VACETS: The Early Challenges and a Vision for the Future

Tran Thong, Ph.D.

Chairman, VACETS 1994-95

trant@teleport.com

Introduction

It has been said that history is bound to repeat itself unless we learn from it. In the following I would like to go over the early challenges that VACETS faced and the lessons that we learned Then I will present a technical vision.

Li.ch su+? thu+o+`ng hay ta'i die^~n ne^'u chu'ng ta kho^ng ho.c tu+` nhu+~ng vie^.c dda~ xa^~y ra\. Trong ba`i na^`y to^i muo^'n go+.i la.i ca'c thu+? tha'ch VACETS dda~ tra?i qua va` nhu+~ng ba`i ho.c tu+` ddo' Sau cu`ng to^i se~ tri`nh mo^.t chu+o+ng tri`nh ky~ thua^.t cho tu+o+ng lai\.


Introduction

Let me start by saying that VACETS is first an ethnic based technical society. As such we are a microcosm of the Vietnamese society abroad I strongly believe that VACETS needs to remain non-political and democratic

VACETS tru+o+'c he^'t la` mo^.t ho^.i ky~ thua^.t cho ngu+o+`i Vie^.t, Vi` va^.y chu'ng ta la` pha?n a?nh xa~ ho^.i Vie^.t Nam o+? ha?i ngoa.i To^i tin la` VACETS ca^`n pha?i giu+~ vu+~ng la^.p tru+o+`ng phi chi'nh tri. va` da^n chu?

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VACET?

My journey with VACET began with a phone call from Le Mong Thao on a Monday in June 1994.

Cuo^.c ha`nh tri`nh cu?a to^i vo+'i VACET ba('t dda^`u vo+'i mo^.t cu' ddie^.n thoa.i vo+'i anh Le^ Mo^.ng Tha?o, mo^.t nga`y thu+' hai tha'ng 6, 1994.

He indicated that he and a number of fellow Vietnamese have started this organization, called VACET, and the board of VACET is looking for a person to lead it.

Ho^.i VACET do anh va` mo^.t nho'm anh chi. em ngu+o+`i Vie^.t to^? chu+'c. Ban ddie^`u ha`nh cu?a ho^.i ddang ti`m mo^.t ngu+o+`i dde^? la?nh dda.o ho^.i\.

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VACET?

They were looking for a person with experience running a large technical non-profit organization. My experience in the IEEE qualified me\.

Ca'c anh chi. trong ban ddie^`u ha`nh ca^`n mo^.t ngu+o+`i co' kinh nghie^.m la~nh dda.o mo^.t ho^.i ky~ thua^.t ba^'t vu. lo+.i\. Kinh nghie^.m cu?a to^i trong ho^.i IEEE ra^'t thi'ch ho+.p.

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VACET?

Following this, anh Hoang Viet-Dung, then anh Tran Hai called me to convince me to help them put together a non-political technical organization for all Vietnamese\.

Ke^' dde^'n anh Du~ng, ro^`i anh Ha?i ke^u to^i va` hy vo.ng to^i ra giu'p la^.p mo^.t ho^.i ky~ thua^.t phi chi'nh tri. cho ta^'t ca? ngu+o+`i Vie^.t.

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VACET?

Three days later, I signed on as a member. But I needed time to think about the time commitment involved in getting such an organization started.

Ba nga`y sau to^i no^.p ddo+n ho^.i vie^n. Tuy nhie^n to^i co`n do du+. ve^` vai tro` la~nh dda.o vi` ca^`n pha?i nghi? la.i ky? tho+`i gio+` to^i co' the^? bo? ra dde^? giu'p to^? chu+'c mo^.t ho^.i nhu+ va^.y\.

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VACET?

When I joined, there were 165 members/friends. And there was just one forum for everybody at cerf.net and the library was maintained at saigon.com

Khi to^i gia nha^.p thi` ho^.i co' 165 ho^.i vie^n va` ba.n hu+~u\.. Lu'c ddo' ho^.i chi? co' mo^.t die^~n dda`n ddie^.n tu+? o+? cerf.net va` thu+ vie^.n ddie^.n tu+? o+? saigon.com

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VACET?

