PHẠM ĐÌNH LÂN, F.A.B.I.
TWO RESPECTABLE REVOLUTIONARIES
Phan Châu Trinh -
Phan Bội Châu
Those educated Vietnamese, who are
interested in their country’s history can’t ignore their two contemporary
revolutionaries: Phan Boi Chau (1867- 1940) and Phan Chau Trinh (1872- 1926).
Born in Central Vietnam, they both were Confucian scholars but they renounced
officialdom to embark in revolutionary activities.
Phan Boi Chau ranked first in the huong thi (regional contest) in 1900.
Phan Chau Trinh was a pho bang (equivalent to MA) in the hoi thi (doctoral
contest) in 1901. He held a modest position in the Ministry of Rites under the
reign of Thanh Thai. His boss was Minister Ngo Dinh Kha, father of Ngo Dinh
Diem, future President of the Republic of Vietnam. Sick of officialdom under the
Vietnamese feudal monarchy and French protectorate he quit his job to struggle
for a bright future of Vietnam.
Phan Boi Chau, Tieu La Nguyen Thanh and Do Dang Tuyen founded Viet Nam Duy Tan
Hoi (Vietnam Modernization Association) in 1904. In 1905 he was the soul of
Phong Trao Dong Du (Journey to the East Movement). Having revolutionary
activities abroad Phan Boi Chau got in touch with Leang Ki-chao, Sun Yat-sen,
Okuma Shighenobu, Inukai Tsuyoshi .
Leang Ki-chao (1873-1929) and his professor Kang Yu-wei (1858- 1927) were
advisors to Emperor Kuang Hsu in the 100- day reform in the Year of the Dog
(1898). The reform failed. Leang lived in exile in Japan.
Sun Yat-sen (1866- 1925) was the soul of the Revolution of the Year of the Pig
(1911). He met Phan Boi Chau in Japan before the eruption of the revolution.
Okuma Shighenobu (1838- 1922) was Japanese Prime Minister (1898;1914- 1916).
Inukai Tsuyoshi (1855- 1932) was leader of the Rikken Seiyukai Party (Friends of
the Constitutional Government). He was Prime Minister in 1931- 1932. He was
assassinated in 1932 when Japanese militarism reached its apogee. Manchukuo (Manzhouguo),
a puppet state, was created by Japan. The last Emperor of the Qing, Pu Yi,
became King of Manchukuo.
Phan Chau Trinh was the soul of the Movement of Modernization. A Confucian
scholar he wasn’t fond of Chinese feudal thoughts. He was interested in Western
democratic thoughts. He read Contrat Social by Jean Jacques Rousseau and Esprit
des Lois by Montesquieu translated into Chinese characters by the Chinese
scholars. In feudal society influenced by Confucianism studying and passing the
triennial contests were the best means of life improvement. Therefore, the
Read up the <Chinese> classics and history to wait for the triennial contests
The wives had to work hard so that their husbands had enough time to learn the
<Chinese> classics and history in the hope of passing the triennial contests. On
the glorious day:
The hammock in which the wife is carried
Is behind that of her husband.
Working at the Ministry of Rites Phan Chau Trinh realized that some mandarins
such as Nguyen Huu Bai, Ngo Dinh Kha became important Ministers at the Hue Court
thanks to their knowledge of French and quoc ngu , and to their religion
(Catholicism). Phan Chau Trinh was conscious of the importance of French and
quoc ngu not to wish a high position in the government but to study Western
democracy, sciences and technology and to separate from Chinese cultural
influence that has had deep roots in Vietnam for many centuries.
Phan Boi Chau’s hair, beard, clothes and slippers showed he was a real Confucian
Phan Chau Trinh had his hair cut short, barbel a la Napoleon III, Nicholas II
and Meiji Tenno, Western clothes and put on leather shoes.
