President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. issued an executive order to prevent foreign nationals with criminal history from entering Palau, stating that it is in the best interest of the country.

Executive Order (EO) No. 424, which was signed on April 30, stated that the president had been advised that certain foreign nationals and groups involved in crimes that are posing as investors are tarnishing Palau’s foreign investment and business environment and international reputation.

The EO stated that Palau’s “lax visa and entry standards” pose high risk for abuse that could be detrimental to the country’s border security and threatens national security.

“As chief executive of the national government, it is the duty and obligation of the president to take affirmative action to promote and protect the security interests of the republic,” the EO stated.

It also pointed out that there is a need for the country to be watchful of visitors or foreigners with ill-intentions that could threaten national security.

The EO also directed to “detain and deport foreign nationals with proven criminal history or criminal affiliation” and also to detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of breaking national and state laws or laws of other countries.

Foreign nationals declared as undesirable alien are also ordered to be denied entry and issuance of Palau’s visa or other permit.

Border security and immigration officers are also ordered to conduct proper inspections to determine the admissibility of a visitor entering the country.

“The growing incidence of drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, and fraudulent investments and business practices has alerted the government to increase efforts to be more vigilant in its border vetting process,” the EO read.

Remengesau’s EO was signed a month after reports that former Macau gambling triad leader, Wan Kuok-koi, is planning to invest in a casino business in Palau.

In our previous report, Remengesau was quoted saying that Wan was brought to his office for a courtesy call with Jin Pin Hotel representatives but that he was unaware of his identity at that time.

Wan was jailed in 1999 on charges of illegal gambling, loan-sharking, criminal association, and attempted murder of the chief of police in Macau and was freed in 2012 after serving his sentence.

Island Times previously reported that a record from the Attorney General’s Office revealed that Wan Kuok-koi, along with three other individuals, formed a non-profit organization called Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)