Vietnamese Reelect Head of Emigre Group


An Irvine businessman who for two years has led the Vietnamese Community of Southern California has been reelected to head the organization, one of the most prominent Vietnamese American groups in the region.

Results of Sunday’s regionwide election showed that Ban Binh Bui won by a wide margin, with 5,264 votes to challenger Ngoc Van Tran’s 3,565. Polling places were located in five cities from the San Fernando Valley to Orange County and were open to people of Vietnamese descent age 18 and older.

Bui will lead an organization that many in the community hope will serve as a political voice for the emigres living in Southern California, the largest Vietnamese community outside Southeast Asia.


From San Diego to Santa Barbara, there are more than 300 Vietnamese social services agencies and business organizations, most of them in Orange County. The Vietnamese Community of Southern California is the only group that holds a regionwide election.

Organizers said the turnout--10,000 people--indicated the strength of the organization as a political voice for the community.

“This means the Vietnamese people want to have a voice, to have some entity represent them,” said Ly Khac Le, who was in charge of the election oversight committee.

Vietnamese American communities nationwide closely watched the election, which was only the group’s second. The campaign was notable for its increasing sophistication--candidates held debates and aired advertisements on Vietnamese-language radio and television stations. The election was also marked by sniping: The incumbent accused the challenger of supporting the Communist government in Vietnam.

But after Le read the results at 2 a.m. Monday on a local radio station, Bui appealed to Tran to put the campaign behind them and work together for the betterment of the expatriate community.

On Tuesday, however, in an interview in the headquarters of the Unity Ticket on which he ran, Tran said he could not work with Bui unless Bui publicly retracts his campaign accusation. Candidates had to sign a statement attesting their opposition to the Vietnamese government.


“He would have my full support if he would only admit that what he did was but a campaign tactic, a technique to get the votes and to win at any cost,” said Tran.

Bui said Tuesday that he stands by his campaign and that his victory meant voters resoundingly supported his view.

The Vietnamese American community includes a large number of former South Vietnamese military officers and soldiers who are passionately anti-Communist.