by  President MAI THANH TRUYET, Ph.D.

 of the Vietnamese American  Science and Technology Society

 at the Viet-Cham communities gathering to  celebrate the debut of the book

 "Bangsa Champa: In Search of a Distant Ethnic Root"


Date: January 8, 2005;

Place: Conference Room of Nguoi Viet Daily, Little Saigon, Southern California, U.S.A.

 Distinguished Guests,

 Honorable Elders of the Cham Community of the United States of America:

 Frankly, I am not an anthropologist, a historian, and a writer either. Generally speaking, my career was in the teaching specializing in chemistry. During the last two decades, I have been involved in the works of an engineer and a manager. Due to professional requirements and also by my preference, I actually got involved in some specialized researchers focusing on the ecological issues, particularly on the changes in the Viet Nam environment.

 With the above assets in my luggage, I hope to keep the scientific objectivity,  to introduce to you the fresh and amiable characters of a personality, and together with you, to introduce at the same time a new world, the world of our countrymen of Champa origin. I am doing this task through the book:


In search back to a Distant Ethnic Root


 The book is divided into two parts in which they voice up the journey of a man named DO HAMIDE and the historical establishment of the Kingdom of Champa.

             Part  I: The story of the young man DO HAMIDE

             Part II: The socio-cultural sources of Champa.

 With more than 380 pages showing numerous popular pictures, we may visualize the solemn attitude of the author through each stroke of a pen.

 As between dear and dear friends, we knew that the author had started to work on this book a long time ago and had completed it since 2001, but due to the delicate historical circumstances of that time, it is to wait till today to get Bangsa Champa appear in front of you. 

 Ladies and gentlemen:

 DO HAMIDE was born and grew up in the closed-door Champa community in a small island of the rural area of Chaudoc, East of South Vietnam. By the term "closed door" I would mean the severe and conservative way of thinking of the Islamic traditions i.e. ancient Islam. He soon moved to Saigon to live in a poor quarter of the Nancy market area; he had to struggle in the dealings with city dwellers.  He had to fight between the old and the new, between the past and the present, between the immemorial time value of the ancestors and the life up front (active, unbridled self-indulgent, miscellaneous), The new one is not always right, meaningful, good. The old one is always stable, firm, smooth, but most often it may be the shield concealing other values, the force obstructing the steps of progress and personal development.  Therefore, there was uncertainty, tossing about in the innermost feelings, selection, and fighting for the selection.

 DO HAMIDE had shed light on him and wrote down truthfully of his own in most feelings, hoping to reflect the essence of his countrymen.

 That is the state of mind of ethnic minority people living in a society of different culture, customs, and religion, that makes them always live in a fear complex, being satisfied with the existing status. Religion, scriptures, liturgy, customs, are the solid walls helping them self-defend, against the whirlwinds of the new, the different and strange having the potentials of bringing up to them the stability, the losses, particularly the loss of their cultural legacy. It is the reason why they do not pay attention to the integration into the open society around.  DO HAMIDE has been aware of this issue and the much larger problems. He refused then the attitude of hermetic door closing; instead, he opened all the doors of protection in order to receive the winds of all corners. Life initially means nothingness. Due to the natural osmosis, of the cultural approaches, culture must change. Hundred and hundred flowers compete to flourish, man is different from each other, and in each culture to is different from each other, according to a specific time. The exchange contacts are common, exchange contacts between East and West, exchange contacts between Cham and Viet. Exchange contacts are the medicinal tablets for the cultural rigidity, the miraculous drug for the cultural development.  It seems that he has looked at his culture and his people that way and he behaves so. Referring to the ethnic root, the legacy of ancestors to deal face to face with the new, that is his attitude, through the journey of 70 years engaging himself into the Vietnamese and the American communities. At this hour now, Do Hamide retraces that journey, the pieces of evidence, the efforts, the patience, the strenuous determination to cross the wall of ancient customs, in order to get a larger view over the outside world, in order to live more realistically and more strongly.

