Archive for Vietnamese Democracy

Annotated Bibliography: “South Vietnam’s New Constitutional Structure,” by Robert Devereux

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B., Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by Ian Pham

Nguyen Van Thieu SpeechPhotograph via Xac Dinh

Devereux, Robert. “South Vietnam’s New Constitutional Structure.” Asian Survey 8, no. 8 (1968): 627-645.

As its title indicates, this article by Robert Devereux provides analyses of the provisions within South Vietnam’s constitution, which was promulgated officially by Nguyen Van Thieu on April 1, 1967 (p. 628). For anyone interested in exploring in-depth the function and structure of South Vietnam’s democratic system, Devereux’s article is a fantastic starting point.

Following the usual format, this brief blog article will only cover a few of the many important insights about South Vietnamese democracy covered in Devereux’s work. However, the points raised in this entry will be more than enough to prove the credibility of South Vietnam as a true and functional democracy.

To begin, Devereux’s article shows that in 1966, of the estimated population of 14.5 million people in South Vietnam, 5,288,512 were registered to vote, and 4,274,812 did just that. The day of the election was September 11, 1966, and these over four million people went to the polls to elect their new Constituent Assembly, which consisted of 117 members (p. 627).

One year following this important election, a formal presidential election took place on September 3, 1967, resulting in Nguyen Van Thieu’s election as the new President of the Republic of Vietnam (p. 628). Also on that day, 60 new Senators were elected to South Vietnam’s Upper House, and on October 22, 1967, another 137 representatives (called Deputies) were elected to the nation’s Lower House (ibid). In South Vietnam, elections were carried out by universal suffrage and secret ballot (p. 631), a point relevant here for clearly demonstrating the verity of South Vietnam as a democratic nation.

The major events above are mentioned in the introduction to Devereux’s article. The sections following then delve at great length into the various chapters and sections of South Vietnam’s constitution. Covered by Devereux in his article are the many provisions outlining the functions and powers of South Vietnam’s three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial.

The Executive section talks about the powers of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Vice President, and their duties and responsibilities to the National Assembly and other government organs (p. 628-631). In the Legislative section, the process of introducing and approving bills is discussed, with details on how the Senators in the Upper House and the Deputies in the Lower House go through the process of making laws (p. 631-634). Lastly, for the Judicial branch section, the process of selecting judges to the Supreme Court in South Vietnam, as well as details of the country’s judicial process, are examined (p. 634-636).

In addition to these sections, Devereux’s article also talks about other important parts of South Vietnam’s government structure, as covered within the constitution. Specific offices and governmental organs, described as Special Institutions, are discussed (p. 636-640), as well as the functions of Local Administrations in South Vietnam (p. 640-641), and very importantly, in the Political Parties section, the guaranteed rights of opposition parties to form and operate in the Republic (p. 642-643).

Devereux moreover provides important insights on the human rights aspects of South Vietnam’s constitution. In the Bill of Rights section of the constitution, as summarized by Devereux, many statements are presented which guarantee and defend the rights of South Vietnamese citizens. Examples include a line from Article 6 of the constitution, which stipulates that the state is pledged to “respect human dignity, and the law every citizen’s freedom, life, property, and honor,” (p. 641). Furthermore, in Article 8, the document “guarantees the privacy of a citizen’s personal life, home, and correspondence…” and that “Freedom of thought, speech, press and publishing is guaranteed,” (ibid).

In addition to these provisions, the Judicial section previously mentioned also demonstrates many examples of the Republic’s adherence to the rule of law. Articles 7 and 8 of the South Vietnamese constitution express many guaranteed rights to protect its citizens, and include, but are not limited to, the following:

“Every defendant is entitled to a speedy and public trial and to a defense lawyer at every stage of the legal process, including the preliminary investigation.”

“No one can be arrested or detained without a warrant issued by a competent legal authority, except in cases of flagrante delicto.”

“No one can be tortured, threatened, or forced to confess, and any confession obtained by such means cannot be used as evidence.”

“Defendants will be considered innocent until found guilty; in case of doubt the court must find for the defendant.”

“No one can enter, search, or confiscate the property of a person without a properly executed court order, unless it is necessary for the defense of security and public order according to the spirit of the law.” (p. 636).

These provisions outlined clearly illustrate the democratic foundations in which South Vietnam was built. From the information above, it can be clarified that the Southern Republic was one that respected human rights, and one that championed the basic rights and freedoms of its citizens and the rule of law.

Evidences provided in this article clearly demonstrate that South Vietnam was a true liberal democracy. Proven throughout this post, through Devereux’s findings, is universal suffrage, secret ballot elections, a system of checks and balances in government, individual’s rights, constitutional rights, and multiparty democracy in South Vietnam.

