Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Circle of Life of Navy Captain Huan Nguyen


... Its the circle of life
All it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life.

Theme from "The Lion King"

As the news spread about the nomination of Navy Captain Huấn Từ Nguyễn to be rear admiral, some astute studiers of the Vietnam War could not help but notice the captain's history.

At 14, Nguyen arrived in Guam as refugee right after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.  Seven years before, he was badly injured during the attack by the communist rebels during the surprise Tet Offensive.   Some of the rebels pretended to be civilians and infiltrated key areas in Saigon.   Nguyen's family was captured at their home in the early morning of the fight.  The rebels targeted his family because his dad, Lt. Colonel Tuan Nguyen, was the head of an armored division protecting the city.   His parents along with his 6 siblings and his 80 years old grandma were executed.  He was the only one in his family survived the brutality.  

A few days later, the communist rebel leader responsible for the killings, Lem Nguyen, was captured.  Hearing the cowardly and heartless massacre committed by Lem Nguyen, then Brigadier General Loan Nguyen, pulled out his revolver and summary executed Lem Nguyen at point blank.  The image was captured by Eddie Adams and seared into the American public opinion. The story of why Lem Nguyen met his death was never mentioned and the American press quickly condemned the action of Brigadier General Loan Nguyen as barbaric.  The photo became an icon of the brutality of an unwinnable war and helped galvanized the  anti-war movement.   

Eddie Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo.  However,  Adams believed he had destroyed Loan’s life.  He wrote years later,  “Two people died in that photograph, the recipient of the bullet and General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera.”  When Loan Nguyen died, Adams praised him as hero of a just cause.

Came to America as an orphan,  Huan Tu Nguyen, determined to make the best of his life and followed his dad's military career.  And soon, barring any unexpected circumstances,  he will become the first Vietnamese-American to be a rear admiral.  He will join 3 other Vietnamese-Americans to hold the general rank in the US armed forces.

The Vietnam War produced many tragedies, brought down administrations and a country, destroyed lives while created refugees and endless misery.  Yet, in the circle of life, the triumph of the human spirits,  of good over evil, of hope over despair, is indomitable. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Candidates for State Assembly D25

For a district where the majority is Asian American and with current Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D) resigning to run for Santa Clara County supervisor,  the following people have either filed or stated their intents to run -

Anna Song (D) - Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee

Jim Canova (D) - Santa Clara Unified Board of Education Trustee

Bob Brunton (R) - former Ohlone College Board of Trustee

Alex Lee (D) -  Legislative Aide

Rich Tran (D) - Mayor of Milpitas

Karina Dominguez - Vice Mayor of Milpitas

With about 210,000 votes up for grab, it is a wide open race and it will come down  to money and organizational support to be in the top two in the primary in March of 2020.    The conventional wisdom says that both Alex Lee and Bob Brunton are just for the ride with no serious contention.    

2020 Census Jobs

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Janet Nguyen Vying for MWDOC Board

Former State Senator Janet Nguyen told some of her closest friends that she is done sitting around being a housewife.  To keep her name active and also to have some supplemental income, she is putting her name for the vacant board seat of the Municipal Water District of Orange County.  The wholesale water supplier sells to 28 city water departments and water districts which supply water to more than two-thirds of Orange County population.

The position paid up to $30,000 a year plus another $20,000 of benefits.  There are at least 5 other candidates the board will also consider for the appointment.   Whoever the board chosen will have to run for election in 2020

After the interview, she thinks she has a good chance of being chosen by the board.  After all, she is more than qualified in comparison to her illustrious political career.  

Epilogue:  The MWDOC Board voted 4-0 in favor of former Fountain Valley Planning Commissioner Robert McVicker to the post.   Janet Nguyen hinted that she will run for the seat in 2020.   With more than $350,000 left over from her last campaign, Nguyen has a great chance of winning.  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Huy Tran For San Jose City Council D4

Huy Tran made it official with his campaign kickoff last weekend at Cataldi Park.  Despite pouring rain, over 70 supporters showed up to share their enthusiasm for his campaign.  Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D) gave praises about Tran as an activist on many issues affecting San Jose.  Milpitas Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez and Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwat were also at the event.

