Barred democrats to test Macau’s entry ban Sunday

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Issue 637, Page 2
Word count: 1042
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A group of about 25 pan-democracy Hong Kong residents including legislators will travel to Macau this Sunday morning to test the entry ban, after a number of their peers had been turned away which they suspected was due to their political views.

The group is made up of at least 15 legislators and 10 democrats including Lee Cheuk-yan, Emily Lau Wai-hing, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Lee Wing Tat, Albert Ho Chun-yan and Alan Leong Kah-kit, among which some of them had already been barred from Macau.

They said yesterday in a press conference in Hong Kong that they hoped the Macau government could “remain open” and ensure a “normal tie and exchange” between the two SARs.

They have written to security secretary Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong earlier to invite him to join the trip. However, the Hong Kong secretary soon made a public statement that he would not be a peer of the group.

Convener of the Hong Kong pan-democracy camp, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, said that their one-day itinerary in Macau, if entry is allowed, would be mainly to carry out “exchange activities with their counterparts, legislator Ng Kuok Cheong and the New Macau Association, as well as sight-seeing and shopping,” the Hong Kong media reported.

“If some of our group members can’t enter Macau, we will demand the Macau and the Hong Kong governments to seriously clarify whether there is a blacklist and explain the situation,” Ho was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong media, adding “if all of the group members are refused entry, is it a political censorship?”.

She also urged the Macau government not to “build up walls around the territory,” and to respect immigration arrangements of the two places so that Hong Kong and Macau people could move freely.

General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Lee Cheuk-yan, said that he hoped the relations between the SARs could restore to “normal”, and also called on the Macau government not to “complicate the issue,” the Hong Kong media reported.

Chairman of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Bruce Liu Sung-lee, also said that by organising the “exchange activity” this Sunday, he hoped that two governments could explain the incidents of Hong Kong residents having been refused entry to Macau.

Meanwhile, the group called on legislators who were barred from Macau to make daily trips by ferry to put pressure on the government to lift the travel ban.

Last week 23 pan-democracy legislators jointly wrote to security secretary Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong and invited him to travel to the neighbouring SAR together.

According to the Hong Kong media, the group said in the letter that they believed Lee had “a wealth of knowledge about Hong Kong and Macau’s immigration affairs and also a close relation with the Macau authority.”

“If any residents are being turned away by Macau again, you [Lee] can provide assistance immediately,” the letter reads.

A government spokesperson said that in view of the incident’s development, having Lee to go to Macau with the legislators was “not a good way to solve the problem,” the Hong Kong media accounted.

The spokesman of the Macau Public Security Force yesterday did not comment on whether the group of democrats would be allowed to enter Macau, but added that the authority would grant entry to visitors according to “the nature of their activities [in Macau].”

Also, when asked whether police would make use of force to send the people away if they insisted not to go, the spokesman said he would not respond to hypothetical questions.

A number of pro-democracy politicians and academics have been refused entry to Macau since December 2008.

In the most recent incident on March 3, legislator Frederick Fung Kin-kee and District Council member Bruce Liu Sung-lee were refused entry to Macau for the second time this year.

Also on February 27, dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, Johannes Chan Man-mun, failed to make his way to chair a legal seminar at the University of Macau as he was barred upon arrival at the Macau ferry terminal.

The three Hong Kong residents were told by the immigration officers that they were turned away based on the internal security law of Macau as their names were shown on the computer.

They said afterwards that they suspected the entry ban came from their open speech against the national security law stipulated by Article 23 of the Basic Law.

In addition, a South China Morning Post photographer, who was detained briefly in Beijing last year when a scuffle broke out over queues for Olympic tickets, was denied entry to Macau for the first time last month on security grounds.

Legislator Leung Kwok-hung, who is commonly known as “Long Hair” and among those refused entry, said he would travel on Sunday with five colleagues to test the travel ban, according to The Earth Times.

“We will go there to emphasise our demand that the Macau government delete the blacklist,” Leung said in an interview with Hong Kong’s government-run radio station RTHK.

“It is ridiculous,” he said. “I suggest those legislators who have been banned from entering Macau should go there on a daily basis and come back if we are rejected. It will become a daily protest.

“That way, it will become very difficult for the Macau government to [continue to] resist us. …It is a very ugly act for a country to refuse to allow a legislator from another country to enter without a reason.”

On the other hand, assistant professor of the Department of Government and International Studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, who is also the Secretary-General of the Civic Party, will have to travel to Macau tomorrow to attend an academic conference of the Asia Europe Foundation, according to the Hong Kong media.

As the two SAR chief executives had said earlier that they are still “handling” the entry ban incident, Chan said he was not certain on whether he could enter Macau.

Stanley Ho had made an open statement last week that all those people having been barred were “troublemakers”. Chan said that he would not depart Hong Kong from the Shun Tak Ferry Terminal, the Hong Kong media accounted.

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