Today, I read facebooker and blogger Me Nam’s story with a lot of anxiety.
On September 12, 2012, Nguyen Tan Dung declared war on Vietnamese bloggers by issuing a government decree that prohibits government employees from reading blogs Dan Lam Bao, Quan Lam Bao, and Bien Dong.
Blog Dan Lam Bao has been reporting anything that the government aka Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) forbids, i.e. corruption and dissidence.
Blog Quan Lam Bao started( in July 2012) although reportedly champions for the anti-corruption cause, only reports corruption cases that are related to Nguyen Tan Dung, his son Nguyen Thanh Nghi, his daughter Nguyen Thanh Phuong and her husband (Harvard-trained) Nguyen Bao Hoang.
Blog Bien Dong only discusses about South China Sea disputes, between China and Vietnam, the Philippines. Pictures and videos showing Vietnamese or Filipino demonstrators against China are strictly forbidden by the VCP.
On September 24, 2012, Nguyen Tan Dung, via Saigon’s criminal court, handed out harsh sentences to bloggers Dieu Cay (17 years: 12 years of jail time + 5 years under house arrest), Ta Phong Tan (15 years: 10 years in jail + 5 years under house arrest), and AnhBaSG (7 years: 4 years in jail + 3 years under house arrest). Ta Phong Tan’s mother, Mrs. Dang Thi Kim Lieng died from self-immolation on July 30 to protest her daughter being unjustly jailed. Nguyen Tan Dung accused both bloggers Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan of being members of the “terrorist” Viet Tan party, a U.S.-based group that advocates non-violence to affect social changes in Vietnam, without providing any shred of evidence. Both bloggers denied Nguyen Tan Dung’s frivolous charges.
On September 26, 2012, Nguyen Tan Dung, via Nghe An’s appeals court, sentenced democracy activists Chu Manh Son to 30 months in jail, Tran Huu Duc 38 months, and Dau Van Duong 42 months.
All six defendants have one thing in common with other currently-jailed dissidents such as Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, Vi Duc Hoi, Le Van Tung, etc. : exercising their freedom of expression and thoughts (1) to fight corruption in the government, and (2) to protest peacefully against China’s illegal occupation of the Paracel and Spratly’s islands, which Vietnam claims absolute sovereignty.
Nguyen Tan Dung is very much fearful of Viet Tan since he and the Politburo believe strongly that Viet Tan is behind all the unrests in Vietnam, from unsanctioned labor strikes to farmers’ protests (against having their tilled land wrongly confiscated by corrupt communist officials) to intellectuals like blogger Me Nam, whose “crime” is to write down on her blog what she thinks.
The reason I read facebooker Me Nam’s Sept. 26, 2012 note with alarms is her chilling account of being interrogated by both national security agents and local police in Nhatrang province.
The chief interrogator, whose name is Nguyen, continuously put blogger Me Nam on a guilt trip by accusing her of being a member of Viet Tan, a pretext to later on get her to spend a long time in jail, similar to what Nguyen Tan Dung has given bloggers Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan.
Another accusation that security agent Nguyen made to blogger Me Nam is her close online association with Australia-based blogger Nguyen Xuan Chau, who vouches for blog Quan Lam Bao’s anti-corruption’s reports, and encourages his readers to support Quan Lam Bao in his fight against Nguyen Tan Dung & Co. Blogger Nguyen Xuan Chau is not shy about his ambition: to replace Nguyen Tan Dung as Vietnam’s Prime Minister once the VCP has been swept out of office. Hence, chief interrogator’s Nguyen’s interests in getting further information from blogger Me Nam about Nguyen Xuan Chau.
Furthermore, chief interrogator Nguyen might and will use today’s (Setp. 26, 2012) interrogation session with blogger Me Nam in reference to blogger Nguyen Xuan Chau to charge her with violating the Criminal Act 88 for “being a friend of someone, namely blogger Nguyen Xuan Chau, to overthrow the government”, if charging her of being a Viet Tan party member does not hold up in (international) public court of opinions.
Throughout the interrogation, blogger Me Nam has courageously stood her ground despite being threatened by chief interrogator Nguyen.
Blogger Me Nam did not mention CNN’s interview in her facebook’s note, but she did talk about Front Line Defenders and SEAPAC when queried by chief interrogator Nguyen as to why she had to travel to Thailand to learn about issues that are dear to her heart such as human rights, democracy, and journalism.
Personally, I think blogger Me Nam is about to be arrested anyday now if CNN, SEAPAC, Front Line Defenders choose to remain silent now that Nguyen Tan Dung and his band of thugs and thieves have decided to declare war on all freedom-loving people in the world.
