HK activist Joshua Wong puzzled over Malaysia ban, police say it's due to 'anti-China' views

Student leader of the Occupy protests Joshua Wong arrives at the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on May 26, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA 
Student leader of the Occupy protests Joshua Wong arrives at the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on May 26, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA 

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong does not understand why he was barred from entering Malaysia as he is fighting for rights within China and not anywhere else, but Malaysia's police chief said the ban was precisely due to his "anti-China" views.

On his arrival back in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening, Wong, 18, said customs officers at Penang Airport had taken his passport and air ticket for half an hour before telling him he had to return to Hong Kong "immediately".

"I asked what's the reason? Were there any documents? And the representative only said it was a government order," he told reporters. "I asked if there was any detailed information about the government order and they didn't want to respond. They tried to grab my arms and take me away."

Wong said he thought there was a "political reason" behind his rejection, but added: "I don't understand how there is any relation between the Umbrella Movement and Malaysia's national security."

Wong called on the Hong Kong government to look into his case, saying it was an infringement of his right to travel freely.

"I don't understand why Malaysia refused me as I'm fighting for universal suffrage within China, not in Malaysia," he added.

Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said the purpose of Wong’s visit was to explain how he had organised demonstrations in Hong Kong.“We were afraid that what he was going to speak about would harm our security,” he told AFP.“He was also going to speak about China. We know his anti-Chinese speeches. We do not want him to jeopardise our ties with China,” Tan Sri Khalid said.Democracy activists reject Beijing’s restrictions on a proposed public vote for Hong Kong’s leader in 2017, which stipulate that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.Mr Khalid said Malaysian police had asked the immigration department to stop Wong entering the country.“We do not need him in Malaysia as Wong is an undesirable element,” he said.

Hong Kong's security bureau said the government "attaches importance" to residents' rights outside Hong Kong, but did not say whether it would intervene in Wong's case.

"We respect the right of other jurisdictions in exercising immigration control and making decisions in accordance with their laws," it said in a statement.

The Hong Kong authorities have not imposed any travel restrictions on Wong.

Wong said he had been invited to "share his experience and views on the Umbrella Movement and the June 4 incident", according to the South China Morning Post. He also planned to speak about the city's pro-democracy movement and the anniversary of China's Tiananmen Square massacre.

His visit came less than two weeks before the 26th anniversary on June 4 of the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.

Hong Kong commemorates the anniversary each year with a candlelit vigil attended by thousands in the city's Victoria Park.

Wong was the teenage face of the "Umbrella Movement", which brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for more than two months late last year with mass rallies calling for fully free leadership elections.

"This morning we stopped Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong from entering Penang. We subsequently deported him back to Hong Kong on the same Dragonair flight," an immigration official at Penang airport said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official declined to say why Wong was denied entry.

Democracy activists reject Beijing's restrictions on a proposed public vote for Hong Kong's leader in 2017 that stipulate that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.