Dual Citizenship: Taxation and the Right to Vote

first_imgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) The issue of dual citizenship has generated a lot of commentary and heat here in Liberia as well as in the Diaspora, especially in the United States. Those who support it are exercised about the righteousness of their cause. Their argument goes something like this. Commencing with the coup d’etat mounted by M/Sgt Samuel Doe and his 17 compadres in 1980, Liberians started leaving the country involuntarily in large numbers, fleeing persecution and political instability.The second wave came in 1985 in the wake of the abortive Quiwonkpa failed coup. The atrocities, especially those perpetrated against the Gio and Mano populations, have been amply documented in such books as “A Promise Betrayed” by Bill Berkeley of the Lawyers’ Committee on Human Rights.The civil war followed in 1989 and a third wave ensued, all the way through Octopus, April 6, 1996 and World War III in 2003. Those who were forced to leave Liberia to avoid slaughter, rape, maiming, displacement or such other horrors of war argue that they should not lose their right to Liberian citizenship because they opted to take citizenship of another country while they were in the Diaspora.  They feel that they should be entitled to recover their Liberian citizenship, along with all the rights and privileges that go with citizenship now that peace and harmony reign. They want to be dual citizens, i.e. citizens of Liberia and of the United States or whatever other country they have adopted as their new home. They want to have their cake and eat it too.Those opposed to the notion of dual citizenship are equally adamant that they don’t want people with one foot in Liberia and another foot elsewhere. Citing the case of Ellen Cockrum, they fear that dual citizens will commit crimes in Liberia, then hop on a Brussels Airlines flight to avoid prosecution. Emotions are raw.The issue of dual citizenship is a complex one. First, foreign citizenship is a matter of choice. A personal example will illustrate the point.I fled Liberia in 1986 because C-I-C Samuel Doe was after my hide. My dear friend Jim Holder, Ellen Sirleaf, my father Harry Sr., Tuan Wreh, Jackson Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh and a number of other political figures had been arrested and incarcerated in the aftermath of the Quiwonkpa debacle. Because they had not gotten up soooon in the morning, Doe and his henchmen did not get me. I was hiding right under their noses in Monrovia. But when my mother-in-law, Justine Nimley, asked her brother, G. Alvin Jones, what would happen to me if I turned myself in, the clip response was that “They would skin me alive”. Understandably, I was not brought out of my hiding place.Instead, I journeyed to the United States and applied for political asylum. If ever there was a person for whom the asylum laws of the United States were created, it was me. I had a “well founded fear of persecution”. So, when the time came and I became eligible for US citizenship I chose not to obtain US citizenship. I did so because I knew that eventually I would come back to Liberia and I didn’t want to lose my Liberian citizenship. My wife at the time and eldest daughter, both of whom were born in Liberia, chose to become US citizens. I settled instead for a Green Card.I lived in the United States for 16 years and missed out on a lot of the benefits of citizenship. But that was my choice. Life is like that. You make choices and you have to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices you make. That goes for citizenship as it does for many other things. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.Proponents of dual citizenship focus on the benefits of citizenship but often forget about its obligations. One of the privileges of citizenship, which many proponents of dual citizenship are eyeing, is the right to vote in elections in Liberia. But if you do not live here and consequently have to live with the consequences of the choices you make at election time, is it fair for you to be given the right to vote here?Another of the obligations of citizenship is supporting the cost of government through taxation. Under American law, a US citizen must pay taxes on their income wherever it is earned. Would dual citizens accept to pay taxes in Liberia as well as in, say, the United States even though they may not live in Liberia? If the answer is no, then how would they be contributing to upkeep of the government in Liberia in the way that those living in Liberia do?The writer is a businessman. He can be reached at hagreaves49@gmail.com.last_img read more

