THE PRESS

Rebuffing Hanoi Over A Statue – Jeff Sallot

The Globe and Mail  – Friday 19,1995
COMMENTARY – WORLD VIEW
REBUFFING HANOI OVER A STATUE
By JEFF SALLOT
(OTTAWA)

monument-06The federal government seems to have discovered its backbone and learned it can stand upright in dealing with a foreign regime on human rights issues – at least as far as defending the rights of Canadians of Vietnamese origin to erect a statue.

Obsessed by economic matters almost to the exclusion of everything else, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Liberals have been retreating on international human-rights issues since they came to office in 1993. Despite their gutsy talk while in opposition about linking trade and other economic matters to performance on human rights, in office they rarely under and unpleasant word about any regime, however automatic or authoritarian, if there is a chance of doing business and making a few bucks.

It’s a mean, dog-eat-dog world out there and Canada has to make deals wherever possible, Mr. Chretien and Trade Minister Roy MacLaren seem to be saying. Or, as Foreign Affair Minister Andre Ouellet put it recently, for a country such as Canada “to try a Boy Scout on your own…is absolutely counterproductive and does not lead to any successful future.”
But finally, after many of us old Scouts had just about given up hope, we find there is still a flicker of old-fashioned Canadian decency and self-respect burning in a secret corner of official Ottawa.This discovery results from a diplomatic protest by the government of Vietnam. The Southeast Asian country is struggling to put its loony Communist economics and ideology behind it, rebuild infrastructure after a devastating war and open its markets to international trade and investment
Vietnam’s prospects are good. It could well become another of Asia’s economic miracles in the next five to 10 years.
Certainly the Liberal government thinks so. Prime Minister Chretien made a special trip there with a high-powered trade delegation last year to preside at the opening of a new Canadian Embassy in Hanoi. Trade Minister MacLaren, a former diplomat who served in Vietnam during the war, speaks highly of the prospects for Canadian enterprises willing to deal with the Vietnamese.
However, old habits die hard in that country. And so the Hanoi regime took great exception to the fact that the Vietnamese immigrant community in Canada erected a statue in Ottawa to commemorate the refugees who fled from Vietnam two decades ago.
It’s a stunningly evocative work of art by Toronto sculptor PHAM THE TRUNG. The bronze statue depicts a barefoot woman fleeing some unseen danger with her baby in her arms. The theme, sadly, is universal. Whether it’s in Rwanda or Bosnia in 1990s, or the old French colonies of Indochina 20 years ago, most of the world’s hundreds of millions of refugees in this century have been women and children.OTTAWA Mayor Jackie Holzman attended the unveiling ceremony last month. Mr. Chretien and Ontario Premier Bob Rae sent congratulatory messages to the Vietnamese – Canadian community in Ottawa.
The Vietnamese Embassy threw a fit. The Hanoi regime takes great exception to the suggestion that there was any good reason for refugees to flee Vietnam for Canada and other countries when the Communist rulers of the North captured the South 20 years ago.
Vietnamese diplomats tried to halt the statue’s unveiling, and were rebuffed by the federal government officials told the Embassy that things don’t work that way in Canada and that the government could not stop its citizens from paying for and erecting statues even if it wanted to, so forget it.
The upshot of the incident is that Secretary of State for Asian Affairs Raymond Chan postponed a trade trip to Vietnam that had been scheduled for this month. Undoubtedly it will be rescheduled.
The Hanoi regime overestimated the influence it felt it could exert on Ottawa, but the mistake was understandable in light of the message the Liberals have been giving other regimes. Mr. Chretien kowtowed in China last year. And Ottawa’s protestations about the Russian army’s slaughter of civilians in Chechnya this past winter were barely audible.
Some of us old Scouts want to believe that the Vietnamese – refugee statue flap marks a turning point, and that we will soon here Liberals talking once again about human rights and trade in the same breath. It’s time for good Liberal Scouts to get out some of the merit badges earned in opposition and wear them proudly once more.