Phan Boi Chau was a monarchist. He supported Prince Cuong De, a descendant of
Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh, as King of the future constitutional monarchy . His
political line showed that he was deeply influenced by Confucianism that tied
loyalty to the King to patriotism. In 1885, at the age of 18, Phan Boi Chau
responded warmly to Phong Trao Can Vuong (Royalist Movement) headed by King Ham
Nghi. Leading Phong Trao Dong Du (Journey to the East Movement) Phan Boi Chau
needed Japanese assistance. The presence of Prince Cuong De was politically
necessary for Japan was a constitutional monarchy with the Constitution of 1889
written by Ito based on the German Constitution promulgated under Chancellor
Phan Chau Trinh loved democracy. He was disappointed by Prince Cuong De he met
in Japan in 1906. Cuong De proclaimed himself King Gia Thanh and asked the
Vietnamese students in Japan to bow dow when meeting the King at the Court every
day. Phan Boi Chau and Prince Cuong De exchanged bitter arguments in Japan in
1906. Phan Chau Trinh was the first Vietnamese Confucian scholar attacking the
monarchic regime. He criticized King Khai Dinh for attending the Marseille Expo
in 1922. In 1925 Phan Chau Trinh returned to Saigon from Paris instead of his
native province, Quang Nam, that was under the French protectorate and
Phan Boi Chau thought of Japanese assistance in his struggle for Vietnam’s
independence when he headed Phong Trao Dong Du. The 38- minute Japanese naval
victory over the Russian fleet in Tsushima in 1905 excited Phan Boi Chau very
much. His simple thought was that he could ask for help from Japan, an Asian
country. Its people are yellow- skinned like the Vietnamese. Japan didn’t help
him. He was asked to leave Japan after the signing of the Franco- Japanese
treaty (1907) which allowed Japan to borrow 300 million francs from France.
Leaving Japan Phan Boi Chau went to Siam (Thailand). The Qing dynasty was
overthrown by the Revolution of the Year of the Pig. Sun Yat-sen headed the
revolutionary government. Phan Boi Chau was in a hurry to go to China to see Sun
Yat- sen. Again he was disappointed. Sun‘ s position was unstable. The
revolution was strong in Southern China while Emperor Pu Yi was safe in Beijing.
General Yuan Shi-kai, a Chinese General trusted by Cixi, commanded the army.
Yuan could force Emperor Pu Yi to resign on condition that he should be
President. If Sun Yat-sen stayed in his presidential seat Yuan would use his
army to repress the revolution. Lacking armed forces Sun Yat-sen must listen to
what Yuan dictated to him. In 1912, influenced by the Kuomintang founded by Sun
Yat-sen, Pham Boi Chau founded Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi (Vietnam Restoration
Association). Independent Vietnam will be a Republic. Cuong De will be
President; Phan Boi Chau, Prime Minister.
Phan Chau Trinh was more realistic and pragmatic. He didn’t think of foreign
assistance in his struggle for Vietnam’s independence. It is futile to chase the
tiger in welcoming the leopard. It is dangerous to ask a pirate to expel the
pirate in our house which, in its turn, should be occupied by the helper, who is
more dangerous than the old pirate in our house.
Phan Boi Chau was excited by the Japanese naval victory, the Revolution of the
Year of the Pig. He was happy to know Franco- German hostility. From the
Guangzhou prison he ordered Nguyen Thuong Hien to travel to Siam to get in touch
with the German ambassador in Bangkok to receive some money to buy weapons.
Phan Chau Trinh wasn’t stirred by the Chinese Revolution of the Year of the Pig
(1911). This year he went to France to deepen his knowledge of Western
democracy. He lived miserably in Paris. In 1915 he was imprisoned in La Sante
for being suspected of contacting Germany. Marxism and the Russian proletarian
revolution led by Lenin didn’t move Phan Chau Trinh. As soon as he left La Sante
(prison) in 1917 Phan Chau Trinh wrote a letter to Nguyen Tat Thanh (Ho Chi
Minh) to call him to return to Paris from England. Nguyen Tat Thanh worked for a
cake shop in a hotel restaurant in London. Phan Chau Trinh and Nguyen Sinh Sac,
Nguyen Tat Thanh’s father, were colleagues at the Ministry of Rites. Both of
them were pho bang. In Paris Phan Chau Trinh and Nguyen Tat Thanh earned their
living by doing photographic work. Their relation got chilly after Nguyen Tat
Thanh adhered to the French Communist Party (1920) under the pseudonym Nguyen Ai
Quac, name translated from the collective pen name of the Ngu Long Group (Five-
Dragon Group): Nguyen, Le Patriote. From then on, Nguyen Ai Quac (Ho Chi Minh)
broke off relations with his father for his disrespect toward Phan Chau Trinh,
his father’ s respectable friend. Nguyen Sinh Sac was no longer tri huyen of
Binh Khe district, Binh Dinh province. He had wandering life in Saigon. He found
his life stable thanks to the generosity of a rich landlord named Le.