There are currently two candidates vying to unseat the incumbent Lan Diep who won the election 4 years ago  by 28 votes to another incumbent Manh Nguyen.   Lan Diep's lip service, self-center personality, and his disloyal to supporters remind Vietnamese-American voters of the controversial former City Councilmember Madison Nguyen.   This tension created by Diep opens the door for David Cohen, a school board trustee, and Huy Tran. 

The district is predominately Asian-American with about 20% Vietnamese-American registered voters.  The rest of the breakdown is 11.6% Chinese American, 9% Filipino, 5% Indian-American and 14.4% Latino.

Huy Tran is a lawyer specializes in labor law.  Until recently, he served on the Housing and Community Development Commission.  He is well known and liked in the Vietnamese-American community.    

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Karina Dominguez Enters Race for Assembly D25?

Milpitas Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez declared to people she met at various events last week  her candidacy for 25th California Assembly District.   She will be running against Milpitas Mayor Richard Tran and school board trustees Anna Song and Jim Canova from Santa Clara.  She has not yet made a formal announcement because she is waiting to see if she can cut a deal or two.

Dominguez was just elected as city councilmember in November 2018.    Just like Tran,  Milpitas is just too small for her political ambition.  But who could blame them, this is an opportunity of a life time.

The D-25  has about 210,000 registered voters.  The voting demographic is 33% Asian, 15% Latino and 45% White.   The area covers Newark, most of Fremont, Santa Clara, Milpitas, most of San Jose D4 and small part of Sunnyvale.

There are rumors of one potential candidate from San Jose and one from Fremont.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Vietnamese American Fine Art Exhibition

Kansen Chu and His Surprise

The Bay Area politics was abuzz when 3-term  Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D) decided to resign from his position and run for Santa Clara County supervisor to replace the outgoing Supervisor Dave Cortese. 

He gave a hint last summer when he put out feelers on who would want to run for state legislature office.  The discussion involved a number of elected officials within his district.

At 67 years old, he does not enjoy the traveling back and forth  and wants to be close to home with his family.

His decision has changed the election landscape in 2020 for Assembly D25 and County D3.  Both districts have a sizable number of Asian-American voters.

Chu is now the clear front runner.  He has carefully built his name recognition and image for the last 12 years in office. He is well liked and popular among his constituents.  Not only that he has quite a campaign war chest of over $600,000.   If he wins, he can possibly serve for 12 years or until he is 80 years old (and would hold the record to be the oldest serving supervisor).

Both former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee and San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco were considered to be the two likely candidates to win the primary and face each other in the general election.   Now there is a good chance that the race will be over in the primary with Chu winning 50% + 1.

Here is what likely will happen in the supervisorial race -

Without any realistic chance of winning, Milpitas Mayor Richard Tran will drop out of the race and run for state assembly.   He has reached out to Chu  hoping to strike a deal.  After all, he thinks he can deliver the Vietnamese-American vote for Chu (as well as Milpitas in general).  In reality, Chu is well respected and known in the community.

Tran is a controversial figure in the Vietnamese-American community.  He rarely attends events and is unknown outside of  Milpitas.  His brashness and rude behavior  have displeased many older Vietnamese voters.  It does not help that he openly supports Madison Nguyen and asked her to swear him in as the mayor of Milpitas.

D3 has about 16% Vietnamese-American registered voters which is about 1% more than Hispanic voters.  Overall, the Asian voting is bloc is almost 45% of the total registered voters.

Carrasco is not trusted by Labor Unions so they will support Chu.   This is an important seat since Supervisor Cindy Chavez will need an ally to replace Cortese in the county to get things done in her favor. 

