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VN News 02-03/08/97

Vietnam says last emperor Bao Dai missed his chance 
Three more arrests in Vietnam's widening corruption scandal 
Vietnamese In Cambodia Unnerved By Upheaval 
Hanoi Sheds few Tears for Death of Last Emperor 
Vietnam, India to Further Cooperation 
Child Protection Put on Agenda in Vietnam 
Vietnam Annual Stormy Season Claims First Lives 
Bao Dai, 83, of Vietnam; Emperor and Bon Vivant 
France hails Vietnam's late last emperor as a true friend 
Little reaction in Vietnam to death of last emperor 
Sixteen suspected Vietnamese gangsters to go on trial in Berlin 


Vietnam says last emperor Bao Dai missed his chance 

Hanoi, August 3 (AFP) - In its first official comment on the death of
Vietnam's last emperor, Bao Dai, Hanoi Sunday described the former
monarch as turning his back on the nascent communist state.

In a statement issued three days after Bao Dai died in exile in Paris
at the age of 83, the foreign ministry said he had abandoned his post
as "adviser" to the Vietnamese government of Ho Chi Minh formed in

"It is regrettable that not long afterward, Bao Dai did not respond to
this great wish," said the statement.

Bao Dai (Keeper of Greatness) was the 13th emperor of the Nguyen
Dynasty, who took his title as emperor at age 13 in 1925 but did not
assume official duties at the imperial capital of Hue until six years

Known for his fondness of hunting and women, the emperor was
considered by most as a puppet of his colonial french masters.

He formally abdicated in August 1945 after Ho Chi Minh declared the
Republic of Vietnam, and was for a time "supreme adviser" in the Ho
Chi Minh government before withdrawing to Hong Kong.

He returned to Vietnam in 1949 and proclaimed an anti-communist state
under French protection, serving briefly as monarch.

After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, he was deposed in
April 1955 following a referendum organised by his prime minister, Ngo
Dinh Diem.

In contrast to the Vietnamese reaction, the French foreign ministry on
Friday hailed Vietnam's last emperor as a true friend of France in a
message of condolence.

French foreign ministry deputy spokesman Yves Doutriaux described Bao
Dai as "a sincere friend of France, profoundly steeped in French
culture" and added that he had been caught up in " Vietnam's destiny
during a difficult period of its history."


Three more arrests in Vietnam's widening corruption scandal 

Hanoi, Aug 3 (AFP) - Three more people have been caught in a widening
net around Vietnam's biggest ever corruption scandal, a report said on

Two employees of Minh Phung Trading Company were arrested for their
alleged part in a complex scheme in which state banks were allegedly
defrauded of hundreds of millions of dollars, the Quan Doi Nhan Dan
daily said.

Trong Ba Tung and Vu Ngoc Binh, who worked at Minh Phung's Planning
and Investment Department, were arrested for "embezzling socialist
funds," by allegedly helping Minh Phung and its affiliates secure
loans illegally from state banks.

A third person, Tran Van Lac, director of a private company linked to
EPCO, Minh Phung's principal affiliate, was arrested for alleged
complicity in fraudulent activities.

EPCO and Minh Phung established more than 40 shell companies used by
the group to rack up debts of close to 720 million dollars, the paper

The bulk of the group's debt was reportedly owed to state-owned
Industrial and Commercial Bank of Vietnam (Incombank) believed to have
lent Minh Phung more than 320 million dollars.

Minh Phung's troubles first surfaced in March when its director and
that of its affiliate company Epco Ltd. were arrested on fraud charges
in Ho Chi Minh City.

A total of 36 people have been arrested in the case, which appears to
have involved massive collusion by state bank employees, and has also
affected foreign banks who have not been paid letters of credit issued
in the name of Minh Phung.

One person also died under mysterious circumstances in connection with
the scandal. The badly decomposed body of a Minh Phung employee was
found on the rooftop of Incombank in Ho Chi Minh City on May 31.
Police have not ruled out foul play.


Vietnamese In Cambodia Unnerved By Upheaval 

The New York Times

TACHES, Cambodia, Aug. 1 -- When fighting broke out during last
month's coup, some of the first people to seize their belongings and
flee Phnom Penh were ethnic Vietnamese. They knew what might happen to
them if the capital dissolved into chaos.

Ancient rulers and ancient enemies of Cambodia, the Vietnamese have
often in recent decades found themselves the scapegoats for the
country's troubles, and sometimes the targets of massacres.

As many as 500,000 ethnic Vietnamese now live in this nation of 10
million people, mostly working in low-level jobs.