From my telephone conversation, I was satisified that VACET will be a non-political, not apolitical though, organization. Actually I felt more comfortable this way\ This is a very delicate point that a number of the more recent members appear to have lost sight of. You keep your politics away from VACETS.

To^i nha^.n xe't la` VACET se~ la` mo^.t ho^.i phi chi'nh tri., ma(.c da^`u ca'c ho^.i vie^n ddu+'ng ra la^.p ho^.i dde^`u co' la^.p tru+o+`ng rie^ng cu?a mi`nh nhu+ng ddo^`ng y' kho^ng ddem va`o ho^.i\. DDa^y la` mo^.t ddie^`u te^' nhi. ma` mo^.t so^' ho^.i vie^n gia nha^.p ho^.i ga^`n dda^y kho^ng hie^?u\. Chu'ng ta kho^ng ne^n ddem chi'nh tri. va`o VACETS.

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VACET

I signed on to be the Chairman of VACET on the 29th of June 1994. It has been a long 2 years since, but I am glad I did agree to help.

To^i ddo^`ng y' giu'p trong vai tro` la~nh dda.o ho^.m 29 thang 6, 1994. To+'i nay dda~ la` 2 na(m da`i\. Tuy nhie^n to^i kho^ng co' ho^'i tie^'c quye^'t ddi.nh ddo'.

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VACET - The first 30 days

The first crisis had to do with Viet Nam. In early July 1994, we received membership forms from a number of technical people in Viet Nam. Should we or should we not accept them?

Cuo^.c thu+? tha'ch dda^`u tie^n xa^~y ra ho^`i dda^`u tha'ng 7, 1994, va` co' lie^n quan dde^'n Vie^.t Nam. Mo^.t so^' anh chi. o+? VN go+?i ddo+n xin gia nha^.p ho^.i\. Va^'n dde^`: co' ne^n nha^.n ddo+n hay kho^ng?

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VACET- The first 30 days

A literal interpretation of the VACET announcement indicated that this is OK. Furthermore we cannot preclude a segment of the professional group that we claim to serve, based on geography and unclear political consideration. So we signed them on.

Theo ddu'ng lo+`i dda~ ghi trong ba`i gio+'i thie^.u VACET, thi` ne^n nha^.n. Chu'ng ta kho^ng the^? tu+` cho^'i mo^.t nho'm trong co^.ng ddo^`ng ky~ thua^.t gia nha^.p vi` ly' do ddi.a ly' hay vi` ly' do chi'nh tri. mo+ ho^`. Vi` va^.y chu'ng to^i ddo^`ng y' cho ho. dda(ng ky' va`o ho^.i\.

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VACETS - The first 30 days

We do not ask our members about their politics, even now. Thus, what would the basis be for turning down an application from VN? Geography\? Are we just penalizing our brothers and sisters because they happen to live in one of the poorest country in the world? The answer is of course NO!

Cho to+'i nga`y nay chu'ng to^i kho^ng co' ho?i ddu+o+`ng lo^'i chi'nh tri. cu?a ho^.i vie^n. Va^.y chu'ng to^i du`ng co+' na`o dde^? ba'c bo? mo^.t ddo+n tu+` VN? DDi.a ly'? Chu'ng ta no+? lo`ng na`o ba('t lo^?i anh em chu'ng ta ve^` to^.i so^'ng o+? mo^.t xu+' nghe`o nha^'t the^' gio+'i\? Le? di? nhie^n ca^u tra? lo+`i la` KHO^NG!

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VACET - The first 30 days

We made preparation to launch weekly columns and we actually launched vacets-jobs@saigon.com. I personally took charge of a career column. We formalized the administration under the title of VACET Administrative Committee, Adcomm.

