Most of the people fleeing Vietnam were economic, and not political, refugees, the Vietnamese Ambassador to France, Mr.
Most of the people fleeing Vietnam were economic, and not political, refugees, the Vietnamese Ambassador to France, Mr. Vo Van Sung, said in Paris on Wednesday (6 December).
SYNOPSIS: It was at the Vietnamese Embassy in the French capital that Mr. Van Sung offered some official views on the refugee situation.
He said that the wholesale reconstruction of Vietnam meant that both the economy and society itself had to be totally reorganised. Changes had been fast and dramatic, and they had necessarily altered the standard of living that many had known previously. Within Vietnam, there were grounds of people who had not been able to adjust properly; they could not accept the material differences in their lives. It was for this reason, Mr. Van Sung said, that many had chosen to leave the country.
In some places, he went on, those leaving Vietnam had been described as political refugees, but he chose to call them economic refugees whose departure was prompted by material reasons. He believed they formed the largest part of the stream of refugees quitting Vietnam. Attention should also be paid to another group caught up in the exodus. Mr. Van Sung said they were people who had been incited and organised by imperialists and reactionaries using them for their own purposes.
In recent months, the flow of Vietnamese refugees has been increasing. More than fifty thousand have poured into neighbouring Malaysia at an estimated rate of seven hundred a week. The Malaysian navy is trying to stop more from landing off refugee ships close to their shores. Since Saigon fell in 1975, more than eight thousand vietnamese refugees have also found their way to Hong Kong.