Lee lost his  2008 supervisorial race against Dave Cortese for the same D3 seat.   He felt betrayed when Chu endorsed and supported Cortese despite the fact that Lee  went out of his way to help Chu won his San Jose City council seat in 2007.    Ironically, Chu is now his opponent.

For the state assembly race, the rumor is that current D4 Councilmember Lan Diep has thought about running.  In a wide open race, he has a good chance as any other candidate.   After all, his political career will be stuck with nowhere to go even if he wins his re-election in 2020.   The career path was to replace Kansen Chu when he terms out in 2026.  Diep is in for a re-election fight against David Cohen and Huy Tran. 

Similar to Richard Tran, Diep has not endeared himself to the Vietnamese-American community with his condescending personality and is often perceived as another young Madison Nguyen.

Since D25 has a sizable number of Indian-American voters, it would not be surprised to see Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwan  throwing his hat in the ring.  He is a moderate politician with a pro-business view.

Things will become clearer in the next few weeks since it is a short campaign season with the primary looming in March 2020.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past is Prologue

Internationally acclaimed artist Tiffany Chung (b. 1969, Da Nang, Vietnam) is known for her multimedia work that explores migration, conflict, and shifting geographies in the wake of political and natural upheavals. 

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has invited her to present work that responds to the Vietnam War, and its legacy on the culture and population of the United States. 

The project stems from the facts of her own life: Chung’s father was a pilot in the South Vietnamese army who fought alongside American forces, and the family immigrated to the U.S. as part of the post-1975 exodus from that country. Chung examines the narratives that have been used to understand the war and its aftermath, and probes how the America we know today was shaped by Vietnam.  

Through this work, Chung documents accounts that have largely been left out of official histories of the period and begins to tell an alternative story of the war’s ideology and effects.  A centerpiece of the exhibition is a new series of video interviews with former Vietnamese refugees who live in Houston, Southern California and Northern Virginia that was commissioned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.   

Vietnam, Past Is Prologue” is on view from March 15 through Sept. 2. The exhibition is organized by Sarah Newman, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Thank You America Monument Meeting


When: Monday, March 18th

 Time: 6PM to 8PM

Where:  Santa Clara County Board Chambers
              70 W. Hedding St.
               San José, CA 95119 Santa Clara County

Supervisor Dave Cortese, Supervisor Cindy Chavez, and San José Councilmember Maya Esparza invite you to join a community conversation on the status of the THANK YOU AMERICA Monument.

Your participation in this informative event is imperial. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend.  Any questions please contact our offices at:

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese: 408-299-5030
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez: 408-299-5020
San José City Councilmember Maya Esparza: 408-535-4907

We look forward to seeing you at this important meeting.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Update on Vietnamese American Service Center of Santa Clara County


Santa Clara County Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese invite you to celebrate the Lunar New Year with an exciting update about the Vietnamese American Service Center!

Upon completion, the VASC will deliver integrated, accessible and culturally responsive social and health services to support the local community, specifically the Vietnamese - American community. Its fundamental goal is connecting the community to the County services they need, in a seamless and collaborative model. The service center model will bring key County agencies together, to work in collaboration and address the overall needs of the community.

The February Community Engagement Session will provide the opportunity for the County to receive community feedback and input into the architectural design of the VASC.

February 15, 2019, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Santa Clara County Government Center
70 West Hedding St. 
San Jose, CA 95110

The event will start in Board Chambers and will follow with celebrations in the lower level Cafeteria (including food, games, performances and more!).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Inaugural Speech by Dr. Dzung Tien Kieu, MP

Firstly, the President, I congratulate you on your election to such a prestigious position. I also congratulate the newly elected members. I thank all the members, new and returning, for their warm welcome.

My presence here today started with the kindness and generosity of the Australian people, true to the spirit of our nation’s anthem:

“For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair”

I am standing here today to deliver my first speech in this Chamber. My journey to Parliament has been long and winding. To truly understand a person, one must dig deep and learn his or her journey rather than his or her destination. And so I beg your indulgence.

