Media watchdog urges Vietnam to release blogger

HANOI (AFP) — A media rights watchdog on Thursday urged Vietnamese authorities to free a blogger arrested before the Olympic torch relay who the group said was being targetted for his political views.

Nguyen Hoang Hai, who blogs under the pseudonym of Dieu Cay, was arrested April 19 for tax fraud. Authorities accuse him of not paying taxes for 10 years on a property that he owns, said the group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“Tax fraud was just a pretext to prevent Dieu Cay from demonstrating when the Olympic torch went through Ho Chi Minh City and from criticising the communist party online,” RSF said in a statement received Thursday.

The Beijing flame was dogged by protests against China’s rule of Tibet and other human rights issues on several stops on its global journey.

Dieu Cay’s arrest came 10 days before the torch passed through the former Saigon. The blogger is known for his opposition to Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the disputed Paracel and Spratleys archipelagos in the South China Sea — island chains that Vietnam also claims.

“Dieu Cay had posted articles on his blog about protests worldwide during the Olympic torch’s progress through various cities, along with articles critical of China’s policy in Tibet and the Parcel and Spratly archipelagos,” RSF said.

“He had called for demonstrations as the torch passed through Ho Chi Minh City,” the group added.

In Vietnam, anti-Chinese sentiment had flared in rallies since late last year over the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, and the issue was hotly debated on unofficial weblogs ahead of the torch relay.

Vietnam initially allowed peaceful demonstrations outside Chinese diplomatic missions last December but later deployed police to stop repeat rallies.

The Spratly and Paracel island chains have been flashpoints for years.

The Spratlys are claimed in full or part by China and Vietnam as well as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and the Paracels are claimed by China, which now occupies them, as well as by Vietnam and Taiwan.

Man, 38, Gets 30 Years For Raping Girl, 17

SANTA ANA A 38-year-old Midway City man convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl in his office and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl at a camp, was sentenced Friday to 30 years to life in prison.

Huy Ngoc Nguyen, a longtime activist in Orange County’s Vietnamese-American community, raped the 17-year-old on Feb. 28, 2004, while she was on a date with Nguyen, said Farrah Emami of the District Attorney’s
Office.

The 13-year-old was molested at a New Year celebration on Jan. 1, 1997,
at a youth group camp at Big Bear, Emami said.

Nguyen’s arrest sent shock waves through Orange County’s Vietnamese
community, where he had been a volunteer and leader for more than a decade, including serving as leader of the annual Lunar New Year Tet Festival at a community college.

According to evidence at trial, the 17-year-old met Nguyen through a mutual friend and the two went out together. He told the girl that he wanted to stop by his office and took her inside.

Emami said he then locked the door and raped her as she cried and protested.

The girl told a friend what happened, and the friend said Nguyen had also sexually assaulted her sister and encouraged her to go to police, Emami said.

Nguyen, who was 31 when he sexually assaulted the then 13-year-old, was at the camp in Big Bear because he had many friends in the youth group and was affiliated with the organization, Emami said.

The attack took place under a blanket when the lights had been turned off while the campers were telling ghost stories, Emami said.

Prosecutors showed during the trial that Nguyen had a history of forcing himself on various women.

A woman about the same age as Nguyen said they dated for four years, beginning when she was 17, and that over the course of the relationship, he repeatedly forced her to have sex. She said that when she tried to avoid him, he would show up at her school, church and social events to harass her.

The woman said she would unwillingly leave with Nguyen and he would take her to his uncle’s home and rape her, according to Emami.

She said that on one occasion, Nguyen sexually assaulted her friend at church, then took her to a motel and raped her, Emami said.

No charges could be brought in those cases because the statute of
limitations had run out, but she eventually came forward to help prevent what happened to her from happening to others, Emami said.

He was convicted of the sexual assaults on Feb. 20.

(© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Australia’s first memorial to commemorate the plight of Vietnamese refugees will be unveiled at Footscray in Melbourne today.

The monument in Jensen Reserve honours Australians who helped resettle Vietnamese boat people during the 1970s.

It is also dedicated to the thousands of refugees who died while trying to escape Vietnam.

Victorian Acting Premier Rob Hulls says it is an inspirational memorial.

“It’s a monument that’s really a symbol that will continue to preserve and promote the Vietnamese boat people’s heritage and culture for generations to come,” he said.

“It’s a boat design – it’s very clever and emotional really, and the message is simple: as human beings we are all in the same boat.”

