Hong Kong bus union demands apology from police after ‘arbitrary’ arrest of driver who honked horn during demo

©Hong Kong Free Press

The Bus Industry Union has demanded an apology from the Hong Kong police, after a New World First Bus (NWFB) driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and possession of an offensive weapon during a demonstration last Sunday.

In a statement issued on Facebook, the newly-founded union – with around 100 members – condemned the arrest as “arbitrary.” They said police had yet to give a reasonable explanation for apprehending a 37-year-old driver on Nathan Road, as dozens of demonstrators gathered in the Yau Tsim Mong district on what would have been the legislative election voting day.

Police get on a NWFB bus to arrest its driver. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Police accused the NWFB driver of honking “unreasonably” and said the move had “seriously affected police work” and may “provoke” the emotions of people on the scene. The force also claimed the driver of the route 970 bus was travelling at a high speed and the vehicle – at one point – was very close to officers who were on duty. Police later found a spanner in the driver’s bag, and alleged that he was in possession of an offensive weapon.

The union urged the force and the government to respond to their “five demands” by Friday afternoon, or they would initiate industrial action. They requested the authorities to define what tools are deemed as offensive weapons and apologise to the industry and the driver concerned. They also asked the Department of Justice to handle the case in an open, fair and impartial manner.

“The bus industry is extremely dissatisfied with police behaviour, and have always run into officers who have extremely poor attitudes. The police’s unreasonable behaviour makes frontline drivers very scared,” the statement read.

Police get on a NWFB bus to arrest its driver. Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

Lam Kam-piu, chairman of the New World First Bus Company Staff Union, said on Commercial Radio on Wednesday that the driver was proceeding under 30 km/hour, according to a driving log checked by the company.

He said it was well below the speed limit of 50 km/hour and the record showed the driver had not approached officers at a high speed: “There is the truth with the video, there are records and you can’t lie.”

Lam also defended the driver’s decision to honk the horn three times and said bus drivers often carry a small spanner for adjusting the rear-view mirror: “My colleague saw people walking out, so he honked the horn, that’s very normal.”

He added the driver concerned is on a two-week break for now, and the bus company would provide legal assistance.