Notes from US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius' Visit to Little Saigon

Categories: Little Saigon

Photo by Charles Lam
Osius (far right) with a bunch of politicians

This past weekend, US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius took a three-day trip to Little Saigon to get a sense of the sentiments of the Vietnamese-American community. As part of that trip, he spoke at a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Alan Lowenthal in Westminster. During the two hours originally spec'd about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he spent most of his time answering questions about Vietnam's treatment of the overseas community, South Vietnamese veterans and war casualties, and the defacto embargo on Vietnamese-American produced products in Vietnam.

These are my notes from the event.

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Garden Grove Mayor Wants Vietnamese Communists To Enact Democratic Reforms

Mayor Nguyen
The Garden Grove city council is scheduled tonight to debate sending a "notice of support" letter to a powerful U.S. congressman who seeks the movement of Vietnam's communist dictatorship toward democracy in exchange for future favorable trade and security deals.

If the council agrees to the sentiment, Mayor Bao Nguyen will sign a letter applauding Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for H.R. 2140, the so-called "Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2015."

In addition to boosting religious freedom in Vietnam, the congressional proposal wants the Southeast Asian nation to take "additional and sustained steps to advance human rights protections" for its citizens; stop jamming Radio Free Asia broadcasts providing U.S.-backed news; minimize human sex and slave trafficking; and promote educational and cultural exchanges designed to advance democratic reform notions.

At issue is Vietnam's 2006 U.S.-approved admittance into the World Trade Organization after communist leaders promised major reforms to win lucrative business deals. The move helped make the nation's rulers, family members and allies become ultra-rich and improved Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi as global travel destinations. But Vietnam's war refugees as well as international observers insist the cash-loaded communists "continue to disrespect and violate basic human rights."

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President and Treasurer of Vietnamese Student Non-Profit Accused of Defrauding Group


The Garden Grove-based Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA) announced early this morning that they have filed charges against their president and treasurer after finishing an internal financial review. The group, which organizes one of the oldest and largest Tet festivals in the United States, is accusing former president Nina Tran and former treasurer Helen Nguyen of defrauding them of more than $118,000 over a period of three years.

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VAALA Commemorates 40 Years After Vietnam War

Categories: Little Saigon

Kristine Hoang
UCLA Professor Nguyen-Vo Thu-Huong discussing VN war photographs

For the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) held an event yesterday at the VAALA Cultural Center called "To Remember," which aimed to invoke Vietnamese-American history of the war through memorials, photographic images, and poetry. The event consisted of a poetry reading and lectures addressing the silences that continue to occupy Vietnamese-American homes regarding the past.

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Forty Years After the Fall of Saigon, Orange County's Annual Tet Festival Goes Plural

Chad Weaver/OC Weekly

It's about noon on Jan. 25, and hundreds of volunteers from more than a dozen Southern California schools are on their way to a shabby-looking business park in a sparsely populated area of west Garden Grove. The Santa Anas are blowing, and as the students approach the parking lots, they see fellow volunteers awaiting them, their hands holding pamphlets and pieces of paper to shield their eyes from the sun, heat and dust.

The greeters point the volunteers toward the headquarters of the Southern California chapter of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA), a building that also houses the offices of a company that sells e-cigarettes and an American Apparel-esque clothing factory, though it's Vietnamese making clothes instead of Mexicans. Everyone is there to help organize UVSA's upcoming Tet festival, scheduled to happen in less than a month.

Outside the building, several dozen young women congregate and socialize. They're almost dressed in uniform: dyed hair (some ombre, some with highlights), 3-inch heels, and either short shorts or knee-length dresses appropriate for the 85-degree weather. They're tying friendship bracelets around one another's wrists as they work together to make sure the Tet festival's pageant, a major part of the weekend's planned cultural programming, goes off without a hitch.

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Sex Tape Extortion Plot Involving Vietnamese Immigrants Ends With Little Saigon Arrest

A 46-year-old Little Saigon man is in custody today after being a federal fugitive from Texas for allegedly threatening to publicly release a homemade sex tape of himself and a married woman if she didn't pay him $50,000 to keep her adultery quiet.

