Below is the text of an appeal by Do Nam Hai, pen name Phuong Nam, against corruption and repression in Vietnam, as well as the treatment he has received from authorities for publicly protesting these evils:
Ho Chi Minh City December 10, 2004
Respectfully addressed to:
- The Congress and the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
- The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam
- Local and international news organizations
- Those concerned
My name: Do Nam Hai, born in 1959 in Hanoi
Currently residing at:
441 Nguyen Kiem street - Precinct 9,
District Phu Nhuan, Ho Chi Minh city
I write this open letter to all above authorities and to all concerned to discuss some issues below:
1. About the articles I wrote during my stay in Australia.
Under the pen name Phuong Nam, I have written five articles:
* Viet Nam my country (June 2000)
* Viet Nam and Reform (April 2001)
* Thoughts about reassessment (June 2001)
* On chairman Ho Chi Minh (July 2001)
* More thoughts about reassessment (August 2001)
The subjects I mentioned in these five articles are those commonly discussed by the news media, educational institutions, and universities -- namely Marxist-Leninist philosophy, Ho Chi Minh thought, the causes of the two Indochina wars (1945-1975), the creation and the downfall of the socialist system (1917-1991), the reform and the backwardness of Viet Nam at the present time compared with other countries in the region and the world. At the same time, I suggest organizing a referendum in Viet Nam (discussed in detail in the article "Vietnam my country", chapter 4) in order to open the road for the people to solve the problem of backwardness. At the beginning of 2002, I returned to Viet Nam and in October 2004, I was interviewed by Free Asia Radio station (RFA) on the viewpoints in these five articles.
2. My current difficulties:
On the afternoon of August 6, 2004, while I was working at the bank, a group of police officers came and invited me into their car to go to a "work session" with them at a villa on 310 Truong Chinh St, precinct 13, Tan Binh district, Ho Chi Minh city. I was detained for two days (from 4 p.m. on August 6, 2004 through 6 p.m. on August 8, 2004), to "answer to a few things concerning national security", according to the summoning letter. Four months later, I was again detained for 24 hours by the police (from 5 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2004) at the police office of Phu Nhuan district at 181 Hoang Van Thu St. precinct 8. Beside that over the last four months I have been interrogated a dozen times by the police, sometime at a restaurant, other times at a chamber of a hotel; or in a covered up ambulance by the side of a Nhieu Loc canal, Tan Binh district. My personal computer was confiscated on Dec. 4, 2004 by Phu Nhuan district police. The police promised verbally that: "you will have it back when we finish deleting all data in it."
For now, I have nothing to work with at my home.
In all the working sessions with police I told them (from the rank of junior officers to colonels): "That is correct. I have written all those articles. I was pushed to write and publish them on the Internet because of my love for my country. I want to contribute a little for the cause of democracy in Viet Nam. Presently it is clear that our country has no democracy. The so-called socialist democracy in Viet Nam now is in fact a fake democracy based on deception, democracy for a minority elite within the leadership of the Vietnamese Communist Party. If it existed in the society is only a small piece of the democracy."
It is easy to prove the statement above, and it has been done by many democracy advocates before me. The most valid proof is my being here answering your questions against my will, to open all my mail-boxes, open the electronic forum Nha Viet Nam in which I have been enrolled since June, 2003. You labeled my articles and all the materials I have brought along as counter-revolutionary, against the party and the government. But I have a different opinion, I believe they are materials for democracy, and they were posted in their entirety on the Internet. I hope in the future, they will be read by more Vietnamese, especially those living inside the country. I assert that I have done much toward that in the past. Frankly, I do not blame you (the police). What you have done is the assignment given to you. What is needed to blame is the one-party dictatorship legalized in Article 4 of the Constitution of Viet Nam. It was, is and will be in itself the problem of all problems, the cause of all causes creating much suffering and backwardness to bring shame to this country and to its people.
My relationship with the people in Viet Nam and overseas during the last four years (June 2000 to December 2004) has been purely on the basis of exchanging democratic writings. I am confident in my capacity to engage into dialogue with anyone regardless of who they are, whatever their past or current status. If they are right, I support them. If they are wrong, I then denounce them accordingly. I neither collaborate with nor instigate anyone to rebel or to overthrow any authority; nor to plant explosives or mines anywhere. Those who dialogued with me had the same philosophy. They always respected me and understood well my point of view through my writing, that I support only democratic activities aimed to promote the right changes for the people. You have read all my correspondence and responses (either by force or by unauthorized interception); you have read the opinions that I exchanged with others over the Nha Viet Nam forum. You should have been able to confirm what I said above.
