A Shatin Magistrate has postponed the hearing of an elderly man who was charged with obstruction and unlicensed hawking activities after he was found offering free bicycle repairs in the street.

The man, 65-year-old Suen Tak-fui, was arrested by officers of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on June 28.

On Wednesday the court decided to postpone the hearing to July 29, after prosecutors said they needed more time to consider the handling of the case.

Suen Tak-fui, who offered bicycle repairing services free of charge in Shatin. Photo: Stand News

Stand News reported that Suen offered free bicycle repairs every morning on Sha Kok Street, and would only charge bicycle owners for parts, if required. Officers arrested him for obstruction and hawking after they had seen him receiving money from bicycle owners. They ignored his claim that he provided repairing services free of charge, and confiscated his tools at the scene.

The man arrested for offering bike repairing services illegally. Photo: Stand News

On Tuesday, Suen told Stand News that he would plead guilty in court. He said he wished to get his tools back. He also hoped that the magistrate would not impose a heavy fine on him.

In a statement, the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance – an NGO advocating a better cycling environment – criticised the government for not appreciating his “generosity and local spirit.” It said authorities should not “apply laws intended to control unlicensed commercial activity against a volunteer.”

Stand News reported that Shatin residents offered their support and gratitude to the man. A Shatin community group also organised a signing petition in support of Suen on Sunday. They reportedly collected more than 50 signatures from residents in the district.

Shatin residents showing support for the man. Photo: Stand News

Under Hong Kong law all hawkers have to have a licence. Prosecutors charged the man with unlicensed hawking activities under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. He faces a maximum penalty of $5000 and one month in jail.

The man was also accused of obstructing public places under the Summary Offences Ordinance. The offence carries a maximum fine of $5000 and three months imprisonment.

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).