HCM City — Four high-ranking officials of the former Sai Gon regime who served 30 years ago marvelled at the changes in HCM City as they met with foreign reporters yesterday during a press conference.
The meeting, along with other press conferences of this week, was one of many being held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sai Gon’s liberation on April 30.
"This is one thing that makes me proud. Thirty years after the war, the Vietnamese economy is now more self-sufficient. Farmers in the South are able to grow rice and export. In the past, the economy of the south fully depended on the U.S," said brigadier Nguyen Huu Hanh, a former member of the cabinet of then-president of the Sai Gon regime, Duong Van Minh. Hanh was in Independence Palace on April 30 when Minh was forced to surrender.
Major General Nguyen Huu Co, now 81, described to foreign reporters about the changes of his life after 1975.
Today, all of his 10 sons and daughters are doing well, with four of them living in the US. "Next month, I will fly to visit them again and no one ban me from going abroad," Co said.
Brigadier Trieu Quoc Manh, former chief of Sai Gon-Gia Dinh Police said: "I had to attend a short course for three days each year for several years after re-unification. My family, like millions of other Vietnamese households, had to face a hard life. However, everything has changed and I now work as a lawyer."
For Nguyen Dinh Dau, a researcher, life hasn’t changed much.
"I still live as usual. I’m 85 years old now, but each week, I still write an article for a Catholic newspaper. Every month, I do historical research, and every year, I publish one book. That’s enough for me," Dau said.
Asked about relations between Viet Nam and the US, Brigadier Hanh looked back at history.
"Like former US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara, who recognised in his book that the US made a mistake in Viet Nam, I think the US should try to solve problems through peaceful international solutions," Hanh said.
Hanh said: "We are two peoples, but we should live peacefully. International co-operation has become a global trend. Viet Nam should co-operate with all nations in the world, including the US."
"Viet Nam is changing, is more open, more transparent, freer. People feel more comfortable talking about subjects they wouldn’t have discussed 10 years ago," said American newspaper reporter David Lamb, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.
Lamb was in Viet Nam between 1968 and 1970 when he covered the war as United Press International (UPI) reporter. He was in Sai Gon in April 1975 and spent 1997 to 2001 living in Ha Noi as a Los Angeles Times reporter.
"Every time when I come back, I see the development of the country. Everybody is busy. I feel optimistic for the young people who think that their life is pretty good today and may be better tomorrow. Thirty years ago, I wasn’t sure that people could have thought that way," he said. — VNS