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May 11, 2017

Reviled Elvin Penner Wants to Recommend Ways to Fix Immigration

Elvin Penner

We continue our coverage of the Senate Special Select Committee’s public hearings. On Wednesday, former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality, Elvin Penner, visited and sat for more than five hours of testimony. Penner started off on a bad foot by ruling out speaking in depth about the Won Hong Kim scandal that cost him his post and possibly his political career.  Later, he was questioned about whether, as some employees have testified, Ministers of Government intimidated and coerced Immigration officers into doing their bidding through the power of their office. Penner, surprisingly, conceded that there is a ‘culture of corruption’ present in the Department. He went even further by offering his assistance as a witness and someone who oversaw the Department in its heyday to offer ways to correct what many see as his fault.

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“Do you think that persons in the Department felt intimidated by you or by any other Minister?”

 

Elvin Penner, Former Minister of State, Immigration and Nationality

“They may very well have felt intimidated; they should not have felt intimidated. I have never, as a Minister ever, been vindictive to any individual in any office because I felt that they would not adhere to my requests. And nobody has ever been verbally threatened by me or warned by me if they would not listen; I simply expected them to do their job, and if they do their job properly, with the advice of the Director and of the C.E.O. If any transfers were ever to be made, it was always with the advice of the C.E.O. and the Director, which I had absolutely no control of and no input in. So I do not see any reason why they should have been intimidated, but I can understand, perhaps, why they may have felt intimidated.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“You can?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Yes.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Why do you say you can?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Because obviously, they feel that in the past, persons have been perhaps punished by being transferred to an area where they perhaps didn’t want to go, because of repercussions of them not following orders.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Mr. Penner, I’m having some difficulty understanding why a professional Department with long-service career officers would clearly circumvent a process. If they were not intimidated, was there any other reason, in your view, why they would circumvent these processes?”

 

Elvin Penner

“I don’t see any reason why they would.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Did you, at any time, hear of a hustle or know of a hustle or know of this ‘culture of corruption’ in the Department? Because, if they’re professional – there are clear policies and guidelines – if they are not intimidated by the Minister, then what is left? Was there a culture of just outright corruption in the Department?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Well, according to the reports that we have received with respect to visas, nationalities and passports, it now is obvious that there was a culture of corruption in the Immigration Department. And I believe that it would be a part of our constructive duty – as you all being members of the Senate Special Select Committee, looking at all the reports; myself being a witness and having been a Minister responsible for Immigration, that I think we could learn a lot from what we have seen, and I believe a lot of recommendations when it comes to that can be made where that culture could perhaps be eradicated – at least almost eradicated if not completely eradicated.”

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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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