Ly Tong, Dam Vinh Hung, And Pepper Spray

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All I'm saying on this one is that I don't think pepper spray is as effective as dropping thousands and thousands of leaflets - but I'm not a freedom fighter - I'm just a regular guy who never be mistaken for a "James Bond" type.

It was a seemingly sweet moment, captured on video near the end of a Vietnamese pop star's concert Sunday in Santa Clara. Someone who appeared to be an old woman approached the stage with a long-stemmed flower, and singer Dam Vinh Hung bent down — amid great applause — to accept it. Or so Hung thought. As cheers turned to cries of horror, he staggered back — wiping what police believe was pepper spray from his eyes. And that sweet would-be admirer? Santa Clara police say "she" was none other than Ly Tong, the self-styled anti-communist "freedom fighter" best known locally for a 2008 hunger strike aimed at persuading San Jose officials to name a retail district "Little Saigon." [...]

Notoriety is nothing new for Tong, 61, who has long fancied himself a Vietnamese James Bond. In 1992, the former South Vietnamese fighter pilot hijacked a passenger jet and dropped 50,000 leaflets over the former Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was given amnesty in 1998. Later, he dropped leaflets over Cuba. And in 2008 he was detained by South Korea after a foiled attempt to drop 20,000 anti-communist leaflets over Seoul during a visit from the Chinese president.