Wife of missing Lao community leader pleads against hero-worship

The Nation: 12 December 2013

The wife of a missing Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone has pleaded with the media to stop idolising him, saying the attention could be doing more harm than good.

“When you read what has been written in the press over the past 12 months, Sombath is made to be like a super-Laotian,” Singaporean Ng Chui Meng said.

“He’s not,” she told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand late Wednesday, ahead of the anniversary of her husband’s disappearance in Vientiane on December 15, 2012.

“We understand that Sombath is already in very dire circumstances if he is still alive, and this is why I appeal to our media friends to be a little more circumspect of the real situation in Laos,” Ng said.

Sombath, 61, went missing after being detained at a police checkpoint outside the Lao capital, where CCTV images captured him leaving his own vehicle, then getting into a pickup truck and being driven away.