Regarding Vietnam’s (VN) immediate future, many people have given their analysis and made predictions, but how can I foresee things with any accuracy? I only wish to examine the reality of life in Vietnam today. One may generally illustrate the following:
I. Nearly every Vietnamese person living in and outside of Vietnam is awaiting necessary changes, including employees of the state, military and police men, party members, etc…
II. The government of Vietnam (GVN) is currently bearing many pressures: The 1st pressure: The GVN itself realizes the need to undergo extensive reform so to avoid r8ejection from its people, because the GVN can no longer placate their people. The 2nd pressure: The Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) is gravely divided internally. There is a group that wishes to break off and form an opposition party. Some party members have left the party because of their heavy conscience or because they fear the judgment of history, while others have been forced out by differing factions. The 3rd pressure: While the majority of people are passive, fearful, and only wish to safely cling to what they have, with each passing day the people become increasingly critical of the party, increasingly turn their backs on the party, and are currently in wanting of an alternative that is more moral and just. The 4th pressure: Dissidents struggling for Freedom and Democracy are increasing in numbers, increasingly willing to dissent openly, and increasingly having a stronger impact upon the populace. The people enjoy seeing the plight of the GVN as it increasingly struggles to determine the best way to deal with this growing movement. The 5th pressure: The fight for Freedom and Democracy in Vietnam of the Vietnamese people overseas is increasingly united, and because they use the most modern means, much more effective. The 6th pressure: The international community is currently applying pressure as it sees necessary while concurrently using economics to impact the activities in Vietnam from the bottom up. This is done in hopes of helping Vietnam reform itself. In the meantime, the world happily watches the discomfort of the GVN as it slowly weakens and hopes that the VCP will soon accept political plurality.
III. Although the GVN is concurrently bearing strong pressure from 6 different sources, although dissidents are rallying and criticizing at will, if they wish to succeed, dissidents must concentrate their efforts in helping the People overcome the following 3 sad realities :
III.1. The fear, detachment, and passivity of the majority of the people:
The VCP has succeeded in instilling a sense of perpetual fear and suspense on the People: They are afraid of being hassled about all types of paperwork when dealing with the local government ; afraid of their children encountering difficulties in their education ; afraid of being followed ; afraid of loosing their jobs ; afraid of having their phones disconnected ; afraid of the government taking special interest in their affairs ; afraid of having their businesses hassled ; afraid of having their passports revoked ; afraid of being invited to “working sessions” with government officials ; afraid of being summoned ; afraid of being publicly denounced ; and afraid of being arrested… The most concrete example of this is that almost the entire Population, most notably Religious dignitaries, knows that participating in elections for the national assembly and other government bodies are only for show, and yet the still “happily perform their civic duty” in an ironic fashion, since 1945 until now, with no foreseeable end in sight. This alone is enough to demonstrate that an unreasonable fear truly exists among the Vietnamese people. Therefore, it is possible to say that nearly the entire population, including Religious figures and Intellectuals, despite following events with great interest, is for the most part passive and unwilling to openly support dissidents. The GVN, and especially policemen, is thoroughly exploiting this fear to stubbornly prolong the life of the regime as long as they can, until the point when they can no longer help it. They do this knowing full well that they are relying on forced volunteerism which they can no longer be steadily relied on. (Refer to: The methods for helping the People overcome their fear).
III.2. The vagueness in the understanding of the majority of the people:
Everyone sees the injustice, the dishonesty, and the negativity that is rampant in everyday life, but perhaps not everyone has realized:
a/- What is the root cause of the danger our nation is facing? How do the lies and other negative aspects of the GVN directly impact the well-being of the family, or the individual? Has the extent of society’s ills truly endangered the individual? Who, or what Organization has the ability to cure this grave plight that our Nation is in?
b/- Nearly everyone believes: Vietnam is loosing land, impoverished, backwards, corrupt… these things are a national humiliation, a national dilemma… they make the people feel as though it is not their direct responsibility to resolve these social ills. Too few People realize that they and their children should not and cannot continue to live in a Country where dishonesty has become the breath of life, a natural habit, a way of living… From a very young age, school children are forced to reluctantly honor Ho Chi Minh, while college students must write essays praising Marxism-Leninism in order to graduate from college, and beyond that other age groups have to play dumb and ignore the wrongdoings of the party… so that they can get their passports approved to leave the country, … meaning that the every Person has the opportunity to perfect the art of lying to the point of refinement and high skill… all so that they can get on with their lives. The reality is that Vietnam is a training ground that produces gigantic liars. This is the main cause of all other causes, the root of our national humiliation and national dilemma that the majority of the People are still unaware of.