After 30 years of bloody wars in the 20th Century, Phan Chau Trinh’s ahimsa (non-
violence), modernization, self sufficiency were right. They saved the Vietnamese
people’s blood, tears and sweat, ensured territorial integrity, national union,
national resources, the people’s education, livelihood, human rights and
accelerated the development of national economy. These factors ensure true
independence, national prosperity and national union but Marxism, Leninism and
revolutionary heroism do not.
Back to Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chau Trinh, we see Phan Boi Chau advocated
violence while Phan Chau Trinh praised non- violence. Violence isn’t fruitful
while we are weak. Violence and bloodshed is useless in this case. Phan Chau
Trinh didn’t have an optimistic view of Hoang Hoa Tham’s Yen The War Zone. Don’t
either misunderstand or assimilate Phan Chau Trinh’s non- violence to Phap- Viet
De Hue (Franco- Vietnamese Cooperation) advocated by Bui Quang Chieu. Mr. Bui
was a French- educated engineer, a rich landlord having French citizenship. He
struggled for a handful of French- educated intellectuals and landlords only.
Phan Chau Trinh struggled to ask the French colonialists to build schools,
hospitals, to develop the network of public works, to abolish heavy taxes and
corvee etc. He attached importance to education, to the abolition of some
outdated and backward customs, to the development of industries and commerce.
The Vietnamese must play an active role in their national economy. Many famous
industrialists, tradesmen, businessmen in Vietnam were Quang Nam- born. Weren’t
they influenced by Phan Chau Trinh’s modernization? Phan Chau Trinh struggled
for Vietnam and her people’ s future but not for a certain privileged minority
in society. His death penalty in 1908, the deportation of patriotic Confucian
scholars such as Huynh Thuc Khang, Tieu La Nguyen Thanh...to Poulo Condore
Islands, and the tragic execution of Dr. Tran Qui Cap proved that the French
colonialists worried a lot about the success of Phong Trao Duy Tan materialized
by the creation of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc School in Ha Noi in 1907 and the anti-
tax manifestations in Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Thua Thien in
1908. These manifestations were ironically called ‘loan dau bao’ (haircut riots)
because people had haircut before joining the manifestations.
Phan Boi Chau was born in Nghe An. Under Chinese rule in the past centuries
Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh were wild areas covered with forests and
mountains. They were natural fortresses of anti Chinese resistance. The Chinese
colonial government was in the Red River delta.
Madame Trieu led the anti- Chinese resistance in Thanh Hoa in the 3rd Century
Mai Hac De (Mai Thuc Loan) led the revolt against Chinese colonialists in Nghe
An in the 8th Century A.D.
Le Loi led the anti- Ming resistance in Thanh Hoa in the 15th Century.
Kings of the Later Le, Lords Trinh, Lords and Kings Nguyen were originally from
Phan Boi Chau inherited Confucian thoughts and the resistance spirit from the
dwellers of Thanh- Nghe- Tinh. Ho Chi Minh had all the earmarks Phan possessed
in addition to extremism, dictatorship, iron disciplines he learned from the
Soviet Union in 1924 and 1934. Violence implemented by Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi
consisted of the bombing of the Hanoi Hotel, assassination of tuan vu (province
chief) Nguyen Duy Han, assassination plot of Gouverneur General Albert Sarraut
at the Nam Dinh exam center (1913), the attack of Ta Lung in 1915, the aborted
revolt in Hue in 1916 and the Thai Nguyen revolt in 1917 led by Luong Ngoc Quyen
and Trinh Van Can. These events were resounding without having any happy ending.
The brain of Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi was in China. Lam Duc Thu or Nguyen Cong
Vien was a member of Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi living in China. His Chinese wife
was from a rich family in Guangzhou. Thu had a cozy life. He smoked opium. He
worked for the French Secret Police under the pseudonym Pinot. It was certain
that he reported all the activities of Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi to the French
Secret Police in China, in Tonkin and in Annam. He had an important role in Viet
Nam Quang Phuc Hoi. In 1923 Le Hong Phong, Le Hong Son, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Hai
Than, Lam Duc Thu and young members of Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi founded Tam Tam
Xa (Three United Hearts) that was more violent than Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi.