Before coming to Australia, life was all about survival for my family. My parents escaped from the communist held North Vietnam and fled to South Vietnam in an act of survival and to live a life without fear. They both joined a paratrooper division in the Republic of South Vietnam’s Military, where they met. This was before conscription, mind you. They felt so strongly about protecting freedom that they volunteered to enlist. More so remarkable for a woman in that era to voluntarily join such an elite and dangerous unit.

I was their first child, and in what seemed to be a continuation of horrid luck for my parents – I was diagnosed with a critical illness.

They prepared to sell whatever they had and do whatever it took to cure me. All of the biggest hospitals in Saigon refused to take a chance on what was seen as a hopeless case. Except one. Except one French hospital, perhaps out of mercy or an intrigue to experiment on an unusual illness.

On the day of the operation, without money for a cab ride, my parents walked kilometres with me, a baby, in their arms. They arrived at the hospital only to learn that the operation was cancelled so that the surgeons could celebrate the coming Christmas.

As fate had it, the relative of another patient overheard the conversation and suggested to my parents to try a doctor specialising in herbal medicine. Out of desperation, my parents sought out the doctor, thanks to whom I survived, without any surgery.

As a child I went to bed not with the harmonies of lullabies, but amidst the sound of explosions from artillery and bombs. I was mostly fed not on the milk of my mother, who was often away on missions, but with sweetened condensed milk bought from army

In my childhood, I witnessed the violence and atrocities of the war around me. Death and destruction felled upon so many around me that soon I perceived everything from the shudder of explosions, and the echoes of gunfire as lesser than extraordinary, and rather, as simply ‘ordinary’.

Then 1975 came. The communists took over South Vietnam. But the war did not end there. The victors opened up another front on the people of the South. They sent hundreds of thousands to the so-called “re-education camps” in the most remote corners of the country.

There were no sentenced terms, the detained had to stay in the camp until deemed sufficiently re-educated at the pleasure and mercy of the authorities.

Some were there for decades. Many did not survive. To this day countless bodies have never been found.

Meanwhile, their families were not spared either. They were stripped of their livelihood, their houses confiscated and the people sent to new-economic zones to endure hardship. Education and employment were dished out based on personal history, the history not just of oneself but of one’s three generations. Opportunities were reserved only for Party
members and their families.

It was a realisation of Orwell’s world: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

We simply had to find a way to escape Vietnam by whatever means for a life of freedom, a life without oppression and fear. We tried so many times. All failed.

On two occasions, out of despair and desperation, we tried a petrol tanker with a tank of about 8 metres long and 2 metres high, divided into three chambers. We planned to drive the tanker into the sea and float the tank as a vessel with a fitted an engine and propeller to the end chamber. The daring escape did not eventuate. The tanker did not make it to the waters, as it became bogged down in the sand. It may still be on display today somewhere in Central Vietnam.

On another occasion, a boat capsized with more than 30 of my close relatives on board. Most did not make it.

In the end, we split up and I boarded a small boat only 13 metres long and 4 metres wide together with 107 other souls. We endured five days and five nights at sea with very little food and water. Each person received about two canteen capfuls of water per day. To further exasperate matters, we were attacked by pirates not once but twice. Not short of a miracle, we somehow made it to the shores of Malaysia.

Yet we were the lucky few. Others have gone through unimaginably horrendous stories. Many perished at sea because of starvation, of thirst, or by the hand of pirates. There is no way to know the exact number of those who died. Some estimates put it at hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.

“Those are the deaths I will live for”, so I vowed to myself. Years later I had the chance to dedicate my PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh “To my parents, my teachers and to my high seas companions –the Boat People.”

The Australian’s came to the Malaysian refugee camp, took us in on humanitarian grounds and gave us safe passage to Brisbane in 1980.

When I first arrived in Australia, I could not believe that there could exist such a humane society outside of fairy tales. Opportunities were abundant, and I took them with open arms.