 Reaching the age of 10, Do Hamide had soon left the peaceful scenery of the rural areas, the stability and the easy ways of life of the Champa society, the naivety of the good-for-nothing childhood in order to go to Saigon. He was not fluent in Vietnamese and must stay amid the noise, the jumbling up, the people passing by, the cries to advertise goods, the disputes, the sounds of horn, the noise of vehicles of all kinds,... he was only a man going for the first time from the rural land to a town, getting lost in the capital of another country. Therefore, having to face a lot of contradictions, clashes, he had the urgent requirements to return back to the ethnic roots of his people to look for the safety, the purity of the past, with expectations and hope.

 This feature makes me think of Nguyen Vy with his book "Tuan, the boy of the Vietnam country". Tuan had gone around the country in a period of historical vigorous change of Vietnam, a transitional season from the feodal time and the first days, the French started to change "the skin and flesh" of Vietnam. This is an unforgettable picture of an unforgettable period of the country. The youngster Tuan has certified the realities of the formal changes above, a period of changes from the usual customs of the old society to the new Western ways of life. Tuan was surprised and at the same time, subjugated himself to the new circumstances, but he had not told the readers about his real tossing about.

 As to Do Hai Minh in "In search back to a distant ethnic root" he put the youngster Do Hamide on a journey with the right meaning of marching forward into the past that was closely attached to the far remote source of Champa. Moreover, the youngster Do Hamide not only "certified" but also "considered" that history is the evidence of an old period, to remind of the ethnic root with the unique purpose of looking for the original image of his own.

 From there, in a long enough period of time, Do Hamide had additionally discovered, had striven  to grow up and integrate in a new society, a society in which men are dealt with equally and live together harmoniously, a society with no more geographical boundary which was the reason to create unnecessary contradictions and adverse circumstances. At this point, It can be stated that this is the most decisive and satisfactory message of the author through the youngster Do Hamide.

 Moving to Part II, in the context which brought up the utmost difficulties in recollecting and classifying documents on the culture, literature and civilization of Champa, it is thought that the author had provided us with a serious research work by showing us the names "Lin Yi"  "Hoan Vuong", "Chiem Thanh" produced by the Chinese or the Vietnamese in various historical  periods in order to designate the Kingdom of Champa, a unified national structure running from Quang Binh to Phan Thiet in the East and the Highland region of Central Vietnam in the West.. The characters of conciliation and division of the ethnic minorities of the highlands and coastal areas had been related and analyzed thoroughly by the author down to the original sources of the issues.

 From there, the author had raised up some suggestions of the divisibility due to the combined objective and subjective factors:

 -        Objective, because the history had not yet clarified;

 -        As to subjective, it is due to the "ego" of each tribe.

 But the most important thing did stem from a number of "hidden policies" of the countries coming from abroad, having the intent to bring in the influence of a kind of a new imperialist interfering in the internal situation of the Champa people to exert pressures and to topple each other in the future.

 This has been the point the most reminded by the author and discussed in many chapters of the book.

 The author had left over here a lesson and a message.

 The lesson was that "people who are living no matter where shall  also finally be in search back to their own ethnic roots". This may seem to be simple and rudimentary, and everybody may be aware of it, but how many people still keep this notion in front of the life with plenty of contingencies in the new societies.

 On a message, it is thought that the Cham communities which had lived in no matter what locality before, must think of the case of Vietnam. The Vietnamese who either are away from their native land or are still living in the country, all have kept more or fewer germs of division, of Northern, Central, Southern discrimination. And here is the result of a dark period of the nation that was imposed by the colonialist and imperialist policies. to divide in order to dominate.

 This is also the sign of deepest grief of the nation that had slowed down the steps of development of Vietnam until today. Therefore, the last message of the author directing to the Cham countrymen is that as experienced by the Vietnamese until today, do not let to be divided because of the political plot of foreigners.