In this fishing village 35 miles north of the capital, Vietnamese
residents retreated onto their boats when the fighting started, ready
to head for the border of Vietnam as they have in the past.

"It is quiet now but we are still afraid," said Ho Van Xai, a
fisherman whose 25-year-old son bears the scars on his face of bullet
wounds suffered during an attack that left 15 people dead here four
years ago.

The massacre of Vietnamese in Taches was one of several in recent
years by the Khmer Rouge, for whom hatred of Vietnam is a basic
principle. Even now, the Khmer Rouge rally their guerrillas by telling
them they are fighting to liberate the country from the Vietnamese.

The Khmer Rouge continue to press this line in radio broadcasts even
as they assert that they have rejected the politics of their founder,
Pol Pot. "It is Vietnam's historical plot to swallow up Cambodia and
annihilate Cambodians," said a recent broadcast.

The theme finds a resonance among many Cambodians.

"Pol Pot did many bad things, but he saved Cambodia," said a
gift-shop owner, who like many Cambodians these days would speak about
politics only on condition of anonymity. "If it were not for Pol Pot,
the Vietnamese would have taken over and Cambodia would be gone."

Some younger Cambodians go so far as to say that the Khmer Rouge
themselves must have acted under the Vietnam's sway when they caused
the deaths of more than a million people during their years in power,
from 1975 to 1979.

But when the Khmer Rouge play on anti-Vienamese notions in their
broadcasts, they have a particular target in mind: Cambodia's de facto
leader, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was first put in power by
Hanoi after a Vietnamese invasion that ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

For the last two months, their broadcasts have rarely failed to take a
swipe at Mr. Hun Sen as a traitorous " Vietnamese puppet."

Though much weakened, the Khmer Rouge still appears to be angling for
a coalition with the royalist forces of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who
was ousted this month as First Prime Minister in a coup by Mr. Hun

Prince Ranariddh himself had tried to exploit anti- Vietnamese
sentiment before the coup. Earlier this year, the Prince began to
grumble about Vietnamese border violations and threatened force, much
as the Khmer Rouge had done in the late 1970's.

The nation's borders with Vietnam on the east and Thailand on the west
have expanded and contracted over the centuries, and the antipathy
between Cambodia and Vietnam has remained particularly strong.

Although it was Vietnam that liberated Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge,
the decade-long Vietnamese occupation that followed convinced many
Cambodians of Hanoi's continuing designs on their nation.

This difficult history has put ethnic Vietnamese like the fishermen
here in Taches in a limbo of near-statelessness, born and raised in
Cambodia but ready to board their boats and flee at any moment.

Several people here said they would already have left for Vietnam if
they had some place there to settle.

Asked where his home was in Vietnam, a 56-year-old villager, Ngo Van
Xeng, shouted: "I don't know! We were all born here. Our home is
here. My father and my mother -- their fathers and their mothers -- we
are all from Cambodia!"


Hanoi Sheds few Tears for Death of Last Emperor 

HANOI, Vietnam (Reuter) - Vietnam broke its silence Sunday over the
death of its last emperor, Bao Dai, and said the exiled monarch had
failed history by refusing to take part in the building of its
communist state.

A Foreign Ministry statement said Bao Dai, who died in a Paris
military hospital Thursday at the age of 83 after four decades in
exile, had rejected an olive branch offered by the newly formed
post-World War II government of President Ho Chi Minh.

"This is maybe the only such occasion in history where this (such
leniency) has happened," the statement said. "Unfortunately, not
long after that he failed to live up to the good will."

Bao Dai, the last king in Vietnam's Nguyen Dynasty, earned a
reputation as a playboy emperor through a hedonistic lifestyle spent
mostly outside Vietnam. He abdicated in 1945.

Officially sanctioned accounts of his depict him as a puppet of French
colonial rule in Indochina and as a collaborator with the wartime
Japanese occupying forces.

Born Nguyen Vinh Thuy in 1913, he took the title Bao Dai (Keeper of
Greatness) at the age of thirteen before assuming his royal duties at
the imperial capital in Hue six years later.

His rule ended in 1945 when Ho Chi Minh's communist forces seized on
the end of Japanese occupation in Vietnam to proclaim an independent
republic in an attempt to forestall the return of French colonialism.

In front of thousands of people in Hue, he handed over his sword and
royal seal to the new administration and was renamed Citizen Nguyen
Vinh Thuy.

But he later rejected a role of adviser offered by Ho. He left for
Hong Kong in 1946 to return briefly as interim premier, and was
briefly reinstalled by the French as monarch.