Starting right away I took a job as a labourer working with asbestos for some time before barging my way into the University of Queensland, where I was awarded the University Gold Medal upon graduation. The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan then took me to the University of Edinburgh for my PhD studies.

After that I spent three years as a research fellow at the University of Oxford before returning to Australia to take up a fellowship at the University of Melbourne in 1991. Then a position at the CSIRO, professorial fellowships at Swinburne University of Technology and Melbourne University.

My mathematical background has also afforded me the opportunity to dabble in financial algorithmic trading, in data science and artificial intelligence.

Science has been my passion and still is one of the loves of my life. Science is full of wonders and order, the kind of orderliness that I often sought refuge in during my teenage years in Saigon. Science was an escapism to get away from the surrounding chaos and cruelty.

Science has taken me to many magnificent institutions around the globe –as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University, to visiting scientist at MIT and Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. I have made many life-long friends in the scientific circles. I have had my fair share of discoveries, and of course controversies.


Given that background, I am very much interested in science issues and policies for our State.

Australia is often regarded as a lucky country with abundant raw resources. But in our time and age, we have to compete in an environment of increasingly sophisticated science, technology and innovation. The low-hanging fruits have been harvested. Genetic engineering, data science and artificial intelligence, to name a few, are now crucial for new
economic growth.

Quantum computers, quantum algorithms and quantum technologies in general are advancing at great speed thanks to large investments in advanced economies. They will be paying huge dividends in not too far a future, if not already, in creating new applications and markets.

Science and technology have been impacting many aspects of our lives, our living standards, our culture and even social justice. Advances in renewable energy technologies and extreme climate management, in particular, will be coming from scientific research and technological breakthroughs.

Science and technology together co-evolve in a symbiotic manner. Victoria leads not only the nation but also the world in some fields of scientific research. We need to nurture and expand our scientific advantage. Research and development is expensive but it is not only an investment in our state, but the world itself.

The Victorian Labor governments over the last two decades have invested heavily in R&D which has given our state undeniable advantages in scientific advancement, but we could always do more or shift our resources to suitably targeted areas as the times in which we live in now present global catastrophes as a commonplace concern rather than a rarity.

Our own supply of skills in science and technology is in serious shortage. The trend indicates a steady decline in the number of young people having an interest in the subjects of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To arrest the decline we need to start with high school students, if not younger. We need to encourage more participation in STEM as subjects of excitement and intrigue as well as of relevance and for all genders.

As a person driven to science at a relatively young age thanks to the influence of my teachers, I appreciate very much their role in guiding and imparting not only their knowledge but also their passion to students. I will fight to have more teachers not only given the resources to become highly skilled in educating students in the field of STEM, but also ;to foster a climate where their passion and interest is undeniably contagious to their students.

Furthermore, another pursuit that I have endeavoured upon pertains to the importance of multiculturalism. In our state of Victoria, nearly 50% were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. The South Eastern Metropolitan Region that I represent is the most culturally and linguistically diverse region of Victoria, with people coming from 160 ethnic groups and nationalities; and more than 200 languages spoken. Springvale, in particular, boasts a diverse populace, where more than 70% of people were born outside Australia. The City of Greater Dandenong is the most multicultural and multi-faith place on

But such a success does not just happen by chance. It demands the deep commitment of all the people involved. It requires the unity in common values of liberty, justice and equality of opportunity.

“Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone,” as Tom Perez put it.

Labor acknowledges that migration promotes significant long term social and economic benefits to our society. Labor welcomes migrants into our community - including many who come as refugees or people seeking asylum.

Labor understands the need to raise awareness of the benefits of a vibrant and tolerant community that balances cultural identity with the need to recognise and respect the beliefs of others.

Victorian Labor Government’s multicultural policy with its supporting campaign “Victorian. And proud of it” has reaffirmed our government’s commitment to the ideals of multiculturalism and continued to provide a positive way forward for maintaining our strong and socially inclusive society.