For all of its challenges as a young and developing nation, the Republic of Vietnam had all the foundations, and met all the criteria of being a liberal democracy. Further study will continue to prove this fact. In terms of establishing a base for research on this topic, this source by Robert Devereux is an excellent place to begin.

Inside The Courtroom 2: Dinh Nguyen Kha’s Open War Against The Vietnamese Communist Party

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2013 by Ian Pham

Dinh Nguyen KhaToday, a second trial was held for Ms. Nguyen Phuong Uyen and her partner Dinh Nguyen Kha. Though the sentences have already been dealt, the two have apparently appealed the court’s ruling and successfully forced a second hearing. I’ve provided extensive coverage on Ms. Phuong Uyen already, but have yet to give much information on her partner, Mr. Dinh Nguyen Kha.

Just like Ms. Phuong Uyen, Dinh Nguyen Kha’s words are nothing short of extraordinary. On the same day that Ms. Phuong Uyen eloquently stated her position justifying her actions, Dinh Nguyen Kha stood before the panel of Vietnamese judges and declared openly his opposition against the Communist Party. With neither fear nor remorse, Kha made it clear that his actions were not against the country, but just against the Communist Party. Furthermore, he proclaimed that being patriotic was not a crime, and thus, standing against the Communist Party was definitely not a crime.

Because of the boldness of his remarks, Dinh Nguyen Kha was cut off by the judges even faster than Phuong Uyen was. Thus, even though Kha’s words are brief, they are nothing short of ferocious:

“Tôi trước sau vẫn là một người yêu nước, yêu dân tộc tôi. Tôi không hề chống dân tộc tôi, tôi chỉ chống đảng cộng sản. Mà chống đảng thì không phải là tội”.

This translates directly to:

“I, before and after, will always be a person who loves his country and his people. I have never stood against my people, I just stand against the Communist Party. And standing against the Party is not a crime.”

Dinh Nguyen Kha MuralDinh Nguyen Kha, along with Nguyen Phuong Uyen, is a member of Vietnam’s Patriotic Youth, known as Tuoi Tre Yeu Nuoc in Vietnamese. The actions of these two young individuals have effectively defined what Vietnam’s new generation of youth are capable of. Together, Kha and Uyen have created quite a stir with their stand against the Communist Party. Keep in mind though, that this organization is composed of more than just these two brave individuals. Viet Khang, the incredibly brave musician that was detained last year for his patriotic music, is also a member of TTYN. Currently, not much is known about this organization, besides the fact that they are patriotic, and that already, three of their members have selflessly stood against the Communist Party of Vietnam, and have been severely persecuted for their bravery.

Patriotic YouthThe Communist Party is currently coming down on Dinh Nguyen Kha’s family with much brutality. News have surfaced that Kha’s brother has been arrested by Communist police under the assumption that since Kha is a member of TTYN, his brother must too be a member. In typical VCP fashion, there was no evidence for his arrest, nor was there a lawyer or a fair trial. Kha’s brother is a shop owner, whose primary source of income comes from the selling of computers. The brothers not only support themselves, but must provide for their elderly mother and father as well. The Communist government confiscated all of the family’s assets, and is aiming to let the elderly members of Kha’s family starve. The government has also denied Kha’s parents the right to visit him in prison.

The trial of the two patriots Dinh Nguyen Kha and Nguyen Phuong Uyen should be wrapped up in Vietnam by now. I will try to keep you updated on the outcome as news continues to come out. For my people in Vietnam, stand tough. To all those inside the Patriotic Youth – Tuoi Tre Yeu Nuoc, keep fighting the good fight. In the end, it will be the brave and righteous that triumphs over the treacherous and cowardly. People of Vietnam, you will win.

Inside The Courtroom: The Courageous Words of Nguyen Phuong Uyen

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2013 by Ian Pham

Nguyen Phuong UyenIt’s about time we got to know one of Vietnam’s newest, and undeniably one of the boldest and courageous new dissidents thus far: Ms. Nguyen Phuong Uyen. She is a member of Vietnam’s underground movement, Toi Tre Yeu Nuoc, aka The Patriotic Youth. More interesting, in my opinion however, is that as an adolescent, she was a member of The Ho Chi Minh Youth, an organization designed by the Party to socialize, or more accurately, to indoctrinate young Vietnamese into following the ways of the Communist. As she grew older however, the more she learned. The more she learned, the more she realized that Communism, Ho Chi Minh, and the Party, are all complete trash. Uyen would go on to reject her old organization, and as a whole, to challenge the entire Communist Party of Vietnam.

