After denying Del Rosario's entry, expert asks if Hong Kong still 'safe' for business

(UPDATED) Former Philippine top diplomat Albert del Rosario is a non-executive board member of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific Company Limited

Aika Rey

Published: 3:45 PM June 21, 2019

Updated: 7:16 PM June 21, 2019

BARRED BY HK. File photo of former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After former Philippine top diplomat Albert del Rosario was denied entry to Hong Kong, an expert on Southeast Asian politics asked on Friday, June 21, whether Hong Kong is still a safe place for business.

"This is a big deal. Del Rosario is a major shareholder in First Pacific, which is based in Hong Kong. His partners are Indonesian," said Aaron Connelly of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore in a tweet on Friday.

"Again goes to the question of whether Hong Kong is still a safe place for capital," he added.

Del Rosario was denied entry to Hong Kong after being held for about 6 hours. He said Hong Kong immigration authorities did not give him an explanation "in disregard of travel with a diplomatic passport that is in violation of Vienna Convention."

Del Rosario was supposed to attend the board and shareholders meetings of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific Company Limited.

First Pacific's chairman is Anthoni Salim of the Salim Group, Indonesia's biggest conglomerate, while its managing director and chief executive officer is Filipino tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Del Rosario is a non-executive board member of First Pacific. 

First Pacific is an investment management and holding company, with assets in consumer food products, infrastructure, natural resources, and telecommunications.

First Pacific owns 42% of Philippine-listed Metro Pacific Investment Company and has interests in Manila Electric Company, Global Business Power, Maynilad, and the Metro Pacific Tollways. It also owns 25.6% of PLDT Inc.

It is a major shareholder of Indonesia's PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk, owning 50.1%, as well as Indofood Agri Resources Ltd with 31.4% stakes of the company.

The former top diplomat arrived in Manila on Friday at around 4:30 pm.

Del Rosario said he goes to Hong Kong about 4 or 5 times yearly for business dealings involving First Pacific.

After being denied entry to the city, Del Rosario said that he would have to think about his obligations to the holding firm.

"Even if I go, I don't think the Hong Kong immigration will accept me because otherwise it's a waste of trip," he said.

"You can't be treating foreign investors in this manner," he said.

Hours before he was denied entry to Hong Kong, Del Rosario had called the joint Philippines-China investigation of the sinking of a Filipino boat in the West Philippine Sea an "insult" to the intelligence of the Filipino people.

He was held exactly a month after former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales was detained at the Hong Kong International Airport. They both had complained against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials for alleged crimes against humanity in the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Ex-PH officials bring China's Xi to Int'l Criminal Court– Rappler.com