Journeys from Vietnam:
A Vietnamese Australian’s Reflections
* Tuong Quang Luu, AO
(Delivered at The Sydney Institute, Sydney – Tuesday 3rd March, 2009)
The Chair looked at me hesitantly for a few second longer than usual before calling “Australia” to speak. I was holding up the “Australia” name banner seeking the floor to deliver my remarks. I was not a mind reader, but it appeared to me that the Chair might have thought I did not look “Australian” enough or perhaps I was sitting at the wrong place.
That was in 1986 and the occasion, a meeting of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of The United Nations in New York. I had my first opportunity not only to speak as an Australian delegate but also to represent Australia at an international forum. When I finished speaking, a member of the delegation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) rushed to me smilingly and said something in Mandarin. I was not skilful in Putonghua as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, but I could guess that he might have expressed something positive on my contribution.
“Thank you, but I do not understand Chinese. I’m an Australian of Vietnamese background”, I said and he responded: “Oh, you’re not Chinese – but still my congratulations”.
Such an occurrence is quite ordinary for delegates to international meetings and diplomats often have far more interesting stories to tell.
New Opportunities and Challenges
I found it a bit more amusing personally though, because of my background.
Australia had gradually embraced a multicultural approach for almost two decades – starting with a tentative first step by Prime Minister Harold Holt in the 1960’s (1) then the official burial of the “White Australia” policy during the Whitlam years and the bold testing of public tolerance by the Fraser Government in its dealing with the post-1975 Indochinese refugee crisis by re-settling large numbers of asylum seeking Asians.
But this fundamental change in the Australian social fabric did not as yet manifest itself to the extent that Australia could be seen represented by Australians from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.
I had been in New York previously, in September 1969 when President Richard Nixon addressed the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations to announce his policy on Vietnam. I was there as a diplomat on short term mission at the Office of the Observer of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN). South Vietnam (like South
Korea) was granted an Observer’s Status at the United Nations after Vietnam’s application for its membership in the early 1950’s was twice vetoed by the Soviet Union. Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel under the Geneva Accords in 1954.
When I returned to New York in a different professional capacity, I must admit that I had a mixed feeling and my mind travelled to and from my past and my present.
One year earlier in Geneva, I was part of the Australia Delegation to a conference on mass movement of people across national borders convened by the UNHCR. As it turned out, I was not the sole delegate of Vietnamese background. One Vietnamese
American came from Washington DC with the US delegation, and the OECD Team from Paris had one Vietnamese French expert.
None of us had an opportunity to speak on behalf of our respective delegation and the only Vietnamese participant who took the floor was the Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV).
Unlike the Chinese, the Greeks and the Italians, the Vietnamese were not a migratory people. During their long history, the Vietnamese people expanded their border by moving southward – from the Red River Delta to the Mekong Delta, making Vietnam a country of narrow landscape and long shore touched by the waves of Biển Đông / the East Sea (which is also known as the South China Sea). Before the Fall of Saigon in April 1975, only France and to a lesser extent the French colony of New Caledonia hosted a sizeable Vietnamese community as a result of colonial link.
The Vietnamese did not have a migrant experience and tradition like the Chinese. During their first decade of resettlement as refugees, the Vietnamese Diaspora was taking shape in North America, in Western Europe and in Australia/New Zealand, but it was still early for many of us to be in a position of responsibility in our adopted countries.
Excluding Vietnamese delegates representing the SRV, participants of Vietnamese background at those international forums were still rare in the 1980’s and in early1990’s. An east-Asian looking member of a non-Asian country delegation was more likely then to be of Chinese background than Vietnamese.
The last decade, however, has seen the emergence of the 1.5 generation – i.e. those who were born in Vietnam and grew up in their countries of resettlement – and the second generation of Vietnamese background as they went through their education and moved into mainstream society. Delegates of Vietnamese background to national and international gatherings have become more common.
Indeed during my terms as the Sydney-based NSW State Director for the Federal Department of Immigration and Ethnic/Multicultural Affairs (1987-89) and as Head of SBS Radio (1989-2006), I saw this change as a positive indication of multicultural Australia as a country of equal opportunity and a fair degree of success and contribution by Vietnamese Australians in many fields of activities – particularly in education, technology, business and the liberal professions.
But young Vietnamese Australians were not as active in political participation as their cohorts in the Greek, Italian and Jewish Australian communities. There remains a lot for Vietnamese Australians to learn from Australians of earlier waves of immigration to complete their integration process.
That was what I tried to do when I returned to Australia as a refugee after the Fall of Saigon. I had been in Australia from 1970 to 1974 as a diplomat. Beyond my two journeys from Vietnam, I ceased to be a Vietnamese political observer and analyst in Australia and became a social learner and citizen of this country.
The Vietnam War and Freedom of Speech
My first journey to Australia was conventional but my 4-year term here was quite eventful. I arrived in Canberra in March 1970, when General Lon Nol seized power through a coup d’état in Phnom Penh and thus creating a more suitable environment for South Vietnam and its main allied supporter – the United States – to fight the communist forces in Cambodia. Until then, North Vietnam used Laos and the eastern part of Cambodia with impunity as safe haven to attack South Vietnam.
The expansion of the war into eastern Cambodia and southern Laos by the allied forces presented a new impetus for the so-called “Moratorium Movement” in Western democracies such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to mobilize their street marches against what was claimed as the “American imperialist invasion” against a poor and small country or “the Eagle and the Lotus” as Dr. J. F Cairns, MP, shrewdly chose the title for one of his books (2).
