October 20, 2000
Dr. Kevin Bowen
Director William Joiner Center
100 Morrissey Blvd.Boston,
MA 02126-3393. USA
Dear Dr. Bowen,
The Vietnamese Medical Association of the Free World represents many Vietnamese Medical Associations in non-communist countries. Regrouping thousands medical practitioners of Vietnamese background around the world, it is a part of a larger overseas Vietnamese community.
It has been a great pain for us to have to express our opinion regarding a study at your center titled “Reconstructing identity and place in the Vietnamese Diaspora”. As an organization of the Vietnamese Diaspora, of which most of the members are ex-refugees, we feel obliged to express our opinion.This project is of concern to us not because of its theme but because of the manner in which the choice of researchers was conducted. The selection of two researchers from Vietnam to do the project makes it look more like a political misinformation than a qualitative social study.
There are many factors, which lead to the conclusion that this project is biased and politically motivated.Firstly, the above mentioned researchers are likely to be influenced by their background, having been trained in Marxist Leninist ideology and harnessing sociopolitical connections to the Vietnamese Communist Party, therefore independent collection and analysis of materials are not guaranteed. Their participation in the project an distort views and responses therefore the criteria of scientific objectivity and impartiality are not likely to be met. The selection of these researchers by William Joiner Center also suggested that the selection process has been based on convenience rather than on merits.
Secondly, this study cannot and should not be generalized to reflect the overseas Vietnamese when objectivity has been totally flawed. The presence of overseas Vietnamese is a historical fact. After 1975, over two million Vietnamese have left their homeland as refugees and have been settled in many countries included United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain... and all non-Communist countries. This was a mass exodus of people who fled oppressive Vietnam in search of freedom, and have settled in a new homeland. A study which aims to write the history of overseas Vietnamese based on data collection and analysis of two researchers coming from Vietnam, who have had no experience or credible knowledge about refugees, is likely to distort the true history of overseas Vietnamese.
Thirdly, any outcome generated from this study can mislead the public about the history of overseas Vietnamese resulting in misconception and misinterpretation of the presence of Vietnamese in overseas countries.It is disappointing that William Joiner Center has decided to carry on this project without proper consideration of its process, and without consultation of the target group, the Vietnamese Diaspora itself. One would wonder about possible hidden motivation behind this study.
Many letters and suggestions have been sent to the William Joiner Center for consideration. Unfortunately there is as yet no change or modifications. Once results are published, no one can and will have confidence in this study. It is important that a well-known center like the William Joiner Center avoids such great error, in order to preserve its reputation and in the name of intellectual honesty. Now, before it is too late.
The Vietnamese Medical Association of the Free World urge you to reconsider. We are willing to assist an un-biased, independent and non-political study about the Vietnamese Diaspora. We are ready to cooperate with you and propose other more qualified candidates, well-known social scientists, who will bring to this project the required competency, seriousness and objectivity. In case you decide to go ahead with the project in the same manner, we will feel obliged to publish this letter or a similar letter, with the signature of many organizations, intellectuals and university professors in the Vietnamese Diaspora, as an open letter in all major US newspapers and other media outlets to attract the attention of journalists and politicians and to open a public debate, in order to defend the interests of our community, a community of more than one million Vietnamese American citizens in the United States alone. However we greatly hope that together we could work out a better solution that will be satisfying for both sides, in our interest and in yours.
Dr. Phuoc Vo, M.D. Chairman
Council of Representatives/VMAFW
Dr. Cam Hoang, M.D.
President Vietnamese Medical Association of the USA