The Vietnamese immigrant, Minh San Nguyen (a.k.a. "Minhson Hoang Nguyen" or "Anthony Nguyen") was located by the FBI this month in Westminster, and now faces extortion charges stemming from a two-count, 2009 grand jury indictment.

The defendant will be transported by the U.S. Marshal from Orange County to Dallas for a potential trial.

According to the FBI, the victim (we'll call Jane Doe) admitted that in 2000 she had a year-long affair with Nguyen, then a coworker at a Dallas area electronics plant, and she became pregnant with a son during the period.

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Little Saigon Protestors Show Up in Riverside Like They Always Do And Always Will

April 30 12 Little Saigon 6 R Scott Moxley.jpg
Photo by R Scott Moxley
This happens often

Yesterday, hundreds of anti-communist protestors bussed from Little Saigon to Riverside to picket like they're wont to do. They converged on the Riverside City Hall for a day, and for a few hours in the mild weather rallied against a sister-city relationship between Riverside and Can Tho, the fourth largest city in Vietnam. Can Tho is a beautiful city in the Mekong Delta, located in the far south of Vietnam. It's known for its floating marketplace and giant bridge--much nicer to visit than Riverside. It's also my dad's hometown.

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Little Saigon Newspaper Accused Of Secret Communist Vietnam Control Wins Lawsuit

Though it's been nearly 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, the most pejorative label anyone can hurl in Orange County's Little Saigon remains "communist," a term that, if wrongly used, can also result in economic pain.

The folks at Saigon Ngo weekly newspaper likely understand that point this week after a jury ordered them to pay $4.5 million in damages to Nguoi Viet Daily News officials they'd accused in a July 2012, column of working as secret agents for Vietnam's communist regime and living sexually promiscuous lifestyles.

After failing to win a retraction, Nguoi Viet's Dat Huy Pham and Vinh Hoang responded to the column by filing a Sept. 2012, lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court.

They noted in their complaint that the false accusations subjected them to "feelings of hatred, contempt [and] ridicule" as well potential violence in a place where just a picture of communist icon Ho Chi Minh can incite rage.

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New, Refreshing Day In Garden Grove: Bao Nguyen Captures Mayor's Office

Nguyen: Honest concern for residents outranked opponent's "communist" name game
A refreshing, new era in Garden Grove unofficially began tonight when the Orange County Registrar of Voters ended its Nov. 2014 vote counting and left young, upstart Bao Nguyen the victor over crusty, entrenched politician Bruce Broadwater in the race for mayor.

The result should mean Garden Grove--a city festering too often in grotesque backdoor dealings, questionable policy making, anti-immigrant sentiment and blatant nepotism thanks to Broadwater--is poised to enter an uplifting phase where residents don't take a back seat to national corporate interests luxuriously feeding financially off of nearby Disneyland.

While Broadwater seemingly couldn't resist any lunch or dinner with a wealthy developer or political hack, the Buddhist Nguyen--a UC Irvine graduate and son of parents who fled communist Vietnam and landed in Orange County's Little Saigon--has been known for years in Southern California's progressive communities for his mellow personality that defies an absolutely stern commitment to minorities, workers and everyday residents.

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[UPDATED:] CHP Arrests Little Saigon Councilman Andy Quach On Suspicion of DUI

Dzo! Councilman Quach during 2009 DUI arrest
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) today arrested Westminster City Councilman Andy Tuan Quach on suspicion of drunk driving charges and he remains locked inside jail tonight, according to Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) records.

The 42-year-old Quach, who has served multiple terms on the council and is a Vietnamese immigrant who fled his communist homeland by boat with his family in 1980, will appear in open court in Westminster on Nov. 13 to provide his plea to the charges.

The U.S. Navy veteran, who unsuccessfully attempted to become a SEAL, is being held in custody until he pays $10,000 bail.

Trouble with the law isn't new for the Chapman University graduate. In 2009, he pleaded guilty in a DUI case after clipping another vehicle, crashing his Mercedes into a wall and destroying electrical poles on McFadden Avenue in the wee hours of one morning. The incident, where his blood-alcohol content was triple the legal limit, resulted in more than 300 homes in Little Saigon, the location of people he has supposedly represented, losing power for half a day. As punishment, he received probation.

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