Viet Group Ends Recall Drive After Councilman Apologizes

Times Staff Writer

Leaders in Orange County’s Vietnamese community accepted an apology from Westminster City Councilman Frank Fry Jr. on Tuesday and ended a recall effort initiated after he made some “insensitive remarks” at a recent council meeting.

“Instead of demonstrating against him, we’re going to circulate his statement of apology,” said Chuyen V. Nguyen, chairman of a Vietnamese ad hoc committee, which formed last week to represent more than 30 groups in Orange County’s Vietnamese community.

The uproar began when the South Vietnamese Armed Forces Day Committee was denied a parade permit by the Westminster council. At a meeting televised on a local cable channel, Fry told the veterans’ group that they should commemorate their war dead on a U.S. holiday.


The councilman added, “If you want to be South Vietnamese, go back to South Vietnam.”

More than 5,000 flyers and 500 posters attacking Fry were printed in Vietnamese by the ad hoc committee, which planned to kick off the recall drive Tuesday afternoon in the county’s Little Saigon area, Nguyen said.

Posters bearing a smiling photo of the retired grocery clerk carried the words: “We voted for you last year. We feel sorry for you this year!” A headline above Fry’s photograph read, “The Vietnamese Community Is Being Insulted.”

Fry could not be reached on Tuesday. But Dr. Daniel H. Ninburg, chairman of the county Human Relations Commission, released a statement that had been drafted on Fry’s behalf by commission executive director Rusty Kennedy.

“I would like to apologize for my statements that have caused this outcry,” the Fry statement read.

” . . . I did not intend to insult the right of all people to take pride in their ethnic, racial or national heritage. I did not intend to belittle the sacrifice made by our allies, the South Vietnamese, during the Vietnam War, nor did I mean that those who died in the war should not be honored.”