first person

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2003, 12:00am

Yukio Fujiwara is a Japanese businessman who has lived in Hong Kong for 10 years. Last December, he went to the rescue of a woman as she was attacked by a gang of youths. Here he shares his story. I remember it was 8am on December 5. I was on my way to the 7-Eleven on Hillwood Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. There are a lot of pubs in that area and I often see drunks yelling and screaming. But that never used to bother me. This particular morning I noticed a dozen kids, around 18 to 20 years old, kicking a blue BMW parked on the street. They seemed a bit drunk and I guess they decided to have some fun with some rich person's car.

Shortly after I walked past the BMW, I heard a woman scream. I turned around and saw that the female owner of the car had come out of a nearby building. As she walked closer the teenagers all jumped on her. Without saying a word, they started kicking and punching her. I later found out that she was a Korean widow. The incident would leave her with a broken nose and scare her so much that she could not leave home for close to a month.

Before I could even think, I went up to one of the guys and grabbed him from behind. I told him to let her go. When I did that the rest of the group started kicking and punching me. Even the two girls with them were kicking me. I collapsed and they kicked my stomach like a soccer ball.

When they finally had enough of me they ran away. But I got up and ran after them. They could not be allowed to get away with beating up the poor woman. I saw that some of her friends had come out and called the police. I knew that the police would not arrive for another five to 10 minutes. I had to stall those little delinquents.

They saw me chasing after them and turned around. Then they proceeded to kick and punch me again. We were on Austin Road this time and I could see many people - sitting in the teahouses - staring out at me. But nobody came out to help me. When they decided to run away again I got up and chased them down again. I never hit back once. I knew that the Hong Kong police didn't understand English very well. If I hit back, the kids would tell the police in Cantonese that I had done something bad. I knew I was strong enough - having been a sportsman all my life - that I could take this beating. I wanted to make sure they were caught and jailed.

Finally, as I was being beaten for the third time, the police came and arrested two of the kids. The others had managed to run off. I found out later, at the trial where they pleaded guilty to assault, that the pair were brothers. They both got six months in jail in mid-January.

I got a thank-you letter from the Korean consulate and a phone call from the Japanese consulate, and many people recognised me after seeing my battered face in the papers. Many asked me why nobody jumped in to help, and the Korean victim asked why only Japanese and Korean people were good. I just said that this is the way Hong Kong is.

I don't know what I'd do if something like that happened again. Probably jump in to help ... though I know it would hurt like hell.

'I knew the police would not come for 10 minutes. I had to stall those little delinquents'