The OTTAWA CITIZEN:

Statue a hit in Ottawa but a bust in Vietnam

Angry Vietnam cancels trade talks
by Patrick Dare
Citizen Municipal Writer

press-theottawacitizen     A bronze sculpture at the corner of Somerset and Preston streets has ignited a diplomatic row between Vietnam and Canada.
Trade meetings between the two countries, schelduled for May and June have been called off, says Raymond Chan, Canada’s secretary of state for Asia-Pacific.  Vietnam protested to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien over a march involving 500 Vietnamese here this month to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Saigon’s fall to the Communists.
Several hundred spectators watched the unveiling April 30 of the Vietnamese Commemorative Monument at the Plant Bath swimming pool.  It depicts a young Vietnamese woman running a she clutches a toddler with one arm.
The $85,000 statue was built with contributions from the Vietnamese community in Canada. A plaque at the monument says:  “In memory of those who have lost their lives in their quest for freedom.”
Phạm Quang Nhuệ, first secretary at the Vietnamese embassy, said his government asked the Canadian government to stop the monument’s unveiling.  Instead, Canadian officials “provoked” his government,  he said.
Ottawa Mayor Jacquelin Holzman attented the ceremony, the prime minister and Premier Bob Rae sent letters of congratulations.
Vietnam considered the march a provocation and wanted the federal government to stop it, said secretary of state Chan.
“This is Canada,”  Chan told reporters. “We support freedom of speech and we don’t interfere fith this wort of thing.  It’s not the government’s business to censor what Canadians do.”
Ottawa West MP Marlene Catterall, who represented the federal government at the ceremony, said the Vietnamese don’t understand that private voluntary groups and cities aren’t told what to do.
While the city donated the site, it insisted a flag of the former Vietnam not a part of the monument, said Ottawa Coun. Elisabeth Arnold, who describes the sculpture as “an absolutely breathtaking monument.”
Can Le, co-president of the monument committee, said he was surprised that Foreign Affairs and the city were involved at all.  The monument was built to remind future generations that two million people fled Vietnam, many penniless on unsafe boats, and that they suffered great hardships.
“it’s an historical fact.  The government of Vietnam should realize this is a free country.” said Le.  “This is why millions of people have come to Canada.”
The Toronto sculptor who made the statue, Pham The Trung, said the sculpture – title Refugee Mother and Child – evokes a universal truth about mothers seeking peace in all countries.  He said the communist Vietnamese don’t want to be reminded about how millions fled their government.
“I’m not a politician.  I’m an artist.” he said.  “We escaped for freedom.”
Chan, who had about 20 business representatives lined up for the five-day trip, believes the dispute won’t have a lasting impact.  The mission is ezpected to be revived later in 1995.
“I hope it’s a small delay.  I don’t think it would be a cause for them to close up the doors.”
With files from the Vancouver Sun.


 

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM giới thiệu sinh hoạt triển lãm

press-royalontariomuseum


Báo THỜI LUẬN Toronto:

THOILUAN


Báo THE TORONTO STAR:

Ottawa statue riles Vietnam

TORONTOSTARS-01

Trade trip halted in diplomatic row
By Allan Thompson
Ottawa Bureau

Ottawa – A Canadian trade mission to Vietnam has been put off because of a diplomatic dispute over a new statue in Ottawa depicting a refugee woman fleeing Vietnam.
Raymond Chan, Canada’s secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific region, confirmed yesterday that the Vietnamese government took issue with the statue and asked Ottawa to intervene and stop its unveiling.
“We told them that this is Canada, we have freedom of expression of Canadians and it’s not the government’s business to censure,”  Chan said.
When Canada refused to intervene, Vietnamese officials started dragging their feet in confirming meetings for Chan’s trade mission to Vietnam, originally planned for May 29 – June 2.
Chan said he told the Vietnamese to get their act together and produce an agenda for the meeting by the middle of last week, and when it was not forthcoming he postponed the trip.
“We’ll postpone it until such time as we can work things out.” Chan said.
Chan’s mission with a dozen or more business leaders was meant to follow up on a trip to Hanoi by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien last November.
The Vietnamese Commemorative Monument is a bronze statue of a barefoot woman, running  with her child clutched in her arm.
Many of the estimated 160,000 Canadians of Vietnamese origin came from the former South Vietnam and left the country as refugees after Communist forces were victorious in the Vietnam war.


