Australia’s Vietnamese community wants Vietnam’s government to stop meddling as decades-old tensions flare over a cultural flag.
Media reports revealed Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuân Phúc asked Malcolm Turnbull at the G20 in July to stop the practice of flying the South Vietnam flag.
The yellow Co Vang flag was used by the Republic of Vietnam before the establishment of the Communist regime in 1975.
Vietnamese Community in Australia president Peter Thang Ha said the flag was a representation of cultural identity for Vietnamese refugees who fled from the regime to Australia.
“The reason so many people left Vietnam is because of the Communist regime,” Dr Thang Ha said. “We fly this flag because we still don’t accept the current regime and the red flag; it’s not part of our culture and it was never accepted in the first place.”
Fairfield City Council supports the Vietnamese community’s right to fly the flag on special occasions.
Dr Thang Ha said Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop raised the issue at a recent meeting with the group in Canberra.
“This is a local issue but the Vietnamese Government has made it a big deal by raising it with Julie Bishop,” Dr Thang Ha said.
A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop said state and local jurisdictions were not bound at law by the Australian Government Flag Protocol.
“It is a longstanding practice of the Australian Government that, where local organisations fly the Co Vang yellow flag, they are advised of the Government’s policy to fly only the official flags of nations recognised by Australia in conjunction with the Australian national flag,” she said.
Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone said at a May council meeting that many of Fairfield’s Vietnamese Australian boat people identified with the Co Vang flag as a symbol of identity, heritage, and their fight for freedom and democracy.
“Fairfield city is a place where we can celebrate diversity, yet we have combined to live the Australian values, which include respecting each other’s heritage and culture and the freedom to allow cultural expression,” he said.