Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of Vietnamese writers that we represent, I would like to express friendly grreetings to all participants and friends who are present at this meeting.

I also want to convey the greetings of the Vietnam Writers Associations board of leaders, appreciating Malaysia, the host country, that has the initiative of organising this meeting, creating condition for writers from the Southeast Asian Countries to have a chance of meeting each other to exchange information and experience, and at the same time to consider their own capability and draw up orientations for the co-operation programmes in the future.

The regular meeting of writers of this kind, along with the continuous broadening of exchange and co-operaiton in other fields such as economy, science, education, trade, sport … will certainly help us further understand and sympathize with each other, contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability, making each country and the whole region to be more and more prosperous, developed and appropriate to the general trend of todays world.

Now I'll present the outlines of the situatuin of our countrys literary development:

Our written literature stook shape since the 10th. century and could be divided into two main schools: the school of the chu nom literature (i.e. the ancient Vietnamese script that lasted from the 10th. century to the end of the 19th. century) and the school of the quoc ngu literature (i.e. the Vietnamese script that has been latinized) that came into being from the end of the 19th. fentury and has been developing now. Right in the period when the chu nom was used, our lietrature has produced great writers and poets whose good reputation has not only spread in the country but been also largely known in many other countries, such as Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Du, Ho Xuan Huong, Cao Ba Quat … However, it can be said that our literature has struly seen a strong development both in quality and quantity when the quoc ngu began appearing, and especially after the August Revolution (1945). And it can be said that our country is an unique one in Asia whose language has been latinized. Right after the success of the August Revolution (1945), President Ho Chi Minh has mobilized the mass to carry out a revolution to eliminate illiteracy, bringing a wonderful result that only after a short time, 95% of the population could read and write. These two factors were those that decided the literary development in general and the formation of a numerous contigent of writers and poets in particular. so far, we have nearly 700 writers and poets who have been officially recognized as members of the Vietnam Writers Association (of these about 70 are women writers), not to mention hundreds of writers and poets who are not yet admitted to the association, but all of them had works published in books, newspapers and magazines. Our beloved President Ho chi Minh himself was also a great poet who contributed many valuable works to our literature.

As an agricultural country with 90% of the population practising farming (actually this ratio has reduced) and during the formation and development of the country, our nation has continuously experienced long and hard resistance wars against foreign invaders, and it is, therefore, not surprising to see that the struggle for national independence and problems of peasants and the countryside are still two major themes that still attract the concern of many writers. Besides, writing for children is also a great part in the creation of our writers.

After the successful strunggle against American invaders, the country has enjoyed peace and reunification 91975), especially after the implementation of the renovation policy initiated by the Party and State, our literature has had more condition to develop. Along with the liberation of energy for production, our Party and State have also carried out many policies aimed at liberating spiritual energy.

Writers are free to choose any theme as well as any artistic expression form they wish. They only are not allowed writer to write with the purpose of propagandizing war and arousing violence, or supporting the obscene and debauched life style or sowing division among nationalities and religions (I would like to repeat here that after the success of the August Revoluation, President Ho Chin Minh has signed a decree abandoning the censorship previously applied by the French colonialists).

During the period of renovation and shifting to the market economy, beside the