GREATERTORONTO


WESTENDLIFE-2


Báo WEST END LIFE:

City recognizes local sculptor

ARTICLE-01February 11, 1997 edition.

A local sculptor is being honored with an Award of Merit by Toronto City Council, March 6.

Pham The Trung is an award winning sculptor and artist who exhibits his work around the world, but calls the Junction home.

Born in 1957 in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam, he was already drawing and sculpting accomplished works by the time he was eight.

After fraduating with honors from the Saigon University of Fine Arts in 1979, he began teaching high school art.

A year later, he made a hardrowing escape from Vietnam as one of the “boat people”.  He was interned in a refugee camp in Thailand until being granted asylum in Canada.

It is from this experience that his most-famous work comes.  Escape to Freedom, a full-size bronze sculpture of a mother and child, commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.  It was installed in Ottawa on April 30, 1995.  It has received wide acclaim as an inspirational monument to the human spirit and the struggle for freedom.

In the same vein, he is presently working on a tribute to Canada and freedom, which will feature 10 distinguished Canadians cast in bronze.  A trip to his Dundas Street West studio shows work well underway on busts of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former governor general Jean Sauve, and former Ontario lieutenant governor Lincoln Alexander.

His work has been on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Robarts Gallery at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario and Roy Thompson Hall.

In 1994, he was awarded the Ontario Arts Council award for arts in education.

 

 


Báo THE TORONTO STAR:

Refugee gives thanks with sculpture

TORONTOSTAR-03

Busts of 10 famous Canadians tribute for his freedom

By Harold Levy

Staff Reporter

Pham The Trung has found a unique way fo thanking Canada for providing him with freedom.

The Vietnamese Canadian who fled Vietnam on a boat bound for Thailand in 1980 has set out to create sculptures of 10 distinguished Canadians by the year 2000, and donate them to public institutions.

Yesterday, former lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander was in Pham’s tiny Dundas St. W. studio cautiously eyeing a large clay bust of himself for the first time.

“I look at it, and I say to myself, by God, this is what you look like when you are dead,” said Alexander, 75.  “But it’s me!”

“We aren’t used to see ourselves like this,” he added, as Pham, who had based his work on a photograph, touch up the nose.

“It’s too big,” Alexander said, adopting a mock critical tone.

Pham, a 21-year-old aspiring artist when Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975, learned the meaning of freedom the hardway.

He lived under Communist rule for five years, before escaping with his brother in a 35-foot vessel containing 59 people and paying $8,000 for space for the two of them.

“Canada gave me liberty” Pham said. “As a sculptor, my sculpture is what I have to give back.”

“It is a special country where a Vietnamese Canadian can create a sculpture of a Canadian of Jamaican descent for people who com from all over the world.”

Alexander is in good company.  Pham has already sculpted busts of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who Pham hopes will drop in and view his work, and the late governor general Jeanne Sauvé.”

“This is a great idea,” Alexander said.  “We’re very fortunate that the boat people were able to regroup and make such an excellent contribution.

“And his talented sculptor’s idea about the year 2000 is wonderful.”

Meanwhile, Pham is open to suggestion as to which figures in the worlds of science, sports, business and the arts he should choose for the remaining seven busts.

Although he hopes that some day he will manage to get the $200,000 he needs to bronze the 10 figures, Pham says he is donating the hundreds of hours of work involved to help repay his debt to the country.


