This British colony that has received almost 9,000 refugees from Vietnam in the past two months, prepared today for the possible arrival of 2,000 more currently stranded on a ship off the Philippines.
The Philippine government told U.N. and British representatives it would order the Hong Kong-owned ship, the Tung An, to leave Manila Bay for the British colony, the vessel's original destination.
Hong Kong's latest refugee problem began yesterday when the freighter Skyluck arrived with 3,000 Vietnamese aboard.
A Vietnamese refugee from the freighter Huey Fong, which put 3,400 Vietnamese ashore last month, said today he and his family paid government officials in Ho Chi Minh City $10,000 for passage aboard a junk, leaving Vietnam.
Police investigating the possibility of a refugee smuggling ring are questioning the crew and passengers of the Huey Fong and the Skyluck. Both are Taiwanese ships.
Tran Ahuu Ai, 23, said most other refugee families on the Huey Fong paid similar amounts to the security department of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, before they were allowed to leave.
Investigators said yesterday they found thin leaves of gold valued at $1 million hidden in the Huey Fong's engine.
Tran said he and others on the same junk were rescued by the Huey Fong in late December when their boat was damaged by a storm. He said he had paid nothing to the captain of the Huey Fong.