Seeking Your Comments On PNG Dual Citizenship

By Peter Donigi

1) Should Papua New Guinea change its constitution and laws to introduce dual citizenship?

2) I am writing this piece to seek from the readers’ their response either for or against the idea of dual citizenship. I would very much be interested in the reasons for your support for the idea and the criteria for granting dual citizenship. Likewise if you are against the idea, please also state your reasons for your objections.

3) The subject of dual citizenship has been dealt with exhaustively by the Constituent Planning Committee (CPC) and the position of our founding fathers is reflected in Sections 64-74 of the Constitution. In addition the role of the Citizenship Advisory Committee is also provided for in Sections 75 and 76 of the Constitution. Residency for the purpose of meeting the qualifications for citizenship is also further provided for in the Constitution.

4) The Migration Act facilitates travel and citizenship subject to compliance with the Constitution.

5) During the two years before independence, the CPC had to deal with many matters concerning racism in the two territories of Papua and New Guinea and the rising nationalist emotions amongst our young elites.

6) The Constitution reflects the feelings of those young firebrand politicians and elites leading the charge towards Independence, people like Sir John Kaputin, John Momis, Julius Chan, Peter Lus, Maori Kiki, Ebia Olewale and Michael Somare and others. In the background were senior Papua New Guinea bureaucrats in the colonial administration, as well as the UPNG students who conducted sit-in demonstrations at “whites only” hotel bars, cinemas, restaurants and of course Ela Beach where there stood a sign that read “Natives and dogs not allowed”.

7) Since Independence, the world has changed drastically in the last 30 years alone. The Constitution was based on nationalist ideology and national borders determined by geographical coordinates. Today’s technology driven society breaks the old concept of national physical borders.

8) The introduction of Internet technology denies States the ability to control how business is done. International trade in 1980s was based on trading in goods. By 1990s international trade in goods was trumped by trade in services. Today trade in services represent about 70% of international trade. Much of this trade in services can be effected through the use of Internet and the producers of the product need not require visas or passports to travel to the country of work to produce what is required by the contractor.

9) An example of the above statement can be found in the example of my own experience in the publication and printing of my books. My latest book “Lifting the Veil that shrouds Papua New Guinea” was printed in India. Yet I has never met the officials of the Indian printing company. All deals were done through the use of Internet.
Immigration Policy

10) Papua New Guinea does not have an active immigration policy. We are concentrating on keeping PNG for Papua New Guineans and do not have a policy for welcoming new skilled migrants or migrants with cash capital.

11) It is important to realise that in order to facilitate transfer of skills and technology from one country to the other, it is essential that Papua New Guinea eases on the restriction to citizenship to facilitate that outcome. The technological advancement of both Russia and United States was a result of their ability to obtain and control knowledge and skills innovation. Russia achieved it through sheer force of limitation on movement of their WWII prisoners and workers. America obtained it through opening up their country as a land of opportunity where people were encouraged to migrate to United States.

12) On Independence, United States created a quota arrangement for people of PNG to migrate to United States. This quota was never filled and over time United States cancelled that quota.

13) Before the creation of European Community/Union, there was in existence a Commonwealth preferential system for citizens of commonwealth countries where visas can be issued at airports or arrival posts. The writer has used that facility on many occasions to travel to other Commonwealth countries. Today you will need a visa issued by a European country to access other countries of European Union. Although PNG is a member of the Commonwealth just like Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guineans require visas issued in Port Moresby before travelling to those two countries. However, Canada from experience is the only developed country where PNG passport holders can be issued visas on arrival.

14) In any review of the Constitution and laws, it is important to consider the following factor:
a) Australia is our biggest competitor in trade.

15) The following are some facts about this competitive scenario that policy makers in PNG must be aware of:
a) Australia (North Queensland and Northern Territory) can grow, harvest, process and export any tropical produce in competition with PNG.
b) Australia is an exporter of minerals
c) Australia is an exporter of hydro-carbons
d) We are the biggest market for Australian Rice Industries Limited and other processed foods and dairy products
e) We are the biggest market for Australian and New Zealand consultants and those in the service industries.
f) They source the technology from the same source that we will try to source but because of the prior exclusive arrangements our companies would need to deal through Australian companies. This makes them our competitor in technology transfer as well.
g) Australia has to sell their oil and gas and minerals to China and so do we. Yet China is in competition with Australia for more influence in Papua New Guinea. Australia is courting China. We must likewise court China in competition with Australia.

16) How can we overcome this competition? The only solution is to do what United States did. Open up our country to expertise from other countries. It is the expertise that will bring technology with them. It is the expertise that will drive our economy away from being dependent on Australia.

