Death in Saigon’s Cholon District

It was the telltale drifting smoke that Sunday morning in the sky over Cholon, Saigon's teeming Chinese sector, that first alerted correspondents to the possibility that the second shoe was about to drop in what had become a decisive turning point of the Vietnam War.     The first wave of the Tet (or Lunar New Year) offensive…

Vietnam’s Easy Riders

Photos by Andrew James Armed with cigarettes, bad jokes, and a nifty Honda motorbike, Endy, 42, lives a life on the road with strangers. For the past six years, he has been an ‘Easy Rider’ — one of a group of self-styled tour guides that ferry tourists through the war-ravaged, coffee-drenched and starkly beautiful Central…

Two Steps Forward for Vietnam, Two Steps Back

Michael Michalak, the new US ambassador to Vietnam, has arrived with a pledge to push for improved human rights and enhanced economic relations. Michalak, a 32-year Foreign Service veteran, takes over from Ambassador Michael Marine amid tensions over the treatment of political dissenters. During his three years in Hanoi, Marine saw growing bilateral trade relations…

Vietnamese Catholic Leaders Show Some Backbone

http://vietnamica.blogspot.com   Vietnam’s state-sanctioned Catholic chiefs, not known for their political courage, have bluntly told the country’s president that remarks he made on US television over the trial of an anti-communist priest “do not correspond with the truth.” “The newspapers here reported the CNN interview with President Nguyen Minh Triet, was tainted with distortions relating…

Vietnam Joins the Amateur Idol Brigade

Boyish, cheeky and immaculately groomed, 20-something model Tommy Tran bears a striking resemblance to his American counterpart, Ryan Seacrest, the host of the runaway television success American Idol. Tran is eye candy to thousands of local teenage girls, and as confident as any Western-educated, young bachelor who returns to Vietnam. But unlike Seacrest, Tran only…

Not in My House: Corruption in Vietnam

Earlier this month, Vietnam’s top anti-corruption agency, the Government Inspectorate, completed its annual investigations in the country’s central, central highlands, western and southern regions, and to no one’s surprise, nobody found dust in his own home, although they found plenty elsewhere. “The higher levels only detected corruption in lower levels. Provinces detected corruption in districts,…

Vietnam Gets Tough on School Cheats

Vietnam's new education minister, Nguyen Thien Nhan, has delivered a nasty jolt to the country's secondary education system, driving down test scores dramatically in an effort to eliminate widespread cheating and academic corruption. According to a June 18 news release from the Ministry of Education, only 67.5 percent of high school students passed their graduation exams…

Vietnam: Awash in Money

Amid the myriad booms and bubbles the asset world has witnessed in recent months, one stands out, at least for originality: Vietnam. It is awash in more money than it can handle. In mid-March, a thousand portfolio investors, investment bankers and fund managers crowded into Hanoi’s Melia Hotel for an investment conference that coincided with…

Who lost Vietnam?

As usual in wartime, when the going gets tough, the tough start looking for a scapegoat and it is usually the press.  Today as Iraq slides from bad to worse, the administration's apologists are already starting the post-mortem on who lost it.  It will have been the press, they are already starting to say, just…

The Lesson George W. Didn’t Learn

Last November 17, as George W Bush visited Hanoi for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit,  the US president had some philosophical thoughts to deliver about the lessons he said the United States had learned from the Vietnam War, the longest conflict in US history. "We'll succeed unless we quit," Bush told reporters. "We tend…