Bao Dai left Vietnam permanently following the final defeat of
France's colonial forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

France paid tribute to him on Friday as "a true friend of our
country." Hanoi's statement said Vietnam had sent condolences to his


Vietnam, India to Further Cooperation 

HANOI (Aug. 3) XINHUA - Vietnam and India have agreed to push forward
their cooperation in a vast range of areas, and try better to strike a
balance in bilateral trade.

The agreement was reached at the 8th meeting of the Vietnam-India
Joint Commission for Economic, Cultural, Scientific and Technological
Cooperation. The meeting closed here Saturday.

The two sides, as quoted by the Vietnamese press today, said they
would work together to increase their bilateral trade to 200 million
U.S. dollars by the end of the decade.

The early signing of a Vietnamese-Indian agreement on marine transport
would help boost trade between the two countries, said the commission.

So far, Indian investment in Vietnam has totaled about 100 million
dollars and many Indian companies are showing interest in the
Vietnamese market, the reports said.


Child Protection Put on Agenda in Vietnam 

HANOI (Aug. 3) XINHUA - The Vietnamese government will include the
protection of children from drug addiction, sexual and labor abuses in
a three-year plan now in the making, the local press reported today.

Vietnam is determined to stop such abuses as much as possible, an
official of the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs was
quoted as saying by the local press.

As noted by a representative of the United Nations Children's Fund in
this Vietnamese capital, child labor appeared to be a relatively new
phenomenon in Vietnam.

National demographic surveys in 1989 showed that more than one million
Vietnamese children were engaged in family economic production. Of the
total, about 120,000 were hired laborers.

Currently, children account for 34.3 percent of Vietnam's total
population of about 76 million. The number of children aged between
six and 15 is about 18 million.

Up to 90 percent of Vietnamese children living in rural areas are
believed to be working with their parents in the fields.


Vietnam Annual Stormy Season Claims First Lives 

Hanoi (AP)--Downpours that hit northern Vietnam in recent days have
killed at least four people and caused thousands of dollars of damage,
according to an official report Saturday.

Four people drowned in the northern province of Phu Tho, 110
kilometers northwest of Hanoi, when torrential rain triggered flash

The rain caused landslides and damaged key roads and irrigation dams,
the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

More than 6,000 hectares of rice fields and 200 homes in the province
were swamped, the news agency reported.

Weeks of heavy rain have raised water levels in major rivers
throughout northern Vietnam. Protective dikes that hold back rivers
and reservoirs are threatened with gaping holes and landslides.

Both in the north and the south, thousands of hectares of rice and
vegetable crops have been flooded and remain under water.

Although rain stopped Saturday, whole harvests may be ruined if the
excess water doesn't run off quickly, state-run media reported. In
southern Vietnam's Mekong delta, farmers were harvesting their rice
crops early to avoid losses.

In 1996, more than a thousand people were killed and millions of
dollars worth of property were lost during the months-long flooding in
the country.


Bao Dai, 83, of Vietnam; Emperor and Bon Vivant 

The New York Times

Bao Dai, the last Emperor in a line that held the throne in Vietnam
for a century and a half, died on Thursday in France, where he spent
nearly half of his life in exile after abdicating in 1945. The French
Defense Ministry, which made the announcement yesterday, said he died
in a military hospital in Paris at the age of 83.

Despite the hopes of Vietnamese nationalists early in the century that
Bao Dai might emerge as a pioneer of Vietnamese independence, he was
often seen as the puppet of others -- first, the French colonialists,
then the Japanese occupiers of World War II, then the Communist
movement led by Ho Chi Minh, then the French again.

He finally left Vietnam in the mid-1950's, when he was deposed in a
rigged referendum that abolished the monarchy. He played almost no
role in his homeland thereafter, choosing instead a hedonistic life in
Paris and along the Riviera that centered around golf, bridge
tournaments and women.

Born Prince Nguyen Vinh Thuy on Oct. 22, 1913, he was given the
imperial name Bao Dai (which is pronounced bah-oh dye and means
"Keeper of Greatness") on his succession as Emperor in 1926, when he
was 12.

With France the colonial ruler, he was sovereign in little more than
title, and the French appointed a regent to manage the court's
activities while Bao Dai completed his education in Paris.

He returned home to the imperial city of Hue in 1932, assuming the
ceremonial duties of the 13th Emperor of the Nguyen dynasty.

