Archive for the Current Events Category

Vietnamese Restaurant in North Texas Displayed Giant Red Star in Logo, Promptly Changes After Public Criticism

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2014 by Ian Pham

Former Banh Shop LogoA Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas, Texas, has promptly changed its logo design in accordance with the wishes of the Vietnamese community in the area. The Banh Shop, a trendy new eatery on SMU Boulevard, found itself in hot water last week as a result of its questionable restaurant design, which featured a giant red star as part of its logo, behind the name “Banh Shop.” YUM! Brands, the parent company of Banh Shop, is a multi-billion dollar corporation that owns many other large restaurant chains including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.

The redesigns came fast and were carried out extensively. The owners of Banh Shop changed not only the store logo, but also their menus and staff’s uniforms, ridding the establishment of any symbols that may be construed as an association to communism. The prompt redesigns were made largely thanks to the strong and critical response from North Texas’s Vietnamese residents, who were vocal in their refutation of the eatery’s design blunder.

Banh Shop RenoWidespread public criticism by the Vietnamese community, as well as the attentiveness of the business owners, were key reasons why the change came so quickly and thoroughly. According to CBS Dallas/Fort Worth News, Mr. Thanh Cung, former South Vietnamese soldier, prisoner of war, and current North Texas resident, met with the VP of YUM! Brands emerging brands division, Christophe Poirier, to discuss the matter. “Obviously, when you make a mistake, the first thing to do is apologize and fix the issue,” Poirier said. YUM! Senior VP, Jonathon Blum admits that the company had made an honest mistake and also apologizes for the mishap, according to USA Today and Voice of America. As a result, the Vietnamese residents of North Texas, the majority of which are political and religious refugees, can enjoy their Banh Shop cuisine without implicitly supporting the very same corrupted communist regime that they sought to escape from.

All’s well that ends well, but the lessons don’t end there.

One of the most important lessons from this event is one that has proven true throughout the ages: Your voice matters. Without the public pressure displayed by the folks of North Texas, the owners of Banh Shop and YUM! Brands never would have known of their major design blunder. The strong will and dedication of the Vietnamese community in Dallas and the greater North Texas area were what made the changes so prompt and complete. They spoke up, they created awareness, they made the change.

Banh ShopThis story from Texas is not the only instance where things of this nature are happening. The western world has seen many occasions where the symbol of communism is wrongly displayed, both accidentally and, in certain cases, deliberately. This time, it was a large company that was simply ignorant of all that this symbol represents. There are many other instances when businesses owners, university administrators, or public officials, oblivious to the negative connotations carried by the star and the red, wrongfully decorate it on their shops, institutions, or government office buildings in an attempt to cater to the Vietnamese community. When that happens, it’s up to you to raise your voice, raise awareness, and ultimately make the change. Believe me, as an individual, your voice is one of the greatest tools at your disposal to make a change.

It only took one day of petitioning and public outcry for the owners of Banh Shop to change their logo. One cannot discount the intuitiveness and professionalism of the Banh Shop business owners, but ultimately, it was the people of the community that made this change possible. Thanh Cung is the current president of the Vietnamese American Community of Greater Dallas. He is assisting the owners of Banh Shop in looking at new logo designs.

On U.S. Visit, Party Secretary of Hanoi City Makes Disrespectful Gesture to Senator John McCain

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2014 by Ian Pham

McCainLast week, Politburo member and Party Secretary of the City of Hanoi, Pham Quang Nghi visited Washington D.C., following up on an invitation by the U.S. State Department. While in Washington, the Communist Party member met with a number of U.S. officials including Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, Counselor to the Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, and Senator John McCain. Topics covered during the meetings included encouragement of American investment in the Vietnamese economy, the importance of the development of the TPP (Transpacific Partnership), and postwar economic assistance for Vietnam. None of this is important. Nothing here was accomplished.

The first substantial thing to know about this particular trip is that Hanoi Secretary Pham Quang Nghi was not even supposed to be at the meetings in Washington in the first place. The invitation by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was initially extended to a different VCP member, Pham Binh Minh, a known pro-Western voice within the party in Vietnam. At the last minute, Minh was sidelined by the VCP leadership. In his place, a pro-China drone in the form of Nghi was sent to represent the Communist State instead.

With the understanding that Minh was more open to talks with the West, Secretary of State John Kerry invited him for a meeting in Washington. However, with an overwhelming presence of the pro-China faction in Vietnam’s Communist Party, Minh’s trip was stifled by the head members of the Vietnam government, including the party leader Trong. In response to news that Minh was no longer coming, John Kerry appointed other members of the U.S. government to attend the meetings with Vietnam’s new delegates. Among the U.S. representatives was Senator McCain.

Aside from the topics discussed with U.S. representatives, which were fruitless overall, delegate Nghi went out of his way to present Senator McCain with a pair of ‘gifts.’ The first is a painting of the site where McCain was captured during his service days, and the second is a painting of that memorial inscribed with a personal message directly mentioning the Senator. One need not look very closely to find out that these gifts presented to McCain carry some deeply disrespectful messages behind them, aimed directly at the Senator from Arizona.

