International Law

10 foreigners denied entry to Malaysia for questionable reasons

We added an update to this article, it’s the first one after the introduction.

When we heard news that Joshua Wong, the student activist who was one of the leaders in last year’s student protests in Hong Kong was denied entry into Malaysia, we had a bit of a problem… Should we write an article about this? 

Y’see the last time we wrote about people being denied entry into Malaysia (namely the Rohingyas), we got so many flames that poor Hans (not related to Christian Andersen) probably spent more time replying to the comments than he did writing the article.

4 reasons why taking in the Rohingya refugees is good for M’sia CILISOS Current Issues Tambah Pedas

Poor Hans. Click for full size.

So we had to make a call: Should we write about this and risk another flamestorm? Pfft. We’re CILISOS yo, we LAUGH in the face of flames and sedition! We’re gonna write a listicle so we won’t have to go in-depth into the issue and offend anyone! #Chickensos

So here are 11 individuals who should ordinarily be allowed entry into Malaysia but weren’t. 

Oh, and the Rohingya are not included in this article because they aren’t passport-holders and technically don’t have a right to enter the country.  

BRTky copy


Update: Mugiyanto Sipin

Claim to fame: Previously a student leader in the Anti-Suharto reform movement in Indonesia

Reason for denial: Foreign interference


Image from BBC.

Back during the Suharto era back in the 90’s, Mugiyanto was one of the student leaders attempting to push Indonesia towards democracy – which, of course involved Suharto stepping down from power. He was considered influential enough to have been one of the 23 activists kidnapped by Tim Mawar – some of whom are still missing to this day. And no, Tim Mawar isn’t the name of some dude… it’s actually a team of commandos who were tasked to intimidate or “disappear” activists that the Suharto government considered a threat.

Still heavily involved in Human Rights activism in Indonesia, Mugiyanto was invited as part of Bersih’s Yellow Mania Forum (yellow because it’s their official color, not because racist, ok?) to talk about his experiences. However, upon landing in KLIA he was escorted aside and questioned by three officers, one of whom was from the counter-terrorism division.

“Three police officers who interrogated me said that they were ordered by political authorities to ban me from entering Malaysia. They said that my presence at the Yellow Mania Forum discussion was considered political interference by a foreigner.” – Mugiyanto Sipin, as quoted and translated by The Jakarta Post.

Mugiyanto was escorted into the next flight back to Indonesia, where he will still participate in the forum via Skype. You can read more details on his detainment and deportation here.


1. Joshua Wong (2015)

Claim to fame: Organized democratic protest in Hong Kong

(Unofficial) Reason for denial: “Government order”


Not a Photoshop. Image from Rookie Mag

Okay, this isn’t a photoshop ugaiz. Joshua Wong was actually on the cover of the international edition of TIME magazine in October 2014. He was also named as one of TIME’s Most Influential Teenagers of 2014, was a contender in it’s Person of the Year Poll, and was number 10 out of 50 in Fortune Magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders list.

And the dude’s EIGHTEEN. When we were that age, our greatest achievement was probably getting enough A’s to make our parents happy.


Asian father is disappoint. Image from The Rebelution.

So what is Joshua’s claim to fame? Well, long story short, he’s one of the main organizers and figurehead of the student protests in Hong Kong, also known as the Umbrella Revolution, for greater democracy. He was denied entry by Malaysian Immigration when he arrived in Penang to speak about Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

While there have been no official reasons given by the Malaysian authorities at the time of writing, Joshua wrote about it in a Facebook post saying:

“The Malaysian government denied me entry, and I’m taking a return flight to Hong Kong … Why was I denied entry? The Malaysian immigration staff said ‘Government order’.” – Joshua Wong’s Facebook post, translated by Channel News Asia.


2. Clare Rewcastle Brown (2013)

Claim to fame: Founder of Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak

Reason for denial: “Government order”


Image from The Times.

Hey, you know all those 1MDB exposés that’ve been popping up recently? You can thank Clare Rewcastle Brown for most of them, since she’s the founder and current editor-in-chief of Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak.

1mdb sarawak report Google Search

Screencapped from Google.

Born in Sarawak to British parents, Clare left the state when she was 8 with memories of the “large canopy of rainforest“. When she returned 40 years later after a successful career as an investigative journalist (can you see where this is going?), she was shocked by the destruction of the forests, surprised that all of this was driven by one family, and totally pissed off that no one was talking about it. Thus Radio Free Sarawak, Sarawak Report, and defamation lawsuits against Clare Brown were born.

It was on a 2013 trip to Sarawak to instruct her lawyers on a defamation case against her that Clare was denied entry and deported on the instructions of the State Security Office. She was given a signed Notice of Refusal of Entry to take with her as a grim souvenir.


Clare with the signed notice. Image from The Borneo Post.

As one might guess, both of Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak are operating out of the UK and have incurred the wrath of then-Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, who (allegedly) initiated a huge smear campaign against her, including hiring a PR firm to edit her Wikipedia page. You can read more of the alleged stories here and here.

