flag choice sparks ideological protest
By: David Ramli
A Vietnamese war of
ideology is set to break out next week because of the Catholic Church’s
decision to use the Communist flag instead of the South Vietnamese flag as
the official symbol of Vietnam for World Youth Day 2008.
Vietnamese flag features a yellow star on a red background, while the old
South Vietnamese has a yellow background and three horizontal red stripes.
President of The Vietnamese Community in Australia, also expects to use the
controversial new annoyance laws against visiting Vietnamese pilgrims if
goaded with aggressive waving of the official flag.
“If these people are
deliberately provocative in using the North Vietnamese flag towards our
Vietnamese refugees from Australia and overseas, we think the police will
have a job to do and we hope the police will deal with that,” he said.
“They [the Vietnamese
government] will not let this opportunity go by without some provocation,
I’m quite sure about that,” said Nguyen.
The Papal Mass on 20
July is set to be a flash point, with soaring community demand for South
Vietnamese flags that will be used as a silent protest during the event.
“We make these on
request and the requests have been overwhelming... This is freedom of speech
and this is an expression in answer to the official flag,” said Nguyen.
Government is aware of the plan and says that if anyone is going to be
charged with ‘annoyance’, it should be the expatriate Vietnamese.
“They are trying to
organise, on July 20, using the South Vietnamese regime flag. If they do so
they should be punished first for their use of their flag because no one
recognises this flag,” said Tran Quoc Khanh, a spokesman for the Vietnamese
Consulate in Sydney.
Government has dismissed Nguyen’s comments while praising the Church’s
decision and believes that the expatriate community should follow official
“When we reunited the
country, that flag became a relic of South Vietnam. They don’t recognise the
reality of Vietnam and realities between Vietnam and the rest of the world
including Australia,” said Quoc Khanh.
The number of pilgrims
from Vietnam to WYD is set to reach a record high of 800, but they remain
greatly outnumbered by the 2,300 domestic Vietnamese-speakers expected to
attend, many of whom were raised to respect the South Vietnamese flag.
Joseph Dinh, 22, is a
liturgy coordinator and pilgrim group organiser. While he shares the
political views of Nguyen and will be carrying a South Vietnamese flag to
the final Papal Mass, he feels that spirituality should outweigh politics