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HK Magazine Archive

Hongkonger Wins Case Against Taxi Who Refused to Cross the Harbor: Victory for the Little Man

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 May, 2016, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:08pm

In the week's most satisfying turn of events so far, Hongkonger Faisal Mohammed posted a letter on Monday to Facebook documenting his successful case against a taxi driver who refused to take him across the harbor. 

The driver was fined $3,000 as a result.

The incident happened on September 18 last year. Mohammed, who went to Diocesan Boys' School and speaks fluent Cantonese, flagged down a taxi in Tsim Sha Tsui and told the driver his destination on Hong Kong Island in Chinese. Mohammed was refused service even though he was already in the car: It is illegal for a taxi driver to do this. 

Mohammed stood his ground and called the cops. While waiting for them to arrive, his driver also called the police, reporting Mohammed as a passenger refusing to leave his vehicle, and he then began to smoke.

The taxi driver was convicted after trial and fined $1,500 for refusing hire, and an additional $1,500 for smoking in while carrying passengers.

But Mohammed says that winning his case wasn't a simple process. "The whole process is quite lengthy and painful," he says. "Most people get discouraged. I understood how hard it was going to be but I stuck to my guns. I had to go back to the police station to give my statement. I was given a date after a couple of weeks, so I had to take the day off. There was a date set for court [at the end of April], where he pleaded not guilty. I then had to go to court as a witness to give my statement.

"The Taxi Association, they refuse to move with the times. [Taxi-calling apps such as] Fai Dick are not a universal thing. It has to be a regulated, or self-regulated, industry-wide change. That's why people are finding alternatives."

Mohammed also says that the police aren't being deployed right. "We have a police workforce of 40,000 plus, and they can't find 30 hotspots to put one cop there, to control these guys so that they do what they're supposed to do. They're just not scared."

What advice does Mohammed have for his fellow angry taxi passengers? "If people are that pissed off, they should [report these cases]. Other than your time, there's really nothing more to it. If tomorrow, everyone in Lan Kwai Fong calls the cops for each incident, I'm sure the cops will also get irritated and do their job."