‘I did nothing wrong’, says speeding car driver after narrow miss with protesters
A car driver who allegedly sped through a crowd of Occupy Central demonstrators in Mong Kok late in the early hours of Tuesday morning has denied doing anything wrong.
Protesters scrambled for cover just seconds before a grey Mercedes-Benz, allegedly driven by a 59-year-old man surnamed Cheung, could hit them when it speeded through a section of Argyle Street near the junction with Nathan Road at around 2am.
Thousands of protesters had been staging an overnight sit-in at the site, a spillover from the Occupy Central protest.
A man who witnessed the incident said he would have been seriously injured or could even have lost a leg if he did not get out of the car’s way at last second.
“The driver was not merely attempting to murder. He was trying to shift the responsibility [for accidents] to the people here,” he said.
The driver was later arrested at his Kowloon City home for suspected dangerous driving after reporters revealed his identity on social media. Police said there was no report of injury.
The driver said he had done nothing wrong.
“I didn’t break any law. I was only exercising my citizen’s rights to use the road,” he told Cable TV.
“I didn’t see anything at all. All I remember is that I would not hit any people or objects. I used the road safely. I went through. That’s OK,” the driver said as he raised his right thumb.
Police senior inspector Wong Siu-leung, from the Kowloon West accident investigation unit, said the suspect’s driving manner was “problematic”.
“He rang his horn, and slowed down, but his vehicle was too close to the crowd,” Wong said.
Wong added that the driver was on his way to a friend’s home. He passed a breathalyser test.
The incident sparked anger and panic among the protesters. Some screamed as the car came close to hitting the crowd while others chased after the vehicle trying to catch the driver or rushed to reinforce the road block.
On Tuesday morning, Occupy Central organiser Dr Chan Kin-man pledged that the movement would step up patrols by volunteers in the Mong Kok protest zone.
The incident left the crowd jumpy and emotional for a few hours.
“It was lucky that we were standing up,” said a girl surnamed Sze. “It was a real miracle that no one was hurt. I am so scared. I don’t want to sit on the road again.”
No police had been seen in Mong Kok during the night until two officers appeared after the incident.
Asked about the lack of police presence in the area, one of the officers spoke emotionally about his disappointment that officers had become “unwelcome” by the public. He added it required a mutual effort to restore public trust towards the force.
“We really want to solve the situation by dialogue,” he said, without giving his name. “These days, our colleagues are often chased by people who shout foul language at them.
“It is not only my personal feeling – it is quite commonly felt by many other colleagues.”