Our difficult task at the RVN Embassy became even more difficult, because our message of self-defence and victim of a well-planned and well-supported communist aggression was lost to anti-war protests which were very well-orchestrated worldwide, especially after the unfortunate shootings of students on 4 May 1970 at Kent State University in the US.
Four days later on 8 May in Melbourne, I witnessed the biggest mass rally in Australia where Dr. Jim Cairns played the key role in whipping up popular sentiment against the war and conscription. I felt the intensity of emotion much more clearly displayed in Australia than in the UK where I had seen one of the biggest protests at Trafalgar Square after the Communist Tết Offensive in February 1968. In retrospect, the decision to send Australian conscripts to fight in South Vietnam was a political mistake.
I believed then and I still do now that tens of thousands of Australians who took part in those street marches were genuinely against the war and conscription. Australian mothers who demanded their government to bring their sons home from Vietnam, had a legitimate concern and a democratic right to do so. I was myself a conscript and my mother spent many sleepless nights even when I only spent a short time in the army.
However, I believed then and I still do now that the so-called anti-war moratorium was led and manipulated by a loose alliance of leftist movements and hard core communist activists that supported a communist victory under the disguise of a “Peace for Vietnam” campaign. We all remember this writing on the wall at various
places in capital cities of Australia: “For Peace in Vietnam, Recognise the PRG”.
The “Provisional Revolutionary Government” of South Vietnam was a political creature of North Vietnam in 1969 to give legitimacy for the National Liberation Front (the NLF) – born on 20 December 1960 to the same mother – to gain a seat at the Paris “Peace” Talks which led to the Paris Agreement in early 1973.
One of the most successful communist propaganda products was the myth that this was a war of liberation by the local people in South Vietnam against the corrupt and authoritarian government in Saigon. Admittedly, the South Vietnamese government could not claim to be a shining example of transparency and democracy, but South Vietnam was not a one-party state and the government did not control the media. Members of the International Press Corps in Saigon were free to travel anywhere and interview anyone they wanted. The Saigon government could be compared very favourably with the Hanoi government then and the SRV government now in terms of widespread corruption at all levels and an abysmal record of human rights abuses.
South Vietnam tried to set the record straight without much success and our efforts in Australia achieved at best only a mixed outcome. I went out lobbying the media, politicians and public opinion makers, attending debates and giving talks on the issue to community groups, at town halls and universities.
Many meetings took place without any incident, but others were rough and violent. I was subject to abuses and threat of violence and sometimes physical violence. I was a guest speaker at almost all universities and more than once at some of them, but I got my worse experience particularly at the University of Queensland on 4 September 1970, the University of Sydney on 24 June 1971 and La Trobe University in Melbourne on 29 August 1973 when I first met a young and upcoming teaching political scientist by the name of Gerard Henderson. Dr. Henderson is the Executive Director of this Sydney Institute.
At the University of Queensland in Brisbane, I was prevented from leaving the university premises after my talk under the pretext that I did not answer all the questions raised, including this funny one: “What did you do in 1945 when Ho Chi Minh fought for the independence of Vietnam?” I was then less than five years old.
I was actually kept in the basement of the Students Union Building against my will and under threat of violence by some Maoist students. Queensland Police Commissioner Ray W. Whitrod sent 70 police to the University to rescue me, but I had been freed by university staff and left the university premises before the police
The issues left for the consideration of the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Zelman Cowan, included not only the role of university as a place of free speech but also the vexed problem of police entry into the university campus, even though in this case, it appeared that Commissioner Whitrod’s response was made at the request of the university.
Police was not involved at Sydney and La Trobe Universities but the important issue of freedom of speech remained. At Sydney, I was drowned out by noisy abuses and shouting so much that Professor of Philosophy David Armstrong, who chaired the
meeting, had to abandon the talk. I was then prevented from leaving and under threat of violence (4).
Three students came to my assistance and I was driven away in his car by Professor Peter Lawrence, a well-known Australian anthropologist. One of these students is now Dr. Stephen J. Morris, once a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, and for the other two – one became a successful barrister specializing in labour law and one was appointed a Commissioner of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission after his long service to the trade union movement.
But the worst one, in terms of freedom of speech at a learning centre in pursuit of excellence, took place at La Trobe University. As an invited guest, I was not even allowed to speak, because members of the so-called Workers Student Alliance “passed” a motion to deny me the opportunity to be heard and to ask me to leave the campus, then attempted to prevent me from leaving. When Gerard Henderson gave me refuge in his office, left wing radical students “packed the corridor and began beating on the door and screaming abuse” (5).
When I was a younger diplomat in London in the mid 1960’s, I had also taken part in debates and talks on the Vietnam War at a dozen of universities. As expected, I was also subject to abuse and verbal violence, but never did I experience threat of physical violence and more importantly, never was I denied the right to speak. The one occasion I still remember well, took place at the University of Birmingham in 1968 when I was abused verbally violently, because of my different interpretation of the causes of the war from that of my opponent – an equally young Dr. Tariq Ali who later became one of the leading left-wing authors and writers in the UK.
