Statement to the Hong Kong Police Department
Regarding the Abuse, Violence, Fraud, and Mis-Use of Police Resources by Cathay Pacific Management on 26th December 2011
My name is Sebastian Marshall. I am an American citizen who was traveling from Beijing to Taipei via Hong Kong on DragonAir, which is owned by Cathay Pacific Airways.
In Hong Kong, I questioned an abusive manager’s authority, and he immediately deployed police resources against me in retaliation. This led to my violent removal from the airplane, a fight almost broke out, and he recklessly endangered the health and safety of myself and other passengers. Cathay representatives went on to lie to the police and make outright false statements.
The dispute was after Cathay Pacific, in my opinion and view, had repeatedly made mistakes with my booking.
After Cathay refused to fix their mistakes two or three times, I paid additional money that in my opinion should have been unnecessary to fix the situation – but I was working on a piece of writing on Bruce Lee and American History, so I simply paid to be upgraded so I could continue my writing.
After I paid additional money (in my opinion, unnecessarily) – then I was told multiple times by Cathay staff that the mistakes were fixed.
Then, a manager – Murphy Chan – and I had a very serious and dangerous incident, where Murphy threatened me and eventually endangered many people’s health and lives unnecessarily and repeatedly escalated the situation.
The dispute started over whether I was a business-class passenger or economy-class. I believed and still do that I was entitled and had paid for the higher class of service.
Whether I am correct or incorrect, his handling of the situation was reprehensible and a criminal waste of police resources that created a dangerous situation.
He said, “You will immediately go back to economy or you will be offloaded from the airplane.”
I said, “I’ll do it, but you have to put in writing that this passenger told you there were multiple mistakes, you are refusing to fix them, and you just threatened me with offloading when I said you are mistaken.”
He refused to put his decision in writing.
He refused to give me his business card.
In addition to his threats and abuse, he made statements like, “I believe in protecting Cathay Pacific’s policies more than good customer service.”
At this point, I turned on an audio recorder and notified him that it was on. The next 3 to 5 hours of incidence are all recorded on audio. I am having transcriptions and copies made, translations of statements in Cantonese made, and I will make them available to the police and court at my lawyer’s discretion and judgment.
I said to him, “Murphy Chan, you said just now that you believe more in protecting Cathay Pacific’s policies than in good customer service. Can you confirm or deny that you said that?”
He said, “Please immediately offload Mr. Marshall” and he called in the police to resolve his mess and abuse.
Four facts bare mentioning at this point –
1. No one on the air staff had informed me to go back to my seat in economy – the order came from a ground-side middle manager, Murphy Chan. The pilot never gave a command.
2. I believe that Cathay Pacific had a “duty of care” to me and I’d already paid for the class of service.
3. They never gave me a reason why I was to be off-loaded if I failed to follow his instructions – he stated no law, no regulation, and no policy in writing or audio other than the fact that I “had to follow his authority.”
4. He refused to put his decisions in writing or on audio – typically a sign that a person knows they’re committing bad behavior. He behaved conspiratorially the entire time. (Later, a different Cathay manager would lie to the police – again, captured on audio.)
Those are all facts, to the best of my knowledge and understanding.
In my opinion, the police were called as a malicious retaliatory measure against his authority being questioned.
This is an abuse of police resources, and led to the endangerment of myself, all passengers on the airplane, cabin crew, and the police staff. He repeatedly and unnecessarily escalated the situation.
I repeatedly said I’d go to economy or get off the plane as soon as the decision was put in writing, put on audio, or I was told the reasoning of why I was being offloaded. They refused to communicate once the recorder was on, and instead lied to the police and asked for violent action against me.
At this point, I would like to mention that the police were extremely professional, and I have no problems or complaints with the Hong Kong Police. They were incredibly professional and we communicated well together. In particular, Chief Inspector Lai was incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and gracious throughout this ordeal.
However, a serious problem did occur. Murphy tried to forcefully take my audio recorder from me, and you can hear the scuffle on audio. Later, after Cathay management repeatedly escalated the situation when I refused to comply without being told why, Murphy and his cohorts created a massive unnecessary delay that led to extreme unrest among the passengers.
Eventually, the police forcibly removed me from the airplane. I asked why, and was I under arrest? The answer kept being no until I was taken forcefully off the airplane at Cathay’s insistence despite repeated hesitance on the part of the police, and ignoring my offer to disembark or comply peacefully if the incidence was committed to writing.
I conducted myself as safely and professionally as possible given the gravity of the situation. I briefed the police – again, this is captured on audio – that I have no intention to hurt anyone and asked them kindly to try not to hurt me, but said I refuse all voluntary requests and invitations to get off the airplane without written or audio-recorded records of the incident signed by the relevant parties.
I said, I believe Cathay has a duty of care to me, and they will need to command me, arrest me, or forcefully remove me from the airplane – and give reasons – in order to end this situation.
I also told Murphy Chan that I would happily fly to Taipei in business class, and clear it up in Taipei. He refused.
I said I’d go to economy or get off the plane – their choice – if they would give their reasons on paper or audio.
They were silent at this point, and instead called in the police. In my opinion, they made false statements and misrepresented things to the police in a way that could have led to even more serious violence and disaster.
Later, a Cathay representative lied to the police in front of me, on audio.
I believe that without my audio recording, I would have been arrested and charged falsely by Cathay.
I believe that this situation is not unique, and rather is Cathay’s standard operating policy when weak and abusive managers are questioned. I believe that their management and security forces commit fraud, make false statements to the police, and conspire against the public.
I have the utmost respect for virtuous authority, for the professionalism and courtesy of the Hong Kong Police, for the government and citizens of Hong Kong, for all the staff and workers on Cathay Pacific who were great, for the immigration professionals and civil servants, and for everyone involved – except the management and security team at Cathay, who acted criminally and need to be stopped.
Again – these criminals need to be stopped as quickly as possible. I have the entire interaction recorded on audio, and intend to press charges. I would like to see this prosecuted to the fullest extent of Hong Kong Law, and if applicable, international law.
Additionally, I would like to reserve the right to press additional charges as other abuses come to light.
Thank you to the police for their courtesy. At this point, even though the police violently intervened on Cathay’s behalf, I would like to say I release the police of any wrongdoing because they were professionals doing their job. They handled a bad situation as well as possible.
I hope a police union representative will investigate whether Cathay is putting officers in harm’s way by misrepresentation and lies.
Murphy Chan, and the other unknown managers and security forces need to be stopped from their criminal behavior before even more serious abuses occur.
Passengers have a right to be treated well, the police cannot be lied to and used as “enforcers” for abusive violent power-crazy middle managers, and cabin crew and other staff can’t be put in harm’s way to cover for abusive and incompetent management.
Please press charges and investigate to the fullest extent of the law as quickly as possible. I will cooperate and assist to the best of my ability, so that justice may be served.
29th December 2011
Citizen of the United States of America