Chu'ng to^i su+?a soa.n dda(ng ca'c mu.c ha(`ng tua^`n va` chu'ng to^i ba('t dda^`u die^~n dda`n vacets-jobs@saigon.com. To^i ddo^`ng y' phu. tra'ch mo^.t mu.c giu'p ddo+? nghe^` nghie^.p. Ban ddie^`u ha`nh cu?a ho^.i ddu+o+.c dda(.c te^n la` Adcomm. To^i ddo^`ng y' phu. tra'ch mo^.t mu.c giu'p ddo+? nghe^` nghie^.p. Ban ddie^`u ha`nh cu?a ho^.i ddu+o+.c dda(.c te^n la` Adcomm.

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The Winds of August

At the end of August, 1994, we received a letter from Nguye^~n Kim Minh of Carleton University, addressed to the members and to Adcomm, asking us whether we would be interested in starting cooperative projects with technical organizations in Viet Nam.

Cuo^'i tha'ng 8, 1994, chu'ng to^i nha^.n ddu+o+.c tho+ cu?a anh Nguye^~n Kim Minh tu+` dda.i ho.c Carleton, go+?i dde^'n ca'c ho^.i vie^n va` Adcomm, ho?i y' kie^'n ve^` ho+.p ta'c vo+'i ca'c to^? chu+'c ky~ thua^.t o+? VN.

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The Winds of August

After a short discussion in Adcomm, it was decided to put to a vote of the members a more limited initiative to just correspond with technical organization in VN. Any follow-up will require a separate vote\.

Sau khi ba`n so+ qua o+? Adcom, chu'ng to^i quye^'t ddi.nh se~ ho?i y' ho^.i vie^n ve^` mo^.t dde^` nghi. ha.n che^' ho+n la` dde^? cho ho^.i lie^n la.c vo+'i ca'c to^? chu+'c ky~ thua^.t o+? VN. Ca'c chu+o+ng tri`nh ke^' tie^'p se~ ca^`n mo^.t cuo^.c bo? phie^'u rie^ng bie^.t.

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The Winds of August

We decided on a 2 week debate period (Sept 8-23) and a 2 week voting period (Sept 26 - Oct 7). The discussion started out well, but degenerated into extremism.

Chu'ng to^i quye^'t ddi.nh co' 2 tua^`n ba`n lua^.n (8-23 tha'ng 9) va` 2 tua^`n bo? phie^'u (26/9 - 7/10). Cuo^.c ba`n lua^.n ba('t dda^`u ra^'t hay nhu+ng cha(?ng bao la^u sau tro+? tha`nh qua' khi'ch.

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The Winds of August

To try to answer the request of a vocal minority, we even did a quickie 2 day vote to decide on what percentage would be considered a majority. The final results were still that 50+% constituted a majority\.

DDe^? dda'p u+'ng ddo`i ho?i cu?a mo^.t thie^?u so^' co' tie^'ng lo+'n, chu'ng to^i to^? chu+'c mo^.t cuo^.c bo? phie^'u 2 nga`y dde^? quye^'t ddi.nh ddi.nh nghi?a cu?a dda so^'. Ke^'t cuo^.c la` 50+% la` dda so^'.

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The Winds of August

The results of the vote was 60% in favor, 30% against, 10% leaving the choice to Adcomm. Then a vocal minority spent the next 2 months in witch hunting in the VACET forums, suggesting fraud but never offering any proof.

Ke^'t qua? cuo^.c bo? phie^'u la` 60% ddo^`ng y', 30% cho^'ng, 10% dde^? Adcomm quye^'t ddi.nh. Ro^`i mo^.t thie^?u so^' vo+'i tie^'ng no'i lo+'n ba('t dda^`u qua^.y ca'c die^~n dda`n VACET trong vo`ng 2 tha'ng, vu kho^'ng la` bo? phie^'u gian la^.n, ma(.c da^`u kho^ng co' ba(`ng chu+'ng!

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The Winds of August

Because this is our first vote, our procedures were not perfect and I apologized for a number of lapses in procedure\. These do not affect the results. After not being successful in the VACET forums, this group ran over to SCV to complain.