Another failure of diplomacy on our part was our inability to convince the Australian government to support our position against the United States. The bitter lesson was when South Vietnam took a policy stand different from that of Washington on the basis of its correct anticipation of the disastrous outcome of the Paris Agreement, it became totally isolated because none of our other allied nations were prepared to raise their supporting voice either publicly or confidentially.
Dr. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, flew to Saigon in October 1972 in an attempt to get President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu’s endorsement of a draft agreement he planned to co-initial with Hanoi’s Politburo member Lê Đức Thọ. President Thiệu refused, because this draft agreement would dramatically change
the balance of military power in South Vietnam, by allowing the 14 fully-and-better-equipped North Vietnamese Divisions to remain while all armed forces allied to the RVN would have to be withdrawn. Saigon argued that all non-South Vietnamese forces would have to be withdrawn from South Vietnam for a truly peaceful solution to be achieved. For this reason, it was unfairly accused of “obstructing” a peace agreement (6).
Kissinger was not happy but determined to proceed. Washington already lost its political will to stay in South Vietnam which was no longer an allied country of priority to the American interests under President Nixon’s Guam Doctrine (7) and after his ground breaking visit to the PRC in February 1972 which concluded with a
joint US-Chinese “Shanghai Declaration”.
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Trần Kim Phượng, a former South Vietnamese Ambassador to Canberra, flew in from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in his capacity as President Thiệu’s Special Envoy, to see Foreign Minister Nigel H. Bowen at his Sydney office on Friday 3 November 1972. I accompanied Mr. Trần Kim Phượng to the meeting with Minister Bowen who was assisted by Ambassador David Anderson, a former Australian Ambassador in South Vietnam. We received a polite hearing but nothing else. After the meeting, Ambassador Richard Woolcott fronted the media and gave them the Australian position of pursuing peace in Vietnam.
Ambassador Trần Kim Phượng tried unsuccessfully to contact Governor General Sir Paul Hasluck who, as Prime Minister Harold Holt’s Minister for External Affairs, was one of the main architects of Australia’s Vietnam policy in the 1960’s. We were disappointed but accepted that Australia had to act in its own national interest. Minister Bowen and his two very able and talented diplomats did what they could, taking into account of the reality of the time.
In the end, South Vietnam had no choice and Foreign Minister Trần Văn Lắm, the former first Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia, signed the Paris Agreement on 27 January 1973 on behalf of the RVN.
The rest is now history. Mr. Trần Văn Lắm returned to Australia in mid 1975 as a Vietnamese refugee. And so did I.
New Life as a refugee in Australia
My second journey to Australia was unconventional and very hazardous but my family’s permanent residency was peaceful and, I believe, rewarding.
I was still working in my office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 30 April 1975 when General Dương Văn (Big) Minh announced his surrender. Saigon fell to the communist forces and I had to escape for my own survival. After bidding farewell to loyal staff, I walked down the main streets of Saigon for the last time.
Then my father in law turned up on his motorbike which became our means of transport to leave the doomed capital city for the Mekong Delta. Because of communist check points and to avoid detection, we had to change routes and took a truck ride and bus ride to Kiên Giang (Rạch Giá), a fishing port near the Cambodian
border, where I lay low for a week at the home of his fisherman friend. I did not report to the communist authorities for “re-education”.
We took a boat ride with the fisherman friend on one of his regular trips to an island called Pulau Panjang (Đảo Thổ Châu in Vietnamese) where – without his knowledge – we floated out to sea on a round basket-shaped dinghy made of waxed bamboo. This
waxed basket is normally used by fishermen to get to shore from boat and vice versa. It is not meant for sea-going.
It was 36 terrifying hours drifting under heavy rain and strong gale on this tiny and un-steerable basket before we were picked up in the Gulf of Siam by a Thai fishing trawler. I lived the life of a fisherman until the trawler returned to its home port of Samut Sakhon a week later. We were under house arrest for unauthorized entry by the Thai Police, at the residence of the trawler owner for another week before I could convince a Thai Police man to allow me to go with him to Bangkok where I sent a telegram to my family and friends in Australia. Until then, they did not know whether I was dead or alive (8).
Upon my return to Australia in late May, I was given a 6-month temporary residence. The Whitlam government was reluctant to re-settle Vietnamese refugees. But my family and I were extremely fortunate to have so many good friends who were willing and able to assist.
A few days later, I received an invitation for morning tea with the Minister for Education, the Hon. Kim Beazley senior, whom I had known during my diplomatic years. When I turned up at his office at the Old Parliament House in Canberra, the Minister shook my hand with a 3-word greeting I have not forgotten and will never
forget: “Welcome home, Quang”. Kim Beazley Senior was the finest Australian I have ever met.
In June 1975, I got a research job at the Political Science Department of the Australian National University where I also began to study law again to re-qualify myself in Australia.
My family and I were granted permanent residence in 1976 by the new Fraser government.
Australia gave me and my fellow refugees a second chance in life. Many of those who had marched against the war extended their hand of friendship and helped the newly arrived in many practical ways. But the hard core leadership of the Moratorium Movement – such as the Jim Cairns of this world – did not even lift their finger to express a concern for the millions of victims of the “Killing Fields” in Cambodia and for the hundreds of thousands of drowned Vietnamese boat people.
Silence kills as Dr. Jim Cairns referred to events leading to the May 1970 Vietnam Moratorium in his book bearing this powerful title (9). Silence indeed killed as many people in Indochina “at peace” after 1975 as in Indochina “at war” a decade earlier.
