A delivery van covered with pro-protest designs was checked by around 10 police officers and eventually towed away on Thursday on dubious grounds of violating a vehicle ordinance.
The van belongs to Ramen Betsu, a ramen restaurant that had stuck illustrations of a protester wearing a helmet and a gas mask, as well as police tape decorated with key protest anniversaries, on its vehicle.
A man surnamed Siu, who manages the restaurant, told HK01 that the van was flagged down by police outside the shop’s Causeway Bay branch. At the time, it was on its way to deliver food supplies to the restaurant’s other outlets.
He said police conducted a check of the vehicle, including its headlights, and ordered the vehicle to be towed away for a mandatory inspection. The officer reportedly did not give a reason for seizing the van at the time.
In a statement posted on Facebook that night, police denied that they were carrying out selective law enforcement and criticized netizens for “disregarding facts and ignoring road safety.”
They said that parts of the van’s windows were obscured and that the “cargo carrying compartment is unstable.”
No arrests have been made, police said.
Coconuts has reached out to Ramen Betsu to understand the whereabouts of the vehicle now and if any penalties have been issued.
Siu told HK01 that the confiscation of the van is disruptive to the restaurant’s deliveries, and that they would have to spend “a few thousand dollars” each day the van has not been returned to rent another vehicle.
He added that he would not be removing the protest stickers from the van. “I don’t have any slogans [on the van]. They’re just numbers, yet [police] are so nervous about them,” he said.
According to Siu, it’s not the first time that the ramen restaurant has been targeted. Police had checked the vehicle “several times” before, and as requested by authorities, the restaurant also brought the van in for an assessment two months ago to certify that it does not violate any regulations.
Ramen Betsu, a “yellow shop,” has six outlets across Hong Kong, including in Causeway Bay, North Point and Tsim Sha Tsui. According to its Instagram page, it also has branches in the US, France and Australia.
It’s like OnlyFans for your Coconuts. Become a COCO+ Member today for as little as US$5 per year and support the stories we tell from across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.