SVA interviewed by SCMP regarding a double murder in Hong Kong

Consultancy firm CEO Steve Vickers said that although Hong Kong had seen some high-profile violent crimes in recent years, it was “perhaps the safest city in Asia from a public safety and crime perspective”.

* Chef Fai, 64, who tried to stop attacker with stools from restaurant, says he heard chilling screams before heading to scene

* Other workers in mall recount hiding in shops out of fear, including saleswoman at cosmetics retailer that victims visited before attack

Witnesses have recounted their horror and trauma after a fatal stabbing of two women in a Hong Kong mall, as experts have sought to reassure residents that the city remains largely safe and such attacks are rare.

Among those in the Plaza Hollywood shopping centre on Friday evening was 64-year-old chef Fai, who was having his meal break at Chinese restaurant Federal Banquet when he heard chilling screams.

He ended up being one of the few brave passers-by who tried to stop the attacker. Two women, aged 22 and 26, were killed after being repeatedly stabbed.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

“I only wanted to stop him from hurting people. But I didn’t manage to help the two victims. I failed,” said the chef, who did not wish to give his full name, a day after the knife attack in Diamond Hill.

“I’m definitely not a hero … perhaps a bit impulsive indeed.”

The 39-year-old attacker, who police said was suffering from a mental disorder, was arrested at the scene.

Videos circulating online showed the chef from a nearby restaurant attempting to block the attacker with two stools before police arrived.

The chef said he was taking his meal break when he suddenly heard screams.

“I thought it was just some kids screaming, but then I heard about the stabbing and went to take a look. The corridor was clear and I saw a man attacking a woman with a knife in his hand,” he said. “It was terrifying, but I wanted to stop him from hurting any other people.”

Grabbing two stools from the entrance of the restaurant, he ran to the scene and hit the man on his forehead.

“He looked shocked and moved a step forward, so I hit him again, but he did not make any attack,” he said. “I felt uneasy hurting him because I was hitting a stranger.”

The chef said the attacker then slowly walked towards the directory board at the end of the corridor and burst into tears. “Maybe he calmed down and realised what he had done.”

Fai then stood in front of the attacker, holding a stool at chest level to prevent him from stabbing anyone else, while a few residents tried to resuscitate the victims before police arrived.

Although no one helped him, the chef said he was not bothered because people should protect themselves first.

“I agree with internet users who said I was impulsive. My family also scolded me, but they are grateful that I am fine,” he said.

At least four stores along the corridor where the attack took place remained shut on Saturday morning, including cosmetics retailer Sasa the two victims visited before the attack.

Recalling the incident, a Sasa saleswoman who was taking care of administrative tasks, said she was still terrified over the attack but would not seek counselling.

“I heard the noise and quickly hid. I dared not look at the scene,” said the woman who only gave her surname as Choi. “But the moment he stabbed the woman was stuck in my head last night.”

A shopkeeper at a Korean grocery store near the scene came to work as usual and recounted rushing to protect customers.

“I was so scared. I hid in the storeroom with two customers, but we didn’t manage to close the gate,” said the shopkeeper, who only gave her surname as Wong.

A saleswoman surnamed Chie at gift shop Sanrio, close to where one of the victims was attacked, said a colleague who witnessed the attack had to take a day off to calm down.

The shopkeeper of a lingerie shop, who declined to be identified, also said the colleagues who witnessed the killing had taken a day off to recover.

More than a dozen police officers, wearing anti-stabbing vests, patrolled the mall on Saturday. A few dozen residents paid tribute to the deceased by laying flowers at the scene.

Alan Li, a 35-year-old who works in purchasing and is a father of a four-year-old boy, travelled from Tsuen Wan to Diamond Hill to lay a flower for the deceased.

“I felt uncomfortable watching the video, though not quite worried about my safety,” he said.

Wong Yuk-wing, a 67-year-old retiree who lives in Galaxia, the property above the mall, said he was shocked by the incident.

“Perhaps we need to give more care to people with mental disorders in Hong Kong,” he said. “I definitely worried about our safety, but there’s not much we could do.”

He said the incident also made him doubt whether Hong Kong was still a safe place and he wondered whether police would bolster manpower to protect residents in the area.

But security experts insisted Hong Kong was still a safe city despite the knife attack.

Consultancy firm CEO Steve Vickers said that although Hong Kong had seen some high-profile violent crimes in recent years, it was “perhaps the safest city in Asia from a public safety and crime perspective”.

Lawmaker and former security minister Lai Tung-kwok voiced his confidence in police and said he believed safety fears among residents would subside if authorities cracked the case in short order.

According to police data, 8,830 of the 70,048 crimes reported in 2022 were violent ones, a 7.9 per cent drop from the year before.

Statistics from the previous 10 years also indicated a steady decline in the number of woundings and serious assaults, dropping from 6,818 in 2012 to 3,614 last year.