DAB fails to gag debate over Macau entry bans

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 February, 2009, 12:00am

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong yesterday failed to prevent pan-democrats from moving an emergency debate in Legco to discuss Macau's refusal to admit some Hongkongers.

The adjournment debate, to be moved by Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan on Wednesday, will put the spotlight on Macau's repeated refusals of entry to Hong Kong residents, including more than 30 pan-democrats, in recent months. Officials also barred Felix Wong Chi-keung, a South China Morning Post photographer, twice in less than a week.

'We hope the Hong Kong government will give an active response to the incident since it affects many people of Hong Kong. Such high-handed and barbaric gestures have never happened in the past,' Mr Ho said.

Democrat Lee Wing-tat said the freedom of the press was also under threat.

'More than a third of Legco members have been barred. The [Post] photographer has been barred twice. At least we should know why his camera is such a big threat to Macau's security,' Mr Lee said.

Wong was barred on February 18 and again on Thursday upon arrival, despite being accredited to cover the trial of disgraced former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long. Macau officials said the decisions were based on internal security laws.

On Wednesday, Macau lawmakers approved a controversial national security bill, based on Article 23 of the Basic Law. The law seeks to prohibit treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central government, or theft of state secrets.

In opposing the emergency debate yesterday, Ip Kwok-him, vice-chairman of the DAB, said there was no urgent need to discuss the bans.

'We oppose the adjournment debate because there is no such need,' he said.

But the DAB's attempt to gag the debate was foiled as independents, including Lam Tai-fai, Samson Tam Wai-ho, Paul Chan Mo-po and Paul Tse Wai-chun from the pro-government camp joined pan-democrats to outvote the DAB.