Despite the limitations of his authority, Bao Dai championed reforms
in the judicial and educational systems, and he tried to put an end to
the more outdated trappings of Vietnamese royalty. He ended the
ancient mandarin custom that once required aides to touch their
foreheads to the ground when addressing the Emperor.

But he became far better known for his leisure activities. He
established an early reputation as an adventurer and playboy, devoting
weeks at a time to hunting expeditions in the Vietnamese rain forests.

He is believed to have singlehandedly bagged a large percentage of
Vietnam's tigers. He preferred to track the tigers into their dens,
with a lamp attached to his head and a rifle at his side.

He displayed no similar courage in dealing with the Japanese when they
swept across Southeast Asia and occupied Vietnam during World War II.
Bao Dai was allowed to retain his throne in hopes that his presence
would demonstrate continuity and quiet the population. With defeat
looming in March 1945, the Japanese declared Vietnam an independent
country under Bao Dai.

When Japan surrendered, the Vietnamese Communists under Ho Chi Minh
declared themselves to be Vietnam's new rulers and proclaimed the
Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Bao Dai, whose Government was tainted
by its collaboration with the Japanese, agreed to abdicate in exchange
for an appointment as "supreme adviser" to Ho Chi Minh.

It soon became clear, however, that the Communists had no intention of
sharing any power with the former Emperor. And with France attempting
to reassert its colonial claim to northern and central Vietnam by
force, Bao Dai left for exile in Hong Kong and China.

In 1949 he was coaxed home by the French, who saw him as a possible
alterative to Ho Chi Minh, whose guerrillas were then at war with the
French colonial army.

Bao Dai returned to Vietnam with the titles of Premier and -- again --
Emperor. His Government was recognized by the United States and
Britain in 1950, but it never won widespread popular support.

As before, Bao Dai seemed to take less interest in governing Vietnam
than in perfecting a lavish life style. He left major decisions to his
French-backed advisers, preferring instead to spend his time with his
many mistresses at his hunting lodge in the cool highlands of central

When the 1954 peace accord between the French and the Communists
resulted in the division of Vietnam into North and South, Bao Dai and
his advisers tried to assume true power in South Vietnam.

But he was thwarted by the American-backed Premier, Ngo Dinh Diem, who
organized a referendum in 1955 that deposed Bao Dai and ended the
monarchy. Diem was himself later ousted and assassinated in an
American-backed coup.

As war erupted between the United States and the Communists, Bao Dai
remained largely silent about the convulsions of his homeland.

But in 1972, in a rare public statement, issued in France, he appealed
to the Vietnamese people for national reconciliation. "The time has
come to put an end to the fratricidal war and to recover at last peace
and accord," he said.

Having squandered most of his royal fortune, he spent the final years
of his life in a modest Paris apartment. In 1972 his 84-year-old
mother, who remained in Vietnam after his departure, was reported to
have sold off the family porcelain to help her only son in his exile.

His first wife, Nguyen Huu Thi Lan, died in 1968. The next year he
married Monique Baudot. From the two marriages, he had two sons and
four daughters.

04:16 EDT August 2, 1997


France hails Vietnam's late last emperor as a true friend 

PARIS, Aug 1 (AFP) - The French foreign ministry on Friday hailed the
last emperor in Vietnam Bao Dai as a true friend of France in a
message of condolences following the former ruler's death.

French Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Yves Doutriaux described Bao
Dai as "a sincere friend of France, profoundly steeped in French
culture" and added that he had been caught up in " Vietnam's destiny
during a difficult period of its history."

"France pays tribute to his actions and presents its sincere
condolences to his family and friends," Doutriaux continued.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of France's extreme-right National Front,
issued a communique calling Bao Dai "a patriot, a friend of France,"
adding: "it is somehow a part of the French memory in Indochina that
is disappearing."

Bao Dai's widow Princess Vinh Thuy, announced on Friday that her
husband had died in Paris aged 83 on Thursday.

He reigned from 1925 until August 25, 1945, when he abdicated after Ho
Chi Minh proclaimed the Republic of Vietnam. He had lived in exile in
France since 1955.


Little reaction in Vietnam to death of last emperor 

Hanoi, Aug 1 (AFP) - The death of Vietnam's last emperor on Friday
evoked little reaction in Vietnam with no official comment and not
even a mention in the evening television news.

One Vietnamese journalist said that the emperor's death was unlikely
to arose much interest here.

"He was the last king, but that was more than 50 years ago. Most of
the youth today have probably never even heard of him," he said.