Efforts to salvage tanker off Goa to resume today

first_imgEfforts to pump out 2,400 tonnes of naphtha from a stranded cargo tanker off the Goa coast will resume on Saturday after a three-day break. The 144-metre chemical tanker MV Nu-Shi Nalini ran aground approximately 800 metres from Dona Paula, a popular tourist spot near Panaji, on October 24. On October 30, the salvage operation suffered a setback when a generator, brought in for pumping out the cargo of naphtha and other fuel on board from the vessel, had to be jettisoned into the Arabian Sea due to bad weather. Speaking to the media, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said a new electric hydropump had been arranged and that operations to remove the naphtha would resume. The generator had been flown in from Mumbai by the Navy and was to be placed on board the ship to power the hydraulic pumps that would remove the naphtha along with 50 tonnes of heavy oil and 19 tonnes of diesel. The generator, damaged due to its jettisoning, was later recovered by Indian Navy divers. Efforts are on to repair it so that it too could be pressed into use, officials said.Officials said the hydropump would now be placed on board another barge that will be anchored beside the grounded tanker. “With the help of this hydropump, we will remove the naphtha from the grounded ship and shift it to the barge in tanks that are made available for this operations,” a government official said. A multi-agency operation has been under way since October 24, when rough seas, caused by Cyclone Kyarr, led to the grounding of MV Nu-Shi Nalini on a rocky shelf. It has been anchored unmanned at the Mormugao Port Trust’s outer anchorage and has not moved position since. The Goa government is meanwhile likely to rope in the services of a Singapore-based ship salvage company to refloat and move away the tanker once all the naphta, heavy oil and diesel is fully pumped out.last_img read more

Fight club

first_imgHer statuesque proportions and arresting face got the entire nation re-evaluating its idea of wrestlers when she first appeared on the TV show Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2009. Twenty-seven year-old Sonika Kaliraman is now using her new found popularity to improve the state of women wrestlers and to fight for,Her statuesque proportions and arresting face got the entire nation re-evaluating its idea of wrestlers when she first appeared on the TV show Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2009. Twenty-seven year-old Sonika Kaliraman is now using her new found popularity to improve the state of women wrestlers and to fight for open trials across the country for the Commonwealth Games. Even though the latter seems to be a battle lost, she believes that she tried her best and is focusing more on the former for the moment. “I live for my game,” she says.One would not expect anything less from someone whose father was the legendary wrestler Master Chandgi Ram. When she was 15, her father came home and showed her and her three sisters a newspaper clipping, it was that of Diana Hayden who had just won the Miss World crown, “This is what you girls are going to be like,” he said. Kaliraman was ecstatic, “I thought, he’s going to put us in modeling,” laughs the 6ft stunner. But then, their father showed them the picture of Laila Ali, daughter of Mohammed Ali who was winning boxing championships and said that they could do the same. “We were shocked as we had all grown up in an extremely protected environment and here was our father initiating us into wrestling, which was a completely male sport.” Of the three sisters, Kailraman was the one who showed the most potential and it was her that Chandgi Ram invested his dreams in. A veteran wrestler himself, he won a gold at the 1970 Asian Games and represented the country in the 1972 Olympics. He wanted his daugher to bring home the same honour and put her through rigorous practice. “I would come home after training, with my salwar kameezin tatters and my mother would be mortified, but there was always something exciting about putting on my training shoes and gearing up for a fight,” she says. But all was not always pleasant, as men were still not used to seeing women wrestle and many accused Chandgi Ram of defiling the game by initiating his daughter into it.There was a time in 1998 when the girls went for a match in Haryana and were pushed out of the wrestling arena as the men were not ready for them. Her father’s hardwork eventually paid off when she won a silver medal in the 72kg category in the National Wrestling Championship in 1998.When Kaliraman was 17, she begged for a break from wrestling so that she could secure good marks in her Class 10 exams in order to realise her life long dream of studying science. But the World Cadet Championship in Poland came up and she was packed off to a camp in the European Union. “I am fanatical about science, but I had to give up my passion to follow my father’s and it is not a decision I regret,” she says. Ever since, there has been no looking back. In her 12-year career, she has won 16 titles at the national level and has participated in several international events. She secured third position in the Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament last year, held annually in the memory of the world freestyle wrestling champion in the USA and also represented India at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.Even though winning titles was a high, one thing that plagued her was what if she was never able to live a regular life. “In our communities, girls are taught to be docile, but I was so frightening, no boy dared to say a thing to me,” she laughs. But in February 2009, she met her match in NRI Siddharth Malik, a real estate entrepreneur, and married him, settling in Fontana City, California. In the country at the moment, due to a tussle with the Wrestling Federation of India as she feels there were unfair trials for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, she has been petitioning for open trials across the country. The only reason she did so is because it was her father’s last wish-he died this June of a cardiac arrest. “Ever since I started training under him I used to refer to him as Guruji.We never had a direct conversation. He spoke to me after 12 years this June only to tell me to not give up and fight my cause and here I am,” she says. Even though her career maybe momentarily at a standstill due to the rejection of her petition by the Delhi High Court, she says that she will be making her move once she has weighed her pros and cons thoroughly. In the meantime, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day, you can find her in a dilapidated room full of mats, wearing a T-shirt and track pants, doing what she does best, getting ready for combat and training for yet another day.advertisementadvertisementlast_img read more