THOIBAO-3


GLOBE VISTA: PUBLIC ART AROUND THE WORLD

http://www.publicartaroundtheworld.com/Refugee_Mother_and_Child_Monument.html

Refugee Mother and Child Monument

MEBONGCON-PRESS-04

 


THOIBAO-2


Báo THE VILLAGER / Toronto:

Award-winning sculptor builds life after Vietnam

By Patti Enright
The Villager

Pham The Trung never imagined he’d receive an Award of Merit from the City of Toronto when he escaped from Vietnam 1980.
But 27 years later, the renowned artist and sculptor is one of 10 people being recognized for their accomplishments.
On Civic Honours Day, March 6, Pham’s actions and the impact he’s made through his work will be recognized with an Award of Merit from Mayor Barbara Hall at City Hall.
ARTICLE-02

“I was very surprised.  When I’m working, I’m working because I enjoy myself,” he explains.
Born in the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam in 1957, Pham’s artistic skills began to shine at an early age.  By eight, he was drawing and sculpting.
He studied at the Saigon University of Fine Arts and, in 1979, taught students at Petrus Ky Secondary School.
In 1980, he and his younger brother escaped Vietnam by boat.  He stayed in a refugee camp in Thailand for five months before being asylum in Canada.  In 1983, Pham became a Canadian citizen.
“Canadians – they appreciate their freedom.  They appreciate the talent, not like in communist countries,” he explains.
“In Vietnam, when you’re making a statement, you write about things, paint it, sculpt it – whatever.  But (the government) doesn’t want that.  Lots of people are in prison because they’re against the way the communists are ruling.”
Pham lived in Stratford for a year before moving to Toronto where he lives today.
“Stratford’s a nice place, but Toronto offers more functions and exhibitions,” said Pham.
Escape to Freedom, the artist’s most famous sculpture and his favorite, was erected in Ottawa in 1995.  The bronze sculpture of a mother carrying her child commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.
“The Vietnamese back home don’t like my sculpture.” said Pham.  “Communists don’t wan’t history.  They don’t want to make a statement like we have to do.”
He says the sculpture is a monument to the human spirit and the struggle for freedom.  The woman is running from the enermy behind her and before her lies hope.  She carries her son because, “when you’re running to escape, all you take with you is your child.”
The little boy represents the future, he says.  She can die, but she will live on with him forever.
“Sculpture is symbolism.  You have to understand who captured her,” explains Pham.  “You have to understand why Vietnamese people escape.”
A lot of his inspiration is drawn from his life and future vision.
“When I feel a certain way, I use a difference medium,” he said.  “when I want to capture a large crowd, I’ll paint.  But if I lide the sculpture, I’ll sculp it.”
Like many artists, he likes to try different things.  He might use plaster for one sculpture and bronze for another and sometimes he paints with water colours.
“Nobody teaches you – that’s creation,” he said.  “You can’t learn one thing and not the other.  They go together.”
The time it takes to finish a sculpture depends on its size and, to him, it’s like building a house.
“When you build a home, you need a frame.  The same with sculpture,” he laughs.  “With sculptures, express your feelings.”
Pham’s work has been displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Safe Haven exhibition, the 1996 Junction Arts Festival and even graced former Minister Lily Munro’s greeting cards.  He’s also had his work featured on a CD-ROM, True North Arrivals II.
These days, he’s working on a Trubute to Canada and Freedom, featuring 10 well-known Canadians casts in bronze.
“Some have died and some are still alive.  It’s important we don’t wait until they die to recognize them,” he said.
So far, Pierre Trudeau, Jeanne Suave and Lincoln Alexander have been sculptured.  Others include David Suzuki, Wayne Gretzky and Donovan Bailey.
“(My vision is to) capture culture in Canada at the same time I’m here,” said Pham.  “There have been a lot of important people before I arrived, but these ar the people who have had an impact on my life.
“I’ve been inspire by their actions.”
Would the artist change his life if he could?
“I’d continue doing it the way I’m doing,” said Pham.  “I love art.”


