sábado, 11 de julho de 2009

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Unanswered questions about Macau entry bans

South China Morning Post
July 11, 2009

When Macau authorities twice denied Post photographer Felix Wong Chi-keung entry to the city, it raised disturbing questions about the freedoms of the press and of movement guaranteed under Macau's Basic Law. It came during a period when some 20 pan-democrats and the dean of the law faculty at the University of Hong Kong were also denied entry. No explanation was given, nor an apology. That understandably led to suspicions about the motives of the Macau government.

Belatedly, a very senior Macau official has privately admitted he was sorry Wong was refused entry, but did not elaborate. Wong had prior approval to cover the trial of Macau's disgraced former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long last February. But when he arrived, he was turned away and then removed. The photographer was ejected a second time a week later. Since Wong is believed to be the first Hong Kong journalist barred from entering Macau to carry out his professional duties, serious concerns were raised. Wong was told he was refused entry under the city's internal security law. Even if the ban in this specific case was a mistake, questions remain as to why Macau shut its doors to other law-abiding Hong Kong citizens. For example, Johannes Chan Man-mun is one of Hong Kong's leading legal scholars and an occasional adviser to the government here.

In light of the latest admission about Wong, could it be that the ban on Professor Chan was also imposed in error? If so, the Macau government needs to overhaul its security and immigration procedures before any more damage is done to its international reputation. Macau has steadfastly denied it has an immigration blacklist. But from the systematic way selected political figures from Hong Kong have been banned, some kind of list obviously exists. All governments have the right to control movement across their borders and prevent entry by people who may threaten public order and security. But even a sympathetic observer may conclude Macau's efforts have been excessive and counterproductive.

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