VNA's Interview with Madame Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Vice-chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, National Assembly of Vietnam on US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez's remarks with the press in Hanoi (6 April, 2007)
Question: What do you have to say about Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez's harsh criticisms about democracy and human rights in Vietnam?
Answer: First, that Ms Loretta Sanchez has never come to Vietnam with an open and objective mind, seriously looking at the whole picture. She does not come to observe and discuss but to follow a set activist agenda, dictated by an extremist minority of her constituents in California, who are mired in the past. It is regrettable that instead of responding to the forward looking but less vocal majority of her constituents, she chooses to remain hostage to the backward looking minority. Her gloomy, alarmist pronouncements on the situation in Vietnam were to be expected.
On the other hand, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez turns a blind eye to Vietnams own concerns in the area of human rights. She turned down or ignored requests by the Vietnam Veterans Association and the Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin to meet with her on the latter issue or to visit the Friendship Village where victims of Agent Orange are taken care of.
Moreover, while in Vietnam her misplaced behaviour amounts to blatant interference in our internal affairs under the pretext of "bringing democracy" to Vietnam from outside. She is doing a disservice to US-Vietnam relations. We believe only in homegrown democracy, and the times are long past when developing nations supposedly needed to be enlightened and saved by developed nations. It is puzzling to us that elected officials like Ms Loretta Sanchez focus so much attention and devote such energy on human rights in Vietnam, i.e. abroad. Perhaps some of that attention and energy could be more constructively and appropriately directed closer to home, for example towards Guantanamo.
Question: Is the US Congressional delegations visit therefore unproductive?
Answer: I dont think so. The delegation includes three other members of Congress from the Armed Services Committee, two of whom belong to the US-Vietnam Caucus in the House of Representatives. We had constructive discussions on the many aspects of the overall bilateral relationship, including on security and MIA cooperation as well as economic and trade ties. We welcome this first delegation from the new Congress, especially because it is the first delegation from the Armed Services Committee which we consider as a practical step to implement the joint undertaking adopted a year ago by the Speakers of the two countries to foster contacts and interaction between American and Vietnamese lawmakers in the interest of the expanding and deepening US-Vietnam relationship./.
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