ONTARIOCHINESENEWSPAPER


THOIBAO-4


Trang Mạng Văn Học Việt Nam Văn Hiến giới thiệu:

journalist-1

Việt Nam Văn Hiến giới thiệu tác giả Phạm Thế Trung (xin bấm vào link để xem) http://vietnamvanhien.net/phamthetrung.html

Việt Nam Văn Hiến giới thiệu dự án Mô Hình Tưởng Niệm Các Ký Giả Không Biên Giới (Canada) (xin bấm vào link để xem) http://vietnamvanhien.net/DaiTuongNiemKyGiaCanada.pdf

Việt Nam Văn Hiến giới thiệu mô hình Tượng Đài Đồng Minh Việt Mỹ (xin bấm vào link để xem) http://vietnamvanhien.net/MHTuongDaiDongMinhVietMy.pdf


Trang Mạng Văn Học gió-o Giới Thiệu:

TTTHINH-02

Tình Bạn Hữu Nghĩa Thầy Trò: Tạc tượng chân dung Họa sĩ Trương Thị Thịnh cũng là cựu giáo sư Petrus Ký và Quốc Gia Cao Đẳng Mỹ Thuật  Sài Gòn (xin bấm vào link để xem) http://www.gio-o.com/2015.htm


Trang HỌA SĨ VIỆT NAM giới thiệu:

Tiểu sử:

Tiểu sử Phạm Thế Trung

Tác phẩm:

Phạm Thế Trung


Nguyệt San VIỆT-NAM Giới Thiệu Tác Phẩm:

leloi-2

Nguyệt San VIỆT-NAM: Tạp Chí Văn Học Ðấu Tranh Cho Một Việt Nam Tự Do Dân Chủ
Bài viết giới thiệu các tác phẩm của Phạm Thế Trung (xin bấm vào link để xem) http://nsvietnam.blogspot.com.html


Trang mạng Saigon Echo giới thiệu:

nghiatrang-11tuongvy

Trang mạng Saigon Echo giới thiệu:  30 Tháng 4: Những Thiên Bi Hùng sử – Đoàn Quang

(xin bấm vào link để xem) http://saigonecho.info/main/lichsuvn/chientranhvn/cacnhanvat/17767-30-thang-4-nhng-thien-bi-hung-s.html


Trang mạng Bảo Vệ Cờ Vàng giới thiệu:

Trang mạng Bảo Vệ  Cờ Vàng giới thiệu mô hình TRẦN VĂN BÁ

Anh-hùng TRẦN VĂN BÁ (Lâm Lễ Trinh)

TRANVANBA

Mô hình Tưởng Niệm và Vinh Danh Anh hùng Trần văn Bá bằng đất sét cao 44cm do ĐKG Phạm thế Trung thực hiện


 The Orange County Register giới thiệu UBVĐXDNTBH/HN:

nghiatrang-01

The Orange County Register giới thiệu Ủy Ban Vận Động Xây Dựng Nghĩa Trang Biên Hòa Hải Ngọai với mô hình Tượng Đài 5 Vị Tướng QLVNCH tuẫn tiết 30/04/1975 của ĐKG Phạm Thế Trung

(xin bấm vào link để xem) http://www.ocregister.com/articles/cemetery-506265-vietnamese-committee.html


Trang Mạng Hội Ái Hữu Biên Hòa giới thiệu:

http://www.aihuubienhoa.com/a2341/mo-hinh-tuong-dai-tuong-niem-va-thuong-tiec-dieu-khac-gia-pham-the-trung

Mô Hình Tượng Đài Tưởng Niệm và Thương Tiếc – Điêu Khắc Gia Phạm Thế Trung

nolcharlie-2


 

Trang mạng Người Việt Ly Hương Úc Châu giới thiệu

http://www.lyhuong.net/uc/index.php/shcd/2765-2765

Mô hình Tượng Đài Tưởng Niệm Nạn nhân do Cộng Sản tàn sát ở Huế, Mậu Thân 1968

HUE-nannhanCS-01


 

