A freighter crammed with 2,000 Vietnamese refugees steamed toward Hong Kong tonight to join another vessel crowded with 2,700 refugees barred from entering the British colony since Saturday.
The captain of an unidentified Panamanian registered freighter radioed that he was on the way to Hong Kong with more than 2,000 refugees picked up in the South China Sea, the Hong Kong Marine Department said. Sources said the ship set course for Hong Kong after officials in the British protectorate of Brunei, on the north coast of Borneo in the South China Sea, refused it entry.
A Hong Kong government spokesman refused to comment when asked if the colony would stick by its policy of not allowing Vietnamese refugees to land until another country agrees to accept them on a permanent basis. "When and if the ship arrives, its status will be established as well as those on board and appropriate action will be taken," he said.
On Saturday, the Taiwan-owsned freighter Huey Fong, carrying 2,700 Vietnamese picked up from nine vessels in the South China Sea off the Vietnam coast, was reduced entry because Hong Kong was not its first port of call.
Hong Kong officials have refused to change their decision but have sent enough food and supplies for three days and put doctors aboard the ship. Six refugees needing hospital treatment also have been allowed ashore.
The Huey Fong's captain. Shu Wen-shin, told Hong Kong officials in an interview over the ship's radio that he will be murdered if he puts out to sea. One refugee shouted over the phone that "we are going to kill the captain if he sils the ship and then we will all kill ourselves."