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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Opposition Alleges Solomon Islands MP’s Citizenship ‘Illegal’
Sikua says MP Tran did not meet requirements for consideration

By Douglas Marau

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 24, 2013) – Opposition leader Dr. Derek Sikua has filed for a judicial review into the granting of Solomon Islands citizenship to Vietnamese-born West Honiara Member of Parliament Namson Tran.

Dr. Sikua claimed Mr. Tran’s citizenship was granted ‘illegally.’

Dr. Sikua filed the review after obtained copies of documents concerning what he described as the approval of Mr. Tran’s application for Solomon Islands citizenship in 2001.

The Opposition leader said it was obvious from the documents that the granting of citizenship to Mr. Tran was prepared by the then Minister of Home Affairs.

However, Dr. Sikua said this was done in total disregard of the 10 years residence requirement and in absence of any prior decision by the Citizenship Commission on the West Honiara MP’s citizenship application.

"I am seeking a judicial review because if the granting of citizenship to the West Honiara MP was contrary to the law as I have stated, he should have been disqualified from contesting the West Honiara Constituency seat at the 2010 National General Election," Dr. Sikua said.

"As the Leader of Opposition, I am greatly concerned by the continuing sitting in Parliament by an unqualified MP because I have a duty to this nation to ensure that laws made by Parliament are not contravened, especially by foreigners.

"The right to participate in parliamentary proceedings is a sovereign, democratic and constitutional right reserved for citizens only, including those who lawfully obtained naturalized citizenship," he said.

Dr. Sikua added that the role Mr. Tran currently holds as the Chairman of Government Caucus has directly affected the numerical strength of the Opposition and its efforts towards ensuring good governance.

"Mr. Tran is the present chairman of Government Caucus. In this role, he ensures by financial inducement that MPs in the Government do not cross over to the Opposition and furthermore was responsible for the loss of some Members of the Opposition to the Government side," he said.

The Opposition Leader said other MPs would be making sworn statements to the High Court to prove the financial inducements.

But as of last night, commenting on behalf of Mr. Tran, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement said Mr. Tran has in his possession a valid citizenship certificate.

The office further stated that now that the matter has been brought before the court for a judicial review, Dr. Sikua should respect the judicial process and not to make any statements in the media. "We are asking Dr. Sikua to respect the process as it is now sub-judice for him to give details of the case in the media," the statement said.

[PIR editor’s note: Sikua further responded by questioning why the PM’s Office came to Tran’s defense as opposed to Tran defending himself. The PM’s Office has also accused Sikua of contempt for announcing the judicial review filed in High Court.]

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