Kontum April 28th, 2015


Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hung, Chairman of the National Assembly of The Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Mr. Pham Dung, Chairman of the Government's Religious Committee, Hanoi.

Dear Sirs,

On April 22, 2015, the Religious Committee of Kontum forwarded to us a Document No. 40/TGCP Re: Comment on the Proposition of 4 Laws on Faith and Religion of the Government’s Religious Committee. I personally think the 13-day deadline (from April 22, 2015 to May 5, 2015) for making comments on such important proposed laws is not adequate under the circumstances of a country facing an invasion threat from the northern foreigners. However, due to the warning in your correspondence that "If your comments are not to be received after the deadline it would be understood that you have agreed with our proposed laws", we would like to post a few comments from people around here and myself. Although "nothing stings like the truth", I would still earnestly pass these on for the best interest of our country!

I. A couple of comments:

1.1 The first reaction we received from people around us was "Comments are useless!"; "Their mind already made up. What good can our comments do?"; "What can be more important than the Constitutions? Yet people's comments mean nothing to them. Even the comments made by the Vietnamese Bishop Conferences were not listened to” etc...

1.2 The Document indicated that the government has been deeply interfering with the religious affairs. Each religion has its own canons and rules. How ridiculous it can be when the "non-believers" trying to set the rules for the people of faith? Perhaps, the government should only introduce a number of regulations on its religious management.

1.3 There are also people who think "Since this is all but a summary of how religions have been managed by the Vietnamese communist government during the past 70 years, it, therefore, only shows that the control grip is now being tightened more skilfully"

1.4 The hastily consensus can only mean "to make things look democratic or to help the religion managing officials find a better way to tighten their grip while waiting for the religions to die out just like what the founders of Communism foretold". It makes one wonder if the Vietnamese government still considers religion "the opium of the people".

1.5 This is indeed a legal document which weighs heavily on the ASK - GIVE nature, just as it has been for many years in the past. This policy creates a breeding ground for corruption. It is the root cause which is corrupting the regime that many people are not aware of; and ultimately make them fail to earnestly acknowledge the people's freedom of religion.

1.6 We are so disappointed with the ending phrase "in accordance with the law". This is the key word-group which created so many difficulties that all religions have been facing in past years. Thanks to such phrases, the officials can interpret or apply the laws anyway they wish.

1.7 Strangely enough, in our country, there have been civilian and official violators in any areas. In the religion area, however, the violators are always the civilians while the officials always are correct. They have never been violators!

II. Suggestions

2.1 Please postpone the voting of the "Religion and faith law" and gather all our strength on fighting against aggressors from the North who are encroaching our land and sea. The developed countries do not need any agency to be in charge of religions or any law to manage religions yet they still remain stable and developed. Obviously it should be the job of the law makers who are religious or faith oriented and of those who truly are religious leaders, not of those "who are non-believers”!

2.2 What I am concerned with the most is "The 1990 Thanh Do Agreement". Does this agreement exist? If it does, what is its content? Has it been exactly like what the world has been paying attention to? The fact that the Socialist government of Vietnam arrested and convicted its patriotic citizens just because they expressed their indignation at the "foreign northern country" which is encroaching our land and sea would make us wondering and becoming more unsettling. We often wonder if we may or what is needed to be done at this time? As citizens we have the "right- to- know and to-take- actions". We are fervently awaiting Mr. Chairman of the National Assembly and Mr. Chairman of the Government's Religious Committee to help us understanding clearly the issues at hand.

Dear Sirs,

I respectfully wish you and the official’s good heath in order to loyally serve our fatherland.

Respectfully yours,

Hoang Duc Oanh

Bishop of Kontum Diocese

(Signed and sealed)
Tran Thanh Chung

Bishop Emeritus of Kontum Diocese


Copy to:

The Chairman of Kontum People’s Committee

The Chairman of Gia Lai People’s Committee

The Presbyterium of the Kontum Diocese

Translated from Vietnamese by VietCatholic News