Pham Hong Thai, a member of Tam Tam Xa, disguised himself as a Chinese
journalist to assassinate Gouverneur General Merlin. By the end of 1924 Nguyen
Ai Quac (future Ho Chi Minh) arrived in Guangzhou to serve Borodin, Soviet
advisor to Sun Yat-sen. Nguyen Ai Quac used a Chinese name Ly Thuy (Li Shui).
The Li family was the richest one in Guangzhou at that time. We don’t know
anything about relations between Ly Thuy and Lam Duc Thuy. As soon as Ly Thuy
arrived in Guangzhou he lived in Lam Duc Thu’ s villa. All the members of Tam
Tam Xa except for Nguyen Hai Than adhered to Viet Nam Thanh Nien Cach Mang Dong
Chi Hoi (Vietnam Revolutionary Youth Association) founded by Ly Thuy, Le Hong
Phong, Le Hong Son, Ho Tung Mau, Lam Duc Thu in June, 1925. Viet Nam Quang Phuc
Hoi, Tam Tam Xa disappeared. On June 30, 1925 Phan Boi Chau was arrested in the
French concession in Shanghai. From there he planned to go down South to visit
Pham Hong Thai’s tomb by train. It was rumored that Lam Duc Thu or Nguyen Cong
Vien or Pinot and Ly Thuy (future Ho Chi Minh) betrayed Phan Boi Chau to the
French Secret Police for 100,000- piastre reward. In the 1920s the monthly
salary of a provincial civil servant varied from 25 to 30 piastres. The group of
words tien muon bac van (muon: van: 10,000) means 10,000 piastres, a big amount
of money people never had. 100,000- piastre reward helped Lam Duc Thu, a
‘revolutionary’, enjoy luxurious life. Ly Thuy had enough money to sow the
Communist seeds in China before bringing them into Vietnam. Phan Boi Chau was
arrested and taken to Hanoi. All the members of Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi and Tam
Tam Xa in China, Siam and Vietnam became members of Viet Nam Thanh Nien Cach
Mang Dong Chi Hoi, precursor of the Viet Nam Communist Party. Phan Boi Chau’s
death penalty stirred Vietnamese patriotism and hatred for the French
colonialists as well. The students took to the streets to protest the severe
verdict. Phan Boi Chau wasn’t executed but he was under surveillance in Hue.
Phan Boi Chau and Ho Chi Minh advocated violence. Phan’s violence failed. It was
his own failure and that of his Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi. It couldn’t turn
Vietnam independent but it didn’t damage her.
Ho Chi Minh was successful in his revolutionary violence. The strange thing was
that Ho’s success and that of his Communist party didn’t bring Independence,
Freedom and Happiness to Vietnam and her people. It brought intermittent
disasters and tragedies to Vietnam and her people: country’s partition (1954);
bloody wars from 1945 to 1975; a million Northerners moving to the South (1954);
4 million people leaving Vietnam in search of freedom and raison de vivre; quasi
total destruction of human and natural resources; loss of lands, sea and islands
to China (Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands; border territory loss after the
Sino- Vietnamese War and the signing of treaties of 1999 and 2000); stern and
shameful submission to China. Vietnam is an independent and united country, a
member of UNO. Why does Vietnam have to respect Bon Tot (Four Good) and Muoi Sau
Chu Vang (Sixteen Golden Words) dictated by Beijing when re-establishing
diplomatic relations with China? Why did Chinese flag with five small stars
appear in Vietnam? Why was King Ly Thai To’s statue made in China? The
anniversary of the 1000th birthday of Thang Long (Ha Noi) was celebrated on the
National Day of the People’s Republic of China (October 1st ). On the Invalids’
and Martyrs’ Day July -27- 2015 the Chinese song Ode to the Motherland, which is
considered to be the second National Anthem of China, was played before and
after President Truong Tan Sang read his speech. Why was General Phung Quang
Thanh ‘thoughtful’ when seeing the Vietnamese hating Chinese harassment,
brutality and unlawfulness in regard to islands, shoals and maritime resources
in the so called ‘Ox Tongue’ in Southeast Asia?