Oh, and she’s also the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


3. Natalie Lowrey (2014)

Claim to fame: Protesting at Lynas

Reason for denial: Blacklisted


Image from The Sydney Morning Herald via

The Lynas Rare Earth processing plant (LAMP) in Kuantan has been attracting protests from the day it’s been proposed in 2011 all the way to…well, since it started operations. The plant sparked fears of environmental impact as well as the safety of nearby residents especially since the last refinery by Mitsubishi in Perak, closed in 1992, was blamed as the cause of birth defects and leukemia among residents.

Local protestors from all over the country were joined by international activists and environmentalists… one of them being Sydney-based Natalie Lowrey. Natalie and 15 Malaysians were arrested during a protest against the plant in June, where she was detained for six days before being released “without charge and no mention of being unable to return to Malaysia“.


Natalie in lock-up. Image from

However, when she DID return to Malaysia a few months later in September to observe the court trials of the 15 Malaysians arrested with her, she was told she was blacklisted and “strictly denied entry”. The blacklist was confirmed by Home Minister Zahid Hamidi, but there’s no official reason given on why she was blacklisted in the first place.


4. Ulil Abshar Abdalla (2014)

Claim to fame: Encouraging religious discussion

Reason for denial: Danger to Malaysian Islam


Image from

Ulil is an Indonesian Islamic scholar who was invited to speak at a conference about combatting the growing threat of Islamic State (aka ISIS) organized by the Islamic Renaissance Front, an Islamic intellectual discourse group (description also so intellectual).

Unfortunately, he was barred from entering the country with Home Minister Zahid Hamidi saying:

“[He] would not only damage the faith of Muslims but also deviates from the teachings of Sunni the Wajama’ah” – Home Minister Zahid Hamidi, as quoted in The Malay Mail Online via Bernama.

He further added that Ulil’s ban will remain until he is no longer a threat to Islam

And the reason for the ban?



Gif ini dipinjam dari Mashable.

Ulil responded to the blacklist by saying that he was saddened by the ban, which happened at a time when Muslim dialogue was needed to stem radicalism. He also questioned the sudden decision to bar him from entering the country especially when he had been invited by then-Deputy PM Abdullah Badawi to give talks and ceramah during Tun Mahathir’s PMship.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla on Twitter As sad as this ban might be it won t work. Authority might ban my entrance to Malaysia. But Islamic progressive ideas can t be stopped.

Screencapped from Ulil’s Twitter page

But still, Ulil managed to one up the authorities because, with enough sweg to launch a hundred rap albums, Ulil spoke at the conference anyway… via Skype. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a…

UlilAbshar copy

Original image from Wikipedia.


Here are 4 gomen-related officials who earn way more than Tun Mahathir.

5. Carcass (2015)

Claim to fame: Posting an upside-down Malaysian flag

(Unofficial) Reason for denial: Controversial lyrical content


Image from Carcass’ Facebook Page.

*Thanks Smorgasborder for the heads-up that we used a pic of the wrong band!

Last year, Liverpool-based extreme metal band Carcass got their visas to perform in Malaysia declined on the basis of their lyrical content, which prompted them to post a picture of an upside-down Malaysian flag on their Facebook page along with a sarcastic message – to much controversy from their Malaysian fans:

1 Carcass Timeline Photos

Partial screencap of the Facebook post. Click to link.

However, another metal magazine noted that Carcass was never scheduled to perform in Malaysia at that time and that it was actually the Philippines that denied them entry.

Wah, usually people get us confused with Singapore.


6. Chin Peng(‘s ashes) [1990, 2000, 2008, his death in 2013]

Claim to fame: Leader of the Malaysian Communist Party

Official reason of denial for Chin Peng: No identification papers to prove citizenship

Official reason of denial for Chin Peng’s ashes: Depends on who you ask


Chin Peng’s story is gonna be too long to go into details, so we’re gonna simplify it like so:

Malaysia adopting constitutional democracy after independence = Good

Malaysia Communist Party want Malaysia to be Communist state = Bad

Chin Peng = Leader of Malaysia Communist Party

:. Chin Peng = Bad. 

But thankfully for us the Communists fought a losing battle and many, including Chin Peng, were forced into exile in Thailand – where they were still active until a peace accord was signed in 1989. One of the conditions of the accord was that former Communists of Malayan origin would be allowed to live in Malaysia, and many were….except Chin Peng. Cause Chin Peng couldn’t prove his Malayan citizenship when (according to him) his birth certificate was seized during a raid in 1948

After numerous attempts and even an apology to families of the victims, his final wish – to be buried in his birthplace of Setiawan upon his death in 2013– was also rejected by the Malaysian authorities. Home Minister Zahid Hamidi stated that this was out of sensitivity to the family members of those who were killed by the Communists. And so, Chin Peng was cremated in Thailand, which created another issue

Zahid Hamidi stated that the Home Ministry did not have the right to stop anyone from bringing his ashes back, while Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said that his ashes will never be allowed back into the county.