The Bigger Picture
China’s chẹckbook diplomacy has proven to be very successful in Southeast Asia, especially in its “divide-and-conquer” strategy among ASEAN’s members.
Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge, wrestled control of Cambodia from China-backed Pol Pot’s regime in 1978 with the help from the VCP. He consolidated his power when relegating Sihanouk’s son and opposition parties (a coaltion backed by the U.S. and China) to the sideline by assassinating, murdering, bribing, intimidating anybody who dared to oppose him.
Sensing the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union and still distrust of the U.S., the VCP’s Politburo decided to normalize with China in 1990 despite getting “couple lessons” from China with the short-but-high-intensity border war in 1979, and losing some islands from the Spratly archipelago in 1988.
Communists use the euphemism “proletarian dictatorship” to silence opposition effectively and efficiently. Resorting to terror, murdering, assassination, etc. to justify the end is the norm, not the exception among communists. Stripped of the politics cover, communists behave exactly like Sicilian mafia, down to observing the Cosa Nostra code.
Hun Sen, at the great risk of getting killed by the VCP’s assassins, decided to test ASEAN’s founding members’ resolve last July when Cambodia, as the host country, declined to issue the standard communiqué to finalize the annual ASEAN meeting, whereas Vietnam and the Philippines asked for and got approval from other ASEAN members to get China to abide the COD as well as to negotiate multilaterally in South China Sea’s disputes. To every “international observer”‘s surprise and to SEATO’s members’ consternation and embarrassment, Hun Sen is still alive – politically and personally – minus some feather ruffling (getting accused of being sold out to China).
Hun Sen is no fool for surviving for so long threading the lines between China and his savior, the VCP. To placate nationalist fervor in Cambodia and Vietnam, both Hun Sen and the VCP, with master China’s blessing, would rhetorically oppose China’s assertiveness in Southeast Asia’s affairs. In return, China would provide safe haven for Hun Sen and the VCP’s leaders if “things go wrong”, i.e. other ASEAN’s members wise up to what China has been up to (thousand-year-old ambition of southward expansion via Vietnam), and they would collectively kick China’s stooges out of the club.
Sorry fates of Tibetans, Urghurs, Mongolians, Manchurians being assimilated into Hans serve as a clear example.
One fourth of the Cambodian population got killed by Pol Pot in less than 3 years is another constant reminder for anybody who toes Beijing’s line.
World War II and six million Jews perished in Nazi’s death camps was allowed to happen when everybody else in the world had the attitude ‘that it could never happen to me’.
China has been a threat for thousand years to Vietnam. Bloggers Me Nam, Dieu Cay, Ta Phong Tan, and Sundays’ demonstrators in Hanoi, Saigon, these Vietnamese know their country’s history valiant fight against Chinese exterminators. They also know about ‘enemies from within’ like Nguyen Tan Dung, Truong Tan Sang, Nguyen Phu Trong, Le Duc Anh, Le Kha Phieu, Nong Duc Manh, Ho Chi Minh, Le Chieu Thong, Tran Ich Tac etc. Their names might be different but they all have the same traitorous characteristics: serving China’s expansionist ambition.
Learning from few above-cited examples, Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand should unite in their fight against getting their people and culture being assimilated by China.
As tricky as China or Russia, the U.S. is the only superpower that does not advocate genocide as a national policy.
While China pollutes Africa with abandoned haste, and kills Africans with protracted wars to wipe out the black race (to make room for Hans people), it is stealthily conducting the same strategy in Southeast Asia by crippling ASEAN’s member nations’ infant industries with lower-than-cost toxic-laden products. At the same time, China conducts bilateral talks to further weaken ASEAN’s resolve as a group. No doubt that China’s checkbook diplomacy is most effective in these one-on-one discussions.
Internationalize Human Rights Organizations
It may sound like a broken record, but year after year, human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Frontline Defenders, etc. churn out their annual and periodic reports detailing human rights violations across the globe. And sadly, the world goes on without skipping a beat to the dismay of thousands of human rights activists.
It’s time for the human-rights champion, namely the U.S., to work with countries that support and abide by the U.N. Human Rights Convention to provide this still-unnamed organization with some enforcement tools to get human rights violators such as China, Russia, or Vietnam to play by the rules. Easier said than done ? I doubt it since no country wants to be treated as a pariah in the global community.
Secondly, the U.S. needs to be the change agent in reforming the World Bank, IMF, ADB’s ways of doing business.