Painting exhibit inspired by Vietnam
Daniel Joel Hume with one of his works on display at Himiko Visual Café

A Scottish artist will open an oil painting exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City on June 26 featuring works he created while living in Vietnam.

Daniel Joel Hume, a graduate of the College of Art & Design at Scotland’s University of Dundee, has lived in Vietnam for three years.

He said Vietnam had given him the inspirations for his works, which include oil paintings, abstract paintings and photographs.

The Scottish artist said all the colors, shapes and designs he had seen in the country were used as ideas and materials for his artworks.

Hume has named his exhibition “Strikes and Gutters,” one of his favorite lines from the film The Big Lebowski by the Coen Brothers.

The name “Strikes and Gutters” may sound a little informal but it could express the ups and downs in his life, he said.

Each and every stroke in Hume’s paintings shows his feelings about the life around him and his desire to commit those feelings to canvas.

The exhibition will run until July 6 at Himiko Visual Cafe, 15B Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh District, HCMC.

From Hollywood to Ho Chi Minh City
Dustin Nguyen has always longed to make films about Vietnam Dustin Nguyen poses with Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, his co-star in the acclaimed Australian drama Little Fish.

A gifted martial artist, a passionate filmmaker and a devoted husband, Dustin Nguyen says he learned what he couldn’t learn in school by going out into the world.

Born in 1962 in the former Saigon, Nguyen first became known for his role in the hit TV show 21 Jump Street alongside Johnny Depp in the late 1980s.

He learned quickly that actions speak louder than words.

“Filmmaking is my true passion and I’ve learned a great deal from being an actor,” he says.

“It’s given me practical experiences I wasn’t taught in school.”

Nguyen, who immigrated to the US in 1975, obtained his greatest recognition when he co-starred alongside Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett in the critically acclaimed Little Fish in 2005.

“I didn’t expect to get the role as there are many better options than me,” says Nguyen.

“I guess I was lucky…the character I played shares some similar characteristics with me.” The film won five Australian Film Institute Awards after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It went on to become the number-one film in Australia.

Son of Vietnam

Though Nguyen says he first began performing as a martial artists when he was young, his true desires lie in dramatic parts.

“I love getting involved in a complicated role,” he says.

“That’s why I’ve come back to Vietnam to make my dream a reality. I want to be a part of the our nation’s movie industry.”

In Dong Mau Anh Hung (The Rebel), which marked his return after to the After becoming one of the few successful Vietnamese actors in American television, Dustin Nguyen has come home to direct his first feature film, Monk on Fire.

motherland after 30 years in the US, Nguyen played his first villain, in which he was able to explore his darker side.

An uncut version of the film will be released on DVD in the US late this year.

Nguyen is currently working on Huyen Thoai Bat Tu (The Legend Is Alive), which he describes as an “amazing feature.”

In the film, directed by Luu Huynh, Nguyen plays a victim of Agent Orange who deals with his pain alongside a loving mother.

“The film has given me a new taste for acting. I’ve never experienced a role like this and I’m ready for the challenge.”

As for Lua Phat (Monk on Fire), Nguyen’s first shot as a writer-director, the filmmaker says: “My dream is to make films about the country and people of Vietnam. I am proud to be born here.”

Nguyen says he’s excited about finally directing.

“Staying behind the camera is like giving birth to a child. You have to work hard and be truly passionate about what you are making.”

Spoken like a true auteur.

Devotion

Nguyen and his wife, the former model and actress Angela Rockwood-Nguyen, have been together through thick and thin.

Several years ago, Rockwood-Nguyen was paralyzed in a car accident two months before their wedding.

The couple has stuck beside each other and their love has only grown stronger.

“Misery finds its way to those who just sit around and make comparisons,” says Nguyen.

“But we’ve learned precious lessons about cherishing the love we have as well as the life we live. Things are going to turn out better when you know how to deal with difficulties. You lose something just to gain another.”

The Nguyens have since become involved with The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.

They have worked closely with the foundation and recently became the spokespersons for The Paralysis Resource Center (PRC)’s Minority Communities Outreach Campaign, which aims to increase awareness of and access to the PRC amongst minority communities in the US

Thanks to their contributions, the organization’s website is available in Vietnamese, opening up opportunities for the Vietnamese community, both at home and abroad, to obtain the assistance and information they need to cope with disabilities.

Reported by Kim

E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Vietnamese adoptions need more scrutiny

Grand Forks Herald
Published Sunday, June 22, 2008

WASHINGTON — Every parent knows there’s no joy that compares to the blessings of having children and a family. For many Minnesotans, this means joining the myriad of American families who provide a safe and permanent home for about 20,000 children who are adopted annually from other nations.Recently, concerns have been raised about serious problems with the process of adopting children from Vietnam, making international adoptions in this country nearly impossible.