Vi` dda^y la` cuo^.c bo? phie^'u dda^`u tie^n ne^n co' nhu+~ng so+ xua^'t ma` to^i pha?i ddu+'ng ra chi.u lo^?i\. Nhu+~ng so+ xua^'t na^`y kho^ng a?nh hu+o+?ng ke^'t qua? cuo^.c bo? phie^'u\. Sau khi tha^'t ba.i o+? ca'c die^~n dda`n VACET, mo^.t so^' ngu+o+`i qua me'c be^n SCV!

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The Winds of August

The issue died down somewhat after we decided to publish the ballots, associating each with a random number that was assigned to each voter.

Ca'c cuo^.c ba`n ta`n die^.u xuo^'ng khi chu'ng to^i dda(ng ca'c la' phie^'u ke`m vo+'i mo^.t ma~ so^' dda~ ddu+o+.c go+?i rie^ng cho tu+`ng ngu+o+`i dda~ bo? phie^'u\.

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Learnings from the Winds of August

The reason for my long discussion of this vote is to make the point that, VACET, as a democratic organization, can survive challenges as long as we are careful about not yielding to irresponsible demands and we always keep faith with our members.

Ly' do to^i ba`n la^u ve^` chuye^.n bo? phie^'u la` dde^? nha^'n ma.nh la` mo^.t to^? chu+'c da^n chu? nhu+ VACET chi? co' the^? to^`n ta.i ba(`ng ca'ch kho^ng theo nhu+~ng ddo`i ho?i thie^'u tra'ch nhie^.m cu?a mo^.t thie^?u so^' va` ba(`ng ca'ch lu'c na`o cu~ng trung thu+.c vo+'i ca'c ho^.i vie^n.

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Learnings from the Winds of August

The key demand of the dissenters is the identification of the ballots - a well known intimidation technique that would have resulted in a loss of credibility of VACET

DDo`i ho?i chu? ye^'u cu?a ca'c ngu+o+`i cho^'ng ddo^'i la` chu'ng to^i pha?i cho bie^'t ai bo? phie^'u na`o\. DDo`i ho?i na^`y co' ti'nh ca'ch uy hie^'p va` ne^'u chu'ng to^i ddo^`ng y' se~ la`m tie^u tan lo`ng tin tu+o+?ng no+i ho^.i\.

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Learnings from the Winds of August

Accidentally we learned how to conduct a verifiable vote on the Internet. For that I have to thank the dissenters. However I do resent the tactic of baseless accusation used by the dissenters.

Ti`nh co+` chu'ng to^i kha'm pha' ra mo^.t thu? tu.c bo? phie^'u co' the^? kie^?m chu+'ng ddu+o+.c tre^n ma.ng lu+o+'i internet. DDie^`u na^`y to^i ca^`n ca?m o+n nho'm cho^'ng ddo^'i\. Tuy nhie^n to^i cu~ng pha?n ddo^'i chie^'n di.ch vu kho^'ng vo^ ba(`ng chu+'ng cu?a nho'm cho^'ng ddo^'i\.

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Results of the Winds of August

Surprisingly, during this heated debate, VACET grew!

Die^`u kho^ng ngo+` la` trong tho+`i gian ca'c cuo^.c ba`n ca?i so^i no^?i, to^?ng so^' ho^.i vie^n gia ta(ng.

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Back to organizational issues

During December 1994, we re-organized our forums, adding teleport.com as a server The 3 servers are: cerf.net, saigon.com, teleport.com. The name was changed to VACETS to recognize the sciences as being the disicplines of a large number of members

Trong tha'ng cha.p 1994, chu'ng to^i ta'i to^? chu+'c la.i ca'c die^~n dda`n ddie^.n tu+? va` the^m ma'y chu? teleport.com. Chu'ng to^i lu'c ddo' du`ng 3 ma'y chu?: cerf.net, saigon.com, teleport.com. Te^n ho^.i ddo^?i tha`nh VACETS dde^? thu+`a nha^.n khoa ho.c la` mo^n cu?a mo^.t so^' ddong ho^.i vie^n.

