The Cream of The Diplomatic Crop from Ha Noi.




The recent US eerily diplomatic trip of Mrs. Ton Nu Thi Ninh (Chairwoman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the Communist Vietnamese National Assembly) was one of the strategic moves to save Ha Noi from its foreign policy black hole created by its explosive pre 2004 election anti-Bush position. Ha Noi placed a high expectation on the out come of this trip since Ton was an expert to western standards of diplomacy and she is the cream of the diplomatic crop from Ha Noi.


Ton’s mission has two objectives. First, she would try to convince some US congressional members into agreeing with her that they shouldn’t be critical of Ha Noi’s abuse of Human Rights because they didn’t have access to verifiable evidences that meet western investigative standard (in reality, it was Ha Noi that censored the free flow of information out of Viet Nam). The Ha Noi's CPC status (country of particular concern) therefore doesn’t have valid reasons to exist.  The harder second objective is to exploit the freedom of speech, of movement and of assembly to spread Ha Noi’s strange point of views in Human Rights; moving from state to state to meet with inquisitive and curious American academia and hopefully plenty of photo op with some invited only Vietnamese Americans to fulfill her declared goal of “dialogue” with oversea Vietnamese.


Some analysts believe Ton’s trip was originally for a quite different reason. It was meant as a fatal blow to the anticommunist oversea Vietnamese community as it was planned for Ha Noi to cement its solidarity with the US new administration, and George W. Bush wasn’t the one that Ha Noi had in mind. Unfortunately for Ha Noi, “Muu su tai nhan, thanh su tai thien”: Men planned but it’s God who decides. Bush won the election and Ton had to abandon the dream of being an honor guest at John Kerry’s inauguration.


Ton’s first US exposure was her secret lobbying attempt (06-20 to 06-23-2004) aiming to defeat the Viet Nam Human Rights Acts. She met with Under Secretary of State Paula J. Dobriansky, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), Congressman Rob Simmons (R) and Lane Evans (D- Illinois) (Simmons and Evans are cochairmen of the US-Vietnam Congressional Caucus along with Nguyen Phuc Thanh, Vice President of National Congress of communist Viet Nam, Nguyen Tam Chien, Communist Vietnamese Ambassador to the US) and many other congressional members. It was secrete because the main stated purposes of her previous trip were civic ones: they supposedly include only the discussion of the US legislative bodies, gender issues and trafficking of women and children!  Even though Kerry was defeated in the Presidential election, he still had great influence in the US Senate and Ton claimed her first diplomatic victory purely by luck as 2004 is about to be over with and the HR 1587 is to die its premature death before making to the senate floor.


Ton wasn’t as lucky in her second trip to the US. This time, to claim her trophy, Ton must win the mind and hearts of Condoleezza Rice, various Republican Congressional members, US business sector, American academia and especially the Vietnamese Americans.


Before her departure to the US, Daniel Sneider of San Jose Mercury News – in his promotional article written in August 2004 --waved his magical journalistic wan trying to polish a hardcore communist spy-woman into a nice “Cinderella” civic diplomat. The Sorbonne-history-major-educated turned secret-communist-spy while serving as an adjunct English “professor” at the University of Sai Gon (1972-1975) couldn’t metamorphose herself into a civic diplomat during her second trip in December 2004 despite many extreme political makeovers.


During a recent interviewed in December with the Vietnamese BBC program, Ton repeated the same political spin almost verbatim to what she told another BBC interviewer back in August 2004. In both interviews, she tried to convince the audience that Human Rights are culturally and historically specific and what happened to the alleged terrorists inhumanly imprisoned in Guatanamo Bay could have been good excuses for Hanoi to abuse Human Rights activists in Vietnam. And since Viet Nam didn’t want to make a fuss out of Guatanamo Bay, she expected that the US shouldn’t make a mountain out of the molehill of Human Rights violations in Viet Nam. As an added bonus, on the second interview with BBC, she argued that while the Right to bear arm -- as a historically specific Human Rights in the US (sic) -- is so important to Americans, it is irrelevant to the French since bearing arm isn’t a big issue in France. She implied that – because of cultural and maybe historical reasons—Human Rights might be important in the US (as gun ownership) but it’s not that important in Viet Nam (as gun ownership in France) so what happened to Human Rights in Viet Nam were Ha Noi’s own affairs and no one should stick his/her nosy noses to it.


No one could believe such an analysis from the supposedly top-notch communist Vietnamese diplomat let alone the fact that she was also a Sorbonne educated elite. It was an insult to the human race to equate terrorists of Al- Qaeda to human rights activists in Viet Nam. It’s a colossal mistake to argue the right to bear arm in US (a constitutional rights) as a human rights.


Worse yet, she contradicted her statement of “you cannot close the door in the name of national security” (made during Daniel Sneider’s interview) when she blatantly distorted human rights activist in Viet Nam as a threat to the VN national security and therefore condoned the Ha Noi’s barbarous action of imprisonment of these human rights activists. What she did wasn’t just closing the door but rather permanently sealing the door.


Ton failed miserably in her public relation attempt on the US soil during her press conference in Washington by committed another fatal mistake. She repeated the cliché blatant lie that “no one was arrested in Viet Nam because of religious reasons.” Yeah, right! Who was she kidding?


Ton also tried to neutralize critical assessments of human rights violations in Viet Nam by attacking the Amnesty International of not giving Hanoi a chance to respond to its “accusation” and she condemned Amnesty International of failing to verify with Ha Noi the facts used in these assessments. She forgot the fact that Communist Ha Noi created barriers after barriers against any attempt to verify the source of information by – as an example -- denying journalists’ visa into Vietnam. Additionally, as the communist party is the sole authority in Viet Nam, there is no such principle of fair response found any where in that country. Ton ended up sounding like a desperate shoplifter demanding the policeman to verify the stolen properties with the perpetrator!!!


Instead of accepting responsibility for Ha Noi regime when they arbitrarily sentenced farther Theodore Nguyen Van Ly of 15 years imprisonment, she responded to a question from the audience by stating that she didn’t know much about his case’s details and he was arrested under the pretext of a citizen not that of a religious practitioner. She further clarified that some of his activities were having nothing to do with religion but they sure violated the law and that was why he was put in jail. As a chairwoman of a committee of the National Assembly, Mrs. Ton should have been well aware the fact that the laws in Viet Nam aren’t the laws as we know in a civic society. Laws in Viet Nam are to control and not to protecting the people. She aggravated Ha Noi’s sin by rendering a lousy spin to explain away the grave human rights violation when they sentenced father Nguyen Van Ly 15 years behind bars.


If Mrs. Ton was the best that Hanoi could offer as a diplomat to win over the hearts of US congressional members and Vietnamese Americans then it was exactly of what Mrs. Ton said that contributed further to evidence the fact that communist Ha Noi has never been serious in its attempt to respect and even to discuss Human Rights in Viet Nam. And worse yet, they didn’t even pretend to try to create an atmosphere where intelligent dialogues could exist. One day after Ton’s arrival in the US, Ha Noi refused a visa to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to have the same diplomatic privilege as the US government granted Mrs. Ton.


 May be it’s true that only communist Vietnamese would listen and understand what the communists speak and only communist sympathizers would sit down and strike a dialogue with communist Viet Nam. Give us some reasonable and honest evidences of sincerity so that we could give your intention a benefit of doubts. Vietnamese Americans and US congressional members surely won’t fall for those worn out cheap propaganda to explain away the Human Rights violations in Viet Nam.  One thing I know for sure out of Mrs. Ton’s diplomatic trip: I will never send my children to study at that Sorbonne.


Tom Ha