Final Thoughts on the Late Le Hieu Dang, He Legitimately Left the Communist Party

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note with tags , , , on April 1, 2014 by Ian Pham

Le Hieu Dang 2I have a confession to make. I’ve been writing this article for a while now, along with a host of other news stories that I haven’t been able to get completely off the ground due to time constraints. There is definitely more material waiting to be put out, I just have to make time for it, which, as I am finding out, is quite hard. Nonetheless, this one is an important story that I think you all should still know about. The newest material will find its way to you all soon, I promise. Well, let’s get down to business.

In late January (I know, long time), before passing away, the longtime Communist member Le Hieu Dang legitimately declared his split with the Party in Vietnam. Citing his dissatisfaction with the party’s lack of progress, as well as their shameful conduct in dealing with domestic as well as international affairs, Dang formally renounced his membership to the VCP, expressing hopes that the new generation would learn from his example.

If you’re thinking his act is courageous, I would say you are about half right. As I mentioned, Le Hieu Dang is no longer with us. As an elderly man who was with the Communist Party since the Vietnam War era, Dang passed away a little over a month ago due to natural elderly causes. Le Hieu Dang repudiated the party while gravely ill in the hospital. He had reached the end of his life, and is no longer afraid of death. For this reason, I would say that the man deserves some credit for finally speaking out. However, seeing as how he did it very late in his life, with nothing left to lose, I would say my commendation for him is lukewarm at best.

You may recall earlier that I dismissed his declaration of departure as a Communist ploy. While I’m glad that Le Hieu Dang proved himself to be honest, and I truly am glad, I am still not wildly impressed by his announcement. He denounced the VCP, but didn’t exactly take personal responsibility for the ravages that the party has put the country through. As I said earlier, lukewarm at best.

Le Hieu DangLe Hieu Dang joined the Communist movement as a young man in the 1960′s with the hopes of bringing liberty and independence to his troubled country. Though his intentions are admirable, his inaction in the face of Communism’s future abuses are anything but so. Upon the Communist takeover of the country in 1975 and onward, it became apparent to the once naive Le Hieu Dang that the Communist ideals were nothing but lies. Even with that knowledge, the man would continue to live in a position of power and privilege until his recent split with the party in late 2013-early 2014.

So as you can see, though it was good that Le Hieu Dang did the right thing (eventually), his whole life was lived under the auspices of Communist wealth and power. For this reason, I give him a certain amount of credit for leaving the Communist Party, but you’ll have to understand that I have much reservations about doing so.

I’ll give him one better however, and point out that Le Hieu Dang expressed hopes in his final days that the future generation in Vietnam will learn from this and stand up against the country’s corrupted rulers. He also conceded that the Marx’s worker’s paradise is nothing more than a pipe dream, that the party is harmful to the nation, and the Communist enterprise overall is nothing more than a failure. The sweetest of all however, in my opinion, has got to be Le Hieu Dang’s admittance that in comparison to this Communist regime, the South Vietnamese regime was vastly superior, for the people and the country as a whole.

We all knew Communism was a failure already, and with this piece of evidence, let it be known that even its own members think the Party is garbage.

I respect the fact that Le Hieu Dang admitted this eventually, at least he managed to do something right. May he rest in peace.

Honor, Courage, and Sacrifice: The Fight for Hoàng Sa, 1974

Posted in Editor's Note, Modern History with tags , , on January 30, 2014 by Ian Pham

hoangsa_pic1The People’s Republic of China’s encroachment into the Hoàng Sa archipelago began on January 16, 1974. The infamous standoff that ensued lasted until January 19, culminating in a fierce naval confrontation between the RVN and the PRC. On that day, under the orders of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, Vice Admiral Hồ Văn Kỳ Thoại and the South Vietnamese Navy opened fire on the Chinese warships, sinking one Chinese ship before losing one of their own in a battle that lasted less than one hour.

Seventy-four South Vietnamese soldiers went down fighting in this battle. Among the fallen was one Captain Ngụy Văn Thà. Though it helped force the Chinese retreat, the Captain’s vessel, the Hải Quân 10, was too badly damaged for retrieval. As a final order, Ngụy commanded his troops to evacuate the sinking warship and return safely to the harbor. With the exit of his crew, the commander waited patiently for death, as two more PLAN ships were returning for him and HQ10.

HQVN27In his final hours, the commander was joined by two of his crewmen. Resolved to die alongside their fearless captain, the two sailors disregarded those orders to abandon ship. Along with two of his most loyal naval officers, Captain Ngụy Văn Thà went down with his faithful ship. His story signifies the greater sacrifice that the Vietnamese soldiers made in the name of freedom and independence.

They knew they were outnumbered, and they knew they were were going to die. But even with that in mind, the soldiers of the South Vietnamese Navy went down fighting to the very end.

