Archive for August, 2010

Ly Tong and The Pepper Spraying Incident

Posted in Politics, Society, Videos with tags , , on August 13, 2010 by Ian Pham

Ly Tong is a democracy activist and self proclaimed freedom fighter of Vietnamese Democracy.  Dam Vinh Hung is a recording artist and member of the Vietnamese Communist Party.  The singer was performing at a concert in San Jose when Ly Tong, disguised as a female fan, waved a flower in his direction.  What Dam Vinh Hung didn’t know was that Ly Tong had pepper spray hidden behind the flowers.  When Hung reached for the flowers, Ly Tong maced the singer in his face.

Hung’s performance in San Jose was part of a bigger Communist plot, known as “Initiative 36” (see August 12, 2010).  Many Vietnamese people protested Dam Vinh Hung for this very reason, but the organizers went on with the show anyway.  Since peaceful protests didn’t work, Ly Tong decided to take action by different means, going after the Party directly.  This was the reason he maced Dam Vinh Hung, and this is the reason he is currently being charged.

Not everyone is aware of the VCP’s intentions, these people are the most vulnerable to their tricks.  The Vietnamese oversees who are less informed about the happenings in Vietnam are more likely to be taken in by this propaganda, and they are the Party’s target audience.  Dam Vinh Hung is not just a singer, he is a Communist member.  He is not just performing, he is marketing the Vietnamese Communist Party.  This is why Ly Tong did what he did, to combat the Communists attempt to come after the Vietnamese oversees.

Watch Ly Tong pepper spray Dam Vinh Hung in the video below:


Initiative 36: The Communist Party’s New Scheme

Posted in IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , on August 12, 2010 by Ian Pham

The Vietnamese Communist Party has devised a new plan in an attempt to win over the Vietnamese oversees.  This plan is called the ‘Initiative 36’ and is targeted at all Vietnamese people who live in countries outside of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  Basically, the Communist Party is trying to convince the Vietnamese people oversees to defect to their side and support their regime by any means necessary.  One of the ways they are trying to accomplish this is by using their musicians to propagandize and win over the more impressionable Vietnamese people from the outside.

It was for this reason that freedom fighter and democracy activist, Ly Tong, pepper sprayed Communist singer, Dam Vinh Hung during a musical performance in Santa Clara.  Dam Vinh Hung is a Vietnamese singer, as well as a member of the Communist Party, who plays a hand in the marketing of Initiative 36.  The Communist Party is sending their artists abroad in an effort to generate support from the audiences more susceptible to their deceptions.  This initiative is dangerous because of its potential to actually trick the impressionable into supporting the Communist Party, helping the Party hide their crimes from the world.  This is a public service announcement.  Communists are the masters of lies and the experts of propaganda.  Beware.

Vietnamese History Books, First Impressions

Posted in Books, II. History, Opinions, VII. Research with tags , , on August 9, 2010 by Ian Pham

I recently checked out a couple of history books from the school library, one titled A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc by Oscar Chapuis, the other was The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam by Joseph Buttinger.  The first thing I noticed about Vietnamese history is that very little is written about the country in western literature.  Since the section on Vietnamese history was directly next to the giant wall dedicated to Chinese history, I couldn’t help but feel a little indignant about the lack of books written about this particular topic.  Anyways, I did manage to find these two books which, at first glance, seems like credible sources of information.  I haven’t read the books yet, though I always keep in mind that I should, as the saying goes, “never judge a book by it’s cover.”

Even though I haven’t had the time to read these books all the way through, since they are both pretty lengthy, I managed to look through some chapters of both and get an impression of what they are like.  At first, Oscar Chapuis’s A History of Vietnam seemed like the better choice, but as I read through it more, I quickly noticed the author’s advocation that Vietnam was the offspring of China, which has been proven today as a complete fabrication.  This idea was conveyed in the early chapters, claiming that Shen Nung, the ancestor of Hong Bang, was Chinese.  This book was written in 1995, so I don’t blame the author for believing such ideas.  However, I do notice the author’s carelessness in expressing his conclusions.  This book is much shorter than Buttinger’s The Smaller Dragon. At only 216 pages, this book attempts to cover several thousand years of Vietnamese history.  For this reason, some of Chapuis’s ideas seem quite rushed, sounding more regurgitated from other sources than critically analyzed by his own thoughts.  What Oscar Chapuis succeeds in doing however, is to quickly cover many historical events and individuals in a short amount of time, which is useful for a quick read.