McCain PhotoThe picture above shows Senator McCain taking a photo with Communist member Pham Quang Nghi with the first gift in hand. Besides the fact that the painting depicts the site of McCain’s capture in 1967, the memorial plaque painting will clarify the Vietnamese official’s intention to humiliate the U.S. Senator.

This second gift, the memorial plaque painting, displays the following message:

“NGÀY 26-10-1967 TẠI HỒ TRÚC BẠCH QUÂN VÀ DÂN THỦ ĐÔ HÀ NỘI BẮT SỐNG TÊN JOHN SNEY MA CAN THIẾU TÁ KHÔNG QUÂN MỸ LÁI CHIẾC MÁY BAY A4 BỊ BẮN RƠI TẠI NHÀ MÁY ĐIỆN YÊN PHỦ  ĐÂY LÀ MỘT TRONG 10 CHIẾC MÁY BAY BỊ BẮN RƠI CÙNG NGÀY.”

Which translates to:

“ON 26-10-1967, AT TRÚC BẠCH LAKE, OUR FORCES AND THE PEOPLE OF THE CAPITAL OF HANOI CAPTURED ALIVE ONE MAJOR JOHN SNEY MA CAN [John Sidney McCain]. AMERICAN PILOT, FLYING A4, WAS SHOT DOWN AT YÊN PHỦ POWER PLANT. THIS IS ONE OF 10 AIRCRAFTS SHOT DOWN THAT DAY.”

MemorialFor a gift that is allegedly meant to commemorate, the message here only outlines the capture of McCain, reminding him that he was their captive, and all the painful implications of that event. Moreover, the message boasts that McCain’s was only one of ten other American planes shot down that day, a further insult to what they claim to be a gift for the Senator. Lastly, the term “TÊN” as used in the original plaque before naming Senator McCain, carries a negative connotation in Vietnamese, comparable to “Guy,” or “That guy,” in English. The term is opposite to a formal address such as “Mister,” and is used deliberately to show how little the Reds in Hanoi are trying to regard Mr. McCain.

The interpretation here is that Hanoi wanted to send a message to John McCain and the United States, signalling that the pro-China faction was dominant within the Communist Party, and that the U.S. should not get involved in Vietnam’s relationship with China. It didn’t work out the way they thought it would, though (it never does). There is so much stupidity in what Pham Quang Nghi did during this trip that one must wonder if these guys know what they’re doing most of the time (they don’t). There is a certain way for a statesman to behave when engaging in diplomacy, and this rude and vulgar conduct is no way to carry oneself when representing an entire nation. It’s not surprising, though. Everything the VCP does at this point is so painfully stupid that it shouldn’t even come as a shock anymore.

In sending a premeditated insult to the U.S. through Pham Quang Nghi, the leaders in the VCP were intending to humilate John McCain and the United States. However, in committing such a crude diplomatic act, the Communists have publicly humiliated themselves instead. The internet is exploding with criticism and ridicule from this episode, wondering how the VCP was capable of such stupidity. Well, anyone following this blog and Vietnamese politics will know that idiocy such as this is nothing new to the VCP. They are wrong for the country, and, to put it simply, they need to go.

China Removes Intrusive Oil Rig From Vietnam’s Nautical Territory, Its Reasons and Implications

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note with tags , , , on July 22, 2014 by Ian Pham

COSL Oil RigBack in May of this year, the People’s Republic of China and the nation’s Chinese Communist Party moved a drilling rig into waters that were considered to be within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The move is further example of China’s ongoing aspiration to gain control of Vietnamese territory, causing outrage among Vietnamese communities both inside and outside of Vietnam. The situation was particularly tense within Vietnam, as protests and riots broke out in response to China’s intrusive maneuver. China’s actions also drew heavy criticism from the United States and the international community, who deemed the PRC’s moves as provocative.

Last Tuesday, after months of international criticism and steady pressure brought about by the Vietnamese population, the PRC decided to withdraw its oil rig from the Triton Islands. The islands are part of the larger Paracel Island chain, which China claims to be ‘disputed’ territory. However, the Paracel as a whole has been under Vietnam’s administration since the Nguyen Dynasty, only falling into Chinese control in 1974 by naval invasion. In regards to their removal of the oil rig, the Chinese government claims that they have completed their drilling objectives and no longer need to station the rig at the location, which again, happened to fall into another nation’s EEZ.

ProtestIn moving the rig into Vietnam’s nautical zone, the PRC was trying to gauge the power balance in Southeast Asia. With an Obama Administration riddled with problems both inside and outside of the United States, the PRC was hoping to get their own piece of the international pie (as Putin had done in Crimea). Unfortunately for China, they never expected their actions to draw such strong criticism from the U.S. and the international community, most notably from Shinzo Abe and the Japanese. Thus, due to the unexpected backlash, the PRC had to ‘complete’ their objectives much sooner than they intended, and move their intrusive oil rig out of Vietnam’s territory.

