In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am profiling one Asian or Pacific Islander MP for every day of the month of May. Today’s case is Tai Yung Lau, a Chinese immigrant who disappeared from Tampa, Florida on June 20, 1981. He was 53 years old. I found a fair amount of detail on Lau’s case, but some of it was contradictory.
It looks like he might have been swept up in China’s Cultural Revolution, when a lot of people were executed or sent to forced labor camps on trumped-up charges. At any rate, per my sources, Lau fled a labor camp in 1967, got a job on a ship, then jumped ship and applied for asylum in the U.S. two years later. He was working hard and hoped to bring his wife and child over.
There are reports that he didn’t own a car, and reports that he sold his car the day he went missing and said something about returning to China. I don’t believe the latter reports; if Lau had gone back to China they would have probably shot him.
I doubt that, almost forty years later, anyone is going to figure out what happened to Lau, but I don’t think it was anything good. I wonder if his family is still in China or if they were able to come here.