The Consul at Saigon ( Colebrook ) to the Secretary of State


No. 85

Sir: I have the honor to transmit the complete text, in English translation of a letter addressed by Ex-Emperor Bao Dai to Governor Huu1 of Cochinchina under date of March 16, 1949, at which time Huu was in France consulting with the Ex-Emperor. Publication of the letter has just been authorized by the Ex-Emperor, and the text has been widely circulated in Saigon.

The statement is regarded as an important declaration of policy and has been well received in all “Unionist” circles in Saigon, both Vietnamese and French. The prominent French newspaper in Saigon, Le Journal de l’Extrême Orient, has taken particular pleasure in noting the contents of the penultimate paragraph dealing with French interests in Cochinchina and says so in a leading article in today’s issue. Die-hard French colonial circles and the newspapers which are their mouthpiece give full coverage to the statement but refrain from comment.

The text of the declaration has, in fact, been published on the first page of all Saigon’s leading newspapers today in conjunction with the news concerning the results of the Territorial Assembly elections. It is notable that although returns are as yet incomplete, the Vietnamese candidates in the Saigon–Cholon area who listed themselves as “Unionists” in favor of junction of the three ky s and in keeping with Bao Dai’s declared policy on that question, have made a clean sweep. It is possible that any connection between the two events is circumstantial, but it is much more likely that President Huu was strongly influenced by his knowledge of the Ex-Emperor’s policy regarding union of the three ky s in his designation (with Governor General de la Tour2) of Vietnamese electors for the Saigon–Cholon district. The electors, so designated, were those subsequently elected a full list of “Unionist” candidates. As reported telegraphically the list included Ministers Ty and Hue of the Central Provisional Government, both avowed “Unionists”.

Respectfully yours,

Mulford A. Colebrook
  1. Tran Van Huu; letter not printed.
  2. Gen. Pierre Boyer de Latour du Moulin, commanding French Forces in southern Indochina.