Earlier we told you about Elvin Penner’s debut at the Senate Select Inquiry today in Belmopan. The former Minister appeared unrepresented and was questioned about his role as it pertained to recommendations for visas and nationalities. However, as it came to direct questions on Wong Hong Kim, Penner says he invoked the right not to answer to protect himself from incriminating himself criminally. In the afternoon session, the senate still tried to get a few answers from Penner on Citizen Kim. The Chair started the ball rolling.
Speaker: Are you aware of an application for a gentleman by the name of Wong Hong Kim?
Speaker: Application of a passport?
Elvin Penner, Former Minister of Immigration: I was charged for it.
Speaker: I’m asking if you were aware of an application of a passport for a man by the name of Wong Hong Kim.
Elvin Penner, Former Minister of Immigration: Yes sir.
Speaker: Are you aware that evidence has arisen suggest that Mr. Kim got a Belizean passport although he was incarcerated in Taiwan?
Elvin Penner, Former Minister of Immigration: I have read that report in the Auditor General’s report.
Speaker: In the Auditor General’s report, in describing the circumstances of the delivery of the application of the Wong Hong Kim passport, the suggestion is made that your driver is involved in taking the passport application to the immigration nationality department. Are you aware of that?
Elvin Penner, Former Minister of Immigration: I have read the report.
Speaker: I’m not asking if you read the report. I’m asking, do you that for a fact it was your driver who took the application form to the immigration nationality department?
Penner was further asked about his role in taking the Asian man that immigration officials say they thought was Kim to the immigration department.
Speaker: It has been said here in evidence, I think as recently as last week, was said that you accompanied the applicant; we know that it was impossible to accompany the applicant himself, but the evidence before us is that someone posing as Wong Hong Kim or believed at the time to be Wong Hong Kim in a black suit visited the Immigration Nationality Department along with you. I believe it was Mister Phillips who said that last week, or week before. He said that you accompanied the man in the black suit, in fact you were the person who were primarily involved in having that application submitted to the department. Is that the case?
Elvin Penner, Former Minister of Immigration: I’m going to exercise my privilege that I do believe that I have to not answer that question.
Penner did admit that he met Kim in two separate occasions; once in China and once in Taiwan . It was on his second trip to China that Kim first spoke to him about becoming a Belizean citizen. Senator Courtenay tried to get more information on those meetings and what led to them but Penner insisted that he would no longer discuss the Kim situation. We have much more from today’s senate select Inquiry which we will have to share in subsequent newscasts.