Fake News About Viet Nam

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Photo: AFP/Kao Nguyen

The above photo was taken at a 10 June 2018 demonstration in HCMC against a bill to create three new special economic zones (SEZs) in Quang Ninh and Khanh Hoa provinces, as well as on Phu Quoc Island.  (There are already 18 SEZs.)  As a result of considerable feedback from the public, including in the form of protests, the government has said it would adjust the 99-year term.  At issue is the fear of Chinese encroachment on Vietnamese sovereignty, since many of the investors would presumably be Chinese.  (China is Viet Nam’s leading trading partner.)  

Below is my response to a thread on the Viet Nam Studies Group (VSG) listserv about reputable sources of information about Viet Nam.  One colleague, DB, suggested Asia Times (AT), among others.  


Asia Times?  Really?  I guess it depends on which articles you read.  The one below, written by “Khai Nguyen” (KN) and posted on VSG a while ago, is an op-ed masquerading as news (Southeast Asia – Politics).  KN is obviously toeing the VK (Việt Kiều) or overseas Vietnamese/US-centric party line and thereby engaging in the kind of wishful thinking that’s prevalent in overseas Vietnamese refugee communities.  (Think Quận Cam/Orange County, CA, USA)  By the way, does anyone know who KN is?  I’d like to drop him a line.  Or maybe it’s a nom de guerre (?).    

A democratic revolution has just begun in Vietnam  (8 July 2018, Asia Times)

Massive but orderly protests across the country hint at the beginning of the end of Communist Party rule

My favorite comments, both spot-on, are:  

What a stupid story. Just more wishful thinking by Vietnam haters living in the US.  – Bao D Nguyen.  

This is clearly sponsored fake news. -Badri Subedi

If history is any guide, the suggestion in this comment is also a distinct possibility:  

Another colour protest organized and funded by CIA and the NED. CIA and the NED failed in their attempt to organise similar protest in Hong Kong and Thailand. Now, they are trying Vietnam. They will fail again. – Michael Chan

Below is the excerpt GN shared with the list.  Absolute BS, pardon my salty language.  Source?  Likely KN’s overactive imagination.  Statistics pulled out of thin air.  Whatever it takes to enhance his false narrative.  

The government now spends about 82.1% of the national budget to pay salaries to government officials, military, police, 205 public security generals and five million Party members. The remaining 17.9% is earmarked for development investments

If you don’t know very much about Viet Nam or you hate its government, you might be inclined to believe this 1700-word rant.  That was certainly the case with Chieu T. Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American who lives in Texas, and therefore sees his ancestral homeland through three red-striped glasses.  As if on cue, here’s what he wrote in the comments section:  “This is an amazingly accurate, good report.”  How many of you agree with this assertion?  I thought so.  

One of my favorite statements is KN’s conclusion:  Many Vietnamese now believe that a long-awaited true revolution has just begun.  Based on what, exactly, a dream the author had?  How many?  Which Vietnamese?  The author’s refugee buddies (or relatives) in the diaspora who still fly the flag of a client state that was vanquished and tossed into the trash bin of history with the liberation of Saigon on 30 April 1975?  The millions of Vietnamese who are among the most optimistic people in the world, economically and otherwise, according to annual surveys?  The notion that “a long-awaited true revolution has just begun” is so much pie in the sky.  This article has “OUTSIDER” stamped all over it.  

[KN’s essay is not unlike this article, posted by a VSGer a while back to a cyberchorus of groans and snickering.]  

Here’s part of what I wrote to AT about this poorly written and argued tirade:  Shame on Asia Times for publishing this tripe.  Conclusion:  take many of AT’s articles with a grain of salt.  That includes some of David Hutt’s work, e.g., Reactionary ‘red flags’ tilt Vietnam to the Alt-right.  


After reading my post, DB responded thus:  Agree — a story credited to “Khai Nguyen” recently appears to be a Việt Tân propaganda swallowed wholesale by Asia Times.  (Việt Tân, also known as the Vietnam Reform Revolutionary Party, is a network of members inside Vietnam and around the world, that aims to establish democracy and reform Vietnam through peaceful and political means.  It is classified as a terrorist organization by the Vietnamese government.)

