Malaysia Denies Entry to Hong Kong Student Democracy Leader Joshua Wong

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Student activist Joshua Wong speaks outside the Wanchai police station in Hong Kong, Jan. 16, 2015.
Student activist Joshua Wong speaks outside the Wanchai police station in Hong Kong, Jan. 16, 2015.

Authorities in Malaysia on Tuesday denied entry to Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader of Hong Kong's Occupy Central pro-democacy movement, in a move that Wong criticized as politically motivated.

Wong, 18, who had been invited to take part in a forum on regional youth activism, was turned away on May 26 at Malaysia's Penang Airport by immigration officials who told him his status was marked as "NTL," meaning "not allowed to land."

He was sent straight back to Hong Kong on the same aircraft just one hour later, he told reporters.

Chin Kae Min, organizer of the planned "The Uprising of Youth and New Social Activism in Singapore and Hong Kong" forum told Malaysia's The Star newspaper that the event would still go ahead.

Wong, who campaigned with his activist group Scholarism against Beijing-approved "patriotic education" in Hong Kong's schools, went on to became one of the iconic figures of the 79-day Umbrella Movement that occupied key highways in the city in a campaign for fully democratic elections for the city's chief executive in 2017.

He later gave his presentation remotely, via Skype, according to live tweets from the forum in Penang.

Wong told reporters on his return to the former British colony that the decision to deny him entry to Malaysia was "unreasonable."

"I am really disappointed with the statement of the Malaysian government," he said. "Even though I was involved in the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, it is not really related to the ... movement in Malaysia."

"Neither I nor Scholarism has ever made any kind of comment regarding the local democracy movement or the authorities in Malaysia," he said.

"I don't think that it is ... reasonable to refuse me [permission] to enter Malaysia. "So I think that there must be political factors involved."

Government order

He said Penang immigration officials had said the decision was taken as the result of a "government order."

"They even grabbed me by both arms, as if to frog-march me away," said Wong, who has also been denied entry in recent months to mainland China and neighboring Macau, a former Portuguese enclave that returned to Chinese rule in 1999.

Pan-democratic lawmaker and political activist Leung Kwok-hung told RFA that the decision by the Malaysian government was inexplicable.

"I find this totally unacceptable," Leung said. "Joshua Wong received a clear invitation, and everybody knows exactly who he is, so they have no reason to deny him entry."

"They knew who he is, and what he does," said Leung, who said he still plans to head to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur for what was to have been a joint talk on the June 4 massacre and the Occupy Movement alongside Wong.

The Malaysian consulate in Hong Kong declined to give details of the reasons for the decision, Hong Kong's English-language South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

"Based on records available to me, the named subject is listed as 'NTL'—not allowed to land," the paper quoted immigration attache Wang Syaifuldin as saying.

"I am unable to furnish any reason, due to it being a confidential matter beyond my authority to discern," he said.

Sensitive anniversary

Wong had also been booked to speak at forums in Penang, Ipoh, Johor, and Petaling Jaya on June 3, the eve of the 26th anniversary of the military crackdown by the People's Liberation that ended weeks of student-led democracy protests on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

His barring from Malaysia comes just days ahead of the sensitive anniversary, which has already sparked renewed tensions in Hong Kong after the city's Beijing-backed chief executive C.Y. Leung scheduled a key meeting on controversial electoral reform on Sunday, the planned date of Hong Kong's annual Tiananmen massacre memorial event.

Leung said he didn't believe that this year's anniversary was an important one, however.

"This year isn't a big year, not a big anniversary of June 4," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Only lawmakers can decide whether or not five million people have a vote in the 2017 chief executive elections."

"So it's up to them to decide whether to attend the rally, or to consider their role as the only decision-makers in the political reform process," Leung said.

Pan-democratic lawmakers hit out at Leung's comments, saying they won't be attending the meeting with ruling Chinese Communist Party officials in neighboring Shenzhen.

"He may think it's not important, and if he wants to be frivolous and coldhearted, that's his problem," lawmaker and Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said. "But his comments will make everyone very indignant about the June 4 massacre, and will rub salt in our wounds."

"He is just trying to cause trouble, and make sure that the meeting [in Shenzhen] doesn't go smoothly."

Pan-democratic lawmakers say they plan to veto the reform plan, which is based on an Aug. 31 decision from China's National People's Congress (NPC) ruling out public nomination of candidates, and which is due to be tabled in the territory's Legislative Council (LegCo) next month.

The NPC standing committee's Aug. 31 edict sparked the mass Occupy Central democracy movement that took the yellow umbrella as its symbol after protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray and tear-gas in clashes with police.

The movement, which campaigned for "genuine universal suffrage" and the preservation of Hong Kong's traditional rights and freedoms, drew hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets at its height.

Reported by Dai Weisen for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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