17) However opening up our country to expertise and perhaps introducing a quota system that United States had has its benefits and draw backs. The draw-back is that we will create a second class group of citizens in this country. This group will primarily comprise our own citizens.
Avoidance of 2nd Class Status

18) In order to avoid such a negative outcome, we must first amend our land laws and impose restrictions on where and how these new immigrants can be catered for in PNG. The Boka Kondra Bills include amendments to Land Act. It is considered that if the Kondra amendment to Land Act is passed in parliament, PNG can move forward to register customary land in the name of clans or groups of clans.

19) As all automatic citizens have land rights, the landowners must then be given the tool to do business with new migrants using their land. It is only through this process that PNG landowners can effectively participate in the development process. This is because the Kondra amendment to Land Act places a value on customary land at 5% of the unimproved value or K5.00 per square metre whichever is higher. The amendment will make Papua new Guineans the largest group of landlords in the world bringing in close to K2.1 trillion per annum if all of PNG’s customary land is leased out at that price.


20) It would be my recommendation that any proposed amendments to the Constitution to facilitate dual citizenship or to issue quotas for technological experts from other countries must be done only in conjunction with the proposed Boka Kondra amendments to the Land Act. At a briefing for parliamentarians last year the lawyer for the Department of Lands and Physical Planning told Parliamentarians that the Department does not have any problems with the proposed Kondra amendments to the Land Act.

21) Your comments for and against and the reasons will be appreciated.


12 thoughts on “Seeking Your Comments On PNG Dual Citizenship

  1. Peter,

    This is a complicated issue and warrants a much more broader debate than what can be written on Manu’s blog.

    I applaud your effort in attempting to gain feedback from your points above (which realistically are a series of questions which are concerned with the issue of immigration – and are not exclusively concerned on ‘dual citizenship’).

    I recall having a conversation with Sir Michael Somare about dual-citizenship and his answer was quite simple and reflected the modus operandi of the time in which the law was first established.

    He made clear reference to the fact that the founding fathers wanted individuals to be “loyal” to the newly created State of Papua New Guinea by choosing citizenship of the country. As you highlight above, the context has changed.

    Personally, I am in favour of dual citizenship – but on a measured basis in terms of its disbursement.

    I wonder whether it would be possible to grab your email address and to send in a response to you above post via email, as I’d like to put a bit of thought into the issue.


    1. You are in favour of dual citizenship????

      There are a lot of unsolved issues the government has and there are laws that don’t seem to be in place and we keep creating new law’s that you are in support of? Like this particular law? Kindly consider the disadvantages as well.

      Apart from Port Moresby there are other provinces with lots of foreigners. Asians especially! Look at the logging companies, hotels, restaurants, shops etc..

      I hope you find everything smooth and in your favour of this dual citizenship law.

      Please do not regret.

  2. The current worldwide trend is for countries to integrate with each other more not less. Organisations such as ASEAN, EU, NAFTA, ACP and other transnational groups are granting their member citizens universal rights that are honoured throughout their member countries. Depending on the organisation these can be as straightforward as honouring each others drivers licences through to full blown citizenship and all the rights that entails.

    While the benefits for the citizens who enjoy these privileges are obvious, their mother countries also are benefiting by welcoming in new avenues of trade and knowledge that benefit their economies and societies. By not allowing dual citizenship PNG is placing constraints on its citizens and our own ability to progress our society. We are keeping our own world smaller and inward looking at the exact moment when all our competitors are growing and becoming more globally and regionally integrated.

    PNG started from a disadvantage at independence in that many of our people lacked access to educational avenues through which they could raise their knowledge base, financial prospects and standard of living. The subsequent decades have seen progress go backwards as we have suffered under a series of governments exhibiting varying degrees of corruption and incompetence. We need an injection of new talent and investment to boost our economy and society. If we leave this to ourselves it will take an entire generation and thats assuming that we were to fix our education sector tomorrow, a highly unlikely prosect. On the other hand properly screened new citizens who match certain benchmarks could provide that boost overnight. Citizens who already have one foot in another country can make both countries stronger by linking them through business, family and social avenues.

    The question then is what criteria would you place on people wanting to become PNG citizens? This will probably be the most contentious issue but obvious candidates are foreigners who were born in PNG, long term residents who have businesses here and applicants who demonstrate a strong and enduring connection to this country and its people. As a start my suggestion would be to welcome dual citizenship from other melanesian countries plus Australia and New Zealand and perhaps the Philippines. If that works out well then extend it to other Commonwealth nations and so forth. You will be able to tell the project is a failure and has been hijacked by corrupt public servants if the first countries in line for PNG dual citizenship are Malaysia and Indonesia. Citizens from these two countries have been involved in far too many questionable behaviour already.