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Technical Projects

Anh Ason Binh took over the leadership of the VACETS-dictionary project. I tried to get other technical activities going, but failed.

Anh Bi`nh ddu+'ng ra la~nh dda.o nho'm tu+` ddie^?n VACETS. To^i co' co^' ga('ng ba('t dda^`u ca'c nho'm ky~ thua^.t kha'c nhu+ng kho^ng tha`nh co^ng

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Bylaws

The Bylaws were put together during the Christmas break and approved on February 3, 1995 by a vote of Adcomm after a month of review.

DDie^`u quy cu?a ho^.i ddu+o+.c tha?o trong ky` nghi? Gia'ng Sinh va` ddu+o+.c Adcomm cha^'p thua^.n nga`y 3 tha'ng 2, 1995 sau mo^.t tha'ng duye^.t xe't.

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Bylaws

It is standard procedure that the bylaws be voted by the leadership, which is anybody who cared to serve in our case, and not the whole membership.

DDie^`u na^`y cu~ng la` tho^ng thu+o+`ng. DDie^`u quy do nho'm la~nh dda.o ddo^`ng y' cho+' kho^ng ca^`n dde^'n ca'c ho^.i vie^n bo? phie^'u\. Trong tru+o+`ng ho+.p chu'ng to^i thi` ddo' la` ba^'t cu+' ngu+o+`i na`o ddo^`ng y' ddu+'ng ra giu'p ho^.i\.

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Winter-Spring 1995

We added saomai\.org and peak.org as hosts, but lost cerf.net.

Trong tho+`i gian na^`y chu'ng to^i the^m ma'y chu? saomai\.org va` peak.org nhu+ng ma^'t ddi cerf.net.

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April 1995 Election

Applying the lessons learned during the earlier vote, we had a smooth election. We held a two week debate and a 2 week voting

Nho+` ba`i ho.c cuo^.c bo? phie^'u ky` tru+o+'c, chu'ng to^i co' mo^.t cuo^.c ba^`u cu+? suo^ng. Sau mo^.t cuo^.c dda`m thoa.i ke'o da`i 2 tua^`n, chu'ng to^i co' cuo^.c bo? phie^'u trong vo`ng 2 tua^`n.


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April 1995 Election

The Executive Committee was voted in. Dzung and Thao become the President and President-Elect for the 1995-96 term. I will hold thetitle of past- President during this term. Other members are: Binh, Tin, Bich, James Ban cha^'p ha`nh cu?a ho^.i ddu+o+.c ba^`u\.

Anh Du~ng va` anh Tha?o ddu+o+.c ba^`u la`m Chu? Ti.ch va Chu? Ti.ch dda('c cu+? cho nhie^.m ky` 1995-96. To^i se~ giu+? chu+'c cu+.u Chu? Ti.ch. Ca'c ddoa`n vie^n kha'c la`: Bi`nh, Ti'n, Bi'ch, James.

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Chapters

The Bay area and Washington (DC) chapters were started.

Hai pha^n ho^.i ddi.a phu+o+ng ddu+o+.c ba('t dda^`u o+? Ba('c Cali va` Hoa Thi`nh DDo^'n.

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1995-96

During the 1995-96 term, I was able to relax and played only a support role for the VTIC conference\. In my role as past-President I was responsible for organizing the 1996 elections that went smoothly

Trong nhie^.m ky` 1995-96, to^i ddu+o+.c tha?nh tho+i ho+n va` chi? giu'p ddo+? VTIC trong mo^.t vai tro` phu. tho^i\. Vi` la` cu+.u Chu? Ti.ch, ne^n to^i co' tra'ch nhie^.m to^? chu+'c cuo^.c ba^`u cu+? cho na(m 1996. Mo.i chuye^.n dde^`u suo^ng.

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1995-96

We got a lot accomplished in 1995-96. New chapters were opened. The Spring magazine and the technical magazine were published. New electronic forums were created And we ended the year with over 500 members.

