been a public concern that the issue concerning citizenship status of Minister Schnaubelt has simply been ignored or not attended to by the OC, ICA and EC for reasons only known to them.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. The very act of relevant law enforcement agencies not acting on a public complaint in itself amounts to corruption,” Mr Singin, a former senor State lawyer and diplomat stressed in a media statement.
On that statement, he noted that during 1999-2002 when former Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir John Kaputin allowed Australian citizen Walter Schnaubelt into Papua New Guinea to represent this country in the South Pacific games.
Mr Singin said there exists many serious unanswered questions including if Walter Schnaubelt:
- Has appeared before the PNG Citizenship Committee as is the case for foreigners applying for PNG citizenship to be dealt with legally and bureaucratically;
- Is in fact an Australian citizen illegally residing in PNG;
- Has illegally contested the Namatanai Open seat in the 2002, 2007, 2012 and general elections; and,
- Holding an Australian Passport has been allowed by the PNG Electoral Commission to contest and winning the 2017 General Election, entering Parliament and involving in important executive decisions affecting PNG citizens.
The PNG Constitution Section 76, subsection 1 stipulates that before a non-citizen is granted citizenship, “the Minister responsible for citizenship matters shall refer the matter to the Citizenship Advisory Committee and receive its advice.”
It is alleged that in Schnaubelt’s case, this process was never followed, he alleged. Minister Walter was reached for his comments but he did not respond when this report was published.
The former senior Government lawyer’s comment comes as the Electoral Commission continues its public awareness PNG-wide with one specific message that to stand for election, one must be a citizen PNG to contest.
Mr Singin said he was aware of MP Schnaubelt citizenship issue raised with relevant State agencies including on:
- October 14 2016, A/NIP Provincial Administrator, Lamiller Pawut has written to the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Patilius Gamato expressing serious concern of pre-election activities by Walter Schnaubelt. Copies of letter given to Chairman of NIP Election Steering Committee, NIP Governor and NIP Provincial Election Manager.
- December 22 2017, Former Namatanai MP Byron Chan wrote to the Chief Ombudsman highlighting blatant disregard of PNG’s election laws by Walter Schnaubelt.
- On August 28 2020, New Ireland Government Special Duty Officer Severin Sipian wrote to PNG Immigration & Citizenship Services Authority and Walter Schnaubelt being an Australian citizen, but allowed to contest the Namatanai Open seat. Copy of his letter to OIC Fraud Office Boroko Police Station, NCD.’
- On October 22 2020 New Ireland leaders, former MP and diplomat Sir Noel Levi, Chairman Namatanai village elders Wesley Enoch and Tomade Takin release a media statement calling for investigation into citizenship status of Walter Schnaubelt and Ian Ling-Stuckey.
- On July 26 2021, Former Namatanai MP Byron Chan wrote to Chief Ombudsman expressing concern over unexplained delays and inaction in investigating a number of complaints levelled against Walter Schnaubelt.