Getting dictators addicted to low or free interest loans in the name of nation-building and/or nation-developing costs peoples in poor nations more than benefits them since lending officials, due to their mission-oriented mind, would normally get cozy with dictators and turn a blind eye toward irregularities in infrastructure management. Therefore, developed nations should come up with some lending facility that provides arms-length transactions whereas transparency is the most crucial in the building block.
Vietnam: A Case Study
It’s no surprise to see Bill Gates on the Forbes’s list of America’s 400 richest people year after year since he deserves it for creating a product that the world demands. On the other hand, Nguyen Thanh Phuong (Nguyen Tan Dung’s daughter) became one of the richest people in Vietnam in few short years after getting her MBA in Banking & Finance from a Swiss university. (read: Switzerland is the most-favored country for world money launderers).
If Nguyen Thanh Phuong had inherited a sizable sum of money (hundreds of USD millions) from her father Nguyen Tan Dung, who earns about USD$200 a month as Vietnam’s Prime Minister, and subsequently used that money to invest successfully in Vietnam’s shadowy banking sector, there would not be a case study.
In order to get every Vietnamese equally poor, the VCP changed money three times in the 10-year period (1975-1985), and confiscated everything of marketable values. Every family was allowed to keep a nominal 200 piasters (VND) after every money change. In effect, the VCP was so successful in its campaign of eradicating the middle and upper classes that people who were born during this period suffer many illnesses due to under- or malnourishment since life’s basic necessities such as rice, wheat, sugar, meat, etc. were all rationed, and all production/manufacturing means were ‘managed’ by the VCP: the birth of corruption.
From 1975 onward, the VCP is the only recipient from international largess such as no-string-attached foreigh aids, low or free interest loans from the World Bank, the IMF, the Asian Development Bank, etc. to rebuild Vietnam after the civil war (Vietnam War to Americans, proxy wars to Europeans and overseas Vietnamese’s intellectuals) had ended.
Expatriate remittances (free money for the VCP) in 2010 was 8.7 USD$ billion, 9+ billion in 2011. Oil-production is non-stopped since the end of the war in 1975, and averages 300,000 barrels a day for the 10-year period (2001-2011).
The total ‘infrastructure development’ amount could range from hundreds of millions to hundreds of billions. Giving their peasant life to the ‘Revolution’ during the war, communist cadres found it hard to resist all these ‘evil’ free monies from capitalist donors now that the Politburo has decided to befriend the U.S. and its capitalist ‘lackeys’.
If anybody travels from the tip of China-Vietnam border in the North to Camau, the end of Vietnam to the South, and tallies all new infrastructure buildings or roads or bridges or hospitals etc., he or she would realize immediately that the numbers do not jibe. Buses, cars and trucks still travel on National Route 1, which was originally built by French colonists, and later improved upon by American G.I.s. Many sections of this road are filled with potholes.
Furthermore, one would notice the stark difference between rosy economic figures that the VCP and its partners (i.e. the World Bank) provide, and every Vietnamese’s daily standards of living. Although Vietnam is the world-leader in agricultural exports such as rice, coffee, pepper, cashew nuts, basa fish, shrimps, etc., Vietnamese farmers and fishermen still earn less than one USD a day. 70% of Vietnamese live and work in the countryside.
A visit to any city in Vietnam, one would find, out of 4 businesses, 3 are catered to food, drink, and entertainment services. These businesses are always crowded with able-bodied people – night and day. So much for low employment rates in Vietnam.
The majority of Vietnamese businesses are family-owned since the VCP controls the money printing process, and relies on party members’ loyalty to get a good grip on the population, bloated inefficient and unprofitable SOEs (state-owned-enterprises) is a must-have element in Vietnam’s economy picture.
In the beginning (circa 2000), the VCP maximizes its Doi Moi (Renovation) product to compete for a share of global FDIs (foreign-direct investments) touting highly-educated workforce and cheap labor.
Doing business in a poor country like Vietnam requires one to be an expert in bribery and corruption. Therefore not many American companies want to expand their business in Vietnam due to the RICO & Antitrust’s constraints. Scrupulous short-termers like HSCB, Standard Chartered, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, etc. and their partners-in-crime Big 4 Accounting firms have been on the news lately about money laundering and corruption. Australia is feeling the boomerang effect with the salacious Securency scandal. Only South Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese firms shift their manufacturing bases to Vietnam.
Today, 90% of Vietnam’s infrastructure projects are awarded to Chinese companies. Disregard of well-intentioned Vietnamese scientists, Nguyen Tan Dung still allows China to mine bauxite in Vietnam’s strategic Central Highlands. In addition, the VCP let thousands of supposedly Chinese migrant workers to enter Vietnam without so much of a restriction. Chinese cities, villages, shopping centers pop up overnight, and now has become part of Vietnam’s landscape.
