Immigration Merry-go-Round Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 08 June 2017 00:00

It would appear, at least listening to the media accounts that many, if not most Belizeans, were eagerly awaiting and then transfixed by the appearance of certain individuals at the Senate Select Committee on immigration matters during the period of 2011 – 2013.  Two of these persons of particular interest were former minister of government Elvin Penner and alleged part whistleblower, part media hound Alvarine Burgess.

Regretfully for anyone expecting a bombshell or two, they were sorely disappointed.  Despite the strenuous and arduous efforts of PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay, neither witness produced anything new or anything that had not been previously circulated in the public domain.  For starters, Elvin Penner simply proved the Prime Minister’s point from almost 4 years ago, that there is a difference between apparent or widely believed guilt and legal guilt.  While many people may suspect that the former deputy minister did something untoward, there is no evidence to say that he did.  The gentleman keeps on insisting that he was convinced the person who he knew and assisted was Wong Hong Kim, the so-called “Citizen Kim”.

On the other hand Alvarine Burgess simply told a totally UNbelievable story of how when applying and rejected for a US visa, she was led behind no less than 3 doors, taken into some holy of holies room at the back and allowed to listen to audio recordings that the US intelligence agencies had made of certain individuals in Belize.  That in itself puts a mammoth hole in her tale since it goes against the most basic protocol of any intelligence agency on the planet to not reveal their tactics or sources and whether they have any sort of information on any specific individual.  While we all suspect that they do eavesdrop on individuals in Belize, certainly, the US authorities would not ever confirm to wiretapping any specific individuals and thereby reveal sensitive intelligence data to someone with absolutely no security clearance whatsoever.  If Alvarine Burgess was turned down for a visa, likely she would have had no explanation as to why or possibly a limited explanation at the front window of the Embassy reception.

Obviously this Senate Enquiry is turning into a political witch hunt as we see certain PUP members of the panel and PUP operatives at large demanding for more and more government ministers to appear on the panel to try and drag it out as much as possible.  Many of them forget or overlook the fact that the Audit Report and Senate Enquiry cover the years 2011 – 2013 and Minister Godwin Hulse had just became the Minister of Immigration for just a few months during that period when he discovered the “Citizen Kim” passport issue.  Also, all the useful information that can be obtained has already emerged from the Senate Select Committee hearings.  We know the problem and it is that corruption in the Immigration Department had become entrenched, not under this UDP government but had, for successive years and for decades, most notably when the PUP was in office.

For every “Citizen Kim” and Wong Hong Kim that they can point to under the UDP, there are dozens, if not hundreds more unknown Citizen Kims under the PUP.  The unfortunate difference is that we did not hear about the many gory details under the PUP and there was no senate hearing to investigate those.  For every visa foil that may have gone missing under the UDP, we can point to hundreds of passports lost, stolen or gone missing under the PUP and even an alleged terrorist who actually received a Belizean passport.  At least under the UDP, the passport intended for Wong Hong Kim was intercepted and he never got it.  This was thanks to the efforts of Minister Godwin Hulse and the Prime Minister, who immediately fired Elvin Penner from the Cabinet when the matter was presented to him by Minister Hulse.  By contrast under the PUP, we can recall how a certain PUP Immigration Minister, who had his visa revoked, was actually promoted by Prime Minister Said Musa after an immigration scandal rocked that government.

At a House Meeting a few weeks ago, PUP representative Cordel Hyde commented that he could hardly wait for Minister Godwin Hulse to appear before the Senate Select Committee.  Well just so that he can know, we are ALL looking forward to Minister Hulse’s appearance so that he can set the record straight and explain all the changes and improvements that he made to the Immigration Department to weed out and curtail all the corruption that became entrenched under the PUP.