I share concerns over reported instances of fraud and corruption in connection with some adoptions in Vietnam. I believe it’s clear that more effective safeguards are needed to prevent the types of abuses described in recent reports.

At the same time, I believe that suspending adoptions for an indefinite period of time is not in the best interest of the children involved and may not be the most effective means to promote transparency in Vietnam’s adoption system.

In light of this, I am working to encourage other senators and congressmen to join me in working with the government of Vietnam to reach an agreement that would go a long way to better protect children, as well as birth and adoptive parents. Such measures could include an accreditation process for all U.S-based agencies providing services in Vietnam, increased transparency and accountability with regard to fees and strengthening the laws and procedures for prosecuting individuals found to be complicit with fraudulent behavior.

I am urging my colleagues to remain actively engaged in working with Vietnam officials toward establishing a system that protects the best interests of all involved. It is my goal to keep the children of Vietnam safe and to work with the government of Vietnam to allow adoptions to be a more fluid but a well-supervised transition.

I will keep Minnesotans informed of future developments on this important issue going forward.

Norm Coleman

Coleman, a Republican, represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.

Five persons tell six stories
17:30′ 16/06/2008 (GMT+7)

A photo that will be displayed at the exhibition

VietNamNet Bridge – Four Vietnamese and one American artist will tell stories by photos at 31A Van Mieu, Hanoi on June 21.

The four Vietnamese artists are Na Son, Lam Khanh, Trong Tung and Trong Chinh. They and Justin Maxon will hold the same photo exhibition named “06 Stories”.

Maxon will bring daily stories, Na Son with stories about the elderly in Hanoi and the bridge collapse in Can Tho, Trong Tung with letters, Lam Khanh with children on the Red River, and Trong Chinh with craftsmen in Bac Ninh.

Children’s film posters presented to kids
11:22′ 17/06/2008 (GMT+7)

Exhibition of children’s film posters entitled “The world of children” will last to June 30.

VietNamNet Bridge – An exhibit of children’s film posters entitled “The World of Children” is being held at the Ho Chi Minh City Women’s Cultural House at 192-194 Ly Chinh Thang Street in District 3 from now until June 30.

Nearly 90 posters and brochures collected over the past several years by Ms. Nguyen Thi My Loan, an official of the HCMC Feature Film Company, will be exhibited.

This is an activity to serve children and movies lovers this summer. The colorful posters have attracted a very large “little audience” and help children better understand the role of movies in their lives.

The posters are from such famous films as Harry Potter, Bee Movie, Enchanted, Iron Man, Home Alone, Lord of the Rings, and Stars War.

(Source: SGGP/NLD)

Website delivers thrill of online karaoke
21:59′ 18/06/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – A new music website in Vietnam, www.sannhac.com, offers Vietnamese teenagers and young people another form of entertainment.

After registering on the site, subscribers can sing karaoke online, record themselves singing songs, and also create their own music blogs.

According to the head of the website’s design team, Ngo Phuong Thao, the website has satisfied the recreational singing needs of many young people. “After five months of operation, the website has attracted more than 60,000 subscribers,” the 24-year-old woman said.

“To record a song, you only need a microphone, which costs around VND100,000 (US$6.5). Those looking to make higher-quality recordings can invest in an amplifier and a concert-grade microphone. The website also features a music-arranging function,” said Tuan Khang. The grade 11 student said he accessed the website almost every day.

Khang said he visited the website not only to sing karaoke or record songs, but to also listen to songs that were recorded and posted by other subscribers. “I often listen online, but sometimes I burn my favourite songs onto CDs to listen when I am not online. Whenever I want, I can also create my own CD and give it to my friends as a gift,” he said.

Whenever a member posts his/her song on the website, the performance can potentially reach an audience of thousands of subscribers listening in. The listeners can also vote for their favourite songs. The songs which have the highest number of votes will be selected as the website’s theme song for one week, with the song played automatically whenever someone accesses the home page.

The website offers its members thousands of songs divided among different categories, including country, classic, jazz, rock, pop, and hip-hop.

Fans and friends

A subscriber, Le Ngan Mai, said she was very surprised when she realised a large “audience” had been listening to her songs.

Another subscriber, Nguyen Song Tu, a third-year student of the University of Business and Technology, said: “I’m a person of very few words and a little bit glacial. Since a friend of mine introduced me to the site, I have made more friends who not only share an interest in music with me, but who also share other life issues with me. I feel myself becoming more open-minded and tolerant.”

