27 Feb 2004

Vietnamese American nominated for award after saving "garment slaves" in American Samoa

4:23 pm on 27 February 2004

A Vietnamese American, who helped Vietnamese employees of an American Samoa garment factory escape from slavery, has been nominated for a prestigious award in the United States.

Edmonds Hai-Tai Le has been nominated for the Jefferson Award Medallion, which honours special dedication, sacrifice and significant accomplishment in service to the American people.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, reports.

"In the year 2000, Le temporarily left his job at Microsoft and travelled to American Samoa to help the Vietnamese employees. He slipped by factory guards, pretending to be one of the more than 200 Vietnamese workers. When guards questioned him, he shrugged his shoulders and pretended he didn't know a word of English. With a digital camera and notepad, Le documented squalid living conditions inside the factory dormitory and the ordeal factory workers endured under the Korean factory owner."

When the factory went bankrupt and closed, Le helped get 12 of the Vietnamese workers to America