Peace, MAA

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Working with Education Agents: A View from Vietnam

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Image courtesy of NAFSA

Below are a couple of excerpts from a blog post I wrote at the invitation of NAFSA’s International Enrollment Management (IEM) Knowledge Community.  

While there are some indications that growing numbers of students, who are better informed and more empowered than ever, are applying directly to foreign educational institutions – a trend that we should all encourage because it enables colleagues from admitting institutions to exercise more control over the application process – Vietnam, like most sending countries, is still very much an agent-driven market.

Given this reality and the fact that competition is fiercer than ever, colleagues need to develop a long-term and diversified strategy that includes a variety of non-commission-based recruitment tools and techniques, both digital and offline, in addition to developing a quality and ethical agent network.  Working with education agents should be just one of many tools in an institution’s recruitment toolbox. If it’s the only one, your recruitment efforts are doomed to fail in competitive markets.

Here’s a link to the original post, if would like to read it in its entirety on the NAFSA website.  

Peace, MAA

The Red, White, & Blue Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Nearly two dozen members of the U.S. Congress have written to the heads of Facebook and Google urging them not to comply with a new cybersecurity law in Vietnam, saying the legislation is in violation of international human rights standards and raises concerns under the country’s trade obligations.

google logoThis is rich, coming from the greatest human rights violator in the world, bar none, and a country that regularly and extensively monitors the online activities of its own law-abiding citizens and anyone else they can sink their claws into via Google, Facebook, and other companies, regardless of nationality.   (Long live Edward Snowden!)  

Here’s a dictionary definition of HYPOCRISY:  the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.  If the shoe fits, wear it, and it certainly does in this case.  (Long live the Tor Project and encrypted email and chat!)  

Radio_Free_Asia_(logo)Follow this link to read this article in its entirety:  US Lawmakers Urge Facebook, Google Not to Comply With Vietnam Cybersecurity Law.  As always, consider the source.  RFA is a propaganda organ of the US government.  It broadcasts and publishes online news, information, and commentary to listeners in East Asia while “advancing the goals of U.S. foreign policy.”  Even if the truth doesn’t set you free, it will make you a more well-informed national and global citizen.    

Bonus!  

Read these 2010 and 2013 articles and weep (and/or get angry): EXCLUSIVE: GOOGLE, CIA INVEST IN ‘FUTURE’ OF WEB MONITORING

Secret program gives NSA, FBI backdoor access to Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft data

Peace, MAA

Postscript:  Cybermemo to those two dozen hypocrites in the US Congress and their fellow travelers:  Rome is burning!  Instead of throwing stones from your rather large and crumbling glass house and wasting precious time talking out of both sides of your sanctimonious maw, why not try putting out some of the fires?  HintUse water not gasoline.  

Grow Beyond – SEO-Vietnam Career Conference 2018

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I recently saw this announcement on LinkedIn:

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity – Vietnam is organizing the largest career conference in Vietnam in 2018, aiming at connecting top young professionals and fresh graduates to the top-notch firms in Vietnam. We are still open to more booths at the career fair. If you are interested to boost talent acquisition at our event. please let me know. 

Our partners include top notch firms such as: ABInbev, BCG, SSI, Unilever, Traveloka, McKinsey, British American Tobacco and many more.

Here are my responses and other comments:

Great conference and opportunity with one caveat: I wish organizations would not take sponsorship money from companies that manufacture products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, ultimately end up killing them. There’s plenty of sponsorship money out there for worthwhile events. Don’t follow the path of least resistance and take what is essentially blood money.  

Hi Mark, thank you for your attentive concern. The morale side of the business is yet controversial, but from our organizing perspective, we try to give a diversified company portfolio, which have prominent career trainings, employees benefits and opportunities for young professionals to make their own choices :). 

