A major diplomatic incident could be triggered by a diehard
right-wing Vietnamese group in Sydney, with the naive complicity of the
Fairfield City Council.
John Percy, Sydney
Vietnamese paper claims that the council has officially sponsored a flag-raising
ceremony on November 28 for the flag of Washington's defunct South Vietnamese
puppet regime, overthrown by the Communist-led Vietnamese national liberation
movement in 1975. In addition, it claims that the council has contributed $6000
to the cost of construction of four flagpoles.
November 4 edition of the Vietnamese language Saigon Times triumphantly
plasters the Fairfield council's support for the flag-raising ceremony across
its front page, claiming that “Australia officially recognises the national flag
of the Republic of Vietnam” and that an “official flag raising ceremony will be
organised on November 28, 2004, at Cabra-Vale Park”.
headlines and story are accompanied by a large colour picture of the Australian
flag flying next to the flag of a regime that has not existed for almost 30
years. Presumably, this picture was taken at some sort of rehearsal in the park
for the official flag-raising ceremony.
right-wing Saigon Times seems to be pre-empting a possible future
Fairfield council decision. A group organised as the “Vietnamese Community in
Australia” has lodged an application with the Fairfield council for the
already going 50-50 with this group in erecting the flagpoles at the
Vietnamese-Australian war memorial in the park, the council has already given
tacit approval to such a ceremony. It seems the council has been conned by that
element in the Vietnamese-Australian community which wants a return of the
long-defunct pro-US regime.
government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has had good diplomatic
relations with Canberra for many years. There is growing trade and other
economic relations between the two countries. Tourism is increasing rapidly.
Last year, 80,000 Australians visited Vietnam, of whom half were Australians of
Vietnamese background. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese visit Australia each
year, for study, for business, or to visit relatives. By its actions, Fairfield
City Council could cause a serious diplomatic incident, undermining relations
between the two countries.
Fairfield council covers a region of Sydney that is ethnically very diverse. It
would be a huge mistake to align the council with that one section of the
Vietnamese community that dreams nostalgically of the days it was propped up in
power in Saigon by the huge military intervention of the United States.
have their defunct flag on the walls of their offices and homes if they want,
but not officially displayed in a public park.
are probably also a few veterans of the Third Reich living in Sydney. They can
have Nazi flags in their lounge rooms if they want, but it is totally
inappropriate for any local, state or federal government body to officially
sponsor Nazi flag-raising ceremonies.
of the slave-holders' Confederate States of America is sometimes flown by
military buffs or motor cycle gangs, often ignorant of the political
implications. But it would rightly be seen as an outrageous insult by visiting
African-Americans and most other US citizens if a government body in Australia
endorsed and funded a ceremony to raise the Conferate flag.
Fairfield City Council meeting is on November 23. However, there is a danger
that council officers will approve the flag-raising event without referring it
Community groups, trade unions, and individuals should protest to Fairfield City
Council well before its next meeting, by email to
<email@example.com> or the mayor, Nick
<firstname.lastname@example.org> or by phone on (02)
trích: Green Left Weekly, November 17 , 2004.
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