Kiwi official doesn’t rule out possibility after govt keeps mum on Segamat MP’s status
KUALA LUMPUR : Questions are being raised in New Zealand over how Datuk Seri Edmund Santhara Kumar secured a place in the country’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system when many New Zealanders are unable to return home.
According to Kiwi news portal Stuff, National party Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop has called on the government to explain the details behind the Malaysian deputy Federal Territories minister’s entry into the country to visit his family.
He was quoted as saying that many New Zealanders have been trying to get back, including circumstances where they have been trying to return to see dying loved ones.
“The real questions are around how he got into MIQ, there are a highly limited number of spaces, and so people will be pretty concerned if there is special treatment given to him, and the government needs to be up front about that.”
The Stuff report said it is not clear whether Santhara, who is also Segamat MP, travelled on a personal or diplomatic passport, noting that diplomats are exempt from paying MIQ fees.
It also reported that the New Zealand government is refusing to confirm key details behind Santhara’s arrival in the country and isolation on Christmas Eve last year for 16 days.
It said Kiwis wanting to return home from overseas have to likely wait months if they have not booked for the isolation.
The report added that Air New Zealand was ordered by the government to freeze international bookings as Kiwis were flocking home for Christmas.
The Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry, which oversees MIQ facilities, and Immigration New Zealand both cited privacy in saying they are unable to disclose the information requested.
On March 2, The Vibes reported that Santhara was a director of a New Zealand-based company, called V3S Trustees, and held a 20% share for a mere five days before the stake was transferred to his wife, Carline D’Cruz.
According to a document on the Land Information New Zealand portal, Santhara and his wife had initially planned to purchase a house and sought to emigrate to the Pacific country some time before 2011, with the purpose of educating and bringing up their family.
The filing stated that they applied to the New Zealand Immigration Department for permanent residency before “a change in circumstances” led them to reverse their intention.
A Stuff representative, who enquired at a home in Auckland’s Epsom area listed as being owned by Carline, was told by a woman at the address: “We’re not interested in talking about it.”
Incidentally, Santhara’s daughter, Valentyn, became the only democratically elected Youth MP in 2019 when she won the Epsom seat.