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Bizarre reason train passengers fined $171: 'Selfish act'

Five men have been fined $171 each after playing one of the world's most popular games in a train carriage.

The men, aged between 20 and 27, boarded a Hong Kong train last October before setting up a mahjong table in the middle of a carriage.

Facing court on Monday, the men were told their "selfish acts" posed a safety risk to other commuters, the South China Morning Post reported.

“They did not only inconvenience other commuters and create noise, but also possibly created danger and harmed others," police said after their conviction.

A still image from video of the incident which authorities said threatened the safety of other passengers. Source: Handout via South China Morning Post
A still image from video of the incident which authorities said threatened the safety of other passengers. Source: Handout via South China Morning Post

Four of the men were also found to be travelling on concession fares, resulting in additional fines, while the fifth man was also fined for bringing oversized luggage – the mahjong table – on the train.

All together, the men were fined HK$1,000 ($171) each.

The court heard their game, which lasted three stops, blocked the entire walkway through the carriage and did not allow passengers to sit in the adjacent seats.

Authorities were alerted to the incident after video of the game was uploaded to social media.

Mahjong banned during Covid lockdowns

Mahjong is an enormously popular game across the world, particularly in China. Players sit around a square table and seek to create sets of the same tiles.

During China's daunting Covid surge at the beginning of the pandemic, residents in some areas were banned from playing mahjong to stop transmission.

Hong Kong has just endured a daunting Covid outbreak. Pictured are temporary dwellings used to isolate Covid patients. Source: Getty
Hong Kong has just endured a daunting Covid outbreak. Pictured are temporary dwellings used to isolate Covid patients. Source: Getty

Video from January 2020 shows police smashing a mahjong table after a reported breach of restrictions.

Hong Kong itself has just endured a daunting Covid wave after largely avoiding a significant outbreak throughout the pandemic. Daily cases nearly reached 80,000 last month in the city of more than seven million people.

It comes as many residents in Hong Kong continue to reject what they believe is an attempt by Beijing to strengthen its Communist grip on the special administrative region.

A controversial national security law was passed in 2020 which made it far easier for Beijing to punish pro-democracy activists and those critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

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