The Rotten Apples poem

1975 Mr and Mrs Nguyễn Cao Kỳ – ex Vice President of South Vietnam – in a refugee camp in Pendleton, California.
General Ky Exiled In United States. (Photo by Paul Slade/Paris Match via Getty Images)

<<Story related to the poem>>

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.
Soulless creatures!
(Abhanga-style poem)

1975 Mr and Mrs Nguyễn Cao Kỳ – ex Vice President of South Vietnam – in a refugee camp in Pendleton, California.
General Ky Exiled In United States. (Photo by Paul Slade/Paris Match via Getty Images)

The Rotten Apples’ related information

Nguyen Cao Ky with his wife Dang Tuyet Mai and their daughter Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen in their apartment at the Tan Son Nhut Air Base – Photo by Marilyn Silverstone.

<<Story related to the information.>>

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and his third wife, in a visit to Vietnam in 2004, was welcomed by the high-ranking Communist official Phạm Thế Duyệt. A statue of Hồ Chí Minh was in the background.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ in South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon.

The Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, signed in Manila, Philippines, on Sept. 8, 1954, created a regional defense arrangement called the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Its purpose was to foster a system of mutual support to protect Southeast Asia against Communist expansion. The signatory nations were Australia, France, New Zealand, Great Britain, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. Vice President Nguyễn Cao Kỳ stood far left in the picture and President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu is third from the right.

South Vietnamese General Nguyen Cao Ky, Prime Minister of Republic of Vietnam (1965-7) and Commander in Chief of South Vietnamese Air Force pictured in October 1971. Three decades after the war Nguyen Cao Ky has been given permission to return home to celebrate the Lunar New Year festival of Tet. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, once the powerful premier of South Vietnam, now runs a liquor-delicatessen-grocery store in the blue collar suburban community of Norwalk, California. Here Ky works the cash register as his wife, Đặng Tuyết Mai (back to camera) after escaping Vietnam in 1975.

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIET NAM: Former South Vietnamese vice-president Nguyen Cao Ky (L) and his former war-time body guard Ly Huynh hug each other as Ky is greeted upon his arrival at the Sheraton Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, 14 January 2004. Ky, who was a staunch anti-communist, returned home with Hanoi’s blessing, nearly 30-years after the Vietnam War. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ hugged his old bodyguard in Vietnam in 2004.

===>>> Video of Kỳ talking to the press on his trip back to Vietnam in 2004, calling all Vietnamese to unite to build Vietnam to become a dragon of Asia.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ’s coffin was covered with the flags of the US, Malaysia and South Vietnam. Funeral in Malaysia on 29/7/2011.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ’s picture on a worship altar for the deceased at Vĩnh Nghiêm temple, Saigon. It is believed Kỳ wore Malaysian costume as he was awarded a Tunship by the Malaysian Government in 1965. Tun title was also rewarded to all retired Malaysian Prime Ministers.

American First Lady Bird Johnson, President Lyndy B. Johnson, South Vietnam Second Lady Đặng Tuyết Mai. Phillipines First Lady Imelda Marcos and South Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ in Manila.

Đặng Tuyết Mai and Nguyễn Cao Kỳ 1969.

Kỳ Duyên and Đặng Tuyết Mai in the US before Ms Mai fell ill.

Kỳ Duyên and Đặng Tuyết Mai, Duyên’s third partner and Duyên’s two daughters.

Kỳ Duyên and her mother on a cruise.

Restaurant Phở Ta of Đặng Tuyết Mai built in 2009 in an affluent area in Saigon.

But wait there’s more!

The Rotten Apples

Prime Minister of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky, and his wife made a two-day visit to southeast Queensland in 1967. (link to newspaper article http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/wild-welcome-for-vietnam-pm/news-story/57a5dd5fc8d76c59d83d166e7d9e5d4e)

<<Facts, pictures, and video clips related to this post – visits, investments in Vietnam by the family of the ex-Vice President’s family>>

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.

But wait there’s more!

Interview: hiMe printed the book of her story as a Refugee — Blookup Blog

Summer is light and joyful, but many things can happen under the sun. Some are less light, but are also essential to know, essential to History and Memory. It might take a while, but things do get lighter and sunnier when you begin to write them down. hiMe, from the blog A Refugee’s Journey, shares all that…

via Interview: hiMe printed the book of her story as a Refugee — Blookup Blog

A Chinese girl in Vietnam’s related information

Chinese Opera actresses put on make-up before a performance.

Chinese Opera actresses put on make-up before a performance.

