Douglas Tennent – Mystery remains while deportation under review


The Papua New Guinea Immigration Department is reviewing its decision to deport Catholic lay worker Douglas Tennent.

Acting chief immigration officer, Solomon Kantha said Tennent’s visa was cancelled by Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato because of his alleged involvement on landowner issues.

He said the decision was based on a complaint from landowners in East New Britain.

The Post Courier reports that Kantha has told the archbishop of Rabaul, Francesco Panfilo, that Tennent, can re-apply for a new visa and work permit.

However, the archbishop has refused to do so unless he receives reassurance from the Foreign Affairs Department that Tennent can return.

He is also demanding to know who lodged the complaint letter.

The landowners’ umbrella company’s, Memalo Holdings Ltd, managing director has denied that they are responsible.

Wesley Pagott said although the members of Sigite Mukus Integrated Rural Development Project  (SMIRDP) disagreed with with what Tennent has been doing, they were surprised to hear that he was deported.

Memalo Holdings was originally incorporated listing six separate landowner companies as shareholders.

They were all incorporated on the same day. Two have since been delisted.

Memalo controls the land on which the SMIRDP is being developed by Rimbunan Hijau Group (PNG).

The Group has a diverse set of interests that encompass forestry, timber processing, palm oil, transport, media, retail and property development.

It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rimbunan Hijau, a company based in Sarawak, Malaysia.

The Acting Governor of East New Britain, Cosmas Bauk, has pledged his support.

He said  he would do everything in his power to make sure that Tennent can return to continue on with his work.

Bauk said he was disappointment at the manner in which the current government has been doing its business without regards to the people’s plight for justice and what they rightfully claim as theirs.

He commended the church for their efforts in assisting the people in Pomio and East New Britain and would stand with the church in this fight.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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