His Excellency General
The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
Yarralumla ACT 2600
Dear His Excellency,
On 1 June 2016 Governor of SA Hieu Van Le accompanied the Premier of SA Jay Weatherill to visit the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The intent of the visit as publicly announced was to initiate and develop educational and commercial ties with Vietnam. The picture of Mr. Hieu Van Le shaking hand with the Vice Chairwoman of the host country standing by its national flag and under the portrait of the past Chairman Ho at the welcoming party was distributed worldwide in the press and on the internet.
Mr. Hieu Van Le came ashore to Darwin, Australia in 1977 fleeing the war zone after the fall of Saigon in 1975 for fear of persecution under the communist regime in Vietnam. Mr HVLe was a Vietnamese refugee under the UNHCR Refugees Convention in 1951, which defines “a refugee as a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”
Mr. HVLe came to Adelaide and first worked as an interpreter and teaching English to Vietnamese refugees, and then as an accountant at the Women and Children Hospital in Adelaide. He joined the left wing of the Labour Party and quickly earned the support and respect of the Vietnamese refugees in Adelaide. He gained an MBA degree from Adelaide University. He became an eminent figure and rose quickly to Lieutenant Governor and then Governor of SA in 2014. In his acceptance speech as Governor, he said, in essence, that the honour given is not to him, but it is to be submitted the forebearers of the Vietnamese people.
We as refugee communities in Adelaide in particular, and in Australia and the world over, were so proud of Mr. HVLe for his appointment by the Monarch of Australia Her Majesty The Queen.
However, the visit by Mr. HVLe to Vietnam has evoked anger and grave concern in the Viet refugee communities in Adelaide, in Australia, and worldwide.
We respectfully submit the following.
1. To achieve the refugee status Mr. HVLe made a statutory declaration under the UN Geneva 1951 Convention. Australia’s signature on the 22 January 1954 brought into force the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Mr. HVLe has allegedly breached the UN Convention Refugee status by going back to Vietnam with the intention of establishing business and other interests. As a matter of fact, the June 2016 visit to Vietnam by Mr. HVLe was not his first visit. It has been known he had made numerous visits to Vietnam as far back as 2006 and a number of questions were raised as to the purposes of these visits by Mr. Le. Mr. Le who solemnly declared himself to be a genuine refugee escaping the communists for fear of his safety back in 1977 now secretly went back to Vietnam. With what intention? Under whose protection? Under whose support? Who financed his visits?
Switzerland has sent back in 2015 to Vietnam a number of Viet refugees and revoked their Swiss citizenship because these refugees went back to Vietnam to engage in their private interests.
Since his visit to Vietnam in June last month significant outcries inundated the internet, in particular, the Saigon Times (saigontimes.org). We have seen such expressions as “what a shame for the Governor of SA”, “The Governor of SA shakes hand with the Communists in Vietnam”, “Hieu Le, who are you?”, “Hieu Le is a traitor”, “Hieu Le is the local Vietnamese Communist penetrating into the highest level of the SA government”.. etc.
The two local Vietnamese weekly newspapers published in Adelaide, the “Adelaide Weekly” and the “SA Weekly” condemned Mr. HVLe in his visit to Vietnam.
The Vietnamese communities in Adelaide have called for a boycott against Mr. Le at all Vietnamese functions and celebration activities from now on.
Basically a refugee, Mr. HVLe allegedly seriously breached his UN Convention Refugee Status. The question is “Does he deserve this status?” Should it be revoked?
2. Mr. HVLe was appointed by the Queen
The Governor of South Australia performs the same constitutional, ceremonial and community functions at the state level as does the Governor-General at the national level.
Under the Westminster system, the Governor was appointed by the Queen Australian Monarch, and his term of appointment is at the Queen’s pleasure.
By contrast, the Premier of SA is elected by the people and his term is decided by the Australian voters.
Most certainly Mr. HVLe has breached his vice-regal Westminster system contract with the Queen by engaging in activities of the people-elected Weatherill government in the Vietnam visit. The aim of the visit was said to create educational and business interests in Vietnam to help the SA economy which has the highest level of unemployment (7%) in Australia. Mr. HVLe should not have acted under the instructions of the Premier to visit Vietnam, with expenses paid by the taxpayers.
Please note again the June visit this year was not his first visit to Vietnam.
In Australian history, we have seen the Governor-General Sir John Kerr sacked the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
The question is “Does Mr. HVLe breach his contractual vice-regal appointment as Representative of the Queen in Australia?”
Dear His Excellency,
The public outcry is still going on and is getting more and more widespread, causing significant damage to Mr. HVLe himself and to his Governorship Representative of the Queen Australia’s Monarch.
Thank you for your precious time. We look forward to receiving your judgment and advice.
Tam Nguyen PhD
(Department of Defence, DSTO Retd)