Phan Chau Trinh was from Quang Nam, a central province of Vietnam. In the past
it was a prosperous area of Champa. Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Arab
tradesmen came there by boat to exchange goods. Catholicism was taught by the
Jesuits in Quang Nam in the 17th Century. In the 1920s Protestantism was taught
in Quang Nam, My Tho, Can Tho, Hai Phong. Quang Nam welcomed more foreigners
than Nghe An. The city name Faifo came from Phai Pho (Is this the city?) in
Vietnamese. This question Phai Pho? proved that the foreign tradesmen paid much
interest in Faifo, actual Hoi An. In the economic and commercial field Quang Nam
shows its superiority to Nghe An. It is the center of Vietnam receiving various
cultures from China (Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism), Japan (Shintoism,
Buddhism), India (Hinduism), Arabia, Champa (Islam), Cambodia (Hinayana
Buddhism), Portugal, France (Catholicism), England, United States
(Protestantism). Compared to the other Confucian scholars Phan Chau Trinh was
more open- minded. His perspective was wide. Phan Chau Trinh was courageous for
he was lonely in his modernization and Westernization. The League for Human
Rights saved his life but he was deported to Poulo Condore Islands (1908).
Leaving the Poulo Condore prison he was under surveillance in My Tho (1910). In
1911 he arrived in Paris. In 1915 he was imprisoned in La Sante. He was believed
to have contact with Germany. He was released in 1917. With Phan Van Truong,
Nguyen The Truyen, Nguyen An Ninh, Nguyen Tat Thanh (Ho Chi Minh) Phan Chau
Trinh founded the Ngu Long Group (Five- Dragon Group) which was well known for
its political articles appeared on the Socialist newspaper under the pen name
Nguyen O Phap (Nguyen, Who Hates the French) changed to Nguyen, Le Patriote
(Nguyen Ai Quoc). In 1919 the Ngu Long Group wrote the Eight- Point Demand
bearing the signature of Nguyen Ai Quoc. Nguyen Tat Thanh brought it to
Versailles where an international conference was held. None of the
representatives of the Big Three read it but from then on, Nguyen Ai Quoc was
well known in Viet Nam. Nguyen Tat Thanh was deemed to be Nguyen Ai Quoc, author
of the Eight- Point Demand. In 1925 Phan Chau Trinh returned to Sai Gon. Phan
Van Truong and Nguyen An Ninh did before him. Phan Chau Trinh lived in Nguyen An
Ninh’s house in My Hue hamlet, Hoc Mon, Gia Dinh. He died in 1926 and was buried
in Tan Son Hoa. Some 120,000 Southerners attended his funeral in spite of the
dense network of Secret Police. Students throughout Vietnam bearing white
mourning bands observed the memorial service for the respectable revolutionary.
Many of them were expelled from public schools for attending the memorial
service for Phan Chau Trinh.
Fourteen years after Phan Chau Trinh’s death silently Phan Boi Chau said ‘good
bye’ to his Vietnamese people in Hue where he was called ‘The Ben Ngu Old Man’.
Phan Chu Trinh' Solemn funeral in Saigon
Chau's statue in Hue by Sculptor Le Thanh Nhon (1974)
As soon as Phan Chau Trinh was released in 1917 under Prime Minister Clemenceau
whose nickname was ‘the Old Tiger’, Phan wrote a letter to Nguyen Tat Thanh (Ho
Chi Minh) to ask him to return to Paris. Nguyen Tat Thanh had a good opportunity
to learn politics from pho bang Phan Chau Trinh, Dr. Phan Van Truong, Engineer
Nguyen The Truyen, and Lawyer Nguyen An Ninh. Shortly after that, the Nghe An
young man loving violence, disagreed with Phan Chau Trinh cherishing ahimsa. It
was the dissimilarity of opinions between the young man and the aged one. Nguyen
Tat Thanh became a member of the French Communist Party under the pseudonym
Nguyen Ai Quac at the age of 30. Phan Chau Trinh was 48 years old in 1920 i.e he
spent 80% of the then idealistic 60-year old longevity. Phan Chau Trinh’s non-
violence didn’t mean either ‘cowardice’ or ‘idleness’ from a lazy man waiting
for windfall. His non- violence came from a huge unbalanced strength between
France and Vietnam. Violence was unsuccessful when we were weak militarily,
politically, diplomatically, economically and intellectually. It led to
bloodshed and failure only. The divergence between Phan Chau Trinh and Nguyen
Tat Thanh (Nguyen Ai Quac- Ho Chi Minh) got larger and larger after Thanh’s
adhesion to the French Communist Party (1920). Phan Chau Trinh paid less
attention to the Chinese Revolution of the Year of the Pig, and to the Russian
Proletarian Revolution of 1917 led by Lenin. He kept away from Marxism, the
Commune of Paris, the Second and Third International which were in vogue in
Paris before and after World War I.
