Eoin Blackwell | AAP
Papua New Guinea’s opposition is demanding answers on why an Indonesian fugitive wanted by Interpol was granted citizenship in June.
Djoko Tjandra has been on the run from Indonesian authorities since 2009 after allegedly embezzling millions in bailout funds from the now defunct Bank of Bali.
Tjandra reportedly fled Indonesia a day before the nation’s supreme court sentenced the now 62 year old in absentia to two years jail.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Parliament on Friday he had been advised by the secretary to the Attorney General there were irregularities in the granting of citizenship to Mr Tjandra.
“I know there is a lot of speculation in the press that this guy is a fugitive and needs to be repatriated, (but) I have not received one single request from the Indonesian government,” Mr O’Neill told parliament on Friday.
“I am advised … there are some irregularities in respect to the issuing of citizenship.
“Once we have a detailed report from that investigation we will be in some position to make decisions.”
Mr O’Neill said he would raise the issue with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a scheduled meeting in late November.
Opposition Leader Belden Namah urged the government to come clean on why Tjandra was granted citizenship in the first place.
“They have to declare why they are defensive of this particular person who is a fugitive to our nearest neighbour, whom we have a very good diplomatic and bilateral relationship with,” he said.
“What has happened to Djoko Tjandra’s Indonesian passport when we issued him the citizenship of this country? What criteria was used in awarding Mr Tjandra the citizenship of Papua New Guinea?”
According to PNG’s Department of Immigration website, a person can only apply for citizenship if they have lived “continuously in the country for at least eight years.”
An applicant must also make a full statement of assets, liabilities, investments, business interests and savings accounts both within and outside PNG indicating their values and locations.
Former foreign minister Ano Pala, who is reported in the local press to have overseen Mr Tjandra’s citizenship application, said the Interpol fugitive was being defamed.
“Raising serious allegations is beyond the dignity and decorum of this parliament,” he said.
“The person is a citizen and enjoys the same privileges that you should enjoy and every person in PNG should enjoy.”
From Radio Australia
Members of Parliament in Papua New Guinea have criticised the government for granting citizenship to an Indonesian fugitive.
Djoko Tjandra fled to PNG before Indonesia’s Supreme Court sentenced him to two years jail for fraud over the misuse of Bank Indonesia funds.
Despite being on the run, he was granted PNG citizenship earlier this year.
Governor Gary Juffa asked the Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato, in parliament to review the decision.
“Why are we accommodating this person? It’s an embarrassment. He should be immediately deported,” Mr Juffa said.
Ano Pala, the former immigration minister who granted Mr Tjandra citizenship, tried to have the question ruled out of order but the Speaker allowed it.
Mr Pato says the proper processes have been followed.
Mr Tjandra is alleged to have been involved in a banking scandal in Indonesia where billions of dollars were allegedly laundered or transferred to his businesses and companies.
He reportedly left Indonesia on a chartered flight from Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in Jakarta to Port Moresby on June 10 2010, just one day before the Supreme Court issued a verdict in his case.
Governor Gary Juffa | PNG Blogs
The continued presence in Papua New Guinea of Djoko Tjandra, international fugitive, wanted for fraud by Indonesian authorities and Interpol raises serious concerns about whether or not the Government is truly interested in fighting corruption. Djoko TJANDRA’S citizenship was granted under suspicious circumstances without the Citizenship Committee having ever convened to consider his application.
In fact, it was the whim and will of one single parliamentarian on the basis that he was “a major investor”. The message we can deduce is that anyone with a bag of money deemed sufficient as “investment” can and will be granted citizenship. It should concern Papua New Guineans that Djoko Tjandra is the same driving force behind the NAIMA RICE PROJECT which is about to be endorsed and approved by the NEC according to reliable sources.
This project seeks exclusive rights for a foreign owned company to commercialize rice, that is, the cultivation and trade, sale and distribution of rice in Papua New Guinea. This would mean that no other entity – even Papua New Guinean – can cultivate rice for the purpose of trade in Papua New Guinea. The trend of politicians to enter parliament and immediately ignore the very reasons for which they stood, to represent and protect PNG interests, continues. It is rather sad that our parliamentarians are enthusiastic to marginalize our own people, to relegate them to being spectators on their own land, to stand on the outside, looking in, begging bowl in hand and evaporated dreams and aspirations.
I have spoken up about this and against this but to no avail. Even the media seems to be controlled by powerful corporate and government forces with no effort given to publish such stories which should concern Papua New Guineans. Sadly, the sale of our nation continues, the pimping of our future by those elected to protect our interests….Djoko Tjandra is wanted by Interpol, Indonesian authorities for allegedly stealing substantial monies, monies that he may now be investing in PNG, for that, we have granted him citizenship and opened our doors. Politicians and bureaucrats gleefully traverse PNG and the region in his private jet, wine and dine and plot the sale of PNG…
Many of the elected leaders of Papua New Guinea continue to demonstrate a lack of concern for the interests of Papua New Guineans…time and time again, they demonstrate their lack of foresight and concern…the growth of their egos only rivaled by the growth of their girth…with apathy and obnoxious disdain they pursue their own personal interests.
