I always feel very lucky that I was accepted to resettle in Australia after escaping the Communist. However, I also feel inferior and have developed a complex seeing the bad things other Vietnamese refugees did in Australia that made headlines. Crimes such as drug dealings, forming gangs, welfare fraud, immigration tricks,… I don’t join Vietnamese groups that habitually gather to speak loudly in our native language and yet don’t mingle with others at social events in Australia. I distance myself from unruly, uncivilized, unethical and small-minded Vietnamese. Another friend once told me that he felt good that Australians often mistook him for Japanese because he didn’t feel proud to be recognized as Vietnamese.
More than ever, I witness the financial burden brought on by recently arrived asylum seekers as well as the social issues coming with them while Australia struggles with budget deficits. These days, like those in later generations of Vietnamese refugees that I know, I feel embarrassed to be recognized as a refugee in Australia. I dislike reading stories of Vietnamese boat people that said they escaped the poverty induced by the Communists. I don’t like to be blindly grouped as economic refugees.
The death of Đặng Tuyết Mai, on 21st December 2016, brought mixed feelings to me. She was also known as Madame Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, the former wife of Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, South Vietnam Vice President until his retirement from politics in 1971. As the country fell to the Communists in 1975, Mr and Mrs Kỳ fled to the US.
In 2004, Mr Kỳ returned to Vietnam, playing golf with Communist leaders, calling for peace and reconciliation with a government he once fought and hinting that he might even move back to Vietnam. Mr Kỳ later was involved in organizing trips to Vietnam for potential U.S. investors.
In September 2009, Madame Tuyết Mai went back to Vietnam and opened a plush restaurant called “Pho Ta” – specialised in the traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup – on one of the busy streets in Saigon.
Mr Kỳ’s daughter from his second marriage to Madame Tuyết Mai, a former stewardess, is Nguyễn Cao Kỳ Duyên. Kỳ Duyên was a 10-year-old girl when Saigon fell in 1975. She and 20 others escaped in a crammed military cargo plane to Washington. Her father flew his own helicopter to a waiting U.S. aircraft carrier. Now she is a well-known mistress of ceremonies on the thirty-four-year-old and famous “Paris By Night” show. The Vietnamese-language musical variety show is popular overseas as well as in Vietnam and features musical performances by renowned pre-Saigon Fall performers and modern-day young stars.
Her “Paris by Night” videos have made Duyên more recognizable than her father in much of Vietnam these days.
Abandoning her career as a lawyer in the US, Kỳ Duyên took her father’s advice and in 2011 opened a luxurious restaurant in Da Nang called “Memory Lounge”. She now also owns a series of cosmetic stores called “Canmake” in Vietnam, which started with the first store launched in Saigon in 2014. In 2016, another restaurant of Duyên began trading in Saigon. Her Facebook page is full with pictures of her lavish life in Vietnam, living in a posh apartment, eating at upmarket restaurants, holidaying at opulent resorts, … Duyên is a live advertisement board for a life in Vietnam that some of the later generations of the Vietnamese refugees living overseas see no difference when compared to their lives in the West. I despise these youth who see opportunities to make money so they go back to do business in Vietnam even though there are precautions from their predecessors. The corrupt regime creates a lawless nation where money rules and powerless and poor citizens are exploited and tyrannized. The stories of how the Communists confiscated the bourgeoisie’s assets and sent them to the barren land for hard labor, took gold from the Chinese and in exchange let them board the crowded “ethnic refugee” boats and ships, seized their citizens’ houses and lands for the states’ building projects, oppress dissidents, jailed foreign business investors, … none of these sins can stop those overseas Vietnamese business people from the attractive stench of money.
Like other anti-communist Vietnamese, I consider Mr Ky’s trip and his family’s business with Vietnam as a traitorous act against my country, the Republic of Vietnam, the South Vietnam before the Fall of Saigon. They disgustingly and spinelessly collaborate and bow to the bribe-able regime to benefit financially.
I feel ashamed knowing “soulless and materialistic refugees” like my young colleagues who were boat persons but now gleefully boast with other Australians that they visit Vietnam every year and splash pictures of their affluent holidays on their public Facebook pages. I abhor refugee colleagues who brown-nose communist people who hold powerful positions at work. The “powerful” are children of Vietnamese communist officials who obtained Australian scholarships through their parents’ almighty status, and later got employment and resettle in Australia. I look down on an acquaintance whose family was persecuted by the Communist because her father was a high-ranking military man under the old Saigon regime. She was given a “scholarship” by a professor then left her husband in Vietnam to study and work in a high-earned profession in America for decades. Later she reunited with her spouse and is living a wealthy life in a high-fenced mansion and counting high-ranking communist classmates among her party guests. These people are the rotten apples who build the wrong profile of Vietnamese refugees.
Live in the now,
Old enemies are friends,
The big money depends
On the friendship!
Shaking the hands
That kill their own people.
The exile all dangle
With known devil!
They bring us shame!
The acquisitive ones
Who were refugees once.
by The Courier Mail.