Owner of Sam’s Tailor in TST purportedly whips male employee and hurls verbal abuse in social media video (Updated: 3pm)

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22nd November 2021 – (Hong Kong) A video circulating on the internet was sent to us which purportedly shows Roshan Melwani, the third-generation owner of Sam’s Tailor which is located at Burlington Arcade, 90-94c Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui using a cane to hit his male staff. In the beginning of the video, Roshan said that ‘nothing has changed in his management technique whatsoever’ and picked up a cane, he then shouted ‘Half-lining! Half-lining!’ and another staff member was heard giggling in the background. Roshan then shouted that it was ‘single button and not double button!’ and whipped the male employee. The male employee in the beginning said that he knew Roshan was not serious but quickly responded by saying that the order by the client stated as such. Roshan used several swear words throughout the video including ‘your mother’s XXXX‘, ‘Po Kai’, a common insult in Cantonese which means, “go fall in the street and die.”

According to Wikipedia, the five most common Cantonese profanities, vulgar words in the Cantonese language are diu (屌/𨳒), gau (鳩/㞗/𨳊), lan (撚/𨶙), tsat (柒/杘/𨳍) and hai (屄/閪), where the first literally means fxxk, “Diu” (or Jiu) is literally the word for fxxk, “hai” is a word for female genitalia and “gau” refers to male genitalia. They are sometimes collectively known as the “outstanding five in Cantonese”. These five words are generally offensive and give rise to a variety of euphemisms and minced oaths. Similar to the seven dirty words in the United States, these five words are forbidden to say and are bleep-censored on Hong Kong broadcast television

Lan is another vulgar word that means penis. Similar to gau, this word is also usually used as an adverb.

Roshan has repetitively used some of these words including ‘Lan’, ‘Hai’, ‘Ham Ka Chan’ and ‘Po Kai’ in the video claimed as skit. Not only he cursed in Cantonese, netizens also claimed that he used Hindi profanity in the video. ‘Ham Ka Chan’ means to curse the person’s family an entire generation to death. Even though Cantonese was not Roshan’s native language, he seems to be proficient in use of profanity.

The video appeared to have started as a skit before Roshan purportedly lost his cool and threw the cane to the ground. It is unknown as to when the video was taken.

The video was shared widely by others on Tik Tok on 11th April this year and also on Facebook. Click TIK TOK link here (not available in HK) or FACEBOOK link here to see the video.

We first published the article last week and Roshan subsequently wrote two emails to us and said that the video was circulated on the social media for a long time and his entire team of staff and himself were present whilst they were live-streaming on both TikTok and Instagram. He said that ‘all the staff’ were laughing in the background and he claimed that the video was a skit. He said in his own words, ‘It is a video taken on my phone and I had posted it to my TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube a long time ago.‘ Roshan’s lawyer even threatened to sue us with a groundless letter mentioning copyright claim of the video and defamation. Any fair use of video for news reporting is permitted under copyright law locally and elsewhere in the world even if he owns the video (also, once video is shared on social media, any copyright claim is unsubstantiated) as he claimed but as the video is full of obscene words, our editorial team decided to remove it. This incident is of public interest as it concerns the welfare of an employee and our article simply highlights the facts of it.

In the absence of malice, fair and factual reporting by media is allowed and does not constitute defamation. Both Roshan and his lawyer are basically saying that he was entitled to make a ‘skit’ video purportedly showing an employee being whipped and vulgar words in local and foreign languages being hurled and we are defaming him by describing the factual content of the video.

Threats, bullying and harassment are completely unacceptable on Facebook, and if someone is reported for violating these rules, his account can be permanently disabled. Swearing alone is not usually enough for someone to experience any repercussions, but harassing or threatening someone crosses the line — not because he is using coarse language, but because he is directly and negatively influencing someone else’s experience. Threats, bullying and harassment are also against the law, not just Facebook’s rules, which is why Facebook takes swift action against offenders. Although the video has not been proven as a form of harassment, threat or bullying, Roshan will risk his social media account being deleted if he still keeps the video on his own Facebook account (highly unlikely) as many negative comments were shared by netizens. A skit video is supposed to bring positive experience to other users on social media, Roshan’s video has appeared to have negatively influenced netizens’ online experience instead. Almost all comments were negative. If it’s really a skit as claimed, Roshan should continue to share or re-share the same ‘funny’ video on all his social media accounts again and we would like to see how netizens and social media platforms respond. As of press time, the video was no where to be found on his social media pages.

According to Instagram’s Community Guidelines, ‘We wants to foster a positive, diverse community. We remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages.’

The lawyer also claimed that Roshan ‘is in the business of selling tailor-made clothing and suits and the business is world-renowned. Established in 1957, Sam’s Tailor has built a reputation as the most famous tailor brand in Hong Kong and one of the most famous worldwide, by providing bespoke clothing and suits with superb quality and craftsmanship‘. If Sam’s Tailor built by his paternal predecessors is as famous as Roshan claimed, a ‘skit’ video which risks giving negative-influencing experience to social media users should not have been shared online in the first place. The video was described by Roshan and his lawyer as a ‘satirical and/or humorous skit’ but social media users clearly thought otherwise. The video did not end with a positive tone as Roshan did not offer any explanation whatsoever after he frowned. The definition of a skit is a short play/video or piece of writing that is usually funny. It is unknown to netizens which part of the video that is full of profanity is funny apart from the giggling of a female staff. In fact, in order to justify his side of the story, a follow-up video showing all the staff including the one who was whipped and cursed to explain that it was a ‘not-so-funny’ skit should be shared online to avoid further damage being done instead of threatening media outlets which reported factually.

According to the guidelines of the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2006), workplace violence includes any type of physical assault, threatening behaviour, or verbal abuse.

There is no law against bullying in Hong Kong. However, any physical assault should not be tolerated and if injuries are caused, the case should be referred to police.

Employee may rely on breaches of the relevant anti-discrimination ordinances (the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Disability Discrimination Ordinance, Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and the Race Discrimination Ordinance) and the common law duty of the employer to his employee to provide a safe place and a safe system of work. Where there is an “abusive work environment”, it is an act of negligence on the part of the employer. The employee may also claim constructive dismissal, which is a form of wrongful dismissal, where the employer is said to be in breach of the employment contract, but the employee must first leave his position.

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