Tenacles of China’s financial relationships give it hidden persuasion in many venues.
Student leader Joshua Wong is scolded by government supporters (L) during a promotional event on electoral reform in Hong Kong, China April 25, 2015. REUTERS By TYRONE SIU
KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG |
Malaysia on Tuesday denied entry to a prominent teenage Hong Kong activist for a series of talks on democracy in China, raising concerns that Beijing may have put pressure on Kuala Lumpur.
Joshua Wong, 18, was one of the leaders of last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that paralyzed key roads in the city for 79 days and presented China’s Communist Party leadership with one of its biggest political challenges in decades.
Wong and other protest leaders were accused by China’s state media at the time of trying to foment a “color revolution” to undermine Beijing’s rule.
He had been invited to Malaysia to participate in academic talks ahead of the 26th anniversary of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square demonstrations and bloody crackdown on June 4.
“I don’t rule out that there is pressure from the Chinese government,” Wong told reporters on arrival at Hong Kong airport.
Wong was detained soon after arriving at the airport on the island of Penang on Tuesday morning, then put on a plane back to Hong Kong soon after. He said a Malaysian immigration official had told him it was a “government order” to deny him entry.
Penang immigration authorities declined immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. The Malaysian Consulate in Hong Kong confirmed that Wong was listed as “not allowed to land” but declined to provide any additional information.
China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong couldn’t be reached for any immediate comment.
“We are still demanding that the government make clear why they stopped Joshua Wong from coming here,” said Malaysian human rights activist Ng Yap-hwa, who helped organize Wong’s visit.
“We’re angry at the government’s actions because there’s no reason that the Malaysian government should stop us from organizing any international talk on the democracy movement.”
In December 2012, Malaysia returned six ethnic Uighurs from China’s restive Western region of Xinjiang, who were seeking asylum from China, Human Rights Watch reported, criticizing Malaysia for putting their lives at risk.
Malaysian authorities discovered and detained another 155 ethnic Uighurs last October. They were transported to Kuala Lumpur airport but it is unclear what happened to them. Uighurs are a Muslim minority from Xinjiang, an area beset by violence that Beijing blames on Islamist militants and separatists.
It is not only Chinese activists that Malaysian authorities have stopped. In 2013, Australian senator Nick Xenophon was refused entry on national security grounds after participating in an illegal street rally for electoral reforms a year earlier.
From the BBC
Joshua Wong became a hero to many protesters in Hong Kong demanding free elections
A student activist who helped run last year’s Hong Kong protests has been denied entry to Malaysia by immigration authorities.
Joshua Wong, 18, had been invited to the country to take part in academic talks on democracy in China.
He was detained shortly after arriving at an airport on the northern island of Penang and sent back to Hong Kong.
The organisers of the event at which Mr Wong was due to speak have demanded to know why he was refused entry.
“We’re angry at the government’s actions,” said Ng Yap-hwa, a human rights activist.
“There’s no reason that the Malaysian government should stop us from organising any international talk on the democracy movement.”
Penang immigration authorities have yet to comment.
Mr Wong was one of the main leaders of the Hong Kong protests, which saw tens of thousands of demonstrators flood the streets demanding the right to fully free leadership elections.
He was arrested twice and took part in a hunger strike in a bid to force the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to engage in talks about the 2017 election.
The protests brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for more than two months
His Facebook page showed he had been invited to participate in a series of seminars across Malaysia including one in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Writing on the social networking site he said: “Malaysia’s government doesn’t allow me to enter, now on my way back to Hong Kong.”
Mr Wong said a Malaysian immigration official told him a “government order” had been given to deny him entry.
Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he had knowledge of the incident,according to news website Malaysiakini.
A spokesman for Hong Kong’s immigration department said the entry of its residents to other countries was “out of the control of the Hong Kong government”.