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Mar 8, 2017

Chang Says Immigration is “A Sensitive Issue”

Chang also specifically denied helping anyone obtain Belizean visas, nationality and passport except in the case of a Taiwanese-Belizean whose daughter had obtained nationality by descent and needed a passport as part of her documentation to attend school. The involvement he spoke to was germane to a discussion as part of a gathering at his house. The countryman he helped is no longer in Belize and Chang never followed up on what became of the family members. Chang also claimed to have never recalled speaking to Tillett about the visas or about the subsequent investigation. And there is good reason for that: according to Chang, for persons of Asian descent and high status in Belize, immigration is shaky ground.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“Mr. Chang, you want this Committee to believe that a lot of people are lying on you, is that correct?”

 

Eric Chang

Eric Chang, Former Deputy Mayor, Belize City

“I’m not accusing [them] of lying, but I am here to tell the truth; that’s the only thing I can tell you.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“No, I understand that; but you are aware that people have made written reports of their investigations that have implicated you with respect to these eight missing visas; and you are saying everybody who has said anything that implicates you in relation to those visas, they are lying?”

 

Eric Chang

“You can say that.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“They’re lying. And your sworn testimony is that you have no knowledge other than going to the Calypso restaurant and being an innocent bystander in that conversation – other than that you know nothing about it?”

 

Eric Chang

“No, I know nothing about any investigation along with Immigration; but no, I have no knowledge about that.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Now, did Mr. Tillett ever discuss with you the issue of these eight missing visas?”

 

Eric Chang

“I don’t recall.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You never recall a conversation with Mr. Tillett?”

 

Eric Chang

“I don’t recall.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Are you aware that the Public Service Commission held an investigation into the missing visas?”

 

Eric Chang

“I [wasn’t] aware of that either.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You are not aware of that?”

 

Eric Chang

“No, I was not informed.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You never heard about it?”

 

Eric Chang

“Never heard about it.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And your evidence is that you did not come to Belmopan with Mr. Tillett to see…?”

 

Eric Chang

“I never did.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And your evidence also is that – and I want to be clear about this – at the Calypso, you did not take an active part in the conversation; you were there merely as a bystander?”

 

Eric Chang

“Yes, that’s correct.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And you, along with Mr. Tillett, did not seek the assistance of those Immigration officers to correct the irregularities on the visas?”

 

Eric Chang

“I was not part of that, so I wouldn’t know.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You didn’t hear Mr. Tillett make that request?”

 

Eric Chang

“Like I said earlier, it was not my case or matter, my mind wasn’t even listening [to] the conversation because I was not even really the person involved or whatever; I was doing my thing otherwise. Senator, I don’t know if you are aware of my position at the time, as a public servant, as a politician, as an Asian, or Chinese descent, that in Belize, immigration is kind of a sensitive issue. I tend to stay as far [away] as I could, so when my friend mentioned those things to me, I told them I have nothing to do with that, so and so and so; if you want, that’s it, done. I don’t want to be part of those Immigration things because as a Chinese, as a politician, it is really sensitive. And then, in my position, if I help one, the next one will come and the next one will come and the next one will come; that’s why I try to stay away from those matters.”

 

Ashley Rocke, Churches Senator

“But you were involved?”

 

Eric Chang

“I told you already, the only involvement I did was introduce my friend to Patrick, Mr. Tillett; that was it.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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