We too must remember that the cultures that make up a multicultural society have their own needs. Take the Indochinese community as an example, many young people came to these shores escaping their war torn countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 70’s and 80’s. They have worked hard and contributed extensively to their family, community and country. Now, more than 40 years later, they and their parents are reaching the stage of their lives where care, whether it is home care, residential care or health care in general, is needed.

Aged care is a growing problem of demand and supply for our society, as our population is ageing fast, particularly with the baby-boomer generation. And more so for the ethnospecific aged care requirements. The care provided must be appropriate to their culture, religion, language and dietary needs. This will ensure that both their welfare and dignity are
cared for.

The Andrews Labor Government already has long-term plans and investment commitments to support ethno-specific aged care. But with the coming wave of care requirements for the post 1975 refugees from Indochina, further consideration and planning will be needed urgently.

Above mentioned are some areas of my passionate interests, and I look forward to working with the concerned ministers and all parliamentary members to make further progress in these domains.


The Buddha has taught us that gratitude is necessary for integrity.

Today is the second day of the Lunar New Year of the Pig. It is, in our custom and tradition, the occasion to pay respect to our ancestors on this day; and I would like to add to that those who fought and died or are still fighting for freedom and for basic rights for humans.

I am beholden to my parents for all the sacrifices they have made. I am grateful to all my teachers and mentors who have shown me the possibilities, turning a sometimes wayward boy to the person I am. I am a better person thanks to you in no small part.

I simply cannot name all the individuals who have helped me. But I want to specifically thank Hung Tran, Loi Truong, Trung Doan, Tuan Dao, Hung Doan, Kim Doan, Daniel Mulino, Anthony Byrne, Adem Somyurek, Ben Davis, Steve Michelson, Declan Williams, and especially Luke Donnellan for introducing and unflinchingly supporting me in my political endeavours and for their instrumental help for my campaign.

I also want to acknowledge the help from the Australian Workers’ Union, the community, the supporters, volunteers, and my friends, of whom many are here today in the Gallery.

Thank you. I am so glad that our paths have crossed. Words are insufficient to express my debt and gratitude to my wife of 39 years for everything, from giving up her food ration in the refugee camp to feed an exhausted and hungry husband to sharing with me all the burdens and hardships that life has thrown at us. Without her love, encouragement, support and understanding I would not be where I am today.

To my beloved daughters, I am proud of you.

I am honoured to be a part of the Labor movement, it is unflinching in its elevation of inclusiveness, progressiveness and the right for everyone to find opportunity equally.

I have participated in social and community activities for nearly my entire life. From volunteering during my student days to eventually founding multiple volunteer media organisations, some lasting over 20 years. My participation in politics at this stage of my life, even though I have never dare to dream or believed it was possible when first setting
foot in Australia, is yet another attempt to repay this country.

I am humbled to be elected and I take with utmost seriousness my responsibility, for the community as well as for my constituency, who has bestowed upon me the great honour and privilege to serve.

I have had a second life full of possibility, all thanks to Australia. For that I am eternally grateful. I owe this country an unrepayable debt. All I can do is try to reduce that debt, and I assure you that I will do my best.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Janet Nguyen Can't Let Go

Apparently after losing her state senatorial election in an upset last year,  Janet Nguyen still could not let go of the  fact that she is out of office and not representing anybody anymore. 

In annual Tet Parade in Westminster,  Nguyen paid $300 to be in the parade and had her husband (Tom Bonikowski) drove their classic car behind a banner declaring herself still Senator Janet Nguyen.

She has been the mainstay of the parade as an elected official since the first parade 10 years ago.  But this year, she was no where to be found.

 In the meantime, the true  state senator representing most of Little Saigon, retired Colonel Tom  Umberg, could be seen marching with his supporters waving both the Vietnamese and American flags.