Those communist supporters maintained the communist façade, skilfully exploited during the war, and celebrated the “liberation” of South Vietnam. Some even received communist medals as reward for their contribution to the communist victory in Indochina. Nothing seemed able to demystify the Left’s vision of the conflict as a “war of liberation”, not even the fact that the NLF and the PRG were quickly discarded by the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
I hasten to say that I do not wish to continue fighting a war which ended more than three decades ago. I believe, however, that certain fundamental facts still need be re-stated. South Vietnam fought alone before the Australian and American military engagements and alone again after their withdrawals in 1972 and 1973, while North Vietnam was supported fully and continuously by the Soviet Union, other Warsaw Pact members and the PRC throughout the conflict.
I was fortunate enough to have worked at the Federal Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs at a senior executive level in Canberra and Sydney which opened up opportunities for me to contribute towards policy and program implementation for the benefits of Australians from all backgrounds.
But as Head of SBS Radio, I had the best position to make a difference in terms of providing information, education and entertainment to our targeted culturally diverse audience that may change and enrich their life. When I came in 1989, SBS Corporation only had a local Radio 2 EA in Sydney and a local Radio 3EA in Melbourne. When I left in 2006, SBS Radio is a network of 5 frequencies broadcast nationally on-air by satellite and internationally online in 68 languages including English, with a forward looking plan to migrate to digital audio broadcasting. I believe SBS Radio was also instrumental in moving its audience forward towards an inclusive and harmonious society.
SBS enjoys editorial independence which is guaranteed by legislation. But as a publicly-funded national broadcaster, it is subject to scrutiny by Parliament where its programming decisions may be questioned and its executive may be criticized. This is a good system of check and balance. As Head of SBS Radio, I received many visiting foreign media delegations and attended many international broadcasting conferences. At times, it was difficult for some of my overseas counterparts in Asia to
understand why as a “government” national broadcaster, SBS is indeed independent from the government of the day.
While I was Head of SBS Radio, I was invited in early 1994 in my capacity as a citizen of Vietnamese background, to join an Australian Parliamentary Consultative Delegation to visit the SRV. During the 1993 election campaign, Foreign Minister Gareth Evans came to SBS Radio Sydney for a media conference when he was
asked by Ms Ngọc Hân B.T. Nguyễn, Head of the Vietnamese Language Program, as to whether the Keating government, if re- elected, would seek to send a human rights delegation to Vietnam similar to the Australian delegation already to the PRC. He said
“yes” he would do.
After Prime Minister Paul Keating’s “sweetest” victory, Foreign Minister Evans conducted long and hard negotiations with his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr. Nguyễn Mạnh Cầm, on this matter to fulfill his electoral promise.
This delegation was to be led by Labor Senator Stephen Loosley as Leader and Shadow Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, MP, as Deputy Leader. But two days before the delegation’s departure, the SRV revoked its visa issued to me on the basis that I breached the “agreement” when I said on a BBC World Service interview that
the delegation would be interested in looking at human rights cases during its time in Vietnam.
Senator Evans described the SRV’s visa revocation as “a very regrettable over-reaction” and on 4 July 1994, took a decisive action to cancel the visit (10). When I met Foreign Minister Evans again two years later in Melbourne, he blamed the 1994 diplomatic setback on Mr. Nguyễn Mạnh Cầm for his failure to stand up to his fellow Minister for Interior / Public Security.
I was once criticized by a government senator at a Senate Estimates Committee Hearing in February 2004 (11) for being in a mock-up cage at Sydney’s Bondi Beach on 13 December 2003 as a gesture of protest against the unlimited detention of asylum seekers’ children under the government’s mandatory detention policy applicable to aliens who entered or attempted to enter Australia without permission.
Because I took part in this protest as a private citizen and in my own time on a Saturday, I did not accept such criticism and considered it as an attack on my freedom of speech. The fact that this “Daybreak Cage Detention” protest was organized by a leftist alliance might have attracted the senator’s attention, but it was
irrelevant to me. I was only interested in the issue.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said – and before him, Prime Ministers John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser had also said – that Australia is a great democracy. Most Australians agree with them, including myself. I am privileged to live here as a citizen.
But a great democracy, as I argued in my remarks at Admiralty House in Sydney on the eve of Australian Day 2002, can be even better when the majority does not ignore the needs of the minority and where we can be caring for the socially disadvantaged, such as our indigenous brothers and sisters and for those victims of human rights violations in search of a refuge. I believe that the benefits derived from such social advancement and a compassionate approach to people in need of protection will not only be consistent with our laudable tradition, but will also enrich our society. I also believe that our society is defined not only by what unites us – which is obviously important and fundamental to our future – but also in finding solutions to issues which may divide us – solutions unaffected by short-term considerations – solutions we can be proud of (12).
My journeys from Vietnam brought me into contact years ago with abusive left-wing radicals who saw me as a right-wing diplomat and then later in life as Australian, I was attacked by a right-wing politician as a left-leaning media executive. I was neither. I strongly believe in what I have been doing.
There is nothing in my journeys that I wish to have done differently, except perhaps my escape from the advancing communist forces on a waxed bamboo basket floating in the Gulf of Thailand – but only if I had an alternative.
