image image

Hong Kong taxis

Metal-bar-wielding taxi driver arrested in Hong Kong over foul-mouthed tirade

Man filmed threatening couple, one of whom used a walking frame

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 3:20pm

A Hong Kong taxi driver was arrested on Friday night after he was filmed forcing two passengers, one of them using a walking frame, out of his car and threatening to beat them with a metal bar.

The incident, which unfolded on a busy street in Yuen Long, adds to a long list of bad behaviour by taxi drivers in the city, and was strongly condemned by a taxi drivers’ group.

The one-minute video, posted to Facebook on Wednesday, shows a man, believed to be the red taxi driver, hurling a tirade of abuse at two passengers in the back seat, as the car was parked on Yan Lok Square.

Do recent Hong Kong hit-and-run cab incidents signal the return of ‘shadow taxis’?

“Are you playing tricks with me? Get off now!” the driver shouted.

“Do you believe I will strike your head?” he went on, swinging the metal bar, about 2ft long, in his right hand.

The pair – believed to be a couple – got out of the taxi. The woman was using a Zimmer frame.

After slamming the doors and the boot, the driver confronted the pair with more profanities, as they slowly walked away.

At least half a dozen people stood and watched, but no one intervened.

By Saturday evening, the Facebook video had been watched 386,000 times.

The man who posted it online, who had spoken to the couple, said the driver refused to take them because their destination was too close.

One Facebook user wrote that the driver’s behaviour was “awful and unacceptable”, especially in a civilised society like Hong Kong’s.

The Hong Kong Taxi Council, the umbrella body for 17 taxi associations and chambers, strongly condemned the driver’s outburst, and called for tough punishment in the courts.

Police said on Friday night that the driver had been arrested. It was not known what charges he was detained on.

Three types of taxi operate in Hong Kong, and they are easily distinguished by their colours.

While green and blue taxis can only operate in specific areas, red cabs – the so-called urban taxis – have no geographic restrictions.

It is common for red taxis to refuse rides to non-urban areas, such as Yuen Long, as many drivers believe they will earn less money than in busy districts. Others claim they are unfamiliar with the area.

The number of complaints against taxis has risen in recent years, with 10,359 in 2015, compared to 6,227 a decade ago.

Some 97 per cent of complaints received in 2015 involved driver malpractice, such as overcharging, refusing a fare or cherry-picking passengers, among other things.