    Dual citizenship handled correctly could be a huge boost to PNG. It will not be without its complications and critics I am sure, but it enables progress and growth, both of which our young nation needs a lot of right now as we struggle to supply a future for our youth.

  3. All Papua New Guineans are already dual citizens – asples and PNG. Its just that its not looked at in that respect but the underlying ties are the same. we all identify as Sepiks, Tolais, Markhams etc AND Papua New Guineans. jv

  4. I do believe it is an individuals birth right… if one of your parents is an Australian and the other a PNGean, then you should be allowed to hold both… it wasn’t the individuals choice. If you have evidence of the parents citizenship/birth certifcate as proof, no questions should be asked. My thoughts only. Thank you

    1. wayne golding , comments without prejudice

      D/C should be allowed where the applicant has a birth right or choice to be a citizen of two countries.under the current constitution i understand that at the age of 21 the person concerned has to make a choice ,which would take away a right he had .that choice would mean he would deprive himself of opportunities and that would also have a flow on effect to both counties .choice resulting from an application which would allow a citizenship of choice rather then birth right would throw up a different set of factors to base ones judgement.

  5. The matter of Dual Citizenship has been a long standing issue. I have been one of those silent advocates with many others for this to occur. The world is a different place now, easier access to travel, trans border acceptance allowing dual citizens to travel freely for family, work, business, investments etc etc.

    Papua New Guinea must look globally and become an active partner to globalism. That does not mean changing Papua New Guinea to suit the world, rather embracing the world to make Papua New Guinea unique.

    The advantages that come with citizens of dual nationality are immense. But, it must be a matter that needs careful consideration.

    Sports is a classic example of dualism already happening. Sport already applies dualism by default. Imagine the Pride of the Kumuls and the Flying Bird of Paradise!!! Wouldn’t that be awesome!!! Why not extend that and make it formal, enacted by relevant laws for business, investment, family, neighbours (Pacific and Australasia etc).

    Let us not be inward looking but be outward and forward looking, giving those that become dual citizens the right to be Papua New Guineans.

    There are many Australians and New Zealanders, Pacific Islanders and Asians that have strong ties to Papua New Guinea, as well as English, Canadians, Americans, Indians, Africans etc.

    I believe one of the fundamental conditions of dual nationality is the right of birth place-whether Papua New Guinea by blood or by Birth, family, marriage etc, followed by long term business and investment. Many people are and have been loyal to Papua New Guinea. They deserve to be recognised and accorded the right to be a dual citizen of Papua New Guinea. There are other considerations equally as important.

    I believe in a strong united Papua New Guinea giving its citizens the right to be Papua New Guineans at home and from abroad.

    Dr. LM Neuendorf

  6. I would be interested to compare desires to keep “PNG for PNGeans” as you mentioned above and Australian desires to keep PNGeans out of Australia (at least in large numbers). How much influence did the colonial government have over drafting the sections of the Constitution you mention as well as over the document as a whole?

    On a different note, i am interested in the white and gold rendition of the PNG flag you have posted above. Any more info on it that you can give me?

  7. What a disaster! Why don’t we consider the economic disadvantages? We will eventually have foreigners who will become businessmen and women and will flood their people in for the top positions while the Papua New Guineans are placed at the middle level or bottom line positions.

    An increase in the population as well and many more.

  8. I am a PNG who was born in the bush and raised on the land. My family worked hard, post-independence, to ensure I had an awareness of my place, in the context of PNG. As I matured, I desired to evolve that awareness into an awareness of PNG in the context of the Pacific, and beyond. Like 10s of 1000s of PNGs, I’ve traveled to, and chosen to live in, other countries. Due to various life-circumstances, it was convenient for me to take the citizenship of one of those countries. As mentioned in other responses to this blog, the PNG government will certainly have to carefully develop a clear process as to how it awards dual-citizenship to non-PNG born, foreign citizens. However, in the case of PNG-born people who have had their PNG citizenship revoked due to their desiring to add another citizenship to their lives, the new dual-citizenship law is very good news. It means that we will not now be forced, when returning to PNG, to pay to be 90-day ‘Tourists’ in our own country. In the case of PNGs with Australian citizenship, dual-citizenship will also mean that they are immediately free to visit their families in times of grief &/or emergency. Until dual-citizenship was permitted, PNGs with Australian citizenship had no option but to first apply to the PNG Government for, and then wait until the issue of, the relevant visa to permit them to return to PNG. This scenario applied to a PNG-born person desiring , for example, to return to their land and people for the funeral of their mother or father. The new dual citizenship law also means that the children of PNG-born men and women, will now not be forced to make a choice as to whether they will, or will not, sever their socio-economic and geo-political ties with PNG. I commend our MPs for their consideration of PNG’s ongoing, 21st century, global-relationship with its sons and daughters.

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