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  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 1:27am
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Hong Kong taxi driver gets 10 weeks in jail for driving off with passengers' luggage

Man who threw passengers' bags into drain after disagreement over fare will spend 10 weeks behind bars as warning to other cabbies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 6:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 8:51am
 

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A taxi driver was yesterday sentenced to 10 weeks in jail for throwing his passengers' luggage into a drain after a dispute over the fare last month.

Fung Kim-wai, 34, had earlier pleaded guilty to theft at Fanling Court.

Magistrate Bernadette Woo Huey Fang rejected Fung's offer to compensate his passengers for the loss of their goods, worth HK$60,830, and sentenced him to immediate imprisonment.

She said Fung had damaged Hong Kong's reputation, and that a heavy punishment was necessary as a warning to other taxi drivers in the city.

The incident took place on August 20 around 1am, when the two 35-year-old passengers boarded Fung's taxi at Chek Lap Kok airport and asked to go to Lok Ma Chau.

When they arrived at the destination, the passengers wanted to pay the HK$290 fare in yuan, and a dispute arose over the exchange rate. Fung wanted a one-to-one exchange rate, but the pair disagreed.

The passengers then went to retrieve their luggage from the boot of the taxi, but Fung drove off with it.

When he reached Tin Shui Wai, he threw the bags into a nullah. The luggage contained 10 handbags worth about HK$35,900; two bottles of wine; a camera; a BMW car key worth HK$10,000; a mobile phone charger; and some clothes.

The tourists reported the matter to the police and he was arrested that day. Police divers conducted a search of the water catchment on August 24, but failed to find the bags.

Barrister Yeung Shak-nung said in mitigation that Fung had committed the crime in the "recklessness of the moment" and that he regretted his actions.

The lost property was not found at his home, proving he had not stolen it, Yeung said.

The barrister added that Fung had not thought the luggage would be so valuable, as people usually kept their valuables with them, but the magistrate did not accept this as mitigation.

Yeung described Fung as an honest person. He had been a taxi driver for 10 years and had never stolen anything from his passengers, the barrister said.

Taxi Dealers and Owners Association president Ng Kwan-sing said a severe punishment was appropriate to discourage other cabbies from committing similar offences.

Describing Fung's actions as "irrational and very stupid", Ng called on taxi drivers to maintain good manners and to avoid conflicts with passengers when discussing fare exchange rates.

One of the passengers, Yu Yuanhang, who lives in Shenzhen, said in a telephone interview with Cable TV: "If he's really willing to correct his mistake, I'll forgive him."

 

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28

This article is now closed to comments

shafinhk
In my opinion a sentence of two weeks with an order to pay back the money to the victims within 30 days or face further sentence of 6 months should be appropriate.
I am not sure if this taxi driver has children or not. if he has children then it is not good for them to live apart from father for 6 weeks. They are punished without doing any crime.
I also believe that this is the time government and taxi association should have to think seriously about introducing VISA (credit ) cards to avoid future incidents. This is electronic world people do not carry cash and it is normal now NOT to carry cash. Taxi Association can also install OCTOPUS cards machine in all taxis.
I will say that Taxi association is also partially blamable/responsible for this incident because they failed to update the taxis in line with world level. i.e. No CCTV cameras, NO Credit card facility, no Octopus card facility.
We live in Asia's world city. and we don't have advance taxi standards. Police, courts and continue policing taxi drovers will not bring change. we have to upgrade our system to bring a change. we need to bring change in thinking to have a real change.
mercedes2233
There should be some rule to protect taxi drivers from difficult passengers. Maybe in HK payment should be made in HKD so these negotiations needn't occur. Strange that the magistrate didn't let the driver compensate for the loss. The plaintiffs are still out of their goods.
Dai Muff
You can travel out of Hong Kong for weeks or months, and you always come back with the trepidation that your first cab driver is likely to be a jerk and really bring you back to HK reality with a bump. Both sides deserved what they got.
liukuei
I've had several fits of, not road rage, but mainlander rage myself. I don't mean I drive taxis, but that a certain common type of mainlanders -argumentative, ignorant, queue-jumping, pushy- sets off my temper, and I don't think i'm alone. My sympathies to the driver. I probably would have done the same if not tried to beat some sense into them. Not only pay in RMB, but demand one-to-one?; i'm fuming already.
XYZ
Just to get the story straight: the fare was HK$290. Current exchange rate is HK$1 = RMB .8. He agreed to accept RMB at 1 to 1; they refused, offered to pay HK$1 = RMB .9. Financially, the dispute was over HK$30. Emotionally, it was about a mainlander trampling upon the dignity of a Hong Kong taxi driver by not having the legal tender to pay the fare, insisting the driver accept RMB and then bargaining over the exchange rate. The poor fellow snapped. Although I think the sentence is a fair one, I feel sympathy for the guy just the same.
clk2828
The taxi driver is still uneducatedly stupid even though he unluckily meets fuzzy mainlanders. The truth is HKD is not one to one exchange rate and there's no point arguing for a 1 to 1 exchange. Secondly, he could have drove the luggage to a nearby police station and report the incident and let the police force deal with the mainlanders. It's technically not legal to use non-HKD currency in HK and the police will have their way to penalise the mainland offenders. By doing this stupid act, it really damages HK reputation and divides the Chinese nation. HK people should set a good example to the world and also let the rest of the Chinese provinces learn from our polite manners that we are expected to have!
chaz_hen
As was questioned when the story first broke...maybe one reason they were so eager to go 1-to-1 (in the dark wee hours) was that their money was FAKE? I'm sure a HK cabbie would not have had his infra red lights and special machines to detect the fake bills and with the forgeries being so good these days, it really would take an expert to discern.
XYZ
I had that Jackie Chan in my cab one time. I threw him out because he didn't have the right currency to pay the fare.
grouperm
PCC - watch your language you ignorant baffoon. Why don't you reveal yourself and allow others to trample all over your heritage with racial slurs....I'd have a field day
XYZ
I am Norwegian.

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