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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 6. 1969.

South Vietnam fears Press freedom

South Vietnam fears Press freedom

Indicative of growing apprehension within the Saigon Government, out of fear for its own survival, is its attitude towards the press in Vietnam. Although overt censorship was officially abolished last year—in accordance with the 1967 constitution— the government has maintained control over the vernacular and foreign language dailies by its ever present threat to stop publication (by cutting off its flow of newsprint).

The policy towards the press of the Saigon Government was explained in the October 31 issue of the Saigon Daily News, an English-language paper, shut down two weeks later:

"The South Vietnamese constitution adopted last year recognised freedom of the press, but it also gives the government power to licence and suspend newspapers for violating laws on national security, subversion and public decency."

The seventeen papers listed adjacent out of more than 30 in Saigon, came under the arbitrary thumb of the government.

NEWSPAPER Date of Suspension Length of Suspension
1. Sink Vien (Student) July Permanent
2. Song (Life) August Permanent
3. Binh Minn (Early Morning) August Permanent
4. Dong Nai (Deer of the Fields) September 3 days
5. The Saigon Post October 10 days
6. Song Moi (New Life) October Permanent
7. Thoi Su Mien Nam (South Viet Nam Events) October Permanent
8. Duoc Nha Nam (Torch) October Permanent
9. Tieng Not Dan Toe (People's Voice) October 3 days
10. Tu Do (Freedom) October 8 days
11. Chanh Dao (Leading the Way) November 3 days
12. Than Dan (Friend of the People) November Permanent
13. Tin Sang (Morning News) November 1 month
14. Tien (Forward) November 15 days
15. Con Ong(The Bee) November Permanent
16. Saigon Daily News November 3 months
17. Thang Tien (Straight ahead) November 1 month

Reason for Suspension as given by Government

Guilty of printing "false peace and pro-Communist articles harmful to the anti-Communist fighting spirit of the Vietnamese people and Armed Forces." Sinh Vien claimed the war was not created by the NLF but by the U.S. which it also blamed for the continuation of the war.

Song charged that the U.S. military police had beaten up Vietnamese residents and looted their homes at Cam Ranh. (Group of Lower House Deputies went to Cam Ranh and claimed the report was true). Paper closed by Ministry of Information for hurting U.S./Vietnamese relations.

Was brought by Song publisher, Chu Tu, whose paper. Song, had already been closed. After Binh Minh had been taken over by Song's publisher its material was, according to an official government source, "presented exactly like Song."

Printed a picture of Ho Chi Minh.

Printed coup d'etat rumors and that President Thieu gave orders to military commanders to be on the alert for a coup (this story, carried widely in U.S. papers, was denied by Thieu).

"Distorted" the position of President Thieu accusing him of surrendering to the communists in regards to his possible softening on the bombing halt.

Put forth arguments which could lead the public opinion to misunderstand that the Republic of Vietnam and its Allies rather than the Communists in the North and South are the aggressors."

Accused the Vietnamese government and its Allies of being "warlike, and attempting to undermine peace."

Printed a picture of Ho Chi Minh.

Used "language of the gutter" in criticising Tran Van Huong for spending $21,000 dollars during wartime to send an artistic troupe on a tour of Paris and London.

"Distorted" the meaning of the news in an article on President Thieu's position on the Paris Peace Talks.

Claimed that the government of the Republic of Vietnam has "retarded the Paris Peace Talks."

Praised Mrs. Nguyen Thi Binh, leader of the NLF delegation in Paris.

Showed in an article that it favored a coalition government.

Paper used "inappropriate terms and slang to criticise governmental personnel and other private individuals."

Gave more prominence to a statement of Defense Secretary Clark Clifford, blaming the Saigon Government for holding up peace talks, than a rebuttal by VN Information Minister, Ton That Thien.

Criticised army generals who ted the 1963 overthrow of President Diem.