Macau | Updated: Hong Kong playwright denied entry in Macau on security grounds

Hong Kong playwright and screenwriter Yan Pat-to stated that Macau authorities have denied his entry in the city for security reasons and sent back to Hong Kong after being invited to give a lecture organised by the Macau Theatre Culture Institute

Macau (MNA) – Hong Kong playwright and screenwriter Yan Pat-to stated that Macau authorities have denied his entry in the city alleging security reasons.

According to comments on his Facebook page, Mr. Yan had been invited by the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong) and the Macau Theatre Culture Institute to come to Macau on the evening of October 22 to host a talk about new European plays.

However, upon arriving at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, he was denied entry and held for two hours, and later asked to sign a notice saying that he was ‘engaged in public activities that endangered Macau.’

‘I asked, how do I harm? He said that it is only a routine report. I asked if I could not sign it. He said no,’ the writer stated in a Facebook post.

According to a report from South China Morning Post, the playwright arrived in Macau yesterday between 5:15 pm and 5:30 pm and was given a ticket back to Hong Kong at 7:30 pm.

‘Simultaneously, Chairman Xi [Jinping] was in Zhuhai, which is next to Macau. It might be the reason [for the authorities to deny entry]. But I don’t want to [speculate] anymore as a totalitarian government intends. Anyway, I’m safe at home now,’ the writer said.

The Chinese President attended the inauguration ceremony of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge today.

The only thing I regret is that I can’t meet my Macau friends who wanted to listen to the lecture. Sorry to say it here but I am thinking about some compensation,’ Mr. Pat added, without clarifying what sort of compensation he was referring to.

The Acting Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, Joyce Chiang, told Macau News Agency (MNA) that the “Macau government should not use borders as a tool to suppress freedom of expression”.

“Both in Macau and Hong Kong, the authorities are increasingly using vague and broadly defined ‘national security’ as a pretence to place unjustified restrictions on the exercise of human rights,’ the organisation indicated.

Meanwhile the Macau Theatre Culture Institute told MNA that it wanted to express “deep regret that Mr. Pat To Yan was denied entry to Macau” to attend the talk hosted by the association and apologised to the playwright and all participants.

“We encouraged everyone to continue support the growth of theater art in Macau, and defend the freedom of expression in art, art critic, and the freedom of cultural corporation,” the association said.

MNA contacted the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) and the Public Security Police Force (PSP) to inquire on the issue but no reply had been provided when this article was published.

Yan Pat-to majored in English Literature and Sociology, having produced European plays while working as an author and director in Hong Kong.

Since 2014 he has been based in London, where he is enrolled on the MA Playwriting at Royal Holloway University of London and produced several works as writer and co-director.

In 2016, Mr. Yan became the first Hong Kong playwright to present a play in Berlin’s 53rd Theatre Festival, with a work named A Concise History of Future China.

Macau authorities have in previous situations blocked the access of journalists and politicians from Hong Kong whom they considered a threat to local security.

Last year, four journalists from the neighbouring region who intended to report on the destruction caused by Typhoon Hato (August 23, 2017) were denied entry, with Hong Kong legislators Helena Wong Pik Wan and Casper Wong also barred to enter the city for ‘security reasons.’

In March 2018, the China Liaison Office in Macau also reportedly warned organizers of Script Road – Macau Literary Festival that the government could not guarantee entry to several book authors, including a U.K. based writer and Mao Zedong biographer Jung Chang.

The entry denials were mentioned in this year’s United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2018 Annual Report as ‘worrying’ signs concerning the city’s autonomy and rule of law.

[Updated to included Amnesty International Hong Kong comments on 9th and 10th paragraphs and of the Macau Theatre Culture Institute on the 11th and 12th paragraphs]