c/- Those who are exposed daily to official government news sources such as television, radio… tend to observe: Vietnam is doing fairly well. Vietnam has many problems, but the GVN is working to solve them. What more can one hope for? What more can one want? Is there any organization that can do better than the GVN? Our families shouldn’t listen to a handful of dissidents or those radio stations that belong to crazed people who aren’t going to succeed in anything! Doing so would only put us in harm’s way!
III. 3. The People of Vietnam are living with untruths that have become institutionalized and chronic.
In my view, the national humiliation and national dilemma that theoretically runs the deepest in the Vietnamese people is: the habit of telling lies, the need to tell lies, the coercive force that demands them to tell lies, leading everyone to live in a system that is all too familiar with lying, that sees dishonest behavior as a given in Vietnam,… only so that one may maintain a normal existence in society, not simply to get what one wants. Not only that, this dishonesty is passed on through generations, causing future generations to become incapable of opposing sneakiness. It is this very problem that will cause Vietnam’s future to be thoroughly and completely doomed, without a solution, if something is not done to prevent it at this very moment. Those who view themselves as Intellectuals or Religious Dignitaries must bear the judgment of history before the Vietnamese People and all of humanity for being accessories to all of this by keeping silent for too long, by not lighting the way for our People, and even by contributing to this GREAT NATIONAL HUMILIATION – NATIONAL DILEMMA currently overshadowing our Nation. Meanwhile, the original architect of this dishonesty, meaning Ho Chi Minh, must carry great fault with the Vietnamese People in a way that is indescribable.
Therefore, the task of uniting the overseas Vietnamese community and raising awareness among the Vietnamese people in Vietnam about these 3 sad realities is critical to the immediate future of Vietnam.
IV. From the above realities, the immediate future of Vietnam might be imagined as follows:
IV.1. The VCP should not purposely ignore the 6 concurrent pressures mentioned above and continue as if they were “forever magnificent”, guaranteed to forever rule over Vietnam. They should make an honest assessment and admit that the experience of the past 60 years, the followers of Marx-Lenin and Ho Chi Minh have forced the entire Peoples of Vietnam to endure countless disasters and hardships and currently they are enduring the 2 national humiliations and the 5 national dilemmas such as internal conflict within the party, and especially the great national humiliation of rampant dishonesty that has already become too high a price to pay for the nation. They should clearly use the upcoming 10th Party Congress in 2006 as a historic turning point for Democracy in Vietnam, creating equal opportunity for Democratic opposition parties to reveal themselves openly, for regardless of how invested these groups are in the nation, only being able to appear over the Internet is something unheard of in any other nation on this globe.
IV. 2. The VPC should not continue to force and scam the world by reforming a few institutions for the sake of show…, while not having enough courage to thoroughly reform from the root of the matter, which is the Political system of the entire regime, meaning that those having a monopoly on Democracy must have the courage to resolutely transform into a representative Democracy that will be pluralistic and pleasant for the entire People and the World to see. There is no need to stall, complain, be stubborn, play dumb as if blind or deaf… it will only result in a harsher judgment by history. On this point the VPC continues to call themselves a “revolutionary” party, but in fact is very protective of the status quo, and is unwilling to “revolutionize” anything, for there is still too much greed and cruelty in the party. Those with a sense of right and wrong and with good intentions all hope that the day soon comes when the VCP will summon all the courage and humility of honest political princes and admit before the entire world that the experience with Socialism has been more than enough to be fed up with for humanity, and insist that it is only an illusion – they should not prolong their obstinacy and naiveté because they are only allowing the Nation to be taken advantage of by other countries, only leading to more suffering by the people. It is not that socialism is dated, as many people incorrectly think – there may have been times when it was appropriate – but in truth it was fundamentally wrong from the beginning. Pope John-Paul II, the person who played a big role in the collapse of Socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe gave a accurate analysis: “Socialism and Communism do not err in ideology, but err in their implementation, because to use them to cure the illness in any society would only cause the illness in that society to become even greater”. The history of mankind in the 20th century has proven this. Hopefully the VCP will realize this, because it is already 60 years too late!