Taking a page from his son-in-law Nguyen Bao Hoang, who reportedly got an MBA from Harvard, Nguyen Tan Dung told Nguyen Thanh Phuong to start accepting large sums of monies from corrupt officials, and invest in infrastructure projects that the VCP owns. After a short period, Nguyen Thanh Phuong had enough money of her own to buy a bank.
As a matter of fact, all Vietnamese ‘tycoons’ make their fortunes by conducting/consuming/involving in shadowy transactions like Nguyen Thanh Phuong. Scrupulous investment bankers and auditing firms as mentioned above help transform these dirty monies into legitimate businesses by listing them on well-known stock exchanges such as the NYSE. It’s time for the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to take ‘unofficial economic advisor to the prime ninister’ Nguyen Bao Hoang and his helpers like Credit Suisse, HSCB, JP Morgan, Ernst & Young, Price Waterhouse, etc. to court to either jail them and/or to levy stiff fines for helping Nguyen Tan Dung and the VCP bankrupt Vietnam through their acts of stealing from national coffer (i.e. converting state-owned banks into public stock-owned companies, and pocketing all proceeds from stock sales), murdering farmers or denying them means of making a living by illegally appropriating farmland and reselling/converting it to privately-owned luxurious homes, condos, shopping malls, etc.
Understandbly, Nguyen Thanh Phuong and the rest of Vietnamese nouveau riche make their money through insider trading, influence peddling, and well-oiled connections within the VCP at the expense of the poor hard-working Vietnamese people who subsist daily on hand to mouth. Any Vietnamese with common sense and an ability to think independently could see through all the wrongdoings by Nguyen Tan Dung and his cohorts in the Politburo.
Therefore, it’s natural for any Vietnamese to feel the pain of seeing society’s productive citizens like farmers in the countryside, assembly workers in the cities getting under-compensated for their fruit of labor. Furthermore, it’s a matter of national pride for being the only people in the world that defeated Chinese, French, Japanese invaders, and yet, to fail miserably in develop a sound economy. It took Germany, Italy, and Japan less than 20 years after World War II to restore their economy prowess. Almost 40 years has passed, Vietnam still remains one of the poorest country in the world (less than USD$200 per capita is fact; $1,200 per capita is the number ‘cooked’ by the VCP and its partners-in-crime (i.e. World Bank, IMF, ADB) to attract FDIs. (systematic fraud)
‘Where’s the beef ?’ is the question that every concerned Vietnamese citizen asks him/herself when thinking of all the monies (agricultural exports, expat remittances, oil and other mineral exports, and money donated from rich countries + loans from ADB, IMF, World Bank) that have ‘entered’ Vietnam since 1975. More importantly, where have these monies ‘exited’ ?
President Harry Truman ‘let’ Mao Zedong overtake China and ‘stopped’ General McArthur from doing his job (uniting Korea when he chased Kim Il Sung and his Chinese backers back to China in the Korean War) for a reason. President Eisenhower shifted the conflict to Vietnam, also for a reason. Presidents Johnson refused to send troops North of Vietnam or bringing the war to Laos or Cambodia to cut off Vietnamese communists’ supply routes, also for a reason. President Nixon expressed his appreciation to 58,000 American soldiers killed in Vietnam by abandoning South Vietnam, and flew to Beijing to meet Mao Zedong in preparing/re-arranging a New World Order, now that the Soviet Union has outlived its usefulness. Some U.S. President kicked Taiwan out of the U.N. Security Council, and replaced with China. Back to doing business with China after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 for Bush the Senior and Junior. Same friendly conduct for Presidents Clinton, Obama , and successive U.S. Presidents.
Since I’m not working for the U.S. Treasury Department, I cannot ascertain Vietnam’s capital outflow to the U.S. still remains unchanged, increases, or maybe more alarmingly, has decreased since Hu Jintao has iron-cladly assured Nguyen Tan Dung and the Vietnam’s Politburo that their ill-gotten gains are much safer ‘invested’ in China’s national bank since China is the only country in the world that is not under the U.S.’s worldwide financial control.
At any given time, ‘safe havens’ like Switzerland or the Caribbeans can be forced to divulge customers’ account information by ‘tricky’ Americans, and ‘small-time’ thieves like Nguyen Tan Dung would someday be arrested, jailed or killed, properties/assets confiscated whenever these tricky Americans desire. Proofs are how easily Africa’s despots ‘obey’ China, and Vietnam should follow their footsteps if the VCP intends to help China rein in these barbaric Vietnamese and their Southeast Asia cousins.
