Book Title: Following Ho Chi Minh
Author: Mai Elliott
Format: Paperback | 224 pages
Publication Date: 31 Mar 1999
For many years, Bui Tin was one of Hanoi's most prominent journalists. Until September 1990, when he decided to remain in France though not, as he insists, to defect, he was Deputy Editor of Nhan Dan, the Communist Party daily, the Vietnamese equivalent of Pravda. Before that he worked in a similar capacity on the Vietnam People's Army newspaper and carried out numerous important assignments. In 1973 he was official spokesman for the North Vietnamese delegation which went to Saigon after the Paris Agreements to arrange the return home of US prisoners of war. Two years later, he was one of the first high-ranking Communists to enter Saigon, and witnessed the scene at Independence Palace when the South Vietnamese government formally surrendered on April 30, 1975. He then went on to report, despite official reluctance, the growing tension on the border between Vietnam and Cambodia which prompted Hanoi to overthrow Pol Pot's regime. Once again, on that occasion, Bui Tin was one of the first Vietnamese to enter Phnom Penh. As many foreign journalists have commented, 'He was always in the right place at the right time.'
It was no accident. Bui Tin joined the Revolution and the Communist Party in 1945, which led to his active participation in the war against the French colonial regime. After 1954, he continued to serve as an officer in the People's Army and was promoted colonel following two pioneering treks down what became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The reports he wrote of his observations during these hazardous journeys obviously impressed the leadership in Hanoi, and he was therefore reassigned as an official journalist.
In this privileged position, Bui Tin came to know many of Hanoi's top leaders, often accompanied them on their trips abroad, and could not help but observe their strengths and weaknesses.