IV. 3. The 6 pressures mentioned above must increase in order to soon conduct an election for the National Assembly that is democratic, just, and worthy of a civilized society. Do not leave the People, even though they may be “quite intellectual” to continue to “happily vote in elections with a participation rate of over 99%” in a blatantly forced manner, such as has happened for the past 11 National Assembly elections, which were obviously staged these past 60 years. The Vietnamese People are no longer “sincere and united” in that sense. One only needs to have a basic understanding of democracy to know that nobody wants to pretend to be part of an “elated and excited mass of voters” typical of Marxists – Ho Chi Minh any longer!!!
IV. 4. Despite this clear analysis, perhaps the VCP will still intentionally censor information so that they can continue to be a conservative party for another 1 or 2 Congresses, even when the entire Nation is completely fed up – and yet, the VCP continues to patronize by explaining that “we are always clear sighted, always standing behind the people and yet always ahead of them; we are the model and conscience for mankind” (!?) until the point that from the ranks of the VCP appears a Vietnamese Gorbachov. If only this were to happen before the 10th Party Congress! Surely the people are ready to do more than just sit and wait for that day to come? If that day takes another century to come, will we just wait?
IV. 5. Those fighting for Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam living overseas as well as inside Vietnam should not imagine a solution to come quickly and easily, but before all else needs to combine their efforts to help the People overcome the 3 sad realities mentioned above that have in the past and is currently still plaguing our People like a cancer, that has even spread to those who are considered intellectuals or high ranking Dignitaries of various Religions. To not resolve this issue of life or death is a great humiliation for all intellectuals in Vietnam today. Therefore, the question of Vietnam’s future, before all else, is a question of culture, individual integrity, and philosophy of treating others. This is the central issue for the People of Vietnam. With a culture that is honorable, noble, upstanding, and honest, we will have all. In order to achieve this, the first thing we must have is Freedom of Speech, and independent newspapers to direct the people. Only then will we be able to discuss issues of organization.
Father Tađêô Nguyễn Văn Lý
Special Addendum for “Regarding Vietnam’s Immediate Future”:
[Taken from the “Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, 1992:
Article 69: The citizen shall enjoy freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, the right to be informed, and the right to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations in accordance with the provisions of the law.
*** Immediately after the Constitution states the 5 rights, the phrase “with the provisions of the law” is followed to negate these rights. The result is that throughout these past 60 years, Vietnam has not had a single independently owned newspaper, none of the 6 big Religions in Vietnam do not have their own newsletter, and even the simple act of copying and distributing this essay may cause one to be invited to a “working session”, to be forced to write a critical review, to be expelled from school, to have one’s university degree “withheld”, to be fired from work, to be put into a prison camp in the guise of a “education center”, or any other number of painful hassles… This is Vietnam’s idea of the “right to freedom and democracy as defined in the context of Socialism” that is so attractive to “the backward people” right now!!! To those who intentionally use “arbitrary laws” to prohibit the right to Freedom of Speech, which is a legitimate right of the People, there is nothing to say. In that case the People will only have the option of “voluntarily putting our 2 hands into that metal 8”, proudly know that they are a true soldier of the authentic Democracy in the new Vietnam].
[Taken from “The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights” of the United Nations, dated December 16, 1966, which Vietnam signed on September 24, 1982:
Article 5,1: Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.
Article 5,2: There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.
Article 19,2: Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
*** Totalitarian governments often take advantage of article 19,3,b: in short: the rights stated in article part 2 of article 19 listed above may be restricted to some degree “for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.” What is crucial is this:
a/- Is national security is heightened when every citizen is free to communicate, is allowed to be exposed to world events, is allowed to expand their horizons or when the Government censors information like Fascists?
b/- Is “national security”, “national unity” or “safety for those in power” being equated with the People and Nation in a fallacious way?
c/- Which is dangerous to the “Nation”: guns, knives, militants, terrorism, or only a single Email or a single sheet of paper? There must be clear standards of differentiation that are approved by the UN, such as in article 19,2 above, if Vietnam does not wish to be an oddity amongst the civilized societies of today. How is it possible to “stand behind but always be at the head”, and what does it mean to say “Vietnamese democracy is better than any other form of democracy in the world” [as the GVN so often claims???]./.