Final check for US-bound Ha
VIETNAMESE orphan Ngo Van Ha completed a medical checkup yesterday in what was the final stage in a three-month drama to reunite him with relatives in the United States.
When the 16-year-old jets out for California within the next few weeks, he will leave behind four years of detention centres, court appearances and suicide attempts, but also his friends.
Moves were under way yesterday to have Ha released from the Kai Tak transit centre for the day tomorrow so he can attend a party in his honour.
The party is being organised by a group of refugee lawyers and friends who fought for Ha's right to live with his relatives in the United States.
The announcement that Ha could go to the US was made last month by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees after its staff in Hong Kong and Vietnam investigated information that Ha's relatives in Vietnam did not want him.
Ha's parents died in a road accident when he was 10. He arrived in Hong Kong in 1990 but was refused refugee status.
Relatives living in California had agreed to care for the teenager but their application to do so was originally refused.
He was a popular figure at the Tai A Chau detention centre, where he spent much of his time in Hong Kong.
His forced removal to Whitehead detention centre prior to a planned repatriation flight earlier this year sparked a series of demonstrations at Tai A Chau.
Yesterday, Ha visited the offices of the International Organisation for Migration for his final medical examinations prior to departure.
Vietnamese refugees who were also having medicals yesterday said Ha was looking forward to joining his relatives in the US.
''He is very happy, in good spirits and his usual friendly self,'' one man said.
Ha travelled separately to the main group of Vietnamese undergoing medicals yesterday and will be housed at the Kai Tak transit centre until he leaves the territory.