Lao Worker Kills Chinese Employer Who Scolded, Abused Subordinates

A Lao teenager working at a motorcycle shop in Bokeo province killed his Chinese employer in early March, knocking him down and cutting his throat following a heated argument over working hours and the man’s abuse of his local employees, sources in Laos said.

The worker identified as Kung, 18, had lost his temper in the March 8 incident, which followed weeks of scolding by his Chinese boss, a resident of Pha Oy village in Bokeo’s Houaxay district and next-door neighbor to the shop told RFA’s Lao Service this week.

“The two were arguing, and I heard that the Chinese man had scolded him many times,” the neighbor said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The Chinese man had scolded not only the teen but all his other employees, too.”

“The shop has been closed since the incident, because the owner is now dead,” he added.

Speaking to RFA on Thursday, a police officer in Houaxay district confirmed the fight had taken place. “The incident happened at a motorcycle shop,” the officer said, also speaking on condition his name not be used. “The employer and an employee were having a heated argument, and then a fight.”

“Before the incident, the employer had often emotionally and physically abused his employees and sometimes injured them seriously,” another Pha Oy village resident said. “One of the employees then exploded and hit the boss, who is now dead. The attacker just started this job a couple of weeks ago.”

Following the attack, the Lao teen—who gave his name as Kung under questioning by police—escaped by motorcycle but was captured two days later, a provincial police officer told Security News, an online news site of the Lao Ministry of Public Security.

“Under interrogation, the attacker said that his name was Kung and that his employer was ‘too offensive,’ saying for example that when he arrived to work late one day, he was told he would not be allowed to eat lunch.”

“On the day of the incident, Li Xiao—the employer—closed his shop, but Kung remained behind. And when the shop owner scolded him and yelled at him to leave, [Kung] snapped and knocked the owner to the floor and cut his throat,” the officer said.

“He then ran to his motorcycle, which he had parked at a friend’s house, and sped away. But police arrested him in another village on March 10,” he said.

The incident follows other reports of high-handed treatment of Lao workers by their Chinese bosses, and of increasing resentment over a growing Chinese business presence in the country.

In June 2020, a young Lao worker, Lou Xiong, was beaten, shocked, and tied up by his employers at a Chinese banana plantation in Vientiane province in northwestern Laos in a dispute over long working hours, the worker’s relatives told RFA in an earlier report.

Concern has also been growing in Laos over China’s growing influence as a result of its massive investment in hydropower dams, a major railway, and other infrastructure projects under Beijing’s $1.3 trillion Belt and Road Initiative.

China is Laos’ largest foreign investor and aid provider, and its second-largest trade partner after Thailand.


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