Warner's Stance on Vietnam Flag Is Finally Confirmed

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Redding & Mary Shaffrey, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner is opposed to mandates requiring jurisdictions to honor the flag of defeated South Vietnam, a spokeswoman confirmed last week.

During the 2003 General Assembly session, lawmakers, lead by Delegate Robert D. Hull, Falls Church Democrat, attempted to require Virginia to formally recognize the flag of the former South Vietnam. The measure easily passed the House of Delegates, but the U.S. State Department voiced opposition to the measure and it eventually died in a committee. Mr. Warner, a Democrat, declined to comment as the debate was going on.

Later in the year, however, Mr. Warner met with trade officials from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, including Vietnamese Standing Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Dinh Bin, whom he told he was opposed to the idea.

"He did tell them he does not favor government mandates about the display of flags of [a] deposed government, and he does not believe local governments should be engaged in decisions affecting foreign relations," said Ellen Qualls, press secretary to Mr. Warner.

The idea of honoring the flag of the former South Vietnam is popular among the many immigrants who moved after the end of the war because they did not want to live under the rule of the victorious north. Virginia is home to nearly 40,000 Vietnamese immigrants, most of whom are native to what was South Vietnam.

The flag of what was South Vietnam is yellow with three red stripes. The flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is red with a yellow star in the middle.

"Every time a [Vietnamese immigrant] is faced with looking at the flag of Vietnam, it goes against everything they believe as a part of the history of their country and their culture," said Catherine Hudgins, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who earlier this month sponsored legislation that recognizes the flag of South Vietnam as the official flag of Vietnamese heritage for Fairfax County. The measure passed unanimously.

The State Department, which has not taken a position on the Fairfax decision, was adamently opposed to the legislation put forward by Mr. Hill earlier this year and says it recognizes only one flag for Vietnam, that of the current nation.

"The U.S. recognizes and has diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Its flag is on display in the C Street lobby of the State Department," said Brooke Summers, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman.

* Three is not a quorum

A state panel rejected a claim by Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty that three city aldermen violated Maryland's Open Meetings Act when they met in May with Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Miss Dougherty said the trio constituted a quorum of the five-member Board of Aldermen and their gathering should have been advertised as a public meeting.

The meeting with Mr. Steele was held by the Chamber of Commerce at the lieutenant governor's request, and the three aldermen attended along with a group of business owners.

* Keep D.C. in D.C.

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he is opposed to a D.C. group's effort to allow D.C. voters a say in Maryland elections as one of its newest cities.

"Obviously, voting rights can be given to folks in the District without a pure retrocession process taking place," Mr. …