Nhie^.m ky` 1995-96 co' nhie^`u tha`nh dda.t. Nhie^`u pha^n ho^.i ddu+o+.c la^.p Ba'o Xua^n va` ba'o ky~ thua^.t ddu+o+.c in Ca'c die^~n dda`n ddie^.n tu+? mo+'i ddu+o+.c la^.p Cuo^'i na(m so^' ho^.i vie^n le^n tre^n 500

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1995-96

We incorporated and are about to be recognized as a non-profit organization. We were interviewed by a number of radio and television stations.

Ho^.i chi'nh thu+'c dda(ng ky' va` sa('p ddu+o+.c thu+`a nha^.n la` mo^.t ho^.i ba^'t vu. lo+.i\. Chu'ng to^i ddu+o+.c mo^.t so^' dda`i pha'thanh va` truye^`n hi`nh pho?ng va^'n.

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Controversy prior to 1996 Election

It is our fate that political issues will always be with us. There was the debate on Thao's visit to VN

Co' le? la` so^' cu?a ho^.i la` nhu+~ng va^'n dde^` chi'nh tri. cu+' nho^ le^n hoa`i\. Co' cuo^.c ba`n lua^.n ve^` chuye^'n tha(m VN cu?a anh Tha?o

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Controversy prior to 1996 Election

We had a month long debate on the "non-political" statement in our annoucement There were request to repeal any part of our Bylaws that included such statement.

Chu'ng ta co' cuo^.c ba`n ca?i ca? tha'ng tro+`i ve^` ca^u "phi chi'nh tri." trong ba`i gio+'i thie^.u\. Co' ddo`i ho?i ca('t bo? ddoa.n na`o trong ddie^`u quy co' ba`n dde^'n chi'nh sa'ch "phi chi'nh tri." cu?a ho^.i\.

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Controversy prior to 1996 Election

I have no problem with such request. Certain members spent the time reading the bylaws before debating this issue\. I applaud them. Others made demands without having any idea of what they talked about.

Chuye^.n tre^n kho^ng tha`nh va^'n dde^` vo+'i to^i\. Co' ho^.i vie^n bo? tho+`i gio+` ddo.c ddie^`u quy tru+o+'c khi ba`n va^'n dde^`. To^i hoan nghe^nh ca'c ba.n ddo'. Co' ba.n kha'c chi? ddo`i ho?i ma` kho^ng bie^'t mi`nh no'i gi`.

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Controversy prior to 1996 Election

I report the above controversies because I believe that there are lessons to be learned from them democracy means that there will always be differences in opinion we have to learn to live with these democracy also requires a willingness to understand the issues

To^i ke^? la.i ca'c chuye^.n tre^n vi` to^i tin tu+o+?ng la` trong ddo' co' nhu+~ng ba`i ho.c cho chu'ng ta da^n chu? co' nghi?a la` lu'c na`o cu~ng co' nhu+~ng ba^'t ddo^`ng y' kie^'n. Chu'ng ta ca^n pha?i cha^'p nha^.n ti`nh tra.ng ddo', da^n chu? ca^`n chu'ng ta pha?i chiu. bo? tho+`i gio+` dde^? hie^?u ca'c va^'n dde^` quan tro.ng

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VTIC '96

While I was doubtful about the usefulness of VTIC at the beginning, I became a firm believer of it towards the middle of the 1995 Fall

Lu'c dda^`u to^i co' do du+. ve^` su+. hu+~u i'ch cu?a VTIC, nhu+ng dde^'n khoa?ng giu+?a mu`on Ba ca^y chu.m la.i, non kho^ng cu~ng tha`nh

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Conclusion

The road is difficult. Not because of the rivers and mountains that cut it But because man is afraid of the mountains and rivers

DDu+o+`ng ddi kho', Kho^ng kho' vi` nga(n so^ng ca'ch nu'i, Ma` kho' vi` lo`ng ngu+o+`i nga.i nu'i e so^ng

... Nguye^~n Ba' Ho.c