Uber received more than 40,000 signatures shortly after launching the “Keep Hong Kong Moving” petition in support of its arrested staff and drivers. The Hong Kong public also initiated other forms of support for Uber.
Uber, a mobile car service app, was targeted by authorities earlier this week as police raided its office and took away three staffers and seven drivers.
In the petition, Uber stated: “We welcome the opportunity to work with the Hong Kong government to modernise regulations in order to accommodate technologies that help make Hong Kong a more livable city.”
The company added: “We look forward to meeting with the Transport and Housing Bureau, other government bodies, and legislators to discuss how we can work together to encourage innovation and create a better Hong Kong for residents, tourists, and business travellers.”
IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said: “Hongkongers want more choices and better service. The law should be loosened up to help innovation entrepreneurs, and not be used to arrest them all.”
Mok added: “If the government says the law can only be changed after establishing the Innovation and Technology Bureau, why doesn’t it review the law now and let participants compete in an open, fair and free market environment?”
Politician Takchi Tam of People Power said on social media that he signed up to become an Uber driver. He said he is “trying to get arrested.”
Following the raids, internet users began a social media campaign asking people to show support to the company by uploading their Uber receipts to Facebook. More than 5,000 people have joined the campaign. One user said that he purposely rode with Uber on Wednesday because he wanted to show his support.
The 10 arrested were released on bail. It was reported that the eight staff and drivers paid a bail of HK$200,000 each.
Uber is an international transportation company that provides services similar to metered taxis. Users submit trip requests through a mobile app developed by the company, after which its drivers provide the service with their own vehicles. Uber sets up independent contracts with local drivers.
By law, vehicles carrying passengers for hire must obtain a hire car permit from the government. Violation of the law may result in a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment of three months on the first conviction, and a fine of HK$10,000 and up to six months’ imprisonment on the second conviction.