They were patriots, fighting for their country and their people. The RVN Navy’s actions demonstrate that even though Vietnam is a small nation, it cannot and will not stand idly by while its larger neighbor tries to steal away its territory.

HQVN1In taking a stand against the Chinese, South Vietnam reinforced its sovereignty over the islands of Hoàng Sa. For future generations, this battle will be a symbol of Vietnam’s courage and resilience. The battle signified the defense of territory that has for centuries been under the control of the Vietnamese.

Those soldiers that gave their lives did so with honor and courage. Their actions reverberate in the hearts of every Vietnamese patriot to this day, and will do so for decades, even centuries to come.

Last week, I tried to encompass the significance of the Hoàng Sa Battles in one single post. Needless to say, that blew up in my face. I know full well that I can’t do these men justice here, because to fully encapsulate their courage and sacrifice in a single article is simply impossible. I couldn’t do it for Brother Việt Dzũng, and I sure as shoot won’t sure be able to do it here.

All I can do here is make known the sacrifices that these soldiers have made for us all. With fierce and noble hearts, these soldiers did not yield to the Chinese threat. They fought, they made a stand, and they saw to it that the virtue of the Vietnamese people are forever enshrined in history.

To that, I commend them. To the sound of 21 guns bursting into the ocean air, I honor the courage and sacrifice of these soldiers. We will remember, always.

A salute!

40 Years After the Battle of Hoang Sa: Commemorative Protests in Vietnam Shutdown by Vietnamese Government

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note, Modern History with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2014 by Ian Pham

Hanoi Protest 1:19:2014On Sunday, January 19, 2014, the people of Vietnam were barred by the VCP government from participating in the 40th memorial of the Battle of Hoang Sa, or the Battle for Paracel. In several key cities across Vietnam, the population planned and attempted to orchestrate large-scale gatherings to protest the forty years of Chinese occupation of the Vietnamese islands, which were invaded and taken by the People’s Liberation Army Navy from January 16-19, 1974.

In Hanoi, under the monument of the ancient Emperor Ly Thai To, hundreds of Vietnamese protestors gathered with banners and flowers to honor the South Vietnamese soldiers who died protecting the Hoang Sa archipelago. Uniformed and plain-clothed/undercover policemen spectated the gatherings for a brief amount of time before dispersing the crowd and sending them home. Police officers disguised as construction workers sprayed dust in the air to make protestors uncomfortable on the grounds. They would eventually shut down the entire gathering, though avoiding the use of force to accomplish their job.

Saigon Protest 1:19:2014In Saigon, the old capital of South Vietnam, residents were prevented from gathering altogether. However, unlike in Hanoi, security forces in the south did resort to violence to prevent the Vietnamese people from staging any sort of protest. On January 17, 2014, a group of women who tried to protest China found themselves in a scuffle against the Communist policemen. Yeah, you heard right. The women tried to show love for their country, and the cops, being the true-hearted Communists that they are, sought to suppress patriotism and sought a fight against a group of women to prove their point. On January 19, due to the heavy suppression by the police, demonstrators had to gather within the walls of a church in order to properly pay their respects to the lost soldiers of 1974.

In the coastal city of Danang (not pictured here), closest to the scene of the battle, a supposed state-sponsored commemoration of the 40-year memorial was scrapped by the government at the last minute. Let’s just state the obvious here and say that the government of Vietnam never intended to allow the memorial in the first place. They just feigned support for the dedication as a political maneuver to win themselves a shred of respect before the people, respect that they quickly squandered, as always. The local government in Danang planned an extravagant display with the supposed blessing of the central government, but at the last minute, the show was scrapped for “bureaucratic” reasons. The Danang government invested much effort into the project. Sadly, it will never see the light of day.

Hoang Sa ProtestIn the earlier post, which no longer exists, I mistakenly suggested that Nguyen Tan Dung had planned to put the heroic exploits of the South Vietnamese soldiers into Vietnamese school textbooks. That point was inaccurate, as the Communist Prime Minister only wished to write that Paracel and Spratly belonged to Vietnam and that the Chinese wrongfully invaded. He had no intention of portraying the South in a positive light at all. I knew that first point was bologna when I jotted it down, but in my haste to complete the article for commemoration day, I completely botched the editing process and allowed for the ensuing fiasco. Well, I saw to it that the information is fixed, and that you can be confident in the information you are reading now.

Nguyen Tan Dung’s comments, as tame and disappointing as they were, did in fact get censored and erased from public consciousness. Moreover, a television station in Dongnai Province, but not the entire country, did in fact provide coverage of South Vietnam’s heroic naval stand against the invading forces of the PRC. It was because of this coverage that Vietnamese people believed the government actually had a tiny shred of patriotism in them, and planned the anti-Chinese protests accordingly. Well, to our disappointment, and once again resonant with VCP behavior, Hanoi buckled under Chinese pressure, bowed their heads and betrayed their people.