Source: * The Sydney Papers Online – Issue 1-2009
(1) During Prime Minister Harold Holt’s short term of office (January 1966 to December 1967), a referendum was successfully held to amend the race power in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia to remove discrimination against indigenous Australians. Australia’s Migration Act 1958 was also amended to remove certain racially discriminatory provisions against non-European migrants. In early April 1966, Prime Minister Harold Holt came to Saigon as part of his South East Asian tour for bi-lateral talks and a short visit to the Australian troops in South Vietnam. I was appointed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of the liaison officers with the Australian Prime Ministerial Delegation.
(2) J. F. Cairns, MP, The Eagle and The Lotus: Western Intervention in Vietnam 1847-1971, Landsdowne, Melbourne, 1971.
(3) UPI Dispatch, Brisbane, Friday September 4, 1970
The Telegraph, Brisbane, Friday September 4, 1970
The Courier-Mail, Brisbane Saturday, September 5, 1970 (Editorial – Restore Control: “It was Queensland University’s day of shame yesterday. Those vaunted academic tradition of freedom and responsibility were trampled by a violent mob).
The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday September 5, 1970
The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, Saturday September 5, 1970
The Courier- Mail, Brisbane, Thursday October 29, 1970
(4) The Australian, Sydney, Friday June 25, 1971
(5) The Age, Melbourne Friday August 31, 1973 (Students’ actions deplorable: said the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee in Canberra)
The Australian, Sydney, Thursday August 30, 19 73
The Sun, Melbourne, Friday August 31, 1973
The Herald, Melbourne Friday August 31 1973 (Editorial – Keeping Violence off the Campus: “A nasty note of thuggery and intimidation is appearing again at La Trobe University, the noisiest of Melbourne’s three campuses since the Monash demonstrations cooled… The essence of liberal democracy is that everyone has the right to be heard, advocates of ideas and critics alike. We expect our universities, whatever the issues, and however high-spirited and rebellious students may be, to preserve this indispensable foundation.”)
(6) The Canberra Times, Tuesday October 31, 1972
(7) President Richard Nixon first announced what became known as the Nixon Doctrine at Guam on 25 July 1969 after he had met President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu at Midway Island on 8 June 1969 (9 June, Saigon time) to discuss his program of “Vietnamization” and the withdrawal of the American troops from South Vietnam. President Thieu resisted the timing of Nixon’s Vietnamization Plan not least because of Nixon’s misnomer. I accompanied Foreign Minister Trần Chánh Thành as part of the South Vietnamese Presidential Delegation to this Midway Summit. Nixon later
formally included this doctrine in his “Address to the Nation” on the War in Vietnam on 3 November 1969. Essentially, there were 3 categories of allies in terms of the US assistance commitments: allies with treaty obligations, vital allies threatened by a nuclear power, and the others – such as the Republic of Vietnam – the US military and economic assistance but only if the requesting country bearing the primary responsibility for its own defence.
(8) My story of escape from Vietnam was detailed in The Bulletin Weekly Magazine, Sydney, June 7 and 14, 1975 and on Australia’s ABC Radio Classic FM award winning program “On the Raft, All at Sea”, December 16, 2002
(9) J. F. Cairns, MP, Silence Kills – Events Leading up to the Vietnam Moratorium on 8 May, The Vietnam Moratorium Committee, Richmond North Victoria, 1970.
(10) The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, The Canberra Times, The Courier- Mail, The Adelaide Advertiser, The West Australian etc...Tuesday July 5, 1994
The South China Morning Post, Wednesday July 8, 1994
The Hong Kong Standard, Wednesday July 8, 1994.17
(11) Commonwealth of Australia, The Senate, Official Committee Hansard, Environment, Communications, Information Technology and The Arts Legislation Committee – Estimates: Additional Hearings on 16 & 17 February 2004 Written Question on Notice No.59 – Budget Estimates Hearings 24-27 May 2004 Written
Question on Notice No.158 – and Hearings on Monday 14 February, 2005 pp. 89-91.
(12) National Australian Day Council’s Australian of The Year Awards Ceremony at Admiralty House, Sydney, on 25 January 2002, when I was named by Prime Minister John Howard as an “Australian Achiever” of the year.
Kissinger Meets Thieu Again, Then Prepares to Quit Saigon
By Fox Butterfield Special to The New York Times
. Oct. 23, 1972
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SAIGON, South Vietnam, Monday, Oct. 23—Henry A. Kissinger made preparations to leave Saigon today after another two‐ hour meeting with President Nguyen Van Thieu this morning, a United States Embassy spokesman said. Mr. Kissinger’s destination was not disclosed.
This morning’s session was Mr. Kissinger’s fifth straight day of secret talks and followed a hectic day of personal diplomacy yesterday in which he met twice with President Thieu and in between flew to Pnompenh to confer with President Lon Nol of Cambodia.
Following this morning’s talk with Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Thieu called in the commanders of South Vietnam’s four military regions, the 44 province chiefs and many of the 559 provincial councilors.
It was another in a series of consultations that Mr. Thieu has been having with his top Government officials since Mr. Kissinger arrived. The military commanders and province chiefs are all appointed by Mr. Thieu, but the councilors are elected.
It was the fifth straight clay of secret meetings for Mr. Kissinger, President Nixon’s adviser on national security, since he arrived in Saigon Wednesday; and it increased the feeling among knowledgeable officials here that a major breakthrough in the talks to end the Vietnam war was now a realistic possibility.
Strict Secrecy Maintained
Although the meetings here have been conducted in the strictest secrecy, a high‐ level South Vietnamese official said today that Mr. Kissinger and President Thieu had spent considerable time discussing details of a cease‐ fire.
The Saigon official also disclosed that two weeks ago, following the visit here of Mr. Kissinger’s deputy, Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr., President Thieu ordered the creation of a special high‐ level committee to study the problems of implementing a cease‐ fire.
As a sign of the importance of yesterday’s two meetings in Saigon, the only person present besides Mr. Kissinger and President Thieu was Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, Mr. Thieu’s closest American friend.
The previous talks had been attended by a large retinue of South Vietnamese Cabinet ministers, ambassadors and presidential aides, and there had been speculation that Mr. Thieu, a very private man, would not discuss his personal future or a possible resignation before his subordinates. Mr. Thieu’s ouster has long been the key demand by the Communist side at the Paris peace talks.
Yesterday morning’s session in the presidential palace lasted from 8 A.M. to 10 A.M. and in the evening, after Mr. Kissinger returned from Cambodia, he met with Mr. Thieu from 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. Mr. Kissinger spent the night at Ambassador Bunker’s residence, and embassy spokesmen refused to say how long he would stay in Saigon.
Mr. Kissinger’s flight to Pnompenh came as only a partial surprise, since there had long been speculation here that the peace plan Mr. Kissinger brought with him must include Laos and Cambodia. However, embassy spokesmen would not confirm Mr. Kissinger’s destination, for what they described as “security reasons,” until he landed in Cambodia.
Mr. Kissinger flew in a United States Air Force T‐ 39, a small twin‐ engine jet courier, accompanied by William H. Sullivan, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and John D. Negroponte, a White House aide.
Details Not Disclosed
In Pnompenh, Mr. Kissinger went directly by helicopter to the official residence of President Lon Nol, where he conferred with the Cambodian leader for some four hours and had lunch. There was no official word on what was discussed.
Knowledgeable observers in Saigon feel that in any ceasefire arrangement, Cambodia would play a critical role, since about two‐ thirds of the country is now under North Vietnamese control and because the Communists have extensive base areas there.
Mr. Sullivan had earlier made unannounced visits to Vientiane, Laos, and Bangkok, Thailand, for conferences with the leaders of the two countries. Mr. Kissinger’s visit to Saigon has created an atmosphere of feverish speculation mixed with the awe among the South Vietnamese, and informed sources said that the same feelings prevail in the American Embassy.
Most Vietnamese now appear convinced that Mr. Kissinger has already agreed with Hanoi to get rid of President Thieu and replace him with some form of coalition.
Nobel Prize body knew Kissinger’s 1973 Vietnam deal unlikely to bring peace, documents show
By Gwladys Fouche January 12, 20238:35 AM GMT+11Last Updated 5 days ago
Portraits of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including of Henry Kissinger, are seen in the meeting room where the Norwegian Nobel Committee holds its meetings at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, January 3, 2023.
REUTERS / Gwladys Fouche
- Prize to Kissinger, North Vietnam’s Tho among most disputed
- Files about 1973 prize available on request since Jan. 1
- Nominations, related papers were secret for 50 years
OSLO, Jan 11 (Reuters) – The 1973 Nobel Peace Prize to top U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, among the most disputed in the award’s history, was given in the full knowledge the Vietnam War was unlikely to end any time soon, newly released papers show.
Nominations to the Peace Prize remain secret for 50 years. On Jan. 1, documents about the prize awarded to Kissinger and Hanoi’s chief negotiator Tho were made available on request.
The decision shocked many at the time as Kissinger, then U.S. national security adviser and secretary of state under President Richard Nixon, played a major role in U.S. military strategy in the final stages of the 1955-75 Vietnam conflict.
“I am even more surprised than I was at the time that the committee could come to such a bad decision,” Stein Toennesson, a professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo who reviewed the documents, told Reuters.
Kissinger and Tho reached the January 1973 Paris Peace Accords under which Washington completed a military withdrawal from South Vietnam after having largely ended offensives and avoided combat against the Communist North in the face of worsening troop morale and huge anti-war protests in America.
But the ceasefire stipulated by the accords was soon ignored on the ground by both North and South Vietnam, which refused to sign the deal claiming betrayal as Hanoi’s forces were not required to withdraw from the South.
The war raged on with the North’s forces rapidly advancing in the South, now left to fight without critical U.S. support and weakened by high-level state corruption and disarray.
Fighting ended only on April 30, 1975 after North Vietnamese forces captured the South’s capital Saigon, triggering a chaotic and humiliating evacuation of remaining Americans and local allies by helicopter from the U.S. Embassy rooftop.
Le Duc Tho refused the Peace Prize on the grounds peace had not yet been established. Two out of the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee – all now dead – resigned in protest. Kissinger, while accepting the award, did not travel to Norway for the ceremony and later tried in vain to return the prize.
Tho, who died at 78 in 1990, was a general, diplomat and member of North Vietnam’s ruling Politburo. He oversaw the southern Viet Cong insurgency against the Saigon government from the late 1950s, and later the North’s decisive 1974-75 offensive that brought about unification under rule from Hanoi.
Kissinger, 99 and still a prominent commentator on foreign policy and conflict resolution including most recently the Ukraine war, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the release of the 1973 Nobel Peace files.