Now, let’s take a look at Joseph Buttinger’s The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam. This was written in 1958, a time when the world knew little about the nation of Vietnam.  At a hefty 535 pages, Joseph Buttinger offers great coverage on the history of Vietnam.  The findings expressed by Buttinger are very well thought out and analytical, though his views are debatable at times.  Even though the works are nearly four decades apart, Joseph Buttinger’s writing feels much more eloquent than Oscar Chapuis’s.  Buttinger shares his ideas, but also provides more substantial arguments for his views.  However, one must keep in mind that this book was written more than 50 years ago, so some of his findings have been proven wrong by current research and technology.  Therefore, I must be critical in expressing my concerns in the author’s views in regards to Vietnam’s relationship with China, as well as the findings on the history of ancient Vietnam.  Even so, I must compliment the lengthly research made on this book, and commend the author on his extensive coverage.

Well, those are my first impressions of these books anyway.  The only way to really be sure is if you check them out for yourself.  I will have to look more into these books whenever I can find the time.  If you are interested, these books should be available at your city/public library.  Anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnamese history should give them a shot.  As an independent reader, always remember to be critical of the material, question all of it, and no matter what, don’t believe everything you read.

Happy reading!

Ratings At First Glance

  • A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc by Oscar Chapuis: C
  • The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam by Joseph Buttinger: B+

Trần Bình Trọng: The Definition of a Patriot

Posted in Dynastic History with tags , , on August 7, 2010 by Ian Pham

“I would rather be a demon of the South than a king to your Northern Nation.”

– Trần Bình Trọng, 1285

Trần Bình Trọng was a young general who fought for the Trần Dynasty, alongside the ranks of Trần Hưng Đạo, against the Yuan Dynasty during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.  As a talented young leader, Trần Bình Trọng was chosen to lead a division of Đại Việt’s forces against the northern invaders.

He was a capable general, helping the Trần defeat the Mongols on several occasions.  However, as a young commander, he was defeated in one crucial battle, captured by the Mongols, and taken back to China.

Though they were enemies, Kublai Khan recognized the talents of the young leader and tried to convince Trọng to defect to the Mongols.  To this offer, Trần Bình Trọng declined, stating his unwavering loyalty to his homeland.

For the second offer, Kublai offered a reward for Trần if he were to provide information on the nation of Đại Việt and their army.  Again, Trọng’s response was a resounding “no!”  Unafraid of the Mongol threats.

As a last attempt, the Mongols asked Trần Bình Trọng if he would like to become a prince of the Yuan Dynasty.  To this, Trần Bình Trọng responded by saying that he’d rather be a Vietnamese demon than a king of their country.

This was the last straw, the Yuan Dynasty could no longer stand the insult of General Trần Bình Trọng.  As a result, the Mongols had him executed.  Trần Bình Trọng sacrificed his life to defend the honor of the country.  His actions are remembered today by the people of Vietnam as the prime example of courage, loyalty, and patriotism.

A Letter From Nguyễn Huệ

Posted in Dynastic History, Modern History, VII. Research with tags , , , , on August 5, 2010 by Ian Pham

The following is a letter composed by Emperor Nguyễn Huệ Quang Trung, addressing the King of Macao on the important matter of trades and commerce.  The interesting part about this piece of writing are the words and arguments which the Emperor presents to the King of Macao.  Nguyễn Huệ is highly confident in dealing with his foes, not afraid to say what is on his mind.  The reason I am even bringing up this letter is because I believe it gives us a glimpse of what the Emperor was like, his strength, his fearlessness, and his determination in facing his enemies.

Alright, that’s enough from me.  Here is “A Letter by Quang Trung to the King of Macao” courtesy of the Nguyen Thai Hoc Foundation.


A Letter by Quang Trung to the “King of Macao” [June 1792]

By this imperial letter I inform the European king of Macao, in order that he might know perfectly the manner in which events have unfolded. This year, in the fourth intercalary month (21 May-19 June 1792) two ships have arrived at my kingdom of Quang-nam at the port of Thuchum.

They were examined by the port guards and they declared themselves to be ships from Macao, of which the captain’s name was Joaquim António Milner. He had carried out commerce in Dong-nai and was returning to Macao, bearing letters of recognition from this lost family of the Nguyen. But alas! they are ignorant of the fact and are not able to discern clearly that Dong-nai is nothing but a minor territory, where the vanquished Nguyen family has taken refuge in order to hide themselves. That insignificant man will never regain his domains; those madmen of the Siamese king aided him with their armies, but they were also vanquished and exterminated in combat.

Heaven has dispersed them, they are lost and have neither courage nor troops. For five years the French Europeans and those of your kingdom, and numerous merchants have given them boats and arms; taking part in his tyranny, they have resisted my armies, fighting in the wars in which many have died by the blade of the sword; it is a fact known to all and should serve as an example. I, the Emperor, have purified and pacified the kingdom in its confusion; I have conquered all of the southern provinces, not only Tonkin, but also those of Cochinchina, in which all of the middle territories of Quangnam were first, and then all of the major cities of these central regions of Quang Nam were made tributaries.

