Friday, December 23, 2011

Hung Phuong Nguyen & His Libel Lawsuit

In his heyday, former State Assemblyman Van Tran, who was often referred by the media as  "The Godfather of Little Saigon Politics", used to have his henchmen roaming Little Saigon and attacking his political opponents (mostly Vietnamese-Americans)  as communist sympathizer, communist agent or traitor working for the communist.   These henchmen would be paid by his campaign coffer to terrorize political candidates (via radio shows, TV shows, and newspaper ads)  who Van deemed to be a threat to him regardless if they were running against him or not.  Some of the familiar faces showing up at anti-communist rallies and in the news about their anti-communist redbaiting are Nhon Ky Phan,  Ky Ngo, Hung Phuong Nguyen, etc..   

For these people, who also proclaimed themselves to be the community gatekeepers against communism in Little Saigon, everything can be concocted as an infiltration plot by the  communist to bring unrest to Little Saigon. 

Recently, the Little Saigon community has a brewing conflict created by one of these henchmen, a vocal anti-communist activist named Hung Phuong Nguyen.  Hung, as you recalled, was aslo a representative for Van Tran's campaign

Earlier this year, Hung attended a welcoming reception for the new Vietnamese consulate general, Nguyen ba Hung.  His wife was one of the singers for the event.  He also decided to go back to Vietnam after 36 years.  He travelled to Vietnam as part of the overseas delegates invited specially by the communist government to attend a conference on "Presevation of Vietnamese Culture and Language for Vietnamese Overseas Community".   Along with him were the 3 people from Viet Weekly newspaper.

It was an emotional moment for him as he started bawling the minute he arrived at the Tan San Nhat International Airport.  Later on he would explain in his many interviews with Viet Weekly: " I was overtaken with emotion.  I left Vietnam 36 years ago and vowed never to come back until the country changes.  Because I was an anti-communist activist, I did not come back to Vietnam to even say goodbye to my parents before they passed away. Now I realized I was wrong for the country is much different than what I had envisioned..."

During the long two weeks trip, the overseas delegates were the VIP of the communist government.  They were taken to to see tourist places, talked to various vice ministers (including Nguyen Thanh Son, vice minister of Foreign Relations) and attended a reception at the US Consulate in Vietnam.   Viet Weekly reported their trips on their newspaper and it was posted on Hung's Website for a broader audience.

Well, of course this did not sit well with the dwindling anti-communist activists.  How could one of them, who actually was the leader of the protest against Viet Weekly in 2008, is now collaborating with Viet Weekly to write op-eds that are favorable to the communist government while openly attack the overseas community for being extreme in its anti-communist stand.

And worse, Hung is using his Website to poke fun of his former comrades-in-arms.  He even displays the communist flag side by side with the so called Freedom Flag on his Website,
The idea is that since the war is long over, it is time to come together and do whatever is best for the country, no matter what side you are with.   This is the same policy that the communist government has been pursuing with the overseas community over the last 20 years.  The official propaganda lingo is hoa hop, hoa giai.  It means to come together, unite and to reconcile the differences with the goal to help rebuild the country.

The anti-communist crowd reacted swiftly with their public declaration that Hung is an agent of the communist government trying to spread communist propaganda.   The written declaration was signed by 64 well known anti-communist activists in the community.  They also held demonstration against Viet Weekly with signs denouncing Hung.   There were about 30-40 people showed up for the demonstration.   Viet Weekly, sensing the lack of support of the community for the demonstrators, decided to have a demonstration of their own against the demonstrators.   They brazenly called out Phan Ky Nhon and Nguyen Xuan Nghia, two of the leaders of the anti-communist demonstrators, as anti-democracy and trying to suppress the freedom of the press.

In the meanwhile,  Hung has decided to take these people to court for smearing his good name.  He declared that he is now a free-lance journalist and not an activist anymore.  He filed a libel lawsuit against 31 people who signed the declaration.  The other 33 people decided to drop their names from the declaration out of fear when Hung confronted them with the lawsuit. 

This week, the court ruled that Hung failed to establish a case against the first defendant.  Hung apparently is suing each signer individually.  The judge granted the motion to strike against Hung's complaint.  The anti-communist group held a press conference to explain the court decision on the same day. 

So what does it mean for Hung?  For now he is not responding to the press inquiry about his next step.   At the hearing, he was by himself.  His English was weak and his grasp for the law was weaker.   A month before, he  declared on his Website that he had retained the service of "one of the top legal firms in the country".  He was referring to the same one that just won a multi-million dollar judgement in Virginia for a defamation lawsuit brought on by Vietnamese-American woman.   In this case, she was libeled as a communist agent.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cheers in Little Saigon

In the wonderful Chrismas spirit of sharing and giving, three organizations within the Vietnamese-American community in San Jose have been giving out gifts to families with kids in the Bay Area.

Last Sunday,  Viet Dreams and Viet Tribune gave out 200 toys at the headquarters of Viet Tribune. Dave Cortese (President of Board of Supervisors, Santa Clara County) stopped by playing Santa Claus to the kids and then honored  Vivian Truong Gia Vy (Publisher of Viet Tribune)  with a commendation for her longtime contribution to the community in general

The day before, Asian American Center of Santa Clara County handed out 1,200 toys in their annual toy-for-kid event.  The nonprofit foundation is headed by Mylinh Pham who used to be the director of Viet Volunteer Foundation.

This coming Saturday, the Viet-American Voters Coalition will also have their first Christmas celebration where toys will also be given to low-income families.  It will be from 9 AM to 12 PM on 2290 Tully Road.