Nguyen Phuong Uyen was detained by Communist police in June of 2013. Reasons for her arrest? Distributing leaflets calling on the all people of Vietnam to stand together against Chinese aggression in the eastern seas. One of the statements in her leaflet read:

“Tau khua, cut khoi Bien Dong!”

Which quite accurately translates to:

“Chinese scum, leave the Eastern Sea!”

As you can see, yet another Vietnamese patriot has been jailed by the Communist government simply because they were expressing love for their home country. I don’t know about you, but personally, I would think that anyone who expresses love for their country and rushes to its defense, without regard for their own well being, to be somewhat of a hero. However, because of a wide range of reasons that can be narrowed down to greed, corruption, and cowardice, the Communist Party clearly disagrees with me. If you think Phuong Uyen’s leaflet stunt was bold, wait until you see how she carries herself in court.

Phuong UyenThe courageous Uyen showed neither fear nor regret standing before the panel of Communist judges (yes, a panel of judges). She did not apologize for her actions, nor did she admit to any wrong-doing. What she did do was eloquently and courageously state her case, explaining that her actions were solely for her love of the country. The Chinese have escalated their attacks on Vietnamese fishermen in the Southeast Asia Sea as of late, and Uyen’s words are just one of many calling for the VCP to get out of their lazy chairs, put on some big boy shoes, and finally say something in defense of their own people. In regards to her actions, Uyen says that:

“Toi la sinh vien yeu nuoc. Neu phien toa hom nay, ket toi toi, thi nhung nguoi tre khat se so hai va khong con dam bao ve chu quyen cua dat nuoc… Neu mot sinh vien tuoi tre nhu toi ma bi ket an tu vi yeu nuoc, thi that su toi khong cam tam.”

Which, in English, means:

“I am a university student who loves her country. If today, the court finds me guilty, then the other young people will be afraid and not dare to defend the sovereignty of the country… If a young college student such as myself is found guilty because of patriotism, I will certainly not respect that.

Her words deeply touched the people in the Vietnamese courtroom, and left the prosecutors in a state of shock and awe. From what I can gather, a silence swept the room after these words were spoken, and even the judges were unable to conjure up a coherent response for a short period of time. The court would eventually conclude with a guilty verdict, though such a ruling is always predetermined. After all, it is just a show trial. However, Phuong Uyen would go on to make a closing statement against the wishes of the court. This statement, though she would plead for the safety of her family, would also contain some strong words for the Communist Party, and further put them to shame:

“Viec toi lam, toi chieu. Xin nha cam quyen dung lam kho de me hay gia dinh cua chung toi. Chung toi lam de thuc tinh moi nguoi truoc hiem hoa Trung Quoc xam luoc dat nuoc. Va cuoi cung, chung toi lam xuat phat tu tam long yeu nuoc nham chong cai xau, de lam cho xa hoi ngay cang tot dep, tuoi sang hon.”

Here, the English translation is:

“I accept what I have done. All I ask of the authorities is that they not make life difficult for my mother and our families. We did what we did to awaken the people in the face of a Chinese invasion to our nation. Lastly, our actions stem from the love of the country, and to combat the many problems that plague it, in order to make our society better and brighter.”

The court would not allow her to speak after that statement. I guess they couldn’t take the amount of shame brought about by her truthful words, which is typical of those pathetic Communists who call themselves leaders. Phuong Uyen would receive a hefty sentence along with her partner, Dinh Nguyen Kha. Along with house arrest, Ms. Phoung Uyen is looking at nearly a decade of incarceration, while Mr. Kha is facing 13 years.

If, for some reason, you still need more evidence that Nguyen Phuong Uyen is one brave, patriotic woman, here’s a picture that will further prove my point:

Uyen's Letter

The note on the top right was written in her own blood, and reads:

“Di chet di, Dang Cong San VN ban nuoc!”

Which I am delighted to translate, means:

“Kill yourselves, treasonous Communist Party of Vietnam!”

Yeah, she said that.

Before I conclude, it would also be interesting to inform you that Phuong Uyen’s leaflets did not display Vietnam’s red flag, but rather, the yellow flag with red stripes, reminiscent of Vietnam’s freedom fighting days. She also went out distributing miniature models of these flags to the people in the streets, along with her leaflets. Though she committed no real crimes, her actions, I argue, can be construed as the ultimate one finger salute to the waning VCP, making her one of the bravest and boldest new patriots that we’ve heard about so far. If there are more young people like her within Vietnam, which I am certain there are, then the Communists’ days are definitely numbered.

The New Dissidents, Vietnam’s New Hope

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2013 by Ian Pham

ChongPhaNhaNuoc+CAcsvnIt has been an eventful month in Vietnam with regards to the freedom movement.  The situation is still bleak, as the Communist Party is still unwilling to improve on human rights, and the crackdowns are only getting harsher.  However, even with the continued brutality of the dictatorship, their is much to be optimistic about, for the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese youth is just beginning to come to fruition.

