Teenage prodigy sues Hong Kong policeman and government for 'racial discrimination'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 8:44am

A "gifted" teenager is suing the Hong Kong government and a police officer, claiming he was racially discriminated against when they failed to investigate a complaint of assault he made when he was 11.

Arjun Singh, a 15-year-old studying physics at a London university, made the assault allegation following an altercation with a middle-aged Chinese woman in Wan Chai MTR station on January 6, 2010. He claims she grabbed him after he bumped into her while passing her on the escalator.

Both of them called the police and accused the other of assault. Singh was arrested, but officer Hung Kai-kam took no notice of Singh's complaint, the District Court heard yesterday.

[The officer] did listen, but he was dismissive. I had the feeling that he was biased
Arjun Singh

"[Hung] did listen [to me], but he was dismissive. I had the feeling that he was biased," Singh told the court yesterday, the first day of a trial scheduled for eight days.

The 15-year-old, of Indian descent, was born in Hong Kong. Described as "gifted", he is studying physics at King's College London in Britain.

The case marks the first time that a police officer has been sued under the Racial Discrimination Ordinance since it came into effect in 2009.

Singh wants a published apology from the government and Hung, and for the officer's conduct to be investigated.

The teenager is also seeking damages for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment because he was held for five and a half hours at the police station following his complaint.

The court heard that Singh's mother, Anita, arrived at the scene after her son called for help by phone.

Though mother and son were fluent in English, police arranged for a Punjabi interpreter at the police station. This prolonged Singh's detention, said his lawyer, Michael Blanchflower.

CCTV footage played in court showed the woman holding Singh, who was shorter than her at the time, forcibly enough that he could not free himself despite struggling. His sweater was torn in the struggle.

The footage was strong evidence the woman had assaulted Singh and the police should have investigated, Blanchflower said.

But, referring to the footage, defence lawyer Stewart Wong Kai-ming said Singh appeared to have tried to punch the woman three times while she was holding him.

Singh denied this, saying he was trying only to free himself.

Wong said the teenager was trying to "create an impression" that the officers had arrested him after speaking only three sentences to the woman.

But Wong said the police had stayed at the scene for 40 minutes and talked to both Singh and his mother.

Singh said his memory was faulty because of the trauma from the incident.

He will continue to give evidence today.