Hanoi Protest 1:19:2014 BannerIt is a sad reality, but it seems the Vietnamese Communist government will continue to be an impediment to the recovery of Vietnam, not the solution.

This is just the first part of my commemoration for the Battle of Hoang Sa. It is meant to signify the disappointing reality that Vietnamese people continue to deal with in the Communist country. However, it also demonstrates the patriotism and courage of the Vietnamese people today, who are taking an increasingly strong stance against the Communist government. Another article will be written that truly commemorates the courage and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese navy. It will be there that we really discuss the significance of the battle and the brave soldiers that gave their lives for the country. Hang tight in the meantime.

For my people in Vietnam, keep fighting the good fight, because all across the world, every red-blooded Vietnamese patriot is doing the same thing. One day, Vietnam will finally enjoy the liberty and justice that she truly deserves. Stand tall. Never waver. Onward.

40 Years After the Battle of Hoang Sa: The Significance of the Sacrifice (AWAITING CORRECTION!)

Posted in Editor's Note on January 19, 2014 by Ian Pham

Oops! It seems that a major error has been made in this article and requires some key revisions.

Subscribers to the blog, I advise you to delete the email version of this article, as a newly revised copy will be sent to you within the next day. If you decide to keep it saved, please disregard the information provided, as it may be misleading.

My apologies, dear readers. A revised version of this same article will be released within 24 hours.

Sorry for any inconvenience. I take full responsibility for the mix-up.

- Ian :(

**** UPDATE!

I’ve decided to scrap the entire old article and write another memorial for the Battle of Hoang Sa. It will be broken up into several parts (either 2 or 3), and will take place over the week. Part 1 is almost complete and ready for publication.

(January 19, 2014, late night)

**** UPDATE!!

The first commemorative article is now available!

(January 20, 2014, early morning)

**** UPDATE!!!

Hey all,

The memorial will in fact be broken into two parts. The second article will be up in a day or two, maybe less!

(January 26, 2014, late night)

**** UPDATE!!!!

Well, everybody,

The second half of our commemoration has finally been posted. Sorry for the lateness, I do what I can in terms of time. It’s still Thursday where I am, so technically… Ah, forget about it.

Enjoy the post everyone, and Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Happy New Year) to you all!

- Ian :D

(January 30, 2014, late night)

A Commemoration of Viet Dzung: The Icon, The Activist, The Leader

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note, Special with tags , , , on December 30, 2013 by Ian Pham

Viet DzungI know I won’t be able to do justice for the memory of Viet Dzung in just one blog article. He has done so much for the Vietnamese community, both abroad and domestically, that it would be impossible to capture the man’s greatness with so few words. Not only was Viet Dzung a philanthropist, he was also a leader of his community, and an entertainment icon beloved by almost all members of the Vietnamese community overseas.

The late musician was born in Saigon on September 8, 1958, when the Vietnam War was heating up. He came of age throughout this time period. By the time he was a young man, Viet Dzung left Vietnam following the Communist takeover, arriving in the United States in 1976.

During his time in America, Viet Dzung utilized his talents as a singer and songwriter, composing songs about his love for Vietnam and his longing for the country’s freedom. The young musician wrote music in both Vietnamese and English, and was interestingly good at writing country songs.

Viet Dzung StageIn the 1990’s, Viet Dzung gained popularity through his programs on Little Saigon Radio, and subsequently Radio Bolsa as well. Concurrently, Viet Dzung became the host of Truc Ho’s Asia Music program, making him a sensation among Vietnamese listeners and viewers. Viet Dzung’s prominence in the entertainment business has made him a Vietnamese icon.

Viet Dzung flourished in the entertainment business, but that is not the main reason he is so loved by everyone. The boundless admiration and respect that Viet Dzung commands stem from his selflessness, his devotion, and ingenuity as a leader of the Vietnamese community.

Mr. Dzung was very active in his community, volunteering in charity events, organizing many of his own, and teaching as a guest speaker at many local schools and youth shelters. He was also a prominent catalyst for the struggle for human rights. Viet Dzung played a key role in organizing many protests and awareness campaigns against the Communist Party. Moreover, Viet Dzung’s charisma and communication skills helped gain the attention of many politicians and business leaders in the U.S.

As a close friend and ally of Mr. Truc Ho, Viet Dzung played a prominent role with Truc Ho in planning and executing the countless human rights campaigns that we have witnessed over the past decade, but especially in just the last few years. Viet Dzung is a staple leader of the SBTN television Network, and has been a mentor to so many young professionals and emerging leaders throughout his lifetime.