Phan Chau Trinh and Phan Boi Chau were respectable patriots. They disagreed with
each other on the tactics of struggle and political regime for independent
Vietnam. They both respected each other.
Phan Boi Chau and Nguyen Tat Thanh were originally from Nghe An. When Phan Boi
Chau led the Journey to the East Movement Nguyen Tat Thanh was 15 year old. He
left Nghe An for Hue where he studied at Quoc Hoc. It goes without saying Thanh
knew Phan Boi Chau or at least heard of his revolutionary activities. No
authentic document tells us about relations between Phan Boi Chau and the child
of Kim Lien village, Nam Dan district, Nghe An province. We do not find any
documents or pictures of Phan Boi Chau and Ly Thuy (Ho Chi Minh) when the latter
was assigned to serve Borodin in Guangzhou by the end of 1924. Many books and
documents showed Lam Duc Thu (Pinot) and Ly Thuy betrayed Phan Boi Chau to
receive $100,000 reward by the end of June 1925 i.e some days after the founding
of Viet Nam Thanh Nien Cach Mang Dong Chi Hoi, precursor of the Vietnam
Communist Party. Of course, the governments of the Democratic Republic of
Vietnam and The Socialist Republic of Vietnam denied the above source. Those
people who were aware of this shameful historic event were Lam Duc Thu, Ho Tung
Mau, Le Hong Phong. All of them passed away. During the Vietnam War I Viet Minh
put Lam Duc Thu in a bamboo basket and threw it into the Thai Binh River. Ho
Tung Mau was killed by a French bombardier in Thanh Hoa during the Vietnam War
I. Le Hong Phong was arrested by the French. He died in the Poulo Condore
Prison. Regarding this complicated matter, let’s ask some WH (When, What, Why,
Who) in order to find a certain ‘relative truth’:
1. When did Lam Duc Thu and Nguyen Ai Quac know each other? In what
circumstance? How friendly were they? As soon as Nguyen Ai Quac (Ly Thuy- Ho Chi
Minh) arrived in Guangzhou to serve Borodin, advisor to Sun Yat- sen, he lived
in Lam Duc Thu’s villa. Ly Thuy (Ho Chi Minh) was born in Nghe An. He lived
there in 15 years only. He was a teenager without either reputation or bright
work. How did he know Lam Duc Thu (Nguyen Cong Vien or Pinot), who was
originally from Thai Binh? A Nghe An native travelled to France by boat as a
laborer, adhered to the French Communist Party which sent him to Moscow for
training to become a Comintern agent, left Moscow for Guangzhou to serve Borodin
on the orders of Stalin. In Guangzhou he was welcome by a Thai Binh native
coming to Guangzhou to join Phan Boi Chau as a member of Viet Nam Quang Phuc
Hoi. A ‘revolutionary’ Lam Duc Thu married a Chinese wealthy wife, enjoyed
luxurious life, smoked opium. He couldn’t shelter Ly Thuy (Ho Chi Minh) without
any referral or orders from his secret boss.
2. Lam Duc Thu or Pinot was a secret agent of the French Secret Police. To the
spies, agents of Secret Police, or Intelligence la fin justifie les moyens (The
end justifies the means). No matter the means are noble, dirty or crual provided
that they helped them reach their targets and accomplish their mission. Didn’t
Nguyen Ai Quac (Ly Thuy- Ho Chi Minh) learn these things in Moscow in 1924 and
1934? What did Ho Chi Minh do when he bore the pseudonym Lucius in World War II?
Relations and friendship between Ly Thuy (Ho Chi Minh) and Lam Duc Thu, who
sheltered the former, were in conformity to the following French proverbs:
Qui se ressemble s’assemble
Dis moi qui tu hantes, je dirai qui tu es.