I believe that the Vietnamese want to find a reasonable solution so that they could integrate into the contemporary world. The most important step toward this destination is to identify and then successfully resolve all the causes of those countless painful tragedies, the shameful backwardness of our country as mentioned above. In the meantime, let us avoid the wrongful practice of accusing those who work for a pluralistic society and multiparty political system of conspiring with enemies inside and outside of Viet Nam to topple the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP). I believe that the risk of losing control to opposition political powers would exert important and necessary pressure on the VCP for them to behave better under the scrutiny of the history and of the people. It will also impose compelling influence against the accelerating and comprehensive deterioration of the governing elites of the VCP, from the central down to the local levels of government, and other organizations in Viet Nam.
In another word, it's the golden key to help the VCP straighten up the rank and file so that they can remove the rhetoric of "protecting the party, our governing system" through "dictatorship of the proletariat" of our nation's political, economic, social systems during the last half century.
The ball is now in the court of those who have the control of the Politburo and the Central Committee Secretariat of the VCP. We are not concerned with the lack of the right plans to build and to develop; but we are concerned that a wrong path was picked for our people. The people picked the wrong path in the past, now the people must have the courage to overcome themselves to re-evaluate and together we will pick a better, brighter and more humanistic path for our own people. That was the way it should have been. Don't wait until the date that when -- with the roaring anger of the people -- what happened in Romania in December 1989 would be repeated again; it was concluded with the deserved yet shameful deaths of the dictator Ceausescu and his wife (they were executed). It would be too late then. I am a Vietnamese with a strong aspiration for democracy and I would never want my country to evolve into such a chaotic drama.
3) Observation and Recommendation:
One of the prominent features of contemporary history is the timing for a total collapse of all dictatorships, the one-party form of government all over the world. Within the last 20 years or so, mankind witnessed the death of many such regimes as in South Korea, Chile, Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq as well as in Soviet Union and East European socialist countries. These nations might have gone through and will be facing various challenges and obstacles but they eventually will achieve the transformation from a backward enslaved society to a progressive civil one; this is also the inevitable trend for the present day. No one and no power, regardless how conservative and barbarous it might be, could prevent this inevitable trend. Don't be too contentious, those who placed the initial obstacles faced by the above-mentioned nations to serve as a warning for the courageous Vietnamese. It's a crime to carry out such an act. Sooner or later, a criminal act will be punished.
As long as Vietnam is still governed by a dictatorial, one-party government, one can surely predict that its people will suffer from injustice, poverty, and backwardness
Our nation emerged from the war 30 years ago, but our people's path is still winding and out-of-focus, just like the way of a person with serious eyesight problem but without eyeglasses or a cane. The regime is also totally impotent confronting the national peril of corruption or stopping the grave moral decline of the society. Even so, slogans for those efforts are abundant. The naive belief of many Vietnamese in the so-called policy of "building a market economy based on socialist fundamentals" (never existed in any bible of Marxism-Leninism) is the same as the pitiful belief of that little boy in the countryside in the poetry Hoang Cam's.
The boy was religiously looking for the mythical "dieu-bong" leaf so he could marry that beautiful village girl, as she had demanded; he did not realize that she had already and quietly become married. There are so many such people in the Vietnamese society, which remains as poor as ever, who have become launching pads for a few persons like the father and son of Mai Van Dau, who are always rich.
I don't know if the police officers who have interrogated me over the past four months had any assessment of the contradiction between my living standard, their living standards, (which is still better than all those hardships endured by most in Vietnam), and the living standards of those "heroic" wealthy men of Vietnam's oil and natural gas industry.
They have used magic to share with each other millions of US dollars, with a straight face just like villagers share their fish from the pond. These "heroes" have appeared at all places in Vietnam. The police officers believe they are protecting national security, when actually, from another angle, they are protecting the most corrupt and destructive regime in Vietnam's thousands years of long history. This regime, every hour of the day, is bleeding the nation of its properties and incurring secret and dirty foreign debts, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay for a long time. The speed at which they have accumulated wealth make one dizzy. The former Solidarity Chairman and President of Poland Lech Walesa accurately observed that "Communism is the longest route to go from capitalism to capitalism." And the capitalism in Vietnam now is a fake one! This regime has also caused the loss of land and sea, for which our forefathers bled.
To overcome our difficult situation as I have presented, I propose to the Parliament, the Government, and the Central Committee of the Party to research and examine my recommendation to have a national referendum in Vietnam.
In this referendum, the only question that Vietnamese people need to have an answer is:
Should Vietnam have a multi-party system?
Those who agree will mark "yes." Those who disagree will mark "no."
I will be happy and ready, together with friends inside and outside Vietnam, waiting for dialogues organized by the Parliament, the government, or the Vietnamese Communist Party, to clarify the above petition. I genuinely care for their considerations and thank them in advance. In the event that any law enforcement agencies in Vietnam regard my petition as a violation of the law, I am ready to face the worst consequences that might happen. Regarding my current situation, it is very unclear and puzzling, very wrong, the behavior of the security agency, the secret police, toward me over the past four months. In lieu of a conclusion, I would like to reiterate a statement of the revolutionary, Nguyen An Ninh (1900-1944):
"Freedom cannot be something for which one begs. Freedom must be taken."