Video shows Taipei Shilin Night Market vendor brandishing knife at Australian family

Taipei Shilin Night Market stall worker charged for thrusting knife at Australian family

Vendor with knife (left). (Taipei Police Dept. photo)

Vendor with knife (left). (Taipei Police Dept. photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A vendor has been charged with violating the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), and the stall where he worked has been shut down after he allegedly brandished a knife at an Australian family after a dispute over a fishing game broke out.

At 7 p.m. on Oct. 5, an Australian couple and their two children began playing a "scooping fish" game with nets, for which they paid NT$200 (US$6.50), reported China Times. After their children successfully caught some fish, they believed that they would be able to exchange them for some stuffed animals.

To the family's surprise, the stall employee surnamed Cheng (鄭) claimed that their catch was not enough for a prize. In addition, the parents complained that the flimsy nets frequently broke apart as the children played, reported UDN.

An argument soon ensued, and the Australian father made an obscene gesture with his middle finger at the vendor to express his displeasure. In response, Cheng pulled out a 30-centimeter-long knife in a threatening fashion and did not back down until he heard that someone had called the police, reported TVBS.

In a video of the incident, Cheng can be seen pulling out the large knife and thrusting it directly at the family as he yells at them. He then seems to have second thoughts and sheaths it, placing it in a box.

Cheng pulling out a knife. (Taipei Police Department photo)

According to local media reports, another one of the tourists' grievances was that they had believed they were to receive six fishing nets for a total cost of NT$100. However, Cheng raised the price to NT$100 per net.

Police said that when they arrived on the scene, the tourists did not mention the price hike but did complain about the flimsy condition of the nets, the lack of prizes after catching fish, and being ignored when they asked Cheng for advice on fishing techniques. The tourists said that at the end of the game, they felt that they had been ripped off.

Cheng admitted to pulling out a knife but claimed he did so out of self-defense because the Australian man was much taller than him. Although the family was reluctant to press charges, after reviewing video footage of the incident, prosecutors decided to go ahead and press charges against Cheng for violating the Social Order Maintenance Act.

Shilin Night Market Association Chairman Lin Tien-lai (林天來) said that the base price should be NT$100 for six nets, according to UDN. Lin judged that the dispute was a result of a language barrier and short tempers on both sides.

Lin said that Cheng had gone too far when he started waving the knife. Ho Hsiang-ching (何相慶), head of the Public Retail Market section of the night market, said that according to their contracts, vendors should not act in a way that affects public safety or order.

If a violation occurs, vendors are first issued a warning. If there is further impact on safety and order, their booths will be shut down, said Ho. This latest incident is yet another blot on the night market after a South Korean tourist was grossly overcharged for a bag a fruit there in January of this year.