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Readers’ Ire Spurs Editor’s Resignation at Nguoi Viet

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The editor of the Nguoi Viet Daily News, the largest Vietnamese-language daily outside of Vietnam, has resigned his position after comments he made prompted some readers to call for a boycott of the publication.

Yen Do, who helped found the Westminster-based paper in 1978, stepped down as editor in chief on Monday, but will remain the paper’s publisher, a spokesman for the paper said Thursday.

Do, 53, came under fire from some of the readers for defending Co Pham, a local doctor and president of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, who favors trade with Vietnam. Do dismissed the criticism against Pham, saying it came from competing doctors.

Do’s comments, which were printed in a New York Times article on Sept. 12, enraged many of his paper’s readers, who are deeply divided on the issue of the United States normalizing relations with Vietnam.

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As many as 200 people demonstrated outside the Nguoi Viet Daily News office on Saturday to protest Do’s statements and call for his resignation. Hours earlier, nearly 1,000 people had demonstrated outside Pham’s medical office.

Pham has become a target of conservatives in the local Vietnamese community because he has organized a group of business leaders and investors who are leaving today on a trade mission to Vietnam. The group hopes to promote “goodwill between the United States and Vietnam,” foster ties between American entrepreneurs and Vietnamese officials, and explore potential business opportunities, according to a brochure on the mission.

Neither Pham nor Do could be reached for comment Thursday.

An itinerary of the trip describes the group’s 10-day mission to investigate trade opportunities in the Communist-led country. During the trip, the group is tentatively scheduled to meet with various heads of state, including President Le Duc Anh, General Secretary Do Muoi, Premier Vo Van Kiet, Deputy Premier Phan Van Khai and Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam.

The group will travel to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and also meet with tourism, banking and manufacturing officials, according to the itinerary. The delegation will return Oct. 9.

Pham has declined to release details of the trip because the business people and investors participating fear a backlash.

The paper’s production manager, Nguyen Co, has been appointed to replace Do as editor. Nguyen has been with the paper for five years and was instrumental in helping to computerize its operations.

On Thursday, he said Do’s comments in the New York Times did not reflect the views of his paper, adding that it will not take a position on the issue of normalizing ties with Vietnam.

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“As a paper we like to express all views,” Nguyen said. “We are a forum for democratic expression of ideas.”

He added that the paper serves “a very complicated mixture of people with different views and attitudes toward Vietnamese issues.”

Nguyen said Do, as publisher, will be in charge of management and policy issues but not editorial content of the paper.

Times correspondent Bert Eljera contributed to this report.

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