Hollywood flick 'The Terminal' gets twisted at Saigon airport

By Doan Loan, Nguyen Quy   November 15, 2018 | 06:42 am PT
Hollywood flick 'The Terminal' gets twisted at Saigon airport
Passengers wait at check-in counters in Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Photo by Shutterstock/Phuong D. Nguyen
Airport officials are at a loss. A foreigner with no identification papers in deteriorating health is on a hunger strike.

The man, apparently 32 years old, has been an unwanted guest at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City for nearly two months now.

He had flown to Japan from HCMC, but was sent back after being denied entry for using fake passport.

He had entered Vietnam with a valid visa, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City on a Vietnam Airlines flight from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on August 18.

Two weeks later, he boarded an AirAsia flight to Japan, transiting via Thailand’s Bangkok.

However, Japanese immigration authorities denied him entry after discovering he was using a fake passport. The authorities reportedly confiscated all his counterfeit personal papers.

On September 26, he was deported from Japan and sent back to Tan Son Nhat Airport, his point of departure.

Without a valid passport and international travel documents, the man was refused entry into Vietnam and has stayed in detention at the airport since.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), the man has said that his name is Masena Bokang Jon. He is 32 years old and a citizen of the Kingdom of Lesotho near South Africa.

He has also told authorities that he has a history of stomach cancer.

Since his detention at the airport, he has abstained from solid food. He doesn’t have money to buy other food, and his health is slipping as a result.

On October 30, he was hospitalized after going into convulsions. He was taken back to the airport after his condition stabilized, but has been on a hunger strike for the last 10 days. It’s not clear whether he is protesting the meals of nothing but bread provided by AirAsia or if he has other demands.

Aviation officials have sought help from immigration authorities and the foreign affairs ministry to deal with this unprecedented situation, but no solution has apparently been found so far.

Initial findings are that Jon had successfully boarded international flights to many countries including Indonesia, Nigeria, the Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Vietnam with his fake passport before being found out by Japanese authorities.

A diplomatic agency of the Kingdom of Lesotho based in Malaysia said his passport number was actually that of a woman.

Since he is not recognized as an official resident of the Kingdom of Lesotho, it is difficult for Vietnamese authorities to identify his personal status.

"Several Vietnamese airlines are willing to take him home, but he had no personal identification papers or international travel documents," said an unnamed airport official.

The man’s stay has some parallels to famous Hollywood movie "The Terminal" wherein a foreign national is stuck in a New York airport for months.

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