Truong Thi Le Quyen (also known as Miss Quyen), the Vietnamese woman who lost her left eye after the November 28th melee at the Daewoosa Samoa factory, is expected to travel to Honolulu next month for further medical treatment.
Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin confirmed Wednesday that his office was contacted for assistance, particularly in obtaining the woman’s visa to travel to Honolulu.
Miss Quyen’s was severely injured during the melee and later lost her eye after a valiant surgical effort to save it.
The assault is now being reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office as to whether formal charges should be filed. No suspect has been named yet, though Miss Quyen has testified in the High Court that she may have been struck by a female security guard.
Daewoosa Samoa manager Virginia Soli’ai told Samoa News that when company officials met with Faleomavaega and a visiting Vietnamese government delegation last week, Daewoosa offered to pay for the woman’s medical expenses.
The Vietnamese delegation is led by Miss Mai, the vice director of Tourism Company 12, the government-owned outfit that recruited and contracted the Vietnamese workers for Daewoosa.
"We offered our condolences to the Vietnamese delegation," Soli’ai recalled of what occurred during the meeting. "Daewoosa Samoa also offered to pay for her travel expenses to Honolulu, room and board and medical expenses so that she could get a prosthetic eye."
Soli’ai also told the Samoa News that the Congressman’s Office is also working on the visa application.
Faleomavaega said his office was contacted by the specialist that operated on Miss Quyen at the hospital and Christa Lin, one of the two attorneys representing Daewoosa’s Vietnamese workers.
The Congressman said his office was able to make contact with an eye specialist in Honolulu where a discount price was provided for the plastic eye.
Additionally, Faleomavaega said a Vietnamese association from the mainland has volunteered to pay Miss Quyen’s airfare to and from Honolulu.
In the meantime, a medical visa is being applied for through the U.S. Counsel General’s Office in New Zealand for approval.
The Congressman hopes Miss Quyen can travel to Honolulu in mid-January
for the eye examination and treatment.
Daewoosa Samoa officials yesterday dismissed allegations that they are secretly trying to send out a shipment of garments to circumvent an embargo recently imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
A Samoa News visit to the garment manufacturer’s Tafuna factory confirmed that the loaded containers were still in the compound’s yard.
But the rumors persist. In the last two days, the Samoa News received several anonymous calls that Daewoosa is now pressuring a local shipping company to send its shipment via New Zealand bound for New York, where the Daewoosa Samoa buyer is home-based.
"There is no truth to those rumors!" declared Daewoosa manager Virginia Soli’ai in a telephone interview last night. "All our containers are still at the compound.
"We would not be so stupid to violate the embargo order and neither would any local shipping company," she added. "But if our containers do not go out, we don’t know what else to do with the order."
DOL’s Wage and Hour Division investigator Astor Bruheir issued the embargo on December 8th and labeled the company’s products made between January 1st, 2000 to Dec. 8, 2000 as "hot goods".
Bruheir told Samoa News yesterday that he too was contacted about the issue and so far, he has found out, there is no truth to it.
Bruheir is on-island with another DOL official investigating allegations that Daewoosa owes its workers back wages.
Although he would not comment on the specifics of the investigation, Bruheir said "it’s ongoing right now" noting that the team will be talking to Daewoosa’s Vietnamese workers on the matter.
Whether the investigative report will be made public or not could not be confirmed yesterday as the final decision will have to come from those at the top of the ladder.
The Wage and Hour Division investigation is separate from the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation headed by Dan Mooney. Mooney is looking into "violence in the workplace."
In the meantime, Soli’ai said the embargo has placed a serious set-back on the company’s efforts to get orders to its mainland buyers.
She said the embargo is also hurting the Samoan workers financially, especially with the holidays upon us.
"Daewoosa is willing to pay for the airfares to return any Vietnamese worker who wants to go home, but no additional money is coming in because of the embargo," Soli’ai told Samoa News.
"The Vietnamese workers are also supposed to return to work but have refused," she added. "The Samoan workers are still working because there is another order that is suppose to go out at the end of the month, but with the embargo, we are stuck again."
The Vietnamese workers claim to be afraid to return to work with
the Samoans following the Nov. 28th melee at the company compound that
seriously injured a Vietnamese woman.