The former emperor of Annam, in what is now Vietnam, Bao Dai, died in
France at the age of 83 his widow, Princess Vinh Thuy, announced on

Reaction did come from an official of the former South Vietnamese

"We regret his death and think there is a place for him in history,"
said Nguyen Xuan Oanh, who served twice as acting prime minister of
South Vietnam in 1965 and 1966.

"He was the last emporer of Nguyen Dynasty, and he performed his
function well at a time when the country was shifting from old
government to a revolutionary one," he added.

Bao Dai was the royal name of Nguyen Vinh Thuy, the last emperor of
Annam, reigning between 1925 and 1945. He abdicated on August 25, 1945
after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Republic of Vietnam, and had lived in
France since 1955.

Vinh, a Frenchwoman who became Bao Dai's second wife after the death
of Empress Nam Phuong in 1963, said the former emperor died at
Val-de-Grace military hospital here. She said his funeral would take
place at the Saint-Pierre de Chaillot church in the capital on

Annam was formerly an independent state in what is now Vietnam.

Bao Dai was for a time "supreme advisor" in the Ho Chi Minh government
before withdrawing to Hong Kong. He returned to Vietnam in 1949 and
proclaimed an anti-communist state under French protection.

After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, he was deposed in
April 1955 following a referendum organised by his prime minister, Ngo
Dinh Diem.

"He went away hoping he could do something for Vietnam but his role
was very limited," said Oanh.


Sixteen suspected Vietnamese gangsters to go on trial in Berlin 

By Clive Freeman

Berlin (dpa) - He called himself "Ngoc Thien" - the compassionate
one - but in reality police allege Le Duy Bao, 26, was anything but
that as he spread a bloody trail of terror among Vietnamese cigarette
dealers in Germany, from whom he was demanding "protection money".

Le Duy Bao, along with 15 other suspected Vietnamese gangsters goes on
trial in Berlin on August 8, charged with nine counts of murder,
extortion, weapons offences and creating an unlawful crime syndicate.

He is also accused of playing a key role in the murders in Berlin in
May 1996 of six members of the rival "Quang Binh" band, who died in
an outlying prefabricated city apartment block from a hail of bullets
to the head.

Le Duy Bao, it is claimed, personally ordered their Mafia-style
liquidation, apparently after they had refused to divulge the
whereabouts of their gang boss.

Ever since the collapse of communism, Vietnamese gangland bosses have
been waging a brutal war of attrition in Berlin, and in other eastern
German cities such as Chemnitz, Rostock, Dresden and Halle for control
of the cigarette smuggling trade.

The German authorities have been shocked by the scale of the savagery
displayed by rival gangs in recent years.

In Berlin alone, 39 Vietnamese black market cigarette dealers have
been murdered since 1992, a total of 19 in 1996 alone, when the
violence reached its peak, and police set up special units to combat
the terror.

Ten of the accused Vietnamese who will be standing trial were arrested
in police swoops in July last year. But the alleged gang ringleaders
remained at large. Then, last autumn came a double breakthrough for
the police.

On September 23, 1996, a special police commando burst into a flat in
Berlin's Tiergarten district to apprehend suspected "killer" boss Le
Duy Bao, along with a 24-year-old deputy, and his then 15-year-old
girl friend.

A few weeks later 30-year-old Tran Van Tiu, whom the authorities
reckon is a long-year boss of the rival Quan Binh gang, was held in
another police raid, this time in the eastern town of Meissen.

The series of crack-downs were completed in December, when a gun
battle in Berlin flared between members of the Ngoc-Thien gang and a
rival group known as the Tri Bom Rebels, resulted in eight more
alleged mobsters going into the police drag-net.

Berlins relieved police chief, Hagen Saberschinsky, claimed afterwards
gang "structures" had largely been decimated by the police actions.

Certainly, since then Vietnamese gang violence has dwindled
dramatically. But this doesn't mean the trade in black-market
cigarette dealing in Germany has come to a halt.

However, Berlin customs officials maintain the illegal trade in
untaxed cigarettes, with such brand names as Marlboro and Camel,
continues to flourish in Berlin and in other towns in the east.

In January and February this year, 800 police proceedings were opened
against smugglers. Numbers of untaxed cigarettes confiscated by police
and customs teams did fall to 3.2 million in those months, compared to
5.1 million in the same period in 1996.

But customs investigators say this is probably due to the regrouping
of gangs masterminding the trade.

Police officials confirm Vietnamese dealers are devising new and more
direct ways of getting cigarettes to customers. They say they are also
changing their addresses more frequently to avoid detection.

That way they are more frequently able to avoid payment of crippling
sums of "protection money" to gangster bosses, they claim.