Archive for December, 2013

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

Posted in Democracy Activists, Inspirational People, IV. Columns, Music, Politics, Society 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.

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Annual Christmas Card: The 2013 Edition

Posted in Announcements, Music, Videos 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 IV. Columns, Politics 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!