However this territory of Dong-nai is like a pearl, how is it that this line of the Nguyen has been able to elude me? For some years now, up to the present day, I have been at war in order to establish myself in the northern regions of Hinhing (Tonkin), moreover I have made war on China and its provinces of Guangdong and Guangsi, where I put the Chinese to flight and carried out great massacres. These victories established peace, and I have been at rest for some time. My army is now on battle footing; my captains and soldiers are flush with courage and will take part whereever I command them.

In consequence of which, you, the king of Macao, in truth a small territory, should decide and send an edict in firm terms. But I apprehend that those in Macao were not all involved in this affair and did not wish to carry out commerce [in Dong nai] for any other reason than that they were attracted by greed and interest. They should not return there, in order that they no longer marked are by this wicked Nguyen lineage, and that they no longer take part in their intrigues and criminal actions, under the pain of becoming without any doubt victims of my sword.

My desire is to pacify all of the neighboring princedoms and I do not wish to be in discord with them. It is for this reason, king of Macao, that I admonish you and order you to give rigorous instructions to your subjects that if they carry out commerce it should be to Fuchum, a port in my kingdom, where they will find an accomodating anchorage and that they no longer return to Dong-nai and its environs in order that they no longer find themselves involved in those crimes to which they are strangers. And if they do not wish to obey with good grace, they will regret it, but it will be too late.

Consider well all of this; on it depends fortune or misfortune, friendship or enmity. The 18th of the 4th intercalary month of the 5th year of my reign of Quang Trung (7 June, 1792).

[Translated from Pierre-Yves Manguin, Le Nguyen, Macau et le Portugal: Aspects politiques et commerciaux d’une relation privilégiée en Mer de Chine 1773-1802, (Paris: École Française d’ Extrême-Orient, 1984), pp. 98-99]


Territorial Claims Between Vietnam and China

Posted in Politics with tags , on August 4, 2010 by Ian Pham

For many decades, the Chinese government has claimed that the southern sea, along with many bordering areas, had belonged to China.  These claims come with little evidence and historical representation.  Nonetheless, the Chinese continue to claim sovereignty over these territories.  One of the claims made by China are control over the Paracel and Spratly Islands, located east of Vietnam.  Even to this day, Vietnam and China have been fighting for control of these islands.

The People’s Republic of China claims sovereignty over the entire Southeast Asia Sea, which includes the Paracel and Spratly Islands.  In reality however, the Paracel and Spratly Islands have been under Vietnamese jurisdiction since the times of the Nguyen Dynasty (19-20th century), up until 1974 and 1988, when the Chinese Communists invaded Paracel and Spratly, respectively.

The Spratly Islands were also under the control of Vietnam, although several islands further east belong to the Philippines.  Now, with the Paracels completely occupied, the Beijing government plans to take over the Spratly Islands as well.  This action has been met with strong resistance from the Philippine government, who seems keen on defending their share of the islands.

There is also resistance from Vietnam, but it does not come from the government.  The people of Vietnam, along with some parts of the military, are outraged by the Chinese invasion.  The government, on the other hand, is utterly useless in defending the sovereignty of these islands, which have been under Vietnam’s control for almost 200 years.

Disputes over the Paracel and Spratly Islands are a hot topic between Vietnam and China today.  The Chinese government is trying everything in their strength to capture these islands, while the Philippines and Vietnam are trying to prevent that from happening.  As of now, the Chinese are steadily stationing their military around the Spratly Islands, and still terrorizing the fishermen in the South China Sea/Southeast Asia Sea.  It is very unfortunate, but justice will surely be served.  If the Vietnamese government doesn’t deal with this problem, the people surely will.

Hillary Clinton’s Visit to Hanoi

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on August 3, 2010 by Ian Pham

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton paid a two-day visit to Vietnam as part of her week-long trip around Asia.  Mrs. Clinton had a discussion with Deputy Prime Minister, Pham Gia Khiem, about human rights, raising the issue of Vietnam’s jailed democracy activists, as well as religious and internet freedoms.  Though Khiem simply talked around these subjects, as a Communist would, it is a good thing that Mrs. Clinton raised these issues.

These days, relations between the U.S. and Vietnam have been particularly warm.  For many possible reasons, which will be discussed in the future, America and Vietnam have become increasingly cooperative, and it looks like situations will continue to improve.  It is too idealistic an observation to say that American influence will simply bring democracy to Vietnam, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have this influence.

Hopefully, with improving relations between Vietnam and America, simple yet critical issues, such as fundamental freedoms, can be dealt with in Vietnam.  Maybe in time, America’s ideas may influence the actions of the Vietnamese leadership.  If not, then maybe they can pave the way for a new generation of leaders, ones who are capable of leading the country to a better place.  It is still way too soon to make any conclusions, but wether or not things materialize, it’s always good to hope for the best.

Pictures courtesy of: The New York Times