Trang mạng Sai Gon Times giới thiệu

Đài Tướng Niệm Thuyền Nhân

http://saigontimesusa.com/bai/thuyennhan/daituongniem1084.shtml

mebongcon-quantho


Trang Mạng Một Góc Phố giới thiệu:

http://motgocpho.com/forums/showthread.php/19603-%C4%90%E1%BA%A0I-%C4%90%E1%BA%BE-QUANG-TRUNG-%C2%96-NGUY%E1%BB%84N-HU%E1%BB%86-Chi%E1%BA%BFn-Th%E1%BA%AFng-tr%E1%BA%ADn-%C4%90%E1%BB%90NG-%C4%90A-%C4%90i%C3%AAu-kh%E1%BA%AFc-gia-Ph%E1%BA%A1m-Th%E1%BA%BF-Trung

Mô hình ĐẠI ĐẾ QUANG TRUNG – NGUYỄN HUỆ Chiến Thắng trận ĐỐNG ĐA,Điêu khắc gia Phạm Thế Trung

nguyenhue


Trang Blog Saigon Feeling giới thiệu:

http://hdangbinh12.blogspot.com/2009/06/ieu-khac-gia-pham-trung-tac-lai-tuong.html

Điêu khắc gia Phạm Thế Trung tạc lại tượng nhà ngôn ngữ học Petrus Trương Vĩnh Ký

truongvinhky-02


Trang mạng Trúc Lâm Yên Tử giới thiệu:

Một nơi xứng đáng cho Tử Sĩ Việt-Nam Cộng-Hòa – Phan-Hạnh

http://www.truclamyentu.info/tlls_lichsuvietnamcandai/phan-hanh_mot-noi-xung-dang.htm

Tượng Và Di-Ảnh Thi-Sĩ Nguyễn-Chí-Thiện: Nhân chuyến đi ra mắt tập thơ ” Hoa địa ngục” tại Toronto.Thi sĩ Nguyễn Chí Thiện có dịp gặp ĐKG Phạm thế Trung tại Studio và đây là một kỷ niệm …

http://www.truclamyentu.info/tlls_trang_nguyen-chi-thien/tuongvadianhthi-singuyen-chi-thien.htm

 

ngchithien1939-2012


Trang Mạng Quán Thơ Giới Thiệu:

mebongcon-quantho

Tượng đài Mẹ Bồng Con Vượt Biển (xin bấm vào link để xem) http://quantho.net/index.php?view=story&subjectid=5051


Trang Mạng Vuông Chiếu Luân Hoán giới thiệu

http://www.luanhoan.net/tacgiavn/1htm/phamthetrung.htm


Blog Caroline Thanh Hương giới thiệu:

http://catbuicarolineth.blogspot.com/2013/05/ieu-khac-gia-hoa-si-pham-trung.html


Canadian Press – Các bài báo CANADA viết về ĐKG Phạm Thế Trung:

·      “Canada is a refuge: Poignant exhibition shares the refugee experience” The Toronto Star (1993)

·       “Exhibit puts a human face on immigrant statistics” The Globe and Mail (1994)

·       “Statue a hit in Ottawa… Angry Vietnam cancels trade talks” The Ottawa Citizen (1995)

·       “Ottawa statue riles Vietnam: Trade trip halted in diplomatic row,” The Toronto Star (1995)

·       “Escape to Canada and freedom,” The Toronto Star (1985)

·       “Exhibition depicts plight of refugees from Vietnam war,” The Toronto Star (1990)

·       “Rebuffing Hanoi over a Statue,” Globe and Mail (1995)

·        “Statue honours Vietnamese dead,” The Ottawa Sun (1995)

·       “Refugee give thanks with sculpture” The Toronto Star (1996)

·       “Megacity talk dominates Awards Ceremony” The Toronto Star (1997)