<<Story related to the information>>

CHOLON 1955 - La Rue des Marins - Đồng Khánh street. The book "CHOLON" was written by Jean-Michel de Kermadec with pictures from Raymond Cauchetier. It was printed in December 1955 by "'Imprimerie Française d'Outre-Mer" (IFOM) 3, Rudyard-Kipling Street (Nguyễn Siêu street) in Saigon.

CHOLON 1955 – La Rue des Marins – Đồng Khánh
street. The book “CHOLON” was written by Jean-Michel de Kermadec with pictures from Raymond Cauchetier. It was printed in December 1955 by “‘Imprimerie Française d’Outre-Mer” (IFOM) 3, Rudyard-Kipling Street (Nguyễn Siêu street) in Saigon.

Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) in Chinese quarter in Saigon before the Fall of Saigon

Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) in Chinese quarter in Saigon before the Fall of Saigon

A market in Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) - another name for the Chinese quarter in Saigon in 1965.

A market in Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) – another name for the Chinese quarter in Saigon in 1965.

A market in Chợ Lớn in 1966.

A market in Chợ Lớn in 1966.

A street in Chợ Lớn in 1970.

A street in Chợ Lớn in 1970.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

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Thank you soldiers!

It's been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

It’s been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

Every year, I always buy the commemorative souvenirs for ANZAC, Remembrance Day and Legacy Week. The sights of those souvenir selling stalls at shopping malls make me feel bereft and grieving for the fallen Australian servicemen and servicewomen.

I didn’t have any memory of the Australian Army during the Vietnam war. The top two storeys above my family’s house together with the houses in two building blocks either side of An Dong market were occupied by the GIs. I was often given candies by the GIs passing by while I was playing outside my house. I remember fondly those American advisers who greeted me warmly when my father took me to his workplace at Saigon Headquarters.

I was very grateful to America for sending their forces to help South Vietnam fight the Communists. 

For a long time, America evoked warm fraternal feelings in me, as if it was a big brother looking after the young and bullied South Vietnam. I wanted to resettle in America after escaping from Vietnam. I was in deep sorrow after the September 11th attacks, just as if a very close friend was under attack.

In later years, when I connected to the Internet, I felt horrified to learn of the massacre at My Lai. Yet for that crime, what America did for the South was still too great to hate it.

I didn’t know of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war until four years after I arrived here. 

Given the co-operation between South Vietnam and Australia in the fight against the Vietnamese Communists, I expected warm greetings from my Australian acquaintances when I emailed them. I spoke of how proud I was of my father who always marched with other Vietnamese veterans on ANZAC day. Instead I was shocked when one wrote back telling me that all the wars were barbaric and there wasn’t anything so glorious about them.

At the writers group that I joined in recent years, I heard the phrase “all the way with LBJ” and realised that my stories about the South Vietnam before and after the fall of Saigon reminded the group of the Vietnam war, the war that most Australians hated to be involved with.

In conversations with an Australian friend, I was made aware that it was normal for South Vietnam and its people to like America’s involvement but Australia was reluctantly dragged into the war because of its subservient and dependent allied relationship with America. In my naïve mind until then both Australia and America were both free world allies but gradually I began to understand why Australia dislikes America. My friend also told me that Australians felt that the Vietnam war was not their war. I was upset to hear that Australia didn’t care about communism. I told myself that this was likely because Australia hadn’t experience communism before.

I have a friend whose son served in Afghanistan and now is suffering from PTSD and is afraid of sitting in a restaurant because of all the noises.

These days I feel I understand how Australians felt at the time. Unless it affects my now country – Australia – I wouldn’t like my teenage and adult sons to fight in a war between two forces from within the same foreign country just because of their different religious ideologies, even though one side is evil, because I don’t understand their religions.

There is an eternal struggle between good and evil. Should the world take responsibility instead of the greatest amongst the good to fight all the evils? I can see that America has been involved in too many conflicts due to the world’s perception of it as a “beacon and guarantor of freedom” as well as “the sheriff”. I wonder if America ever feels exhausted.

I wore my head band made of poppy flowers to work on the 100th Remembrance Day. I printed the poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon and placed it on a visible area on my desk so I could have an occasional glance at it. Besides the famous stanzas that are always 
recited at every remembrance ceremony, my favourite lines are:

“They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.”

It’s forever a deep desire inside me to express my gratitude from the heart to the dead and alive past Australian and American soldiers but I feel that my Facebook comments are not enough, that they will just conjure bitterness in the people who were conscripted and got wounded for their country. The people who received hostile receptions on their return from their own people, and now don’t get due care from the government that sent them to war.

To those that fought in the Vietnam war, I eternally want to say: “Thank you soldiers!”.

A Spring morning,
The grieving ode,
Does bring sorrow.
The inflow pain,
Shadow the Remembrance Day.

