If Hong Kong and Macau are 'two brothers in the same family', as Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said, then the controversy over pan-democrats and a South China Morning Post photographer being denied entry to Macau has made a mockery of the spirit of brotherhood. Felix Wong Chi-keung was asked to sign a document, in which it said he was barred from entering the city under its internal security law, before being sent back to Hong Kong on Wednesday. The same law has been applied by Macau's authorities to turn away more than 30 pan-democrats at immigration checkpoints over the past few months. When asked about Wong's case, a top Macau official on Thursday reiterated that immigration matters had been handled in accordance with the law. Macau's secretary for economy and finance, Francis Tam Pak-yuen, stressed Macau welcomed people from all over the world to visit the city for travel, family visits and work. But, like other places, immigration officials in Macau would handle matters in accordance with the practical situation, he said. The official's response was in line with remarks by Hong Kong's security minister, Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong. Grilled on the government's inaction regarding the plight of the pan-democrats, Mr Lee said: 'Whether we are satisfied or not, we still have to respect another jurisdiction's decisions according to the law.' He added that he felt a little 'uncomfortable' when he first heard that Hongkongers had been denied entry. Such feelings aside, there is no doubt that such incidents, which have intensified over the past few months, have cast a shadow over Hong Kong-Macau ties. It is also ironic that the controversy hit the headlines on the eve of a Hong Kong-Guangdong-Macau liaison meeting on Pearl River Delta development, held in Hong Kong. Speaking at the end of the meeting, Mr Tang said greater co-operation between the three would bring about more synergy. The cordial mood and spirit of co-operation contrast oddly with the moves by the Macau authorities to bar Hongkongers from entering the city without clear, strong justification. For ordinary people, it is hard to believe that pan-democratic legislators attending seminars on the national security bill or spending a weekend break there would pose a serious threat to Macau's internal security and stability. Journalists will also be perplexed about why a photographer faced the same fate. There is no denying that different jurisdictions have their own assessment of the potential risks involved with the entry of a visitor. Such assessments of course have to be made in the context of their individual situations. On the surface, the cases of Hongkongers being denied entry to Macau in the past few months appear to be related to the tension - perceived or otherwise - in the process of enacting a national security law, and the chief executive election in Macau this summer. Pundits believe, however, that there is perhaps more to it than meets the eye. Still, the apparent widening of the ban on Hongkongers' entry has become a source of unease, if not friction, in relations between the two cities. Twenty years after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, more than 20 pan-democrats are still banned from visiting their homeland because of their role in the student-led demonstrations. This profound injury to mainland-democrat relations has yet to be healed. Amid the hype of greater integration in the delta region, moves by the Macau authorities to bar pan-democrats, including elected legislators, as well as a professional journalist, will inflict new wounds. Chris Yeung is the Post's editor-at-large.