The Belgium Job: 223 Illegal Chinese Workers at Ramu

Belgium FlagIf there ever was a perfect example of the gross cheating of constitutional duty in regard to foreign policy by the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, one should not look much further than the PNG Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

How the bloody hell does an embassy, a body of persons entrusted with the mission to represent, serve, and protect a sovereign or government and its citizens, somehow manage to thoughtlessly approve a total of 223 visas to Chinese nationals intending to do business in PNG?

It’s unheard of.

Following a week-long joint special operation made up of officers from the departments of Labour, Foreign Affairs and members of the Trans-National Crime Unit, 62 Chinese nationals were charged on November 4th (Tuesday) for illegally working in PNG. On November 5th (Wednesday), another 41 non-citizens, all from mainland China, were apprehended for breaches of PNG labor and immigration laws.

If that wasn’t enough to make one sit up, take notice, and mutter a few expletives, on November 7th (Friday) PNG officials arrested another 120 more Chinese illegal workers at the Basamuk refinery site in Madang!

Which brings the total (so far) of illegal workers on site at the Ramu mine to a grand 223.

Now all 223 illegal workers have three things in common:

  1. They’re all from mainland China
  2. They’re all ultimately employed by MCC Ramu NiCo Ltd
  3. They were all issued with business visas by the PNG Embassy in Belgium

By far the main issue here is the fact that there has been blatant abuse of our country’s immigration laws, that is, 223 Chinese nationals were working full-time in PNG while on business visas. Under PNG laws, foreigners being engaged in a paid job while on a business visa is strictly prohibited. 

MCC Ramu NiCo Ltd have since unashamedly admitted that they had been bringing in Chinese people with valid business visas to work in the mine to fast-track construction in order to beat the wet season. Their reasoning behind not complying with PNG immigration and labour laws? PNG is taking too long to process more than 200 work permits.

One very disconcerting point here is that all 223 illegal Chinese nationals were issued with business visas from our Embassy in Belgium.

How can one approve 223 business visa applications for Chinese nationals who were born, educated, live and work in mainland China, and not wonder why they are making the effort to send their visa applications all the way to Brussels when Beijing is just around the corner?

Maybe it’s just me – but surely wouldn’t that at least raise an eyebrow.

~ by Tavurvur on November 16, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Belgium Job: 223 Illegal Chinese Workers at Ramu”

  1. Tavurvur, I don’t think PNG’s Belgium office has the mandate to process Chinese visas. It’s BEIJING and lately there’s been this infighting between the Dept of Labour and PNG Immigrations. The procedure is that Labour approves work permits and then Immigrations will issue visas subject to the conditions on the work permit. One doesn’t need a work permit to get a business visa. Business visa disqualifies any foreigner from working and what apparently I think has been happening (I might be wrong!) was that the Chinese “engineers” came on business visas and were employed at the Ramu Nickle mine. Some were even seen working as cleaners and cooks. The Labour Law stipulates that these are jobs circumscribed to only nationals or only Papua New Guineans. How on hell did foreigners, as in this case Chinese nationals, are doing what is only restricted to PNGians…this I cannot understand. And you see it not just at the Ramu Nickle mine site but all eateries and kaibars around PNG.

    May be someone in the Government can explain why my wantoks in the village are not qualified to run a restaurant or kaibar or be employed as cleaners whilst some foreigner from China can be more qualified to be a cleaner!

  2. You’re quite right Solo. It’s common knowledge in PNG that these certain jobs are exclusively reserved for PNGeans – so why the so many indiscretions by so many foreigners?

    During the feasibility and development stages, Ramu Nickel management purposely used Chinese nationals (some who had married local girls) to start up kai bars in and around Madang – all the way through to the most remote parts of the catchment area proposed for the mine.

    They were used as human marketing tools, acting as intermediaries between two sets of cultures and languages that had nothing in common – and it worked.

    Blatantly illegal yet bloody smart business.

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