Men with blond hair,
Men with fair skin,
With bare courage,
The savage wars,
Ravage their souls and bodies.

To those who died,
Were denied thanks,
Who tried to fight,
Vietnam tight war,
Despite the plight, South Vietnam thanks you!
(Yadu-style poem)

Image credit
by June Yaham.

It's been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

It’s been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

A Murder, a Paedophile, a Cougar and the Deported Chinese

My neighbourhood showed its seamy face under Communism in 1979.

My neighbourhood showed its seamy face under Communism in 1979.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 Words – What happens in Vegas…

Mrs Chowmein was murdered!

It was the curious vagabonds who slept in front of the widower’s abode that discovered the rivulet of blood from inside the house, dripping down to where they were sleeping.

The vagrants formed part of the late-70s communist era’s phenomenon. They had previously belonged to the bourgeoisie groups, but forfeited their money and jewellery, anyways found themselves banished from their own homes to the barren land of the New Economic Zones before later finding their way back to the city.

I learned of Mrs Chowmein’s fate after waking up early to queue for the monthly family meat ration. I was struck with disbelief, fear and overwhelming sadness, I couldn’t accept the fact that there was a murder in my neighbourhood even though I read and heard about it everyday. My mind was numb for the whole day and I couldn’t help chatting to the crowd gathered in front of Mrs Chowmein’s house. But wait there’s more!

The Fairness of Money

I grew up vowing never to follow the custom that I saw as unfair and corruptible.

I grew up vowing never to follow the custom that I saw as unfair and corruptible.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – Shaped by childhood.

It was nearing the end of a meal, and people were still busy chatting to each other. Suddenly I heard the steady, pounding noise of someone running, then I saw a strange scene unfolding between Mr Frugal and Mr Opportunistic inside the restaurant by the cash register. The two men, red-faced and smiling, were grabbing at each other’s hands and pockets. Each was preventing the other from paying for the group’s meal. Money was shoved back into each owner’s pockets and hands were moved away from the till. The two men were heard shouting things like: “No, let me!”, “Please don’t do that, you are so weird!” Strangers may appreciate how eager and obliging both men were in displaying their hospitality.

I was still young at the time, but I realised why the two men wrestled with each other to foot the bill. It was a cheap restaurant and would not cost a lot for someone to fork out for the group. On the contrary, everyone dreads paying at an expensive venue, where those who are selfish, inconsiderate and know that it would not be their turn, would freely order an excess of dishes and drinks. But wait there’s more!

The White Magic Wand

I wish I had a magic wand so I could turn myself into a white person and then indulge in my hobby.

I wish I had a magic wand so I could turn myself into a white person and then indulge in my hobby.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – My other life.

AVT was a famous band in Vietnam. It was formed in 1958 to entertain servicemen and its name was made up from the initials of the three original band members who were political warfare recruits of the South Vietnam Army. The band disassembled when one member committed suicide on the fall of Saigon and another was evacuated to America, leaving one in Vietnam.

I loved listening to AVT’s satirical songs, where the members represented three regions of Vietnam dressed in different regional costumes, spoke in different dialects, played a mix of modern and classical regional music on traditional instruments.

In their song ‘The History of Hair’, they observed the way Saigon unstylishly copied the hair styles of Western film stars. The waving and receding hairstyle of American Robert Taylor was imitated, but looked more like ‘cow horns’. Brigitte Bardot’s hair was reproduced but resembled a bird nest. Gina Lollobrigida’s ‘frisé'(curly) style was replicated but appeared like a big hair ball. Women dyed their hair blonde to be like Marilyn Monroe and men who worshipped Yul Brynner shaved their heads. But wait there’s more!

Dark Red shadows

I came to Australia to escape the communist hell, but many knew that some of those demons made the journey too.

I came to Australia to escape the communist hell, but many knew that some of those demons made the journey too.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – How I came here.

After the Fall of Saigon, my father was ill-treated in communist hard-labour camps, where many of his colleagues died, because he was a Signal Corps Lieutenant Colonel. Many former military officers’ houses were forfeited, and their families were forced to relocate to the new economic zones.

The local government told Mum they wanted to take two storeys of our four-storey house and turn it into an administration office. Mum realised that their next step would be stripping us of our house completely and forcing us to move. At the time Mum had approximately 7kg of gold – earned from years working as children’s wear producer/wholesaler – stockpiled and hidden, so she took some and bribed the local officials to leave our house alone. Then, together with her sister, Mum opened a ‘co-operative clothing factory’ at our house. Regardless, the fear of losing the house never left our minds. But wait there’s more!