Ticket sales for a Hong Kong superstar’s concerts have been suspended at the box office following a knife attack at the counter queue, forcing fans to buy online or via phone.
Police on Tuesday arrested four suspected triad members over the incident carried out against a mainland Chinese man who had been in line for more than a week to get tickets for Andy Lau Tak-wah’s concerts.
It was the second such knife attack in the city in three weeks and prompted the cancellation of counter booking for the concerts. A government source said it was the first time in a decade there would be no counter booking at Urbtix outlets for a concert held at Hong Kong Coliseum.
One of the four men, aged 26 and suspected of being a Sun Yee On triad member, was picked up at a flat in Shau Kei Wan at about 1am on Tuesday. Initial investigation showed he was the mastermind and the attack was carried out as part of his ticket scalping plan, a police source said.
The other three men were his associates, the source added, noting officers were investigating whether the four suspects included the two attackers.
Urbtix addressed the revised arrangement in a statement on Tuesday.
Investigators were told he was helping others queue until Sunday
Citing “the recent injury cases outside Urbtix outlets [when] queuing for concert tickets”, it said event presenter Focus Entertainment consulted the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and police in deciding against arranging counter booking for My Love Andy Lau World Tour – Hong Kong. The main reason was to protect public safety and maintain public order “in the absence of any other better alternatives”.
“Only internet, mobile app and credit card telephone bookings are available,” it added. “Any inconvenience caused is regretted.”
The victim of Sunday’s attack, surnamed Zheng, arrived in Hong Kong from mainland China on August 18 on a visitor’s permit for sightseeing. The 58-year-old had been queuing outside the ticket office at Youth Square, Chai Wan, since he arrived. He was second in the queue.
The source said the man was not there to buy tickets for himself, his family or friends.
“Investigators were told he was helping others queue until Sunday, when someone was to come and take over from him.”
Ticket sales start on Tuesday next week.
The man did not reveal whether he helped ticket scalpers to queue or if he was paid, the source noted.
The attack happened soon after 4am on Sunday, hours before someone was set to take over. Investigations showed two men, thought to be aged between 20 and 30, arrived in a taxi, according to another source.
“One of them punched the victim and the other attacked him with a knife,” the source said.
The pair then jumped back into the taxi, which sped away before police arrived.
The first person in line, a Hong Kong man, was not in the queue at the time. Several people behind the victim were unhurt.
Zheng was injured in the right arm and taken to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan for treatment.
By 1pm, the four suspects were still being held for questioning and had not been charged.
Hours after the attack, Lau posted a video on Facebook calling on police to step up patrols and asking his fans to stay safe.
Saying he was very saddened after hearing about the incident, the celebrity added: “While queuing to buy tickets, if you feel your safety is at risk, please make a report to police immediately.”
The incident follows one on August 6 in which a 26-year-old man was injured in a knife attack while queuing to buy tickets for a concert by Singaporean singer J J Lin.
Lau’s concerts will run from December 15 to January 3 at the Hong Kong Coliseum. A total of 20 performances with about 60,000 tickets will be available for public sale through Urbtix from Tuesday next week at 10am.
Prices range from HK$380 (US$48) to HK$980. Some tickets were sold through priority booking for credit card users on August 15.
A ticket for the concert in zone A near the stage trades from HK$2,668 to HK$38,800 on one online resale platform.
An outcry over scalping erupted earlier this year after tickets for some popular shows were snapped up and resold for as much as nearly 20 times the original price. In April, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said officials would consider making ticket scalping a criminal offence at government venues.
Scalping is a crime at private venues and carries a fine of HK$2,000. However, that law does not apply to facilities run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, such as the Hong Kong Coliseum.