In recent weeks, a series of crackdowns have permeated Vietnam, leading to a wide range of arrests all across the country.  Though this may be ordinary in the Communist state, the outcome of these arrests are anything but normal.  One very notable case, involving two young dissidents, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Uyen and Mr. Dinh Nguyen Kha, paints an extremely hopeful picture for the future of a Vietnam in need.

NguyenPhuongUyen-DinhNguyenKhaLike many before them, the two dissidents were detained by the Vietnam government, simply because of their patriotic sentiments in the face of Chinese aggression.  Following their arrests, the Communist Party would put the young woman and man on a show trial before slapping them with harsh jail terms.  At the show trial however, the captives would do something that has never been done before: Speak out publicly against the Vietnamese Communist Party, against the Chinese aggressors, and against the entire repressive regime.

With neither fear or remorse, Nguyen Phuong Uyen, a young university student, shamed the Communist Party for their cowardice, as well as their pathetic display against the invading Chinese.  Her eloquence and courage left the judge and jury dumbfounded, embarrassed by Ms. Uyen’s insight and brutal honesty.  Mr. Kha expressed similar sentiments, and was also unapologetic for his patriotism and denouncement of the Communist Party.

LogoTTVN-300x300As a result, the two are sentenced to excessive jail times.  Nguyen Phuong Uyen is faced with a 6-year jail term plus 3 years house arrest, while Dinh Nguyen Kha is hit with 10 years, with 3 years house arrest.  Uyen and Kha are both members of an underground movement in Vietnam who call themselves Tuoi Tre Yeu Nuoc, which translates to The Patriotic Youth.  Not much is known about them, but from the looks of things, they are not afraid of the Communist Party, nor are they content with sitting idly by while the Vietnamese Communists let the country slip closer and closer into the grips of Beijing.

I will work to keep you updated on the situation.  For now, it looks like there is a new generation of dissidents.  They are young, they are intelligent, and they are no longer afraid to stand face to face with the cowardly Party.  The Communists grow weaker with each passing day, and now, it is no longer a guarantee that they can keep the people down.

Viet Khang’s Verdict

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by Ian Pham

Alright, so a little over a week ago (October 30… Sorry we took a while), the Communist Party delivered their verdict on Viet Khang’s trial.  After a half-day of rigorous show-trialling, the Communist Party, Viet Khang was sentenced to four years in prison and a supposed two years of house arrest.

On trial with Viet Khang is fellow musician/songwriter Hoang Nhat Thong (his real name is Tran Vu Anh Binh), who is also sentenced to a harsh prison term of six years in prison.  Mr. Tran Vu Anh Binh wrote a song in honor of the democracy activist Dieu Cay, titled “Nguc Toi Hien Ngang”, or “Courage in the Dark prison”.

Viet Khang’s verdict is somewhat lighter than I expected (though it is still extremely harsh) when comparing to other democracy activists (Dieu Cay got 12 years).  This may or may not be due to the international attention given to Viet Khang’s case, and there was a lot of attention from the Vietnamese community around the world regarding Viet Khang.

It is not yet clear what the situation in Vietnam is like now that a sentence has been placed on Viet Khang.  What I am sure of however is that the arrests and unfair treatment of innocent people will continue.  It’s a long and arduous process but there is really no way the Party can ever regain their legitimacy.  They have demeaned themselves, the country, and the people of Vietnam for so long, it is no longer a tangible task for them to gain any respect from their people, the world, or each other.

A coward can only hide his cowardice for so long, and even then, he cannot fool himself into having courage.  As far as the Communist Party is concerned, they are surviving off borrowed time.  They can keep suppressing, they can keep censoring, and they can keep pretending they aren’t Chinese dogs.  However, they cannot wipe the blood off their hands, and they will never again look valiant and righteous in the eyes of their people.  Even the great regimes don’t last forever, and the Communists are definitely not the greats.

A Democratic Vietnam, Imagine That

Posted in Opinions, Politics, Society with tags , , on April 2, 2010 by Ian Pham

Just think what Vietnam would be like if the Communists disappeared and Vietnam suddenly became free.  If Vietnam finally becomes a free and democratic country, how many lives would suddenly improve?  Imagine a Vietnam that values human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion.  Just think what life would be like under a government that champions the rights of the people, always putting the interests of the citizens first.  Imagine a Vietnam that nurtures the young, cares for the old, and protects the safety of every citizen.  Think about it, a Vietnam that promises love, compassion, and is smiled upon by the entire world.  Imagine a democratic Vietnam, wouldn’t that be something?