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.
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.