After the Vietnamese Communists occupied South Vietnam, being a Lt Colonel in the South VN Army, I was detained in various labor camps in the far mountainous areas of North VN for nine years. Then I was released in 1984 but remained under the close supervision of the local security service for two years. Finally I was acknowledged as a new citizen of the new Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and basically had the right to vote.
In 1987, a general election for the National Assembly was initiated across the country. Unfortunately all candidates were required to be primarily selected by the local communist branches, that means no independent candidate was approved, something that was strange compared to my experiences of elections in the free world. Disagreeing with that policy of election, I voted blank in protest.
In 1990, my family migrated to Australia and resettled in Canberra under the sponsorship of our daughter. Though aged 57, I still applied to go back to study. Through tests and interview I was qualified for both the Library course and the Computing course at the Canberra Institute of Technology. I chose the Library course because I am a book lover in three different languages: Vietnamese, English and French.
During the time I worked at the National Library in 1993, the Australian Electoral Commission wanted to recruit casual staff for polling. I applied and got the job as a bilingual polling assistant, meaning I could help new Vietnamese migrants to vote correctly. I applied for the polling position because I was very eager to know how the election was organised in a free and democratic Australia.
Before the election day, I was briefed that candidates could be from different political parties or independent so we must understand and practice a strict political neutrality in the Australian Electoral Commission, something very different with the election in a communist country as Vietnam.
Excited to work with the Australian Election, I decided to wear a special shirt I bought in New York City on a work experience term with AT&T, when I studied Electronics Communications Engineer in New Jersey in 1973. The shirt had a printed photo of the “Statue of Liberty”, the famous icon of the United States showing the ideal of humanity: Freedom and Democracy.