In the midst of all this, and even now that this particular situation appears to be over, it is very interesting to note that Vietnam’s leadership (with very few exceptions, and even they are inadequate), the Vietnamese Communist Party, has been deafeningly silent on the matter. While the people in Vietnam protested, while America condemned these aggressive Chinese acts, and even in Japan, where Prime Minister Abe has been outspoken about Chinese aggression in the Pacific, those ‘comrades’ in the VCP said nothing, as the Chinese inched closer and closer to Vietnam’s doorstep. Actually, the Communist Vietnamese did say something during this time, although it is the complete opposite of what one would call a respectable response.

Phung Quang ThanhAt this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue 2014, held in Singapore this past June, the Vietnamese Minister of National Defense, Phung Quang Thanh, made a paltry statement claiming that relations between Vietnam and China are still friendly, and dismissed the Chinese invasive act as nothing but a “small disagreement among brothers.” Phung made this statement in the midst of social unrest in Vietnam (which the VCP was brutally suppressing), just mere weeks after China had moved its Haiyang 981 oil rig into Vietnam’s nautical territory. I wanted to give you all an entire article focused on Vietnam’s pathetic display at this conference, but unfortunately, I just didn’t have the time. What needs to be known from Shangri-La is that once again, the VCP failed miserably to represent the nation and people that they are supposed to be governing, and seem more content to be the lapdogs of the PRC.

The Chinese keep taking, the VCP keeps giving, and lastly, in trying to defend their nation, the Vietnamese people keep suffering. However, it is this suffering that will one day win for Vietnam freedom and independence. The situation in Vietnam is still hot, the party keeps getting weaker, and the people keep getting stronger. I’ve said this before, but it is important, and I know I’ll say it again: To the Vietnamese people inside, you are not alone. It is a long and arduous journey, but believe me when I say that we’re all in this together. Stay strong, never lose hope, and keep those protests coming.

Video: Last Week’s Protest in Saigon

Posted in Current Events, Videos with tags , , on May 17, 2014 by Ian Pham

This is a video of the anti-China protest in Saigon last Sunday, May 11, 2014. It may seem like old news at this point, as this week bore witness to some truly groundbreaking developments across the country. The movement is only gaining steam, and within hours from now, further protests are set to take place inside Vietnam.

I still feel inclined to post this video though, because certain parts of it are just too great not to share.

What makes this video so share-worthy? This, right here.

Flag Pull Down

For anyone unsure of what is happening in this picture, I’ll break it down for you:

That red flag is Vietnam’s communist flag. According to news circulating around the web, some communist party jerks were instructed to attend the protest and insert that flag into the crowd in an attempt to simulate public support for the VCP (Vietnamese Communist Party). This young lady, clearly offended by this idiotic ploy, took it upon herself to rip down the flag and show the communists what the real deal was.

Take that, communism.

Good luck to everyone out there in Vietnam. We’re all with you. Give ‘em hell.

Major Developments In Vietnam Right Now

Posted in Current Events, Editor's Note with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2014 by Ian Pham

May 11 ProtestThere is a storm brewing in Vietnam right now, people. China has been steadily escalating its encroachment on Vietnamese territory, and at this point in time, it seems that the Vietnamese people have finally had enough. This past Sunday, spontaneous demonstrations broke out in Saigon, Hanoi, Danang, and Vinh, spreading like wildfire and growing into full-on political protests with a total of over 3,000 attendees across the four cities.

China has recently transported its large oil rig into Vietnam’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), sparking outrage among the Vietnamese populations, both domestically and abroad. Last week, moreover, the Chinese navy is condemned internationally for harassing Vietnamese boats, spraying personnel with heavy duty water hoses, and injuring 8 people.

These incidents are fairly recent, taking place within the last 14 days. Indeed, the events fit perfectly with China’s long pattern of aggressive and illegal behavior on the world stage. The list of belligerent actions that the PRC commits against its neighbors in the Pacific is fairly hefty, and worse, shows no sign of diminishing.

China’s heinous actions against Vietnam include state-sponsored piracy against Vietnamese fishermen in the Southeast Asia Sea, unsubstantiated claims to vast amounts of territory in the Pacific, increased military presence in the Paracel and Spratly Islands, and an overall aggressive tone towards its weaker neighbors. The list is by no means limited to these well documented events, as the PRC is understood to also have disputes with Japan and the Philippines over similar issues regarding sovereignty and security.

For the longest time, with heavy suppression from the Communist government in Hanoi, the people of Vietnam have been prevented from protesting China’s belligerency. Though demonstrations and gatherings are still planned and orchestrated at various times, they are always crushed by government forces, with heavy penalties for those involved.

Binh Duong ProtestsLately however, with this past Sunday being a prime example, it seems that the government is no longer able to prevent the people of Vietnam from defending their own country. Just today, in the industrial area in Binh Duong province, one protest exploded to a scale unprecedented in Vietnam’s recent memory, with over 10,000 people in attendance. The momentum seems to be growing, as further protests are planned for this Sunday throughout Vietnam.

It’s still too soon to tell what will happen, but from the looks of things, the situation is beginning to really heat up in the Communist-controlled state. I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on the situation. It’s going to be an interesting summer in Vietnam this year.

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.

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.

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