7. Nick Xenophon (2013)

Claim to fame: Australian politician, Anwar Ibrahim’s BFF

Reason for denial: Security risk


Image from The Sydney Morning Herald.

In February 2013, South Australian Senator Nick Xylophone Xenophon was stopped by immigration officials at KLIA and was told that there was a “technical glitch with his passport,” escorted to an area with holding cells (although he wasn’t put in one). told that he was on a watchlist due to security concerns, and would be on the next plane outta the country.

Unfortunately, the “next plane outta here” was 16 hours away so Nick was kept in custody while he snacked on McDonalds and crackers.


And took a selfie. Image from

Nick was in Malaysia for unofficial parliamentary business along with a few other Australian MPs for talks with the Opposition about electoral systems as well as meeting with the then-Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz and Anwar Ibrahim. The official reason given for his detainment was due to his “participation” in 2012’s Bersih rally, although he claims he was just an observer at Anwar’s invitation (and tear-gassed three times).

The detainment and deportation triggered a diplomatic incident with Australia, with the country’s Foreign Minister demanding his immediate release. Nick is still banned from entering Malaysia but he is challenging the ruling in court.


8. Kam Chen Yi (2013)

Claim to fame: Protesting at Petronas

Reason for denial: Her presence could disrupt public disorder

We couldn't find a photo of Kam so here's Captain Planet.

We couldn’t find a photo of Kam so here’s Captain Planet.

A Taiwanese environmental activist, Kam was in Malaysia to attend the South-East Asian Marine Mammal Symposium in March 2013. Unfortunately, when she landed at KLIA, she was stopped by immigration officers who informed her that her name was on the blacklist and therefore (surprise surprise) not allowed into Malaysia.

The reason for this, according to Immigration director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad, is that Kam had been involved in activities which tarnished our country’s image and that her presence could disrupt public order. She had apparently gotten involved in campaigns against the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Pengerang, Johor – a $uper large project co$ting billion$ of Ringgit which people have claimed is risky to the health and environment.

It was also noted that Kam is a member of a Taiwanese movement that successfully stopped a state-owned technology company from building a petrochemical complex in 2011, so…. maybe got reason to worry la.


9. Mabel Au (July 2001)

Claim to fame: Tian Chua’s fiancee

Reason for being denied: A threat to national security

Unedited photo taken from

Unedited photo taken from

Now this happened waaaay back in 2001 when Batu MP Tian Chua (then Vice President of Keadilan) was detained under the ISA. 60 days after his arrest, his fiance Mabel Au visited him for the first time. As she held a Hong Kong passport, she wasn’t allowed to stay in Malaysia for more than 30 days at a stretch, so after her first visit here (during Tian Chua’s detention), she had to return to Hong Kong for over a month before she could make another trip back.

However, on her second visit on 21st July 2001, she was denied entry by the Malaysian immigration. Why? Here are some highlights of her heart-wrenching story about the ordeal in detention:

  1. When she demanded an explanation, the immigration officer said: “Your name is on our list. The computer shows that your status is national security.
  2. When she demanded to call her lawyer and the Chinese embassy, she was rejected.
  3. She was detained for 13 hours and was denied food and water. Luckily other women who were being detained offered some of theirs to her.
  4. She found that the people being detained were treated terribly, with an Indonesian denied a phone call to her Malaysian employer to prove her identity as a migrant worker.
  5. Several Chinese women alleged that they were slapped once they went into the lockup, while others alleged that they had been asked for bribes or were sexually harassed.
  6. After 13 hours, she was deported back to Hong Kong.

When MalaysiaKini contacted her again in 2003, she mentioned that she was still uncertain about her immigration status, as all her attempts to receive clarification had been met with silence. She tells the added that she hasn’t tried to enter Malaysia since the incident.

As a sad postscript to this story, Mabel had asked Tian Chua if there was anything she could do for him while he was in the ISA. He thought for a while and replied:

“Nothing. I believe you can take care of yourself. I shall be happy as long as you enjoy a happy life.” – as related by Mabel Au, reported in The Star via Aliran.

As of 2013, Tian Chua mentioned that he was still single and that he had “missed the boat for marriage,” having only his two civet cats for company. #heartbreak


Tian Chua and Mimi, the current lady in his life. Image from The Star.


Haiyo. Like that how to do Visit Malaysia Year anymore?

Chill out ugaiz. Every country has the right to reject visitors based on local laws or, as mentioned so many times above, security concerns. Heck, if you’ve tried to apply for a US tourist visa you’d know it’s probably easier getting our Deputy Prime Minister to do a funny dance.


Oh wait.

Anyways, the point is that while a country DOES have a right to detain you and deny you entry into their borders, it would perhaps be nice if the Malaysian government were a little more transparent with the reasons why. But that’s just us though. Let us know what you think, if any, some, or all of the above were rightly denied entry.

But before that, some payback:

Malaysians were the most rejected travelers to New Zealand. As of 2012, Malaysians made up 14% of all barred tourists over three years, for reasons ranging from fake passports to people-smuggling.

So see? We’re not the only ones doing it. Cuti-cuti Malaysiaaaaaa….


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