A video showing a Westerner having an argument with two police officers in Causeway Bay on Saturday has been shared over 1,000 times on Facebook, prompting a lively debate about the state of policing in Hong Kong.
In the clip, posted by Choudhoury Sahid, it appears as though a foreigner was “walking” his bike through Causeway Bay while sitting on the seat when he was stopped by the police.
They asked to see the man’s identification, but the man claimed he had none.
Then it escalated.
“I haven’t done anything wrong!” insisted the Westerner, who later identifies himself as “Lee”.
“If I do something wrong then take me to the police station!”
According to the Community Legal Information Centre, “visitors who are staying in Hong Kong for not more than 180 days are not required to apply for identity cards. Nevertheless, such visitors are strongly advised to carry proof of identity (e.g. passports) with them, otherwise they may be detained by the police or immigration officers for verification of their status”.
While one cop stood there, apparently searching for an appropriate response, the other called for backup.
Hearing no response from the two, the foreigner said: “Excuse me, I will leave now. Thank you.”
“If you don’t have an identity document I will take you to the police station,” declared the more aggressive officer (bad cop) of the pair.
Increasingly incredulous, the foreigner asked: “You think I’m illegal? You think I’m here illegally?”
“YES,” replied the adamant police officer.
“Really? Do you need to yell? DO YOU NEED TO YELL AT ME?” yells the foreigner, now seriously about to lose his shit.
“YES,” the officer answered.
“WHY? STOP YELLING! I am not a child. I AM NOT YOUR CHILD. I’m not stupid.” (Probably our favourite line of the whole interaction.)
The foreigner, perhaps a little regretful of his outburst, calmed down immediately, and attempted to negotiate politely: “Excuse me. Please. You don’t need to do this, ok?”
“I came here last week, I’m allowed three weeks here, 90 days. Please. Please. Call your supervisor and ask him to come here and I will talk to him, nicely, because you don’t talk nicely, you talk very rude.”
The two proceed to have the same conversation repeatedly, with the police asking to see ID, but the foreigner explaining that he has none.
While the detainee offered to take the officers to where he’s staying so that he could show him his passport, they refused when the tourist didn’t want to tell them his address in front of the growing crowd.
The man tried to explain that he doesn’t bring his passport with him because he had his phone stolen in Hong Kong at least three times, and so he didn’t want to have his passport stolen too.
“That’s your problem! That’s not my matter,” replied the officer helpfully.
The second officer, who until then had stayed silent, tried to intervene, asking how the man could prove he had lost his passport. Clearly, he missed the point entirely.
The first officer then accuses the visibly desperate man of assaulting him, while the biker keeps asking if they could at least stand somewhere away from the growing crowds.
Finally the officers acquiesce, but continue to keep a firm hold on the man’s arm.
Our intrepid citizen journalist, ignoring the tourist’s request for privacy, dutifully follows the trio onto the side of the road.
“Don’t grab me, look at all these people, look at the camera!” said the man.
“SO WHAT?” asked the first officer.
“I don’t want to be around all these people.”
“SO WHAT?” he said again.
Again, they go through a conversation they had only moments ago.
“You are an illegal immigrant.”
“I am not an immigrant! I am a tourist!”
“You’re a tourist. THEN – where’s your passport?”
Finally, backup arrives.
The first thing the senior officer said: “Let’s walk to the side first, so that we’re not around so many people.”
We’re not sure how it ended, but Hong Kong netizens voiced their opinions clearly. While some criticised the police (to put it nicely), others said the man was being rude and wouldn’t have encountered such tolerant officers in his home country.