Before Deng Xiaoping died, he instructed his ‘princelings’ to abide their time, and only attack when China’s enemy is weak. Since Obama’s pivot-to-Asia only exists on paper, Hu Jintao decided to test the water by creating a new city called Sansha in the Vietnam-owned Paracel archipelago, and extend its 200-mile EEZ from Sansha to reach down areas that are close to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore’s coastlines.
At the same time, China will exert some pressure on Obama (3 trillion of U.S Treasury notes) to get Taiwan to join China in harassing Japan to give up Sensaku and Okinawa (for now). Historical facts show that China owns the entire globe, but it cannot get all of its properties back yet since it is still not as militarily and economically strong enough to subjugate peoples living (rent-free) on China’s ancestral lands. FYI, Japanese are descendants of one of Chinese’s clans. Same for Koreans, and by now, Nguyen Tan Dung and the VCP should know that they were also originally Chinese.
Above narratives may sound far-fetched, but the danger of being the first country in Southeast Asia to be chinanized is very real. All Vietnamese demonstrators – online or in real life – get intimidated, harassed day and night by the VCP’s security agents. Beating up, staging accidental deaths, or outright murdering these ‘anti-China’ protestors is something that the VCP gladly does to appease its masters in Beijing. The Human Rights Watch can supply names and details of incarceration or deaths that the VCP has caused to those who still doubt my portraying of Sino-Vietnam relationship since 1990.
Few words with Hillary Clinton, Obama, and future American leaders
As stated above, U.S. Presidents have served America’s economic interests faithfully, regardless of which party they belong to. Small nations like Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. have suffered a great deal as a result of being in the U.S.’s economic orbit. To kill its own people for the benefit of the mass (i.e. few thousand troops in Pearl Harbor to get permission to enter W.W. II; hundreds of thousands killed in Europe, Africa, and Asia’s theaters during World War II; 58,000 troops killed in Vietnam; 3,800 civilians on 9/11/2001 to get permission to invade Iraq) is irreprehensible. But I guess it’s part of the price for ‘doing business’ worldwide.
We’re living in the 21st century, and I’d suggest to do away with resorting to violence (war) to settle economic differences between/among peoples/nations. As the only alternative superpower (comparing to genocidal maniacs like China or Russia), the U.S. should use its might to ‘reason’ with its partners-in-crime China and Russia. American workers rose up during the early 20th century due to unfair and exploited labor conditions. Subsequently violence broke out when workers’ demands were met with Pinkerton thugs and murderers.
Think of Hun Sen, Nguyen Tan Dung, etc. as Pinkerton thugs. When people could no longer tolerate these thugs, they would rise up, and eventually distrust America and its allies. India and the non-aligned nations were products of such distrust. Yet as a whole, they cannot muster enough solidarity to stand up against China, Russia, or the U.S. although they’re well-versed in the ‘divide-and-conquer’ (democracy vs. communism, sunni vs. shia, jews vs. arabs, etc.) strategy. Mistrust seeds have been sowed for too long that it would take a while (i.e. a legally binding framework that’s based on shared information, early conflict awareness, peaceful solutions to disputes) to uproot.
In context of Vietnam, U.S. current leaders should exert some economic pressure on Nguyen Tan Dung & Co. (VCP’s Politburo and its patron China) to lay off harassing bloggers Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan’s friends like blogger Me Nam, Nguyen Hoang Vi, Huynh Thuc Vy, Trinh Kim Tien, etc., and other Vietnamese dissidents, to immediately release all prisoners of conscience, to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to allow other political parties to participate in the governance of Vietnam, and lastly, for China to stop all aggressive activities in East and South China Seas as well as to stop interfering with ASEAN’s affairs if it still wants Tibet, Manchuria, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guangxi etc. as parts of China.
Please let Nguyen Tan Dung and the VCP know that the Vietnamese are forgivable as a people, and we will all let bygones be bygones like Nelson Mandela has done to Apartheid folks, or like Aung Suu Kyi to her military tormentors. Nguyen Tan Dung has every reason to be fearful of all the wrongs he has done to the Vietnamese people, and I don’t blame him and his cohorts for clinging to power at all costs. He should realize that at some point in time, his life and his daughter and son’s lives will expire. The only lives that still remain are Vietnamese’s lives, and they would not be as forgivable as they are now. 37 years have been wasted by Nguyen Tan Dung & Co. to serve China’s expansion needs. It hasn’t, isn’t, and will not work as long as the U.S. still champions for human rights to everybody on this planet.