It’s not controversial for those who believe that people are more important than profit.  My point is about sponsorship not whether such a company should have a booth at your event. Regarding employment with a company that manufactures products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, end up killing them, here are two relevant quotes from Thích Nhất Hạnh: 1) “Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or erode them. We should be awake to the consequences, far and near, of the way we earn our living.” 2) “The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others.” https://english.vov.vn/society/vietnamese-cancer-mortality-rate-higher-than-traffic-accidents-361688.vov 

Thank you for sharing chi!

Peace, MAA

Student Recruitment at International Schools: A Small Part of the Overall Picture

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Courtesy of Concordia International School Hanoi

These schools are the path of least resistance for colleagues who want to promote their institutions to overseas-bound students, including Vietnamese and expats.  For example, they tend to have guidance counselors who are fluent in English, which facilitates communication and there is little to no bureaucratic red tape associated with a visit.  

The reality, however, is that most of the students in Viet Nam who are planning to study overseas are Vietnamese enrolled in local public and private schools.  I would estimate that the national breakdown is 90% or more from Vietnamese schools.  (This is just an educated guess.)

Access to Vietnamese schools is more problematic, in some cities more than others, because of local rules and regulations.  Foreigners need a permit and schools have been inundated with requests from colleagues and education companies, all of whom are promoting institutions and programs. 

Since the schools’ primary mission is education, outside visits are a much lower priority in terms of staff resources and valuable teaching time.  Unless you know someone at a particular school, it’s very difficult to simply send someone you don’t know (and who doesn’t know you) an email and expect a positive outcome yet alone a response.  

In conclusion, while it’s worth visiting selected international schools, after determining your institution has what their students are looking for, e.g., many welcome the more selective schools, for example, you shouldn’t put too many of your outreach eggs in the international school basket, simply because they’re easier to gain access to.  It could end up being a waste of your precious time and travel/marketing funds.  

Peace, MAA

Over Half the World is Online; Viet Nam Among Top 10 for Facebook Use

Essential Insights Into Internet, Social Media, Mobile, and E-Commerce Use Around the World

2018 Q2 Global

Here’s the latest, according to We are Social and Hootsuite.  Of the 7.615 billion human beings on this planet, 4.087 billion are online, which equals a global Internet penetration rate of 54%.  3.297 billion of them are active social media users, which amounts to a 43% penetration rate.  (To view all 50 slides from this April 2018 presentation click on the link above or the screenshot.)  

What’s notable for Viet Nam is that it ranks 7th among countries with the largest active Facebook user bases with 58 million, a 16% YOY increase. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) ranks 6th (!) with 14 million active users. Finally, related to these two rankings, the Vietnamese language ranks 7th with 61 million users.  Viet Nam’s current population is  96,509,781, based on the latest United Nations estimates, which means a nationwide Internet penetration rate of 63.20%.

For more information about Vietnamese online behavior, check out this 3-18 post I wrote for The PIE News entitled How the Vietnamese Use the Internet, Including Social Media.  

Peace, MAA

In Country Representatives: A Tale of Two Models

intl student recruitmentA growing number of educational institutions are turning to in country, including regional, representatives to assist them with international student recruitment.  While this option obviously costs more than other recruitment tools and techniques because it includes the cost of a local salary, benefits (?), and other expenses, including travel and marketing, it can potentially be more productive.  It all depends on your representative, her/his skill, network, and a variety of market conditions. 

There are basically two models from which to choose:

An Independent Consultant:  You hire someone, ideally, a host country national who speaks the language, perhaps has studied overseas, and has a good education-related network.  Your rep essentially works at home, which saves your institution money.  You pay her/him directly via international wire transfer.  Sounds simple, right?  

An Outsourced Consultant:  A host country national who is employed by a legally licensed company but who represents your institution exclusively.  The Viet Nam-based employer assumes legal responsibility for your representative and handles payroll and other administrative issues, in addition to providing “supervision lite”, and offering strategic advice.

The main difference between the two models is that the first is technically illegal while the second is legal.  Regarding the former:  is anyone ever going to call you on it?  Probably not but they could – either within Viet Nam or from abroad.    

The problem is that foreign entities are not permitted to operate in Viet Nam without an official (read legal) presence, i.e., a license.  Consider this food for thought for those who currently employ an independent consultant from afar, or are considering doing so.

Peace, MAA