Vietnamese Protest Prime Minister's Visit

People in Houston's large Vietnamese community aren't happy that the Prime Minister of Vietnam is coming to Houston this week. In fact they're planning a large protest tomorrow night. Anticipating protests, those planning the PM's visit are keeping details a secret, as Jim Bell reports.
The Prime Minister of Vietnam is halfway through a four day visit to the United States, and he plans to visit Houston either today or tomorrow, but no one in position to know will say where or when. A spokesman at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which manages foreign dignitaries' visits, says details are confidential and will not be released to the media. The stated reason for the visit is to open a Vietnamese Consulate, but the location has not been revealed.

That might be because of the huge protests that greeted the former Vietnamese Prime Minister's visit to Seattle three years ago, and fears of more protests in Houston, which has a huge Vietnamese community.

Those fears are not groundless. Vietnamese radio station owner Phuc Duong says he's organizing a protest for tomorrow night to allow Houston's Vietnamese to show their contempt for Vietnam's communist government and its leaders.

Duong, who asked that his voice not be used, says an estimated 150 thousand people of Vietnamese birth and descent live in the Houston area, and those old enough to remember Vietnam came here to escape the Communist government that took over when the Vietnam War ended in 1975. He says they are not happy that the communist Prime Minister of their home country is coming to Houston, and they've asked Houston Mayor Bill White to not meet with him.

They may get that wish. A spokesman for the mayor says White hasn't been able to fit the Prime Minister into his schedule this week, and no meeting is planned. Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.