True Story: Locked Up in Vietnam


I still remember 5 months ago (October 2012), when on flight to Kuala Lumpur from Ho Chi Minh City, the guy that sitting next to me has no belt, no shoe laces and his cloth is really in bad condition. Ah Kuan (not a real name) was previously locked up in Vietnam because of credit card fraudulence case.

Ah Kuan was charged with credit card
fraudulence in Vietnam 
Ah Kuan was in his 33 years old and born in Penang, Malaysia. He was locked up in Dong Nai Province, South Vietnam for 7 months before deportation back to Malaysia. According to Ah Kuan, he went to Vietnam 7 months before he arrested to work with his friend‘s company in Dong Nai. Previously he worked in Singapore and Taiwan with reason to save money for his family in Malaysia.
One day, he was buying an IPhone in one shop in Dong Nai province and was caught by police after the shopkeeper found out that the credit card was fraud. He can’t say anything and he can’t speak Vietnamese to request for help or defend himself.  

Seven months in the locked up was a terrible experience for him. Each room consisted of 3 prisoners and all of them are Vietnamese prisoner with various faults such as killing people, robbery, fighting and many more. During the period, he will do the same daily routine which is sleep, eating and sleep again. According to Ah Kuan, the foods during the time were terrible and more suitable for animal. The rice was uncooked, the vegetable was no taste and don’t dream for chicken or pork. Ah Kuan added that each week all Vietnamese prisoners can ask the police officer to buy any needs like soy sauce, washing powder, cigarettes and other things. Normally the prisoner’s family will let the prison officer to keep the money for buying weekly stuff matters.

Here is a reminder from Ah Kuan:

“When go to club or karaoke, never do your payment by using credit card. The waitress/waiter will take your credit card to swipe it at counter and during the transaction, irresponsible parties may copy your credit card details which may result to fraudulence”


Ah Kuan was really lucky because he is a foreigner and nobody can touch him even was one of the criminal. As for other Vietnamese prisoners, it was very pity when the officers sometimes will hit or abuse them because of unknown reasons.

Photo from natgeotv.com. This is the closest imagination of the Ah Kuan cell. Spooky room with mattress, wall with a lot hand writings and the darkness.
After 7 months, finally the police of Dong Nai province handover Ah Kuan to Immigration Department of Ho Chi Minh City for deportation back to Malaysia. For 2 weeks, he was locked up in Ho Chi Minh City Immigration’s temporary diplomatic prison while waiting for his travel document ready from Malaysian Consulate General Office in Ho Chi Minh City.  The only different here is, the room is cleaner and he received a better food three times daily.

When we arrived to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Malaysia, I gave him my shoe’s lace and a t-shirt to replace the spooky one that he wore. It was very bad when he has nothing while on board without any Identification Card and money.

Until now, I am wondering why he locked up for 7 months in the Dong Nai police station? Why he didn’t contact Malaysian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City? Why he didn’t contact his family in Malaysia? And its remained as questions as I lost contact with Ah Kuan since the day.
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