 Ladies and gentlemen:

 The author Do Hai Minh had started and opened up the direction for the proceedings of integration into the Vietnamese society for a Cham community, although small in population size, but having the depth of a rich civilization. It is to integrate into the mainstream in order to upgrade the economic cultural, spiritual life, but it is not because of this to lose the characterized cultural foundation of the Cham nation. This feature requires the knowledgeable pioneer people in the Cham communities abroad or in the country always to look back to an assist, encourage the candid Cham people to step into the mainstream. Moreover, it is time to get rid of the marginal way of life as well as the complex of a category of a second rank citizen in a multicultural society. There is no more geographical line of the boundary in Vietnam, and the cultural lines will also be blurred gradually in the common community of the nation.  The state is the geographical territory within which many racial communities live side by side. The American nation consists of the Indians, the people originated from  England, France, Germany, India, China... including many races, black, white, yellow, from Europe, Asia, Africa...The nation of Vietnam consists of not only Vietnamese but still of Cham, E De, Muong, Tay, White Thai, Lo Lo..people.The integration into the mainstream enriches the Vietnamese culture as well as the cultural aspects of the Cham, Muong, Viet, etc. making them more cheerful, more abundant. Therefore, the book "In search back to a distant ethnic root" is an opportunity to promote a refined and subtle integration between the two national communities in the state of Vietnam.

 Moreover, the author had added the active traits for a nation which is striving to escape the isolation in order to survive in a long period of time: the time of the passion in ancient customs or of the blind bigotry in the traditions of the nation. Today, the Cham hamlets in Phan Rang, Phan Ri, Chaudoc, Tay Ninh have open the door of integration into the society with the Vietnamese people around. This is a unique direction which is also the best for the Cham people in Vietnam due to the specific geographical and historical .conditions.  This is a form of reciprocal integration facing the process of globalization. The phenomenon of multiculturalism in each state is no longer the image of confrontation but a refined harmony in the common life with the spirit of equality in this 21st century. To integrate but without fearing of self-destruction, of losing the Cham ethnicity. The two Cham and Viet cultures are the fundamental components of the Vietnamese culture and the especially characterized feature of the region of Southeast Asia.

 To sum up, through the long journey of the author, from the days of childhood in the poor island of Koh Taboong to the age of adolescence in the poor Nancy dwelling area in Saigon, the author had experienced the up and downs of life, even reaching the top phase of honor and prosperity under the Second Republic of Vietnam, or the minutes of meeting with the U.S. President Harry S, Truman. And finally, the journey is still continuing on this American welcoming land.  With the rare age in the seventies, the author had returned to source. In order to look for the ethnic roots of a nation that has a number of people have forgotten.

 Going in search of the old sources, retracing the ancient characteristics of the Cham state, the author hopes to present a period of history, the formation of the Champa state, the up and down evolution of a civilization, of a nation, but it is not  because of that move to distinguish the separation of the national communities in the state of Vietnam.

 The peaceful characteristic in the series of thoughts of the author from the first page down to the final one had helped us observe the mind of equality in the soul of the author. Here, are deeply reflected the harmonious mixing up between the influences of Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Islam of a gentle and well-mannered people in the land of Champa.

 When I talk about Do Hai Minh, the main source of inspiration in me seems to be inexhaustible. I have known him from the time I was still in Vietnam through the medium of one of my students who have to be his nephew. To know but have never met each other face to face. Coming to the United States, in a special circumstance, we had met each other and became close friends. Let me borrow this forum to congratulate him, congratulate his courage, his patience, his determination to invest efforts that had already been rewarded. Congratulations are also for a spiritual child who is at the same time a successful son.

Please welcome here with a word of stimulation, of appreciation and of love and admiration from a number of our friends.

 Thank you very much. Thank you all.


 President, Vietnamese American Science & Technology Society



Mai Thanh Truyết

We carry our homes within us

which enables us to FLY"