AWARENESS THAT AWARD MIGHT PROVE UNMERITED
The papers, reviewed by Reuters, reveal Kissinger and Tho were nominated by a member of the Nobel committee, Norwegian academic John Sanness, on Jan. 29, 1973 – two days after the signing of the Paris accords.
Thousands of people can nominate prize candidates, including certain professors, former Nobel laureates and heads of state.
“My reasoning is that this choice would underline the positive that talks have led to a deal that will bring armed conflict between North Vietnam and the United States to an end,” Sanness said in his typewritten letter, in Norwegian.
But Sanness, who died in 1984, added: “I am aware that it is only in the time ahead that it will become clear (what kind of) significance the accords will have in practice.”
The nomination letter and the reports prepared on Kissinger and Tho for the committee’s deliberations showed it was “fully aware” the accords were “unlikely to hold”, said Toennesson.
“The prize was given to Kissinger for having gotten the U.S. out of Vietnam … without any peaceful solution in South Vietnam,” he said. Tho, he said, was nominated because the panel felt it “could not give it to Kissinger alone”.
“He (Kissinger) needed a partner and they then added Le Duc Tho, whom they knew little about. The report on (him) is quite weak,” added Toennesson.
Among the released documents is the original telegram Tho sent from Hanoi that said it was “impossible” for him to accept the Peace Prize.
Tho wrote: “When the Paris agreement on Vietnam is respected, guns are silenced and peace is really restored in South Vietnam, I will consider the acceptance of this prize.”
The U.S. military intervention in Vietnam in the early 1960s was billed as a move to contain the spread of Communism.
In the end, the Paris accords sealed the U.S. exit from a war widely reviled at home as a hugely costly and divisive quagmire, but did not silence the guns or bring a negotiated peace in Vietnam.
On May 1, 1975, the day after the fall of Saigon that ended the war, Kissinger tried to return the prize, via a U.S. cable to the Nobel committee in which he said the “peace we sought through negotiations has been overturned by force”.
The committee refused to take back the award.
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, editing by Terje Solsvik and Mark Heinrich
Tài liệu: Ủy ban Nobel biết rõ Hiệp định Paris 1973 của Kissinger khó mang lại hòa bình
Tài liệu: Ủy ban Nobel biết rõ Hiệp định Paris 1973 của Kissinger khó mang lại hòa
. Reuters [VOA]
Cố vấn đặc biệt Lê Đức Thọ, đại diện đoàn Việt Nam Dân Chủ Cộng hòa và Cố vấn đặc biệt của Tổng thống Hoa Kỳ, Tiến sĩ Henry Kissinger chúc mừng nhau sau lễ ký tắt. (Ngườ đứng giữa, phía sau là Thư ký đoàn VNDHCH Lưu Văn Lợi )
Giải Nobel Hòa bình năm 1973 được trao cho nhà ngoại giao hàng đầu của Hoa Kỳ Henry Kissinger và Lê Dức Thok của Bắc Việt, một trong những phần thưởng gây tranh cãi nhất trong lịch sử của Nobel Hòa bình, được trao với sự hiểu biết đầy đủ rằng cuộc chiến tranh Việt Nam lúc đó khó có thể kết thúc sớm, theo các tài liệu mới công bố.
Các đề cử cho Giải thưởng Hòa bình vẫn được giữ bí mật suốt 50 năm.
Hôm 1 tháng 1, các tài liệu liên quan tới giải thưởng trao cho ông Kissinger và trưởng đoàn đàm phán của Hà Nội, Lê Đức Thọ , đượ c trưng ra theo yêu cầu.
Quyết định ấy đã gây sốc cho nhiều người vào thời điểm đó vì ông Kissinger, lúc đó là cố vấn an ninh quốc gia Hoa Kỳ và là ngoại trưởng dưới thời Tổng thống Richard Nixon, đóng vai trò quan trọng trong chiến lược quân sự của Hoa Kỳ trong giai đoạn cuối của cuộc chiến Việt Nam 1955-1975.
Ông Stein Toennesson, giáo sư tại Viện Nghiên cứu Hòa bình Oslo, người xem xét các tài liệu vừa được tiết lộ, nói với Reuters: “Tôi giờ đây thậm chí còn ngạc nhiên hơn lúc đó rằng ủy ban có thể đưa ra một quyết định tồi tệ như vậy.”
Ông Kissinger và ông Thọ đã đạt được Hiệp định Hòa bình Paris vào tháng 1 năm 1973, theo đó Washington hoàn thành việc rút quân khỏi miền Nam Việt Nam sau khi đã chấm dứt phần lớn các cuộc tấn công và tránh chiến đấu chống lại Cộng sản miền Bắc trước tình hình tinh thần quân đội ngày càng sa sút và các cuộc biểu tình phản chiến lớn ở Mỹ.
Nhưng lệnh ngừng bắn được quy định trong hiệp định đã sớm bị cả miền Bắc và miền Nam Việt Nam phớt lờ, miền Nam từ chối ký thỏa thuận và tuyên bố bị phản bội vì lực lượng của Hà Nội không bị buộc phải rút khỏi miền Nam.
Chiến tranh tiếp diển ác liệt, lực lượng của miền Bắc nhanh chóng tiến vào miền Nam trong khi miền Nam lúc đó phải chiến đấu không có sự hỗ trợ quan trọng của Hoa Kỳ và bị suy yếu bởi tình trạng hỗn loạn và tham nhũng cấp cao.
