by Thu Trang
Local media have been reporting re-cently on a rumour that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has Vietnamese roots.
The rumour started in May this year after Ban visited and burnt incense at the Phan family's house of worship in Ha Noi's Quoc Oai District.
He also left a message in the comment book in which he said that as one of the Phan family, he was committed to following the teaching of his ancestors.
Journalists have been trying to establish a connection with the family since then.
Different stories were published looking at the reasons for his visit and his relationship with the Phan family.
Some genealogists, historians and cultural experts say there is no clear and believable evidence proving the Secretary-General has Vietnamese origins.
They also agreed that his entry was vague and did not prove that his ancestors were from Viet Nam.
Dinh Khac Thuan, an expert from the Institute of Han-Nom Studies, said the Phan Huy family records did not have any details of descendants living away from the country.
"The most important principal is evidence, not hearsay," he said.
Secretary-General Ban's message in the Phan family's comments book did not prove Ban was from Viet Nam, said Thuan.
UN spokeswoman for Ban Ki-moon Stephane Dujarric confirmed with vnexpress.net that he visited the Phan family's house of worship in May on a private trip, but declined to comment on Ban's origins.
Descendants of the Phan family have also failed to find evidence of Ban's connection with the Phan family in Viet Nam.
Professor Phan Huy Le, chairman of the Vietnamese Association of Historical Sciences, yesterday told Viet Nam News that the Secretary-General had visited the Phan family's house of worship on private business without diplomatic status or as part of his official schedule.
"We should respect his personal life and try not to gossip about it," he said.
As leader of the UN, the Secretary-General must have had a good reason to visit the family's house of worship.
"The reason for the visit has not been disclosed so we should not try and guess. We should only record his visit," said Le.
Professor Le has not seen any information in family records or history books explaining the relationship between Secretary-General Ban and the Phan family.
"Even if any information is found, more time is needed to check it carefully," he said.
Phan Dinh Phuc, a representative of the Phan Viet Nam Family Committee, told the Gia dinh (Family) e-newspaper that the Phan Viet Nam Family Committee had joined the International Phan Family Committee.
"It is a good environment for the Phan family in different countries such as Viet Nam, South Korea and China to take part in cultural exchanges and express their gratitude to the ancestors," he said.
The International Phan Family Committee held a meeting in China four years ago and sent letter inviting Secretary-General Ban to attend, but he declined due to his busy work schedule, said Phuc.
As for me, I admire Secretary-General Ban for taking time out from international affairs to make this meaningful gesture. He visited the house of worship silently, privately and politely without his usual entourage.
I'm not a member of the Phan family, but as a Vietnamese person, I'm proud the Secretary-General took the time to honour a Vietnamese family line, and I learnt from him the humble way to respect Vietnamese family values.
Instead of questioning his roots and trawling through his family's past, we should respect him as a good example of how to honour Viet Nam's culture. — VNS