Viet Dzung, 1958-2013It is for this reason, his willingness to give, and give, and give, all without asking for anything in return, that has gained him the love and admiration of so many Vietnamese overseas. It is for this reason that his death, two Fridays ago, on December 20, 2013, at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, sent shockwaves throughout Vietnamese communities in the Western Hemisphere.

Viet Dzung was only 55 years old when he passed away. The cause of his death was a longtime heart ailment that finally overtook him. I think it is safe to say that with the loss of Mr. Viet Dzung, the people of Vietnam, overseas and within have just lost a great man. He gave us so much and changed the landscape so profoundly that it is still unclear the extent of his legacy. Thus, we must bid a warm and tearful farewell to one of the greatest examples of Vietnamese resilience and compassion. Bless his wonderful spirit.

Annual Christmas Card: The 2013 Edition

Posted in Editor's Note, Entertainment & Media with tags , , , , on December 25, 2013 by Ian Pham

Snowy NightHey there everyone,

It’s that time of year again. The annual Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Years from your favorite Vietnamese human rights blogger. Sorry I’ve been kind of a ghost this year, and haven’t been covering as much as I would like to. Even though it may seem as if I’m not always around, you can rest assured that I am working tirelessly, and will never quit fighting for liberty, human rights, and democracy for the people of Vietnam.

I’ve witnessed some great strides in the fight for freedom in the year of 2013. Overseas, there are brave, hardworking, and incredibly creative individuals like Truc Ho, Viet Dzung, and the entire SBTN crew have made leaps and bounds in spreading awareness to the dire situation that the Communist Party has been putting the country through. Inside Vietnam, the fight continues, and is only heating up.

Young people in Vietnam like Dinh Nguyen Kha and Nguyen Phuong Uyen, just two of many courageous youth, have broken the silence and exposed the party for what they are: cowards, traitors, and heartless (yet spineless) dictators. As I write this, many more young people continue to join the struggle for liberty, democracy, and human rights for our beautiful nation of Vietnam. I can foresee an even more eventful year for our upward march to democracy, and, to the best of my ability, I will try to keep you updated every step of the way.

Well, before I ramble anymore, I think I’ll just stop myself now and save my rants for another day. Tonight, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday.

Best wishes,

Ian.

P.S. To do something different this year, I thought I should share with you all one of my all-time favorite holiday songs . The lyrics, melodies, and just overall presentation of this song makes me a little more cheerful every time. Here is “Grown-up Christmas List,” written by David Foster, and performed here by Michael Bublé.

Enjoy!

A Very Late Eulogy for General Vo Nguyen Giap

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note with tags , , on December 21, 2013 by Ian Pham

VNGI’ve written about the death of Vo Nguyen Giap before. Only the last time, it was by mistake and he was very much alive (just horribly ill in the hospital… oops). Well, this time I made sure of it that he was actually dead before writing his eulogy (it’s just common courtesy. I am a gentleman, you guys).

Since I’ve said what I generally wanted to say about General Giap in that accidental eulogy that I wrote a few years ago, and let’s be honest here, there are much more pressing matters at hand right now in current affairs that I must cover, I’ll keep this one brief.

Vo Nguyen Giap was a fighter who fought against the French to help liberate Vietnam from the European country’s colonialist endeavors (or what I like to call, France’s vestige of empire). He then fought against America in what was believed to be another case of imperialist imposition on a small but resilient nation. He definitely deserves commendation against the French, but in the case of America, I’ll just leave it as controversial.

As a postwar leader, I’m disappointed to say, Vo Nguyen Giap was too politically inept to save Vietnam from social deterioration at the hands of the party. Marginalized by Le Duan in the 1970′s, General Giap’s mythical stature protected him from political execution. From then on, all the way to November of this year in 2013, the general continued to be respected, but was powerless, holding zero actual sway within the Communist Party.

I do give him a modest amount of respect because of his courage and military service on behalf of Vietnam. He was also the man who openly opposed the policies of the idiots in Vietnamese government today. However, the general’s greatest weakness is that he was, first and foremost, a soldier. He knew how to fight, he knew how to follow orders and carry them out diligently, but as a statesman and a politician, he had no chance.

VNGfuneralIn my eyes, Vo Nguyen Giap was a patriot. He fought for Vietnam, and in the end, he died for Vietnam. However, in the grander scheme of things, he chose the wrong side in the struggle, and in the end, was unable to stop the country from deteriorating into the international joke that it is today. He had courage, and he had a good heart. But he was also weak politically, was molded and marginalized, used and abused by the more vicious political minds within that communist system. Therefore, my take on the late general is of a bittersweet nature.

When all is said and done, despite his shortcomings, General Vo Nguyen Giap was a man that gave himself for his country. Therefore, I bid him a clean and respectful farewell.

To the late general, a salute.

…. To the rest of the Communist Party, a single finger salute. Hiyooo!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers