SBS Radio App

Download the FREE SBS Radio App for a better listening experience

Le Thi Kim Hong was 13 when she was kidnapped from a boat. It was 1980. She was trying to get to Australia, through Malaysia, together with 105 Vietnamese refugees. Thirty five years afterwards, her Australian - Vietnamese cousin, Minh Hung Luu, is going back to try to find her. This is the story of Hung's journey.

Le Thi Kim Hong was born in 1967 in Ba Ria, Vung Tau Province, Vietnam. She boarded a boat with 105 refugees departing Rach Gia province on 11 December 1980. After several days out at sea in the Gulf of Thailand, the boat engine failed. On the evening of 16 December, a large fishing boat pulled in the refugee boat alongside theirs. They were Thai or Malay fishermen turned pirates who had already captured 2 young girls from other refugee boats. They threatened to drown the refugees by sinking their boat if any rescue was attempted. As the ropes were untied, 3 of the pirates each took hold of 1 victim (Le Thi Kim Hong and 2 others girls - identities unknown), threw them into the water and pulled them back up onto the pirate's boat. This was the last time she was seen.
A search for Le Thi Kim Hong Facebook Page 

 

Friday 2 Sep 2016

This letter was sent this week by Le Thi Kim Nga, Kim Hong's younger sister, on behalf of the Le family. The original letter is in Vietnamese and this is a translation:

Letter from Le Thi Kim Nga

All of us, whether it's a family or an individual who has a missing relative, have our own feelings in particular circumstances, time, locations.

For our family, [there's] an urging call for blood relatives - no matter the circumstance, the period - from a child missing her parents, a sister missing her siblings.

We're of the same blood, are always urged to come back to be together, to the source of our family. That relationship is so sacred that it's ineffable, indescribable. 'Blood is thicker than water'.

Since my sister left, up to now [I] don't remember much, only vaguely. She was 13 y.o. when she escaped and was captured by Thai pirates. A young girl with a childhood full of flowery dreams, left behind the longings of her parents, the laughing sound of her five siblings in play.

Whether our present life has achieved or is happy, we always feel something missing deep in our heart. There's a calling back to the source, smouldering, echoing. It grows louder day by day, saying 'Child, come back to us, your parents; sister, come back to us, your siblings'.

Sister, our parents and we your siblings keep looking for you, longing for you. Come back to the family home.

The event thought buried in the past

But on an afternoon,

Two line of tears drop.

How much we miss you, our heart aches.

Please email all information to: kimnga.le@fubon.com

Phone: 0907 004 994 (Nga). Viet Nam.

 

 

 

Hung's last day in Kuala Lumpur was a race against time. Trying to report the case officially to the Malaysian Police and open a file at the local branch of Interpol was not a straigtforward process. Moreover, not having the right directioins resulted in a waste of precious time.

Hung also met Patrick Cheng from the Teochew Chinese Association beefore leaving  for Thailand.

The Teochew Chinese assosication was more than willing to help search for Le Thi Kim Hong. They offered to help spread the word in Malaysian newspapers at no cost. Hung is very appreciative of their support.

 

Saturday 25 Jul 2015
Sunday 14 Jun 2015

 

Hung touched down at Sydney airport this morning. Upon his arrival, he wished to reiterate his appreciation for all the inspirational people who helped him along the way, especially Mr Chookiat who has taken over the search for Le Thi Kim Hong.

Hung also called for more action to tackle human trafficking. A phenomenon that’s still prevalent in many parts of the world.

Saturday 13 Jun 2015
The search for Le Thi Kim Hong published int The Star, Kuala Lumpur

As he was preparing to board his flight back home, Hung confided that this trip has been one of many challenges but it has been an exciting and positive trip at the same time.

He believes that he has been fortunate to meet some great people along the way.

These include a number of reporters and members of some well-established and respected organisations.

Hung also said that though it is the last day of his trip this day marks the beginning of a long journey to find Le Thi Kim Hong and much more has to be done.

For him it has been a positive experience. Hung’s message to the wider community:

“Through this journey, I hope that I’ve been able to increase awareness on the issue of human trafficking as the problem still exists today.

The message to all the people that have been affected by this is that, I hope to inspire others to do the same, to search for their loved ones and not give up.”

Hung, Mr Chookiat and Mrs Yee near Bangkok

 

Today was dedicated to meeting Mrs Yee’s husband, Mr Chookiat, in his office just outside Bangkok. They were both civil servants before embracing volunteer and social work in their retirement.

Mrs Yee and Mr Chookiat have now taken on the responsibility to search for Le Thi Kim Hong on their own.

They’ve already organised the printing of colour flyers which they will start distributing in Songkhla district in Southern Thailand.

Mr Chookiat can be considered as a man who makes miracles happen. In 2011 he reunited Mr Hao Truong from New York with his son after 34 years (refer to article posted on FB yesterday).

Mr Chookiat also helped reunite Mr Viet Ngo from California with his long lost son.

Hung says that he is very fortunate to have met Mrs Yee and Mr Chookiat. His family is also very appreciative of the hard work that they are putting in to help them and other families.

Friday 12 Jun 2015

 

Minh Hung Luu

 

Hung and Mrs Yee had secured an interview with a Bangkok newspaper.

However, sometime before 4 PM - agreed time for the interview - the newspaper told them that because the search was not being conducted by Li Thi Kim Hong’s parents themselves the story wouldn’t be published on the front page if it were to be published.

They were also told that they'd have to pay 8000 Baht for the story to be run in the inside pages. Hung believes that this fee is excessive. 

Tomorrow Mrs Yee will introduce Hung to her husband who, despite being retired, spends his time doing volunteer work.  He also has invaluable connections in the Thai media.

This makes him the best person to lead negotiations with media outlets.

Thursday 11 Jun 2015

 

Minh Hung Luu searching for his cousin

The day was spent planning for the rest of the search under the expert guidance of Mrs Yee. The main acitivities for tomorrow will consist of visiting newspapers in an effort to spread the word.A big thank you to Mrs Yee and mirror.org who are providing me with invaluable assistance.