A former activist from Hong Kong has been denied entry to Macau on the grounds that he poses threats to the stability of the territory’s internal security.

Travel writer and former activist Fred Lam Fai was due to speak at a secondary school in Macau about travel on Wednesday, but was refused entry in accordance with Section 17 of Macau’s Internal Security Law.

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Macau government’s rejection notice to Fred Lam. Photo: Fred Lam, via Facebook.

Lam told HKFP that he was taken to a room after Macau’s immigration officers checked his Hong Kong identity card. The process took about half an hour.

He said the immigration staff did not ask about the purpose of his visit, nor did they give Lam any reasons when asked why they had rejected his entry. “They were friendly but couldn’t care less about why I went to Macau,” said Lam. “All they said was ‘I don’t know’ and told me to refer to their rejection notice.”

Lam was formerly active in social movements such as the 2008 protests against the demolition of Queen’s Pier, but he said he had “retreated from the frontline” since 2012. He said that he was allowed into Macau last year for the same purpose of giving talks in schools, and had never been refused entry to the territory before Wednesday.

Lam suspected that the unexpected denial is related to the high-level visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Macau next week, as the authorities have stepped up internal security in advance of the visit.

In 2014, dozens of journalists and activists – many of whom had had no trouble in entering Macau before – were denied entry to the former Portuguese colony during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Macau’s transfer of sovereignty.

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Fred Lam. Photo: Fred Lam, via Facebook.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have for years suspected that Macau keeps an entry blacklist. Back in 2008, pan-democrats raised the issue of Macau’s blacklisting of travellers in the Legislative Council and urged the Hong Kong government to defend its people’s freedom of speech and of lawful border-crossing.

The Macau government has denied the allegation.

Lam said his rejection strongly indicated that Macau authorities have an “extensive” blacklist and hardly ever take anyone off the list.

On the same day that Lam was refused entry to Macau, Joshua Wong Chi-fung of the Demosistō party was detained and then deported by Thai authorities. Wong was originally invited to give a talk at a university in Bangkok.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.