Thousands of site members have competed enthusiastically in various online singing contests in different categories such as men’s singers, women’s singers, or duets.

Trying to satisfy the members completely, the site has formed four clubs: The Disk for members who are interested in country, jazz and classical music; The Cassette for rockers, The CD for fans of pop music; and The iPod for hip-hoppers.

Tu, a member of The CD, said he and other club members met not only online, but also offline. “We sometimes go on picnics together and have a lot of fun.”

(Source: Viet Nam News)

The ins and outs of motion picture success
14:12′ 17/06/2008 (GMT+7)

Actor and director Tran Luc

VietNamNet Bridge – VNS spoke with actor cum producer Tran Luc at Dong A Studios in Ha Noi about life, love and his latest projects.

Your first long-running television series, Chang Trai Da Cam (Modern Men – Modern Problems), was a big hit with film lovers during its 25-episode run. Now, it appears that you’ve gained some great success in your new position as film producer at Dong A Studios. Is this so?

It’s not that simple. Dong A Studios began in 2005, and was borne out of my great passion for the film industry. These days, the company is considered a pioneer in the North, and produces many socialised films. But this means that we also come upon many roadblocks and a lot of red tape.

This series’ broadcast date was postponed for four months because of some unexpected problems; however, it eventually plucked a few strings in film lovers’ hearts, mostly for its sentimentality and its soft comedic edge.

All of our lives are filled with sentimental moments and moments of exhaustion. The film focuses on these themes in modern society, but the real challenge is for the producer to let the audience relax for a moment.

Our two series, Dau Bep va Dai Gia (The Chief and the Wealthy Man) and Chang Trai Da Cam, have shown the various relationships people have in everyday life. Perhaps because of this, audiences have called our series civilised.

TV series that are kind of half comedy, half drama are Dong A Studios’ biggest strength. Will you continue to exploit this genre in your upcoming projects?

We’re on a roll right now. So why stop? Despite our limited budgets, the management and staff are always looking to explore new and strange topics. This is our strength.

We’ll begin shooting the 30-episode Tieng Duong Cam Tren Bien (The Piano on the Beach) in co-operation with HCM City’s Khang Viet Film Studios. We’ll also be filming an adaptation of the literary works of Tu Luc Van Doan.

For those who don’t know, Tu Luc Van Doan was a literature group established in 1933. They are considered to be great representatives of the romantic literature period in Viet Nam in the early half of the 20th century.

Two writers in the group, Tran Tieu, my grandfather, and Khai Hung, my grandfather’s brother, made a great impression on me when I was young. Their works have given me endless inspiration, including Chong Con (Husband and Child), Con Trau (The Buffaloes), Sau Luy Tre Lang (Behind the Bamboo of the Village).

A while ago, with the help of artist Tran Bang, my father, Le Cong Hoi, turned Chong Con into a 15-episode series and entrusted me to be the series’ director.

After an initial failure, Dong A Studios and I decided to carry out the project. I asked Trinh Thanh Nha, a talented scriptwriter, to string the stories together over the course of 60 episodes. The stories will all feature a Vietnamese woman, living in a traditional, historical town.

What makes you think that such an old series will attract modern day viewers?

I don’t think that the lifestyle from 70 years ago is so awkward or out-of-date. Maybe the relationships are more literal and admirable than those of today is. I believe the strange, simple, yet delicate characters will breathe new life into viewers.

Management has even discussed building our own studio for the film. The 5ha-wide studio will be built in a suburb of the city, and will look like a real, ancient miniature society, including landowner plantations, tile-roofed homes, thatched roof and ground-walled houses and lotus ponds next to banyan trees.

It will be a big expense, but perhaps the studio could become a tourist attraction after filming is completed.

What are your feelings about private film studios?

They may be formidable opponents, but they’re also good teachers. Many have endeared themselves to audiences by using professional film crews and working with new ideals. They play an important role in industry development, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

People say that you are a lady-killer. How is your life these days? Are you happy, after your two break-ups?

Not at all (laughing)! But I’m a real man. I don’t want to share my private life with the public. I will only say that I’m very happy with my small family.

My son is now a student at the Ha Noi University of Theatre and Cinema, studying to become a film director.

And my little daughter is well behaved and loves me very much. What more could I ask for?

How about asking for some strange vehicles?

Well, it is my hobby.

I love most Italian vehicles, like Vespa motorbikes, the two-seated Smart and Boplo cars, mostly because of their unique styles.

(Source: VNS)