By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Hong Kong pan-democracy camp’s desire to see a “normalised relationship” between the two SARs seems not yet to be fulfilled, as they said they were “outraged” about five of their peers being turned away from Macau yesterday.
The five barred legislators and activists were Lee Cheuk-yan, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Tsang Kin-shing (nicknamed “The Bull”), Koo Sze-yiu and Lui Yuk-lin, who is a member of the April Fifth Action Group.
The entry refusal eventually led to the rest of the 30 members handing in a letter of protest to the Macau government headquarters, demanding that chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah respect Hong Kong residents’ human rights and resume a normal immigration policy.
The group, made up of 35 Hong Kong residents including legislators, District Council members and individual members from the Democratic Party, Civic Party, the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, League of Social Democrats and the Confederation of Trade Unions, departed the Hong Kong Ferry Terminal at 9am and made their way to Macau, where they planned to meet the New Macau Association to discuss the latest political and social conditions after the enactment of the national security law in Macau.
Those who were allowed to enter Macau included Albert Ho Chun-yan, Emily Lau Wai-hing, Cheung Man-kwong, Lee Wing-tat, James To Kun-sun and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee.
Due to the size of the group and the series of deportations by the Macau government in recent years, the trip yesterday attracted about 50 media representatives from Hong Kong who travelled on the same boat to Macau.
Cyd Ho Sau-lan, convener of the pan-democracy camp, said before leaving Hong Kong that she wished the Macau administration would “honour the immigration services agreement between Hong Kong and Macau so that people of the two cities could keep normal communication and exchanges.”
“A lot of immigration freedoms are predominately controlled by the government, so it will depend on whether it will be open enough to accept friends with different political views,” Ho said.
“The Macau government also have the responsibility of protecting the rights and freedom of communications of its people with others outside Macau,” she added.
Leung Kwok-hung, who is commonly known as “Long Hair,” had been barred from Macau on and off since 1999.
He said during the sailing to Macau that he could not promise the Macau government to not stage protests in exchange for his human rights.
“I’m a human being, I deserve human rights,” Leung said.
“No one can force a person not to say things that they don’t want to listen to. The right to let us in or not is in the hands of the government, but dignity is in my hands,” he added.
Long Hair also told the Macau Daily Times that no independent jurisdiction in the world would allow its elected legislators “who represent a country or region’s dignity, to be humiliated by other governments at will.”
“The whole incident has turned ridiculous. People keep telling lies in order to explain something that they don’t dare to explain,” he said.
“It’s the Hong Kong government’s responsibility to stand firm for us,” he added.
Despite the fact that Macau’s security secretary had stressed many times that the SAR did not have an immigration blacklist, Leung said any person who believed that denial must be “a fool.”
At about 10.15am, when the pan-democracy camp arrived at the Macau Ferry Terminal, the group was divided into two by the Public Security Police, and the first batch comprising Long Hair and unionist Lee Cheuk-yan tried to go through immigration.
Long Hair, the first of the Hong Kong residents to be taken away to an interview room, told the media after getting back to Hong Kong that he was told the reason his not being allowed to enter Macau was that he had infringed on the territory’s internal security laws.
Afterwards Tsang Kin-shing from the League of Social Democrats, Koo Sze-yiu, an active street protester, Lee Cheuk-yan from the Confederation of Trade Unions, as well as Lui Yuk-lin of the April Fifth Action Group were all sent back to Hong Kong by the 11am ferry ostensibly for the same reason.
The rest of the 30 pan-democracy members chanted slogans and put up a banner at the ferry terminal to call for the stepping down of Edmund Ho Hau-wah, removal of the immigration blacklist, and a halt to political censorship.
Cyd Ho Sau-lan again spoke to the Hong Kong and Macau media, saying that the immigration officers did not specify which provision of the internal security laws the barred residents had violated.
“We’re extremely outraged about Macau’s unreasonable political censorship,” she asserted.
“If the Macau government refuses to allow the entry of a common citizen based on his or her political stance, we feel very angry about that and will act according to our plan, which is to first check with the officers to ascertain what had happened and to see upon which provision they based their decision to return five of them to Hong Kong,” she said.
A representative from each of the five political parties or groups, including Bruce Liu-Sung-lee, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Ku Kwai-yiu demanded to meet the immigration officer in charge at the ferry terminal.
They were told the officer in charge had to come from the immigration headquarters, but after about 30 minutes of waiting he still did not show up.
“They gave us no explanations. It’s just the government’s attempt to delay a meeting between officials and us,” Ho said.
“But we had a very good real-life experience today, finding that Macau is conducting political censorship in immigration affairs,” she added.
Ng Kuok-cheong, one of the few pro-democracy lawmakers of Macau and member of the New Macau Association, told the reporters that the entry ban was an “abuse of the internal security laws.”
“I have no idea about what the standards are in determining who cannot enter Macau. But clearly it’s political censorship,” Ng said.
“From the point of view of a power dispute, the boundary of political censorship can change at any time. So there is no fixed blacklist, but political censorship is carried out based on the trend of the times,” he added.
Cheung Man-kwong, member of the Democratic Party, said the incident represented “a loss of human rights.”
“We kept silence when Christina Chan Hau-man, Long Hair and Lee Cheuk-yan were turned away from Macau before.
And eventually it [entry ban] has been extended to other legislators, scholars and journalists,” Cheung said.
“It gave us an impressive lesson. For any behaviour that infringes human rights, if we don’t counter-attack it, we will just encourage it to grow in the future,” he added.
The democratic member also said that the group would write to their chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to urge him to negotiate with his counterpart.
“Tsang as the chief executive of Hong Kong, has the responsibility to protect Hong Kong people’s immigration freedoms. I can’t see any of us is going to harm Macau’s public security,” he said.
Meanwhile, Emily Lau Wai-hing, vice president of the Democratic Party and convener of The Frontier, said “Edmund Ho has made a very wrong decision.”
After about 12 noon the 30 pan-democracy Hong Kong residents arrived at the Macau government headquarters in Nam Van.
The group kept on chanting slogans and displaying their banner in front of the headquarters’ main entrance before a government representative came to receive the petition addressed to Edmund Ho Hau Wah.
According to Cyd Ho Sau-lan, the petition reads “We strongly oppose the Macau government for selectively turning away members of the visiting group….which is a barbaric doing that we shall condemn…The Macau government itself broke the former intimate relationship with Hong Kong…”.
It continues to say that ‘allowing non-residents entry should be a policy of a civilised country…We urge the Macau government to resume the normal immigration policy as soon as possible so that people of Hong Kong can enter Macau and conduct mutual exchanges freely.”
The group of 30 democrats afterwards went to the New Macau Association office where the local counterparts briefed them about Macau’s current conditions under the enforcement of the national security law.
Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, who had been barred from Macau twice before yesterday, said he believed authorities were worried he would try to contact workers’ groups in Macau, where unemployment had risen sharply due to the financial crisis.
However, he said he had never participated in any protest in Macau and therefore did not understand why the entry ban was imposed on him.
The unionist legislator also criticised the Hong Kong government for being “weak and incompetent”, the Hong Kong media reported.
Lei Siu-peng, acting commissioner of the Macau Public Security Police, issued a statement yesterday, saying that the barring of five Hong Kong residents was “in accordance with the internal security law.”
“With a view to safeguarding Macau’s social stability and public order, the Public Security Police Forces, which is the bureau responsible for regulating the entry and exit of people into and out of Macau, may turn down the entry requests by non-Macau residents who fail to meet the entry criteria,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government also said in a statement that it would continue to monitor the situation, but added that “as in other jurisdictions, the Macau SAR has its own immigration control.”