Page 5005 - Week 13 - Thursday, 12 November 2009
MR COE (Ginninderra) (4.49): Recently I was pleased to attend a democracy dinner to discuss the ongoing campaign for democracy in Vietnam. My Liberal colleague Steve Doszpot MLA also attended the event. The dinner was hosted by the International Chairman of Viet Tan, a Vietnam reform party, Mr Diem Do, and attended by other representatives of Viet Tan in Australia. Viet Tan is a pro-democracy party with members both inside Vietnam and around the world. The party aims to establish democracy and bring about political change through peaceful means. Viet Tan believes that a free society is the best means to harness the vast potential of the country and its people. Also, a democratic Vietnam will contribute greatly to the prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
Viet Tan operates in a very professional manner and is using the latest in new media and other campaign technology to get its message out. New media has opened up new opportunities for the campaigning work of Viet Tan as it has enabled them to spread the message to many in Vietnam and around the world that had previously not been able to be reached. However, the Vietnamese government has severely restricted the ability of some in Vietnam to post their views on the web.
The night was a reminder to me of how lucky we are in Australia, through all the hard work of previous generations and generations to come, that we do enjoy the great freedoms, in particular freedom of speech, that those in Vietnam and other countries do not enjoy and, in fact, are persecuted for. Viet Tan’s grassroots movement is important because, for freedom in Vietnam to be sustainable, the movement must come from within. It must be a movement from the bottom up, and this is what Viet Tan aims to do.
In order to transform Vietnam from a dictatorship to a democratic society, a pluralistic society must first be established, with all existing constraints against human rights completely removed. To accomplish this, Vietnam have developed an action plan that details their ideas. The plan is as follows: program 1, improving social welfare and restoring civil rights; program 2, promoting pluralism; program 3, building collective strength; program 4, expanding the knowledge base; program 5, investing in the future generation; program 6, lobbying international support; program 7, strengthening the overseas Vietnamese community; program 8, building the foundation to reform Vietnam; program 9, protecting national interests and territorial integrity; and program 10, restoring truth to recent history. Freedom of information about the past democracy is available at www.viettan.org.
A Canberra journalist, Graham Cooke, recently published a fascinating article about the Viet Tan democracy movement and the struggle for peace that so many people have endured and are committed to. In this article, Cooke writes:
Diem says members inside Vietnam are routinely persecuted. “Article Four of the Vietnamese Constitution states that there should be only one lawful political party and that is the Communist Party, so our members keep their identities a secret. If they are discovered they usually find themselves under 24-hour surveillance, they are harassed and even jailed,” he said.