  Janet Nguyen clearly was either delusional or trying to trick the voters to think that she is still representing them.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Salt Stained Exhibit

About the Exhibit
In Vietnamese, the word nước translates to water, nhà translates to home, and both words translate to country. When you remove nước from the Southeast Asian body, what’s left is our salt stained skin—a reminder that we’ve crossed oceans to leave the nước that nourished us, the nước that was our livelihood, and the nước nhà we once called home. Home is the place we come back to, the place we miss when we leave, and the place we return to for comfort.
Salt Stained: HOME is a showcase for communal storytelling through works of art by four Southeast Asian artists whose stories challenge dominant narratives, whose salt-stained bodies stayed afloat as we cast out our ropes and held onto one another, leaving behind a legacy of ripples.
Artists featured: 
Salt Stained is part of New Terrains: Mobility and Migration, a series of cross-disciplinary exhibitions and programs that explore how bodies move through social and political spaces in Silicon Valley beginning in the spring of 2018 and continuing into 2019. The project addresses timely topics such as bicycle transportation and urban planning, navigation and orientation, public protest, immigration, and migration. Details are online at

Thursday, January 3, 2019

An Unforgiving Richard Tran - Mayor of Milpitas

There are two Vietnamese-Americans elected to Milpitas City Council.  This is a small city nestled between San Jose and Fremont.  The city population of about 77,000 people is split evenly among Vietnamese, Filipino, Hispanic and non-Hispanic White.   The rest are mostly Chinese and Indian ethnic groups. 

During the last election, as Mayor Richard Tran was campaigning for his mayoral re-election, Councilmember Anthony Phan under the pretense of South Bay SV Communication Coalition PAC sent a hit piece against Tran associating him with Vietnamese communist government.   At first, there was denial but later, Phan was forced to admit that it was his own doing in support of another mayoral candidate, Bob Nunez,  running against Richard Tran.

Tran promptly denounced Phan and called for his resignation by December 31, 2018 or he would personally recall him.

On the last day of the council session of 2018,  Phan issued an apology in person to Tran:

There’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now. I wanted to wait until today, in front of your supporters, Mayor Tran. Unfortunately, I was hoping that I could have done this before we recessed, but that’s all right. I wanted to wait until today, in front of your supporters and the community, to say to you, Mr. Mayor, that I am truly sorry for the lines I crossed several weeks ago. It was a severe lapse in my judgment that I have no excuses for. I was by no means proud of it, and I take full, complete responsibility, and I am deeply sorry. I know many of you may find this difficult to believe, but I personally harbor no feelings of hatred towards you, Mayor Tran. I disagree with you on a host of issues, and you don’t need me to remind you of that. I’ve been very vocal, and I will likely remain that way. But I will limit the political disagreements to just that — political disagreements. Nothing more. I am committed to engaging in productive political discourse where we can agree to disagree and seek to find common ground where it exists. I apologize to your family, who I know are good people, decent people, and they are very proud of you, as they should be. You’ve accomplished greatly. And I want to say to them, and I’m sure you can relay this to them, that I apologize for my own lack of decency. And to the community: I was elected to serve. To the community that I love, and quite frankly, the community that I let down, I am truly sorry. I’ve learned greatly from this experience, and going forward I will return to the politics of optimism that inspired me into public service in the first place. And I will work tirelessly to regain your confidence. Lastly, I congratulate incoming Councilmembers Carmen and Karina on your successful elections, as well as you, Mr. Mayor, on your successful elections. And I look forward to working with each and every single one of you to better serve our residents. Thank you and I wish everyone here and their families good health throughout the holidays.

Tran did not respond to Phan's apology during the session.  However, afterward talking to some of his supporters, he said the apology was too late and he still thinks that Phan should resign or be recalled. 

This is not unexpected of Tran for he is well known for his bravado and self-serving attitude in the Vietnamese-American community. 

With so many young Vietnamese-American being put in office by the Vietnamese American voters because they simply have the Vietnamese last names, it has been both a blessing and  curse for the community.