Giao tranh chỉ kết thúc vào ngày 30 tháng 4 năm 1975 sau khi các lực lượng Bắc Việt chiếm được thủ đô Sài Gòn của miền Nam, gây ra một cuộc sơ tán hỗn loạn và bẽ bàng của những người Mỹ còn lại và các đồng minh địa phương bằng trực thăng từ sân thượng Tòa đại sứ Hoa Kỳ.
Ông Lê Đức Thọ từ chối Giải thưởng Hòa bình với lý do hòa bình chưa được thiết lập. Hai trong số năm thành viên của Ủy ban Nobel Na Uy – tất cả nay không còn nữa – đã từ chức để phản đối. Ông Kissinger, dù nhận giải thưởng nhưng không đến Na Uy để dự buổi lễ và sau đó tìm cách trả lại giải thưởng nhưng vô vọng.
Ông Thọ , qua đời ở tuổi 78 vào năm 1990, là một nhà ngoại giao và là ủy viên Bộ Chính trị cầm quyền của Bắc Việt. Ông giám sát cuộc nổi dậy của Việt Cộng ở miền Nam chống lại chính quyền Sài Gòn từ cuối những năm 1950, và sau đó là cuộc tấn công quyết định của miền Bắc năm 1974-1975 mang lại thống nhất dưới sự cai trị của Hà Nội.
Ông Kissinger, nay 99 tuổi, vẫn là một nhà bình luận nổi tiếng về chính sách đối ngoại và giải quyết xung đột, bao gồm gần đây nhất là cuộc chiến Ukraine, đã không hồi đáp các yêu cầu bình luận về việc công bố hồ sơ Nobel Hòa bình năm 1973.
Biết rằng trao giải cho họ có thể không xứng đáng
Các tài liệu mà Reuters xem qua cho thấy ông Kissinger và ông Thọ được một thành viên của ủy ban Nobel, học giả người Na Uy John Sanness, đề cử vào ngày 29/1/1973 – hai ngày sau khi ký kết hiệp định Paris.
Hàng nghìn người có thể đề cử các ứng viên cho giải thưởng, bao gồm giáo sư , những người từng đoạt giải Nobel và các nguyên thủ quốc gia.
Ông Sanness viết trong bức thư đánh máy bằng tiếng Na Uy lúc đó rằng: “Lý do đề cử là sự lựa chọn đó nhấn mạnh điều tích cực rằng các cuộc đàm phán đã dẫn đến một thỏa thuận sẽ chấm dứt xung đột vũ trang giữa Bắc Việt và Hoa Kỳ,”
Nhưng ông Sanness, qua đời năm 1984, cũng nói thêm: “Tôi biết rằng chỉ trong thời gian tới người ta mới hiểu rõ (loại) ý nghĩa mà các hiệp định sẽ có trong thực tế.”
Giáo sư Toennesson nói thư đề cử và các báo cáo về ông Kissinger và ông Thọ cho các cuộc thảo luận của ủy ban cho thấy họ “nhận thức đầy đủ” rằng hiệp định Paris “không có khả năng được giữ vững”.
Ông nói: “Giải thưởng được trao cho ông Kissinger vì đã đưa Hoa Kỳ ra khỏi Việt Nam… mà không có bất kỳ giải pháp hòa bình nào cho Nam Việt Nam.” Vẫn theo lời giáo sư Toennesson, ông Thọ được đề cử vì ủy ban cảm thấy “không thể trao nó cho một mình ông Kissinger.”
“Ông ấy (Kissinger) cần một đối tác và sau đó họ bổ sung thêm Lê Đức Thọ , người mà họ ít biết đến. Báo cáo về (ông Thọ) rất yếu,” ông Toennesson nói thêm.
Trong số các tài liệu được công bố có bức điện tín gốc mà ông Thọ gửi từ Hà Nội nói rằng ông “không thể” nhận Giải thưởng Hòa bình.
Ông Thọ viết: “Khi hiệp định Paris về Việt Nam được tôn trọng, không còn tiếng súng và hòa bình thực sự được lập lại ở miền Nam Việt Nam, tôi sẽ xem xét việc nhận giải thưởng này”. Sự can thiệp quân sự của Hoa Kỳ vào Việt Nam đầu những năm 1960 được coi là một động thái nhằm ngăn chặn sự lan rộng của chủ nghĩa Cộng sản.
Cuối cùng, hiệp định Paris đã đóng dấu lối thoát của Hoa Kỳ ra khỏi một cuộc chiến mà nhiều người trong nước chỉ trích là một vũng lầy gây chia rẽ và tốn kém vô cùng, nhưng hiệp định ấy không làm im tiếng súng hay mang lại một nền hòa bình theo thương thuyết tại Việt Nam.
Vào ngày 1/5/1975, tức một ngày sau khi Sài Gòn sụp đổ, kết thúc chiến tranh, ông Kissinger tìm cách trả lại giải thưởng, thông qua một bức điện tín từ Hoa Kỳ gửi tới ủy ban Nobel, trong đó ông nói rằng “hòa bình mà chúng tôi tìm kiếm thông qua các cuộc đàm phán đã bị đảo lộn bằng vũ lực.”
Nhưng khi đó ủy ban không chịu lấy lại giải thưởng.-/