If you or I want to become a New Zealand citizen, this is what we have to do:
- Apply for a residence class visa, and get one.
- Hold that for 5 years, keeping your nose clean.
- Apply to the Department of Internal Affairs for citizenship.
- Wait about 9 months for approval, and attend a Citizenship Ceremony.
- Apply for a New Zealand Passport.
If however you are Bill Liu (also known as Yong Ming Yan, orYang Liuor even William Yang), all you have to do is cozy up to some Labour MP’s while they are in government, and Bob’s your uncle – instant Citizenship.
Now, there is of course some discrepancy in the media reports about this case. One I read suggested that in 2008/9 Bill Liu was granted Permanent residency, and then a month later applied for Citizenship and was granted it, having his ceremony the day after and getting a passport a month after that.
However a second report has the timelines a little different:
- Granted Residence in 2002
- Applied for Citizenship in 2005
- Anyone who was granted residence before April 2005 could apply for citizenship after 3 years of residence, instead of the current 5 years.
So, from that point of view, it all looks to be ok. Except that it seems that Department of Internal Affairs had their eye on him because he was well known as a prolific gambler. Apparently the fact that he won fairly often meant he was worth watching. however the real crunch came in 2005 when he applied for Citizenship – the Chinese Authorities posted an alert for him with Interpol:
They claimed he was born Yong Ming Yan and stole the identity of Yang Liu in 1999, obtaining two false passports. He was wanted for embezzlement.
Friends say the claims were false, made because Yan is a long-time supporter of Falun Gong, opponents of the Communist regime.
Three months later, bank accounts he held in Australia were frozen and in June 2007, $4m was sent to the Chinese Government. Yan was not convicted of any offence – he agreed to the repatriation without an admission of liability – but allegations swirling around him were so serious immigration officials suggested his permanent residency be revoked.
I think it is worth remembering that although residence is a “permanent” visa class – it can be revoked. As can Citizenship.
Then-immigration minister David Cunliffe recommended further investigation. In April 2008, immigration obtained a search warrant; they wanted the documents Yan had provided to DIA as part of his application for citizenship.
Five months later, Yan was granted citizenship – against the recommendation of DIA officials.
As matters had not been resolved with the Chinese, Yan did not pass the good character requirement, officials concluded.
When the news was broken to Yan, he was unfazed. One official told the court this week that he put his hands behind his head and leaned confidently back in his chair.
DIA case officer Olele Gambo said Yan was 99 per cent sure the application would be granted.
“He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament … He was going to take them to China.”
So at this point, it looks like David Cunliffe gets a silver star for at least saying that the case needed investigation, and not ignoring the problem. Personally I would not want to give residence or citizenship to anyone that arrogantly sure he would get it. Most of the people I know who come here see it as a privilege to have been allowed in.
The file, with a recommendation that citizenship be declined, passed to Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker. Mr Barker delegated it to associate Shane Jones because of a conflict of interest. He was a friend and, accompanied by wife Jennifer, had visited Yan at his home.
MP Dover Samuels wrote twice to Mr Barker complaining of delays and also wrote to Mr Jones saying Yan had been “victimised”.
“I was a personal friend of his and his family before his children were born,” Mr Samuels said yesterday. “His wife and children are New Zealanders.”
So what?? Just because you are his mate, does not mean he is eligible for Citizenship. Mr Barker declines to review the case because of a conflict of interest, but Dover Samuels wades right in there despite a massive conflict of interest, and does a mate a favour? And the rest of us cant get out duly elected MP’s to work on our behalf, because we are not people “of means”. Makes me bloody sick!
Mr Samuels said he believed the charges were withdrawn by Chinese authorities and that Yan had not committed any offences in New Zealand. “He’s a bloody good bloke. He was persecuted.” Labour’s Chris Carter and National’s Pansy Wong also wrote letters of support for his citizenship.
Hmmmm, Shane Jones, Chris Carter and Pansy Wong all had to leave parliament because of expenses scandals. These were the upstanding MP’s who were backing this guy??? I detect a recurring theme here.
Yan donated $5000 to both National and Labour during the 2005 election campaign. A host of politicians, including Mrs Wong, held fundraisers at his Manukau restaurant, which he is believed to have sold in 2008.
Oh come on! DotCom had to fork our considerably more than that! $50,000 to John Banks for his Mayoral Campaign, plus $50,000 to Christchurch, and let’s not forget the Firework Party. And yet this guy managed to get citizenship for a paltry $10,000???? I’m disgusted.
Officials told the court this week that Yan was sworn in as a New Zealander a day after Mr Jones received the file.
Bill Liu (or whoever he really is) is currently in court charged with 4 counts of fraud. And the MP’s who bent over backwards are facing some pointed questions.