Are Hong Kong Magistrates Racist ?

This appalling story and a series of anecdotes we’ve heard over the past year suggest that race does play a part in the decisions of “adjudicators” and magistrates in Hong Kong.

There may well be rule of law at the top end of the ladder but the lower courts and tribunals appear  to figure race into their decisions.

If somebody wants to disabuse us of this notion please write to us or comment

This awful story is a perfect example…

Hong Kong court rules murdered cyclist deserved what he got

At the beginning of June last year I was going through the airport in Hong Kong on my way back to Taiwan when I bumped into an old friend. We got to talking about the bike, as you do, and then on to some of the people we know.

“How’s Colin doing?” I asked him.






“Colin? Haven’t seen him much but I expect he’s still smashing people about, as he does,” he replied.

Colin Robertson was one heck of a bike rider and a local legend in Hong Kong and even further afield. The mere mention of his name coud strike terror into the oversized hearts of skinny men everywhere, especially when the road was flat and the race against the clock. The big Scot had distinguished himeslf with 5th place at the 1997 British Time Trial Championships and had managed to repeat the feat again in 2008, beating a teammate that was on his way to the Commonwealth Games.

I knew Colin but not well. He was a moody bugger sometimes but it tended to coincide with his form on the bike, and he lived for that, for the hammering, for the hurt, the chase, for doling out pain and for winning. At least, that’s the side I saw. I couldn’t say he and I were friends, we hardly had chance to get that far, but there was a mutual respect that grew between us as we raced against each other for the leader’s jersey at the Tour of Matabungkay in the Philippines in 2012.

He and his team beat mine to win the opening team time trial, then I beat him out on the next stage but was still adrift of the lead. On Stage 3 I noticed he had a flat as we were just settling into the stage. I tapped him on the shoulder and let him know, and he quietly dropped back to get it sorted. He thanked me later but there was no need – I know he’d have done the same for me. You could see that in him: winning without honor was not even worth considering.

I won Stage 3, which finished on the same hill as the previous stage, and then Colin absolutely mullered me in the ITT the next day. He shook my hand after and said “Bloody good race, that.”

I knew he meant it.

Back to the airport last June, I bid my friend farewell, and the very next day saw a message on Facebook saying Colin had died, killed in an ‘accident’ with a delivery truck. He’d been riding in the evening, at about 8pm, with fully functioning lights, when he was hit. He fell into a coma on the way to hospital and was pronounced dead upon arrival. He left behind a young child and his wife.

The 55-year old cargo van driver, Lam Wing-sang, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death. He had veered over the central line “knowing he could not see clearly” before hitting Colin, who was adjudged to have been obeying all the laws of the road and at no point to have been riding in a wreckless or dangerous manner. Colin was carrying lights on his bike and they were found to be in full working order.

An open and shut case, right?


Yesterday at Tsuen Wan Magistrates Court in Hong King, magistrate Debbie Ng Chung-yee decided to declare that Colin was responsible for his own death, despite quite clear facts showing that he had been murdered by a collision with a van that was being driven recklessly by a man with a long record of illegal driving, including one count of careless driving and ten tickets for breaking the speed limit.

Chung-yee acquitted Lam of causing death by dangerous driving and, in her infinite wisdom, found him guilty of the lesser charge of careless driving, for which he was fined $4500. That is $534.23 US, to you and me.

$534.23. For the life of a man.

I’ve been sat here trying to restrain my natural tendencies. Hyperbole and simile are hardly required here, not when the facts themselves will stir up intense feelings of shock and outrage at such a pathetic and cowardly decision. However when I think of Colin’s wife, family and close friends hearing this scandalous and hate-filled verdict, when I think of the tragic death of a father, a husband, a friend, a son, a competitor, and finally a human being, and one that I knew and respected, when I think of Colin trapped under the wheels of the vehicle as life ebbed from him, knowing he was never going home again, never going to see his kid again… I feel ill.

Chung-yee, you are a fucking disgrace. You are not only unfit to preside in judgement over others, you are unfit to call yourself human. Your lack of humanity and clear and raging prejudices have led you to this barbarous and simply indefensible decision. Shame on you. You should be turfed out on your arse with the garbage.

If you are so inclined you can send a letter asking for Chung-yee’s dismissal to:

Chief Magistrate
10/F Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts Building
147M Argyle Street
Hong Kong

You can also head to the FB page that has been set up to deal specifically with this case. Go click ‘like’. This one involves all of us.

The law is an ass. Never a truer word.

To Colin’s loved ones, we are with you.