3. The cooperation between Lam Duc Thu and Ly Thuy (Ho Chi Minh) was an
Intelligence marriage (French Intelligence <Lam Duc Thu> and Soviet OGPU <Ly
Thuy>) well calculated by both the partners. Ly Thuy needed Lam Duc Thu to have
comfortably safe shelter and to erase Phan Boi Chau’s political role as leader
of the anti- colonial revolution on Chinese soil. Betraying Phan Boi Chau they
had $100,000 reward. Ly Thuy (Ho Chi Minh) danced on the political fortune
invested by Phan Boi Chau in China, Siam and Vietnam from 1905 to 1925. Lam Duc
Thu needed Ly Thuy’s trust to have an important role in the founding of Viet Nam
Thanh Nien Cach Mang Dong Chi Hoi to watch the activities of this Communist
organization to report to the French Secret Police.
Communist books and newspapers praised Uncle Ho’s clairvoyance when he sought
the path of national salvation in the West while Phan Boi Chau turned to the
East. Communist scholars criticized and denounced Phan Chau Trinh’s non-
violence while praising Uncle Ho’s revolutionary violence leading to the defeat
of two Western Empires: France and the United States.
In the early 20th Century the Nghe An residents praised Phan Boi Chau’s genius
of versification by calling him the Nam Dan Living Saint (Thanh Song Nam Dan).
Communist scholars deemed that title was attributed to Uncle Ho, a resident of
Kim Lien village, Nam Dan district, Nghe An province. It is sophistical to usurp
this title from Phan Boi Chau! Ho Chi Minh was born in 1890. He lived in Nghe An
in 15 years only. In 1905 he studied in Hue. In 1910 he left Hue for Phan Thiet
then Sai Gon. In 1911 he went to France after finding a job on a French boat
Amiral Latouche Treville. He knew some Chinese characters, quoc ngu, and French
without having any diploma or famous work to deserve the title of Thanh Song Nam
Phan Boi Chau was cu nhan (B.A). He was author of Viet Nam Vong Quoc Su, Luu
Cau Huyet Le Tan Thu, Khong Hoc Dang, Tu Phan, Hai Ngoai Huyet Thu, Nam Nu Quoc
Dan Tu Tri, Nguc Trung Thu etc.
He was the vanguard revolutionary whose creative initiatives were:
- to found Viet Nam Duy Tan Hoi (1904), Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi
- to use pamphlets and poems as a means of propaganda to spread revolutionary
- to use diplomatic activities to look for foreign aid (Japan, China, Germany)
- to push the contribution of the Vietnamese community in Siam (Thailand) to the
struggle for Vietnam’s independence.
- to form the government in exile (1912)
- to design the national flag (Five- Star Flag) etc.
Ho Chi Minh founded Dang Cong San Viet Nam (Vietnam Communist Party) changed to
Dang Cong San Dong Duong (Indochinese Communist Party) in 1930 after his
training in Moscow and on the orders of Stalin.
Phan Boi Chau made friends with Leang Ki-chao, Sun Yat-sen, Father of the
Republic of China, Okuma and Inukai, Japanese V.I.P.
Ho Chi Minh was a Communist agent of the Comintern assigned to serve Borodin.
Phan Boi Chau wrote Nguc Trung Thu in the Guangzhou Prison (1913- 1917).
Ho Chi Minh wrote Nhat Ky Trong Tu in the Liaozhou Prison (1942- 1943).
Who looked for the path of national salvation? Who deserved the title Thanh Song
Nam Dan? Phan Boi Chau? Ho Chi Minh?
Although unsuccessful, Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chau Trinh gain respect and love
from the Vietnamese people. Their failure was really a great success. These
words are unpleasant to hear but they are true. Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chau
Trinh are living in the Vietnamese people’s hearts and minds.
Phan Boi Chau consecrated his life to Vietnam and her people. He spent 20 years
for revolutionary activities in Japan, China, Siam, and 15 years under
surveillance in Hue, and lived far away from his family and birthplace. His
noble sacrifice was tied to that of his two wives and two sons. His family was
permanently threatened by the local government. His wives and sons lived in
misery. Their sons were unschooled. Our respectable revolutionary died in
poverty and in deep melancholy for his dream of national liberation was
nebulous. The Vietnamese bird flew in the Far Eastern sky. Returning to the nest
on the Southern branch the bird was in the rotten cage. ‘His’ nest was far-away.
With tears and pain in heart from a Vietnamese living far from his native
country for ever I respectfully offer two incense sticks to two respectable
revolutionaries Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chau Trinh whose perspective was to build
an Independent, Free, Democratic and Prosperous Vietnam.
PHAM ĐINH LAN, F.A.B.I.
Trang Phạm Đình Lân