SCMP photographer among Hong Kong journalists denied entry into storm-hit Macau
Group of four told they ‘posed a risk to the stability of internal security’
At least four Hong Kong journalists, including a South China Morning Post photographer, were denied entry to Macau on Saturday on the grounds that they posed a security threat to the former Portuguese colony.
The journalists had hoped to cover the clean-up in Macau after it was severely hit by Typhoon Hato last week. The storm claimed 10 lives and left more than 200 injured.
The Post’s photographer Felix Wong was stopped and detained by Macau authorities as he arrived in the casino hub at around 2pm on Saturday.
He received a written statement from Macau immigration saying he “posed a risk to the stability of internal security”.
Two reporters from Apple Daily and another from online portal HK01 were also denied entry for the same reason.
Tammy Tam, editor-in-chief of South China Morning Post, expressed deep concern that the publication’s photographer was detained by the Macau authorities. “We strongly object to the detention of our journalists carrying out their duty to inform the public. They pose no security threat to anyone or anything.
“We will be pursuing this matter with the relevant authorities.”
Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong said he deeply regretted the ban and said the reason used by the Macau authorities was “absolutely ridiculous”. He said he did not see how media reporting could constitute a threat to the city’s internal security.
Law said the move had not only hampered press freedom but also affected Macau residents’ right to access the latest information regarding the disaster relief effort and the coming storm.
“If Macau locals could not get hold of this information, they might face another disaster very soon,” he said.
HK01 also expressed deep concerns over the ban and pledged to follow up the incident with the Macau authorities.
Macau is expected to issue the strong wind signal No 3 at around midnight as tropical storm Pakhar closes in on the south China coast.
Ma Io Kun, the commissioner of the Public Security Police in Macau, said the ban was issued in accordance with the law and had nothing to do with the visitors’ occupations.
In a joint statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association also expressed deep regret over the incident and urged Macau to respect press freedom.
The two associations also said Macau had an arbitrarily restrictive immigration policy, saying a number of Hong Kong journalists had been barred from entering the city in recent years.
The Macau Portuguese and English Press Association (AIPIM) deeply regretted the entry ban.
“AIPIM finds the explanation given by the local authorities incomprehensible and unsatisfactory and cautions that this move, similar to previous ones of the same kind, tarnishes the international image of the [Macau] SAR regarding press freedom,” the statement issued by the association read.