If you know your local MP, demand an explanation about this situation…demand action to prevent this heinous situation developing into reality…Djoko Tjandra’s citizenship MUST be revoked! He is a criminal and MUST be repatriated back to his nation of origin! Demand your local MP’s to do something! Write a letter, present a petition, go on radio and newspapers or even TV! Let us not cheapen our country, let us stop the wholesale pimping of our resources and stand up with dignity. Papua New Guineans, take heed and take action.
Seabed Mining, SABLs, Djoko Tjandra, NAIMA Rice Project, Singapore Scandal, TAIWAN Scam, the list is endless…when are we going to save this country and take back our future before it is too late and we are but mere spectators, living in misery and in abject hopelessness…right now we all eat and have some warmth and comfort at night and imagine that all will be fine…one fine day our children will be hungry and cold, landless and laborers, serving the children of the robbers and thieves we are facilitating now
Eyewitness account from Facebook
International Indonesian fugitive Joko Chaundra Soegerto clandestine arrival in Mount Hagen last weekend (Saturday) was witnessed by a few.
I just drove past the golf course at the back of Mount Hagen Airport and saw a white green stripe private jet parking there.
I quickly drove into the terminal area of the airport to check who it was and the people advised me that it was our good Minister William Duma with an Iraqi Oil tycoon. The people at Mount Hagen Airport were caught with surprise.
I waited and saw an Asian man with Hon William Duma and Hon Ano Pala getting onto the jet. It didn’t dawn on me until I checked PNG Exposed blog which shows the same picture.
Let alone the controversy surrounding the granting of citizenship to this fugitive, he is into many deals including the controversial rice project in the Central Province which is expected to be approved by the NEC some time this week.
I’m also wondering where the plane came from to land in Hagen. If it was from an overseas port, Mount Hagen Airport is not the port of entry and wondering why it landed there before heading off to Port Moresby.
From the PNG Rice blog
Hello Papua New Guinea. Hello Rice Lovers. If there’s a reason to be pissed off about the whole rice saga in the country, the reason is this:-
Naima Agro Industries Limited, the rice company that will grow rice at Bereina Central Province is owned by International fugitive Djoko Tjandra. Tjandra is the owner of Mulia Group, an Indonesian Multi-National Company that owns Naima Industries. Papua New Guineans were misled by our Government to believe that a PNG Citizen Eleana Tjandranegara was the sole owner of Naima Agro Industries.
Naima will recieve a tax holiday from the Government of PNG to get the Bereina rice project underway. What has until now been the only cause of uproar has been a proposed import tariff on all rice in PNG, virtually driving the rest of the rice industry in PNG into the ground as all rice in the country right now is imported. The import tariff will virtually tilt the rice market to Naima’s advantage and has the potential to drive Trukai, EzyCook, Homestate and Goodman Fielder’s Flame rice brands out of production. The set-up will see Naima dominate the rice market.
Naima is owned by the Mulia Group and not Eleana Tjandranegara - Refer to our blog post on this finding.
Mulia Group is owned by Djoko S. Tjandra, wanted by Indonesia and Interpol (The International Police) for tax fraud which cost the state Rp 500 million in financial losses. Refer to to the Jakarta Post article reposted on this blog on the matter
Below is an excerpt from a 2009 Jakarta Post article:
“Joko Soegiarto Tjandra, a fugitive in the Bank Bali corruption case, is suspected to have flown to Singapore from Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, an official at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said Wednesday. According to our information, Joko Tjandra is already in Singapore. However, the AGO is coordinating with the Foreign Ministry to trace Djoko’s whereabouts, deputy attorney general for special crimes Marwan Effendy told Antara state news agency. The AGO has sent a third and final warrant for Joko to surrender himself by Friday afternoon at the very latest. However, Djoko’s lawyer O.C. Kaligis told Antara that he could not guarantee his client would show up at the AGO on Friday.
Joko Tjandra left the country using a chartered flight from Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in Jakarta to Port Moresby on June 10, just one day before the Supreme Court issued a verdict, upon the AGO’s request of review, sentencing Joko and former Bank Indonesia governor Syahril Sabirin to two years’ imprisonment and ordering Joko to pay Rp 546 billion (about US$54 million) as restitution to the state. Unlike Joko, Syahril Sabirin has surrendered himself to the Attorney General’s Office.”
The Falcon Jet Incident which caused a diplomatic tussle between PNG and Indonesia arose when the PNG Government flew Djoko to PNG from Malaysia on board the PNG Government Falcon Jet. This story was uncovered by PNG Blogs.
Below is a screen grab of the Interpol Wanted Persons Listing of Djoko who is still on the run, and who is about to gain full control of our country’s Rice Industry: