Tag Archives: crime

Doing, Doing, Done: Can-Do Cycle Team Dai Rides On Against Odds For HOPE Children’s Charity

Cyclist Charity Team Dai on a Mountaintop!

Laos-based international cyclist charity Team Dai including keen cyclist Ms Thu Ng from Vietnam tackle multiple challenges, raise confidence levels and much-needed funds, seeking to surpass the USD15,000 donation mark for disadvantaged children’s Hope Centre. 

Thinking of cycling, in some parts of the world, and lycra-clad road warriors and their aspirants will come to mind.

In others, perhaps a leisurely cruise down a local bike path or in a park, perhaps by a lake or riverside.

Elsewhere, this is not quite the case. In the case of developing countries like Laos, cycling is often seen as hot, old fashioned, disadvantageous and even highly dangerous.

Road safety is also a malleable concept. Drink driving too often prevails, peaking during festive seasons.

You could say being a cyclist in Laos is generally no “ride in the park”.

In fact, it can be an activity that best suits the determined.

The fairly flat Vientiane plain notwithstanding, Laos is certainly a majority mountainous country.

The quality of roads can leave a great deal wanting. Its a fact that surfacing on many a Lao thoroughfare is often in a more rustic condition than you see at the neighbors. Add a very warm, tropical climate and variable air quality as issues that impact.

 

It is also a developing nation where most folks aspire to motor vehicle ownership, cycling does not convey the status it does in more developed nations.

Cycling them puts you in close contact with all the vehicles, large and small, controlled by drivers of all levels of skill, experience, and temperament.

So why would a woman cycle?

It’s a question keen rider Ms Thu Ng knows better than most.

Growing up in neighboring Vietnam before making a home with her husband from Laos, she has been living in the capital Vientiane for some years.

"This year's Team Dai Challenge was my fourth. For me, it was another great year of riding with like-minded and supportive Team Dai members." Thu Ng, cyclist

“This year’s Team Dai Challenge was my fourth. For me, it was another great year of riding with like-minded and supportive Team Dai members.” Ms Thu Ng

She comes up against reflexively scornful attitudes toward the humble bicycle and cyclists both on the streets and at home.
It’s positive health and social impacts are less understood.

Cycling can be seen as a dangerous activity and certainly not one for a woman, particularly wife or mother, to be engaged in.

Ms Thu Ng tackled her fourth Team Dai Challenge for charity raising some US$14,630 to date for the HOPE Center’s work.

She shared her thoughts on the ride from her perspective as a keen cyclist and woman.

“This year’s Team Dai Challenge was my fourth and for me, it was another great year of riding with like-minded and supportive Team Dai members.” 

“In the Asian culture in which I grew up, I normally get told that women should stay home and not risk their lives.

“This mindset makes it hard for us women to engage in what is seen as extreme sports or exercise.”

“But I am a real optimist and believe that the best part of life is having the freedom to do whatever you are passionate about.

“This is happiness and this is all about life.”

Team Dai members including Ms Thu Ng

Team Dai members including Ms Thu Ng

Similarly, she was drawn to the engaging aspect of making a contribution to the society of the country she calls home.

“It has been said that giving is a simple solution towards some of the world’s most complicated problems. 

“So every year, we volunteer our time and efforts to carry out Team Dai’s mission of raising funds to help our community.

“For me personally, the ability to give support and spread love is the very best part of every Team Dai challenge.”

Team Dai Cyclist Charity Efforts Fund HOPE

The recipient of this affection in 2019 is the HOPE Centre, a community outreach program launched by ARDA Language Centre Vientiane in 2006.

HOPE Centre helps over 200 children and youth who are at risk of abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.

The center aims to serve the most vulnerable children and youth in the community to see them grow and develop in a healthy way and give them new hope for the future.

It does so by providing a safe environment where children begging on the streets, those living in slum communities and working could stop in during the day to bathe, receive medical care, a nutritious meal, general education and be involved in other activities including arts & crafts, music, sports and participate in special events.

Staff work alongside families living in poor communities to alleviate child labor and exploitation by helping them improve their livelihoods, parenting skills, and living conditions so that their children will have a suitable place to live and attend school.

Cyclist Charity Team Dai at HOPE Center

Cyclist Charity Team Dai at HOPE Center

Trauma counseling, educational therapy, and social skills development to child victims of abuse and exploitation help them address past experiences and move forward to lead productive lives.

Scholarships are also provided to help deter children from begging or being forced into other forms of child labor while providing enhanced educational opportunities.

Meanwhile, sporting activities including soccer and volleyball are used to divert children and youth from being drawn into a downward spiral including drug abuse.

Team Dai Cyclist Members in Luang Prabang

Team Dai Cyclists in Luang Prabang

Located at ARDA Language Centre in Vientiane, HOPE Centre welcomes every child, particularly the poor and vulnerable, a worthy cause Team Dai are proud to support.

Team Dai Cyclist Celebrates

Team Dai Cyclist Celebrates Calf-Building Charity Efforts

Snakes on A Pier! Smuggled Serpents Intercepted En Route from Thailand to Laos in Their Thousands

Snakes Seized in Mukdahan, Thailand (The Nation)

Bound for a liquor-infused finale of serpentine-inspired, aphrodisian fantasies (fallacies?), the disruption of a criminal smuggling racket in Thailand’s Mukdahan Province has led to a lucky escape for more than 2,700 snakes all set to be smuggled cross-border bound for Laos and apparently some horny drinkers and all-too-hopeful Cassanovas beyond.  

The sizeable seizure of snakes worth about a million baht (US32,000 or 275 million Lao Kip) reportedly netted some 182 baskets containing 2,730 rat snakes and cobras headed to Laos from Thailand via a long tail boat.

The smuggling operation was intercepted as the illicit slithering cargo was about to be shipped across the river from Thailand into Laos.

Thailand’s The Nation reported that checkpoint head Sathit Pisaisawat led the snake seizure effort that included his own officers plus those of Surasakmontree Military Camp’s task force and the Navy’s Mukdahan’s Mekong Patrol Operation Command at 8.30pm on Sunday evening.

The seizure on Thailand’s side of the shared border occurred at Ban Bang Sai Noi pier in Mukdahan’s Wan Yai district.

The successful disruption reportedly followed a tip-off regarding the planned smuggling operation.

It was reported that from surveillance, some 3-4 persons were seen to be moving what appeared to be plastic baskets with closed lids from a pick-up truck onto the pier for transport by long-tail boat. The persons scattered upon the approach of authorities.

Some 15 live snakes were found inside a net sack in each basket.

These were seized as evidence as the search for those involved continues. Should they be caught, suspects should expect to be charged with having wildlife in their possession without permission and importing wildlife without permission under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 1992, it was reported.

In Laos, the snakes could be expected to be on-sold to Chinese intermediaries in order to make alcoholic beverages produced by infusing whole snakes in grain liquor.

The product is believed to be sold to those who believe it may cure what ails them (or their beloved).

Wildlife Crime

Wildlife Crime is not a Victimless Venture

Frivolity aside, cross-border wildlife smuggling is a serious crime in the region, as Laotian Times reported in February 2018.

Those with information of such incidences are encouraged to report any suspicious activities to authorities.

Organizations like IUCN, WWF and WCS and more are also engaged on the issues and welcome reports of suspected crimes.

Those on Facebook can engage with the issue via the Campaign to Abolish the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Laos.

Everytime you buy... Nature pays
Every time you buy... Nature pays

Every time you buy… Nature pays!

Xaysana’s Second Life Sentence, Cooperation With Police Avoids Capital Punishment

Arresting Xaysana

Millions of pills smuggled across borders have resulted in a court in Bangkok delivering a second life sentence Wednesday to Lao citizen and convicted drug criminal Xaysana Keophimpha.

Bangkok’s Criminal Court originally handed Xaysana Keophimpha a death sentence for smuggling 1 million methamphetamine pills from Laos to southern Thailand and Malaysia, news organisations with reporters based in Thailand have reported, including The Bangkok Post.

The sentence was reduced to life in prison for cooperation with ongoing police investigations.

The same court in March had delivered Xaysana a life sentence over the smuggling of another 1.2 million methamphetamine pills from Laos after being incriminated as the leader of a smuggling network.

Known for his links to various celebrities, photographs of Xaysana with public figures and police officers were widely shared on social media.

The case has long drawn attention on both sides of the Lao-Thai border and beyond ever since Xaysana was arrested on Jan. 19, 2017.

Xaysana Keobimpha

Xaysana Keophimpha FaceBook Profile

High Profile Case with Celebrity, Powerful Links

A handy explainer was published by The Laotian Times earlier this year entitled The Xaysana Case: What We Know So Far.

The Laotian Times then reported in March this year that Thai and regional media brought to light stories of rumored connections to powerful and influential factions that had allowed him to conduct the illegal operations.

“Images of his ostentatious lifestyle have gone viral on social media in Laos where the majority of the public have condemned his actions.”

Two life sentences certainly provide ample time to consider the end results of his own actions and redeem himself in a way a death sentence does not allow.

Perhaps another positive to come from the case might be an example to the misguided to think twice (or thrice) before risking their freedom in the pursuit of illicit-drug-financed and similarly ill-gotten fair-weather friends, fame and riches.

Laos Golden Triangle Casino Hit with US Sanctions

Kings Romans Casino Laos

The US Treasury officially placed the Kings Romans Casino based in Laos on its organised crime sanctions blacklist on Tuesday, naming it a hub for the trafficking of humans, drugs, and wildlife.

The sanctions involve a group based in Hong Kong, the Kings Romans Company, which operates casinos.

One of the sites operated by the company is a well known casino located in Laos, in its Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone, on the Mekong River near Thailand and Myanmar.

“The Zhao Wei crime network engages in an array of horrendous illicit activities, including human trafficking and prostitution, drug trafficking, and wildlife trafficking,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Tourists who have visited the casino report a menu full of protected species at the casino’s restaurant, including bear, tiger, and pangolin.

The US Treasury named four individuals as key players:

Abbas “Basu” Eberahim, 29, an Australian who owns residences in Kooringal in Australia, Chiang Rai, Thailand, and the Golden Triangle Economic Zone in Laos.

Nat Rungtawankhiri, a Thai national aged 41 and resident Chiang Rai.

Guiqin Su aka Zhao Su, or Madame Su, 69, a Hong Kong resident with Chinese nationality.

Zhao Wei, 66, a dual Chinese-Macau national and husband of Madame Su.

“All assets of those designated that are under US jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,” it said.

“Since 2014, Thai, Lao, and Chinese authorities have seized large narcotics shipments that have been traced to the Kings Romans Casino.”

Photo: Chiang Rai Times

Network Ramps Up Action against Wildlife Crime

The Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (Lao-Wen) is meeting in Vientiane province from September 21-23 to discuss a new strategy and rules to facilitate stakeholders’ participation in combating wildlife crime.