The MTR Corporation has come under fire after a photo of staff refusing to allow a schoolgirl carrying a traditional Chinese musical instrument onto a train received thousands of shares on social media.

schoolgirl instrument
A schoolgirl who was stopped by MTR staff. Photo: Chan Ka Lun via Facebook.

A schoolgirl in uniform was shown carrying a guzheng into Tai Wai station lobby – she was soon surrounded by MTR staff, who asked her to use another mode of transport. According to the MTRC, the student, who was at the paid areas of the station, had been carrying luggage that exceeded the 130cm length restriction for luggage.

Double standards?
This was not the first time that MTR staff have enforced rules relating to luggage size. In July, a professional snooker player was given a warning by the MTR after bringing a 1.6-meter long cue onto the train.

Netizens blasted staff for imposing double standards and accused them of enforcing regulations selectively, in an obvious reference to parallel traders and mainland tourists, who are often seen carrying oversized goods on the system.

A Ma On Shan community Facebook group initiated the “MTR super cooperative movement” in response, stating that staff “seem to be selectively blind when it comes to Chinese tourists carrying TV-sized luggage”. The group called for Hongkongers to report to staff all violations of the rules as to “assist them with enforcing regulations”.

In a parody video, the MTR was shown closing its doors to a snooker player carrying his cue and a school girl carrying her instrument, yet welcoming a lady with a cart full of goods.

Posted by DDED on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

bulky luggage
A picture collage of MTR passengers with bulky luggage. Photo: Ernie Chan via Facebook.

“People from the mainland are allowed to use the MTR to transport goods, but a schoolgirl can’t bring her instrument [on board]?” some commenters said.

bulky goods
More bulky goods on the MTR. Photo: 膠山有福 via HK Golden Forum.

An MTRC spokesperson told Apple Daily that he hoped the incident did not upset the student and said that the luggage size regulations applied to all passengers.

He also said that the MTR works hard to provide a safe and comfortable environment for passengers, and oversized luggage is banned to prevent the blocking of the passageway between carriages and the station, which could cause annoyance or even impose a danger to others.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.