Rebuffing Hanoi Over A Statue – Jeff Sallot

The Globe and Mail  – Friday 19,1995
COMMENTARY – WORLD VIEW
REBUFFING HANOI OVER A STATUE
By JEFF SALLOT
(OTTAWA)

The federal government seems to have discovered its backbone and learned it can stand upright in dealing with a foreign regime on human rights issues – at least as far as defending the rights of Canadians of Vietnamese origin to erect a statue.
monument-06Obsessed by economic matters almost to the exclusion of everything else, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Liberals have been retreating on international human-rights issues since they came to office in 1993. Despite their gutsy talk while in opposition about linking trade and other economic matters to performance on human rights, in office they rarely under and unpleasant word about any regime, however automatic or authoritarian, if there is a chance of doing business and making a few bucks.
It’s a mean, dog-eat-dog world out there and Canada has to make deals wherever possible, Mr. Chretien and Trade Minister Roy MacLaren seem to be saying. Or, as Foreign Affair Minister Andre Ouellet put it recently, for a country such as Canada “to try a Boy Scout on your own…is absolutely counterproductive and does not lead to any successful future.”
But finally, after many of us old Scouts had just about given up hope, we find there is still a flicker of old-fashioned Canadian decency and self-respect burning in a secret corner of official Ottawa.This discovery results from a diplomatic protest by the government of Vietnam. The Southeast Asian country is struggling to put its loony Communist economics and ideology behind it, rebuild infrastructure after a devastating war and open its markets to international trade and investment
Vietnam’s prospects are good. It could well become another of Asia’s economic miracles in the next five to 10 years.
Certainly the Liberal government thinks so. Prime Minister Chretien made a special trip there with a high-powered trade delegation last year to preside at the opening of a new Canadian Embassy in Hanoi. Trade Minister MacLaren, a former diplomat who served in Vietnam during the war, speaks highly of the prospects for Canadian enterprises willing to deal with the Vietnamese.
However, old habits die hard in that country. And so the Hanoi regime took great exception to the fact that the Vietnamese immigrant community in Canada erected a statue in Ottawa to commemorate the refugees who fled from Vietnam two decades ago.
It’s a stunningly evocative work of art by Toronto sculptor PHAM THE TRUNG. The bronze statue depicts a barefoot woman fleeing some unseen danger with her baby in her arms. The theme, sadly, is universal. Whether it’s in Rwanda or Bosnia in 1990s, or the old French colonies of Indochina 20 years ago, most of the world’s hundreds of millions of refugees in this century have been women and children.OTTAWA Mayor Jackie Holzman attended the unveiling ceremony last month. Mr. Chretien and Ontario Premier Bob Rae sent congratulatory messages to the Vietnamese – Canadian community in Ottawa.
The Vietnamese Embassy threw a fit. The Hanoi regime takes great exception to the suggestion that there was any good reason for refugees to flee Vietnam for Canada and other countries when the Communist rulers of the North captured the South 20 years ago.
Vietnamese diplomats tried to halt the statue’s unveiling, and were rebuffed by the federal government officials told the Embassy that things don’t work that way in Canada and that the government could not stop its citizens from paying for and erecting statues even if it wanted to, so forget it.
The upshot of the incident is that Secretary of State for Asian Affairs Raymond Chan postponed a trade trip to Vietnam that had been scheduled for this month. Undoubtedly it will be rescheduled.
The Hanoi regime overestimated the influence it felt it could exert on Ottawa, but the mistake was understandable in light of the message the Liberals have been giving other regimes. Mr. Chretien kowtowed in China last year. And Ottawa’s protestations about the Russian army’s slaughter of civilians in Chechnya this past winter were barely audible.
Some of us old Scouts want to believe that the Vietnamese – refugee statue flap marks a turning point, and that we will soon here Liberals talking once again about human rights and trade in the same breath. It’s time for good Liberal Scouts to get out some of the merit badges earned in opposition and wear them proudly once more.