Macau denies entry to two former Hong Kong pan-democratic lawmakers for ‘security’ reasons

Frederick Fung and Cheung Man-kwong turned away despite Beijing’s decision to lift travel restrictions on activists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 December, 2016, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 11:56am

Two veteran Hong Kong pan-democrats were refused entry to Macau on Saturday, triggering complaints that the former Portuguese enclave was being “over-zealous” despite Beijing’s recent move to relax travel restrictions on political activists.

Former lawmakers Frederick Fung Kin-kee and Cheung Man-kwong, travelling separately in the morning, were stopped by immigration officers on arrival in Macau. They were both informed that they “constitute a threat to [Macau’s] internal security and stability”.

“I have committed no criminal offence. I don’t know how I can be a threat,” Fung, of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, said. He had meant to meet friends there.

“Even the mainland is now ready to issue home-return permits to pan-democrats to travel or conduct business. Why is Macau even stricter with Hongkongers than the mainland?”

I have committed no criminal offence. I don’t know how I can be a threat
Frederick Fung

On November 30, the Hong Kong government confirmed that Beijing would now accept applications from pan-democrats for home-return permits, which are required of permanent Hong Kong ID card holders of Chinese descent to enter the mainland.

At least a dozen pan-democrats have seen their travel documents expire with no hope of renewal because of their activism since the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989.

The central government’s olive branch to the camp was reconfirmed last week by Wang Guangya, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, who told the pro-Beijing Bauhina Magazine in an interview that opposition politicians would be free to travel across the border, visit relatives and conduct exchanges on the mainland as long as they obeyed local laws.

Hong Kong residents do not need home-return permits to go to Macau – their identity cards are in many cases enough.

Fung found Macau’s refusal to let him in “strange” in view of the change in Beijing’s policy.

“Either Beijing’s offer is false, or Macau is over-zealous in banning dissidents,” he said.

He said he would urge the Hong Kong government to liaise with its Macau counterpart to find out if it had a “blacklist” of pro-democracy activists.

The Hong Kong Security Bureau said it would respect decisions made by immigration authorities in other jurisdictions and it would not intervene.

This is the third time Fung has been banned from entering Macau in recent years. He was turned away twice when he tried to visit while Macau’s legislature was formulating a national security law in 2009.

Cheung, meanwhile, said he had planned to travel with his family to the former Portuguese enclave only to enjoy its culinary delights.

The senior member of the Democratic Party said he later learned from his contacts that there was a “time lag” in communication between the mainland and Macau authorities.

“I was told that if I go again tomorrow, I’ll be able to get in. But I won’t spend money to buy another ferry ticket,” he said.

Cheung said he had not yet applied for a home-return permit and he had no plans to travel to the mainland in the near future.

Two weeks ago, Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheung, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong ­Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which marks the 1989 crackdown every year, became the first barred activist to set foot on mainland soil after the lifting of the decades-old travel ban. Tsoi made the trip to Guangzhou as a “test” and stayed there for one night.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung