As Việt Nam News celebrates its 30th anniversary, we pay tribute to dearly missed members of our newspaper's family who have sadly passed away. Though they may be gone, their impact on the newspaper and those they left behind will never fade.
Tạ Quang Tuyến
Tạ Quang Tuyến was one of the founders of Việt Nam News when it was established in June 1991.
After the Vietnam News Agency's decision tasking Editor Nguyễn Công Khuyến with setting up a separate division for the Vietnam Weekly and Vietnam Hebdo in March 1991, which later published Việt Nam News, he began selecting personnel for the division. Tạ Quang Tuyến was the first manager among the 10 members of Khuyến’s team.
We had to work under the severe heat of the corrugated iron roof. Khuyến and Tuyến, although wearing only A-shirts, had to cover their shoulders with a wet washcloth to cool down while editing news and preparing articles for the newspaper.
Tuyến had to cover all administrative procedures including shuttling up and down the stairs to borrow from the VNP a typewriter.
I will never forget the stormy day when the Soviet Union collapsed on December 26, 1991.
It was nearly 12pm with pouring rain outside severely flooding the street. Tuyến had to wear his drawers to wade through the belly-deep water to the printing house. Fortunately, all laid out transparent pages were kept dry.
Thirty years ago, no internet was available in the country so all news was run by newspapers.
Thanks to his efforts, Việt Nam News managed to cover the breaking news at the earliest time, for which we received appreciation messages from readers the next morning.
He died in 2003 at the age of 70.
We will never forget the kind-hearted and hard-working manager with high responsibility, who we called "bác Tuyến" (Uncle Tuyến).
Nguyễn Tri Bình
The name of Nguyễn Tri Bình is often repeated at Việt Nam News because he is a bright example of a devoted reporter and editor who contributed to Việt Nam News’ establishment and development.
During the first six months when the newspaper was set up, Bình only slept a few hours a night. He arrived at the office at 9am to do interviews, report and write. After Khuyến’s editing, he had to sit side by side with a layout worker (from Việt Nam Pictorial) to do the layout and proofread the paper.
This work often finished at 10-12pm or sometimes at 1am the next day.
Bình brought the drafts to the printing house at 5 Lý Thường Kiệt and stayed there until the first copies of the newspaper came out. It was often at 4am the next day.
When the newspaper was being delivered by workers he returned home and got back to the office at 9am to start again.
Terry Hartney, a veteran Australian editor who worked for Việt Nam News during the 1992-1995 period, said Tri Bình was one of the most qualified reporters he had ever met and had high praise for his sense for reporting and interviewing.
He continued to work for Việt Nam News until he died in 2006 at the age of 52 because of lung cancer.
Robert Bicknell became a part of the Việt Nam News family as a proofreader back then, and Editor-in-Chief at the time, Nguyễn Công Khuyến, spotted his talent and made him a columnist whose disarming, humour-laced writing unfailingly entertained all of us, not to mention legions of readers, week after week, for almost three decades.
I am not a fan of golf being played in tropical countries. But the fact that Robert could make a guy like me enjoy reading about golf, heck, look forward to reading it exemplified Robert’s charm and his talent. I know I am speaking for each and every member of the Việt Nam News family when I say that our hearts are broken, but we’ll celebrate him.
As a cancer survivor myself, I had talked at length with him on learning about his diagnosis, and our bonds seemed to strengthen as we discussed it. He told me he had no wish left but to watch his daughter grow, that he would never stop fighting it. He did not. Throughout this ordeal, he never lost his sense of humour and his courage was awe-inspiring.
Hoàng Như Hoa
Starting out as a fresh graduate from the English Department at the Hà Nội Foreign Languages College, Hoàng Như Hoa followed her father, who was a Vietnam News Agency International Desk Editor, to start working at the three-year-old, four-page English daily in 1994.
She developed from selecting international news for the newspaper to translating local news into English and then going out to interview people to find that all-important quote.
She worked across the different departments at the newspaper, from the Sports Desk in her early years before moving to Lifestyle, when she met and interviewed Oliver Stone while he visited Việt Nam back in 1995 in search of inspiration. She then spent a few years managing the Sunday edition, during which time she wrote travel and food articles.
Eventually she followed in her father’s footsteps to the International Desk of Viet Nam News, where she fought passionately for global news to receive more front-page coverage.
Inside her slender figure she carried strong spirit and stamina. When she was asked to head a team to start a website dedicated to business, she thought for several days and then decided to accept.
As a trade union leader at the newspaper, she helped develop relations between the management and staff, conveying a message from the bottom up to inspire her colleagues. She led company team-building trips and connected with each and every person with her wit, humour and sensitivity.
Her parents named her Like a Flower in Vietnamese, but taught her to be intelligent, caring and strong, which has been the driving force for people around her. Balancing her career with raising a family, she proved it is possible to have the best of both worlds.