Malaysian immigration officials have denied entry to Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong after he was detained on arrival at Penang Airport Tuesday morning.
Wong, who was a key figure in Hong Kong’s ‘umbrella revolution’ protests late last year, had reportedly traveled to Malaysia to speak at a number of forums ahead of next month’s Tiananmen Square anniversary.
The local English-language news outlet tweeted: ‘Wong claimed he was dragged away by officers, was heard “don’t use violence”’, later tweeting:
— malaysiakini.com (@malaysiakini) May 26, 2015
Wong confirmed on his Twitter account that he was not allowed to enter Malaysia because of a “government order”.
點解不能入境？ 馬來西亞入境事務官員：government order — 黃之鋒 (@joshuawong1013) May 26, 2015
He also reportedly sent a voice message to Hong Kong media before he boarded his return flight, saying: “Today I was invited by the civil society in Malaysia to share my experience and my views on the Umbrella movement and the June 4 incident. Now the Malaysian government has denied me entry and demanded I return to Hong Kong. I’m getting on the return flight.”
Wong, 18, who has kept a low profile since his role in the 79-day Occupy sit-ins in Hong Kong, announced at the weekend that that he will serve a new term as head of the ‘Scholarism’ group he founded to fight national education in Hong Kong’s schools.
The exact reason a “government order” was issued to prevent him from entering Malaysia was unclear at the time of writing.
The teenager has certainly been a thorn in the side of authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing. In 2012 he led more than 100,000 on the streets of Hong Kong to protest against mandatory nationalistic education. Wong won that battle, with Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung backing down on the planned education reforms.
Last year’s universal suffrage protests didn’t result in such a clear cut victory, but Wong certainly unsettled the powers that be in Beijing, with state media branding him an “extremist”.
In Hong Kong, though, he is considered a superstar by many and it could be this popularity, as well as his ability to rally massive crowds to his causes, that unnerved the Malaysian government.
Speculation was rife on Twitter Tuesday as to why Wong had been denied entry, with many reacting angrily to his detention and deportation:
Our govt must grow up, don’t be small minded – Joshua Wong is a pro democracy activist. Is that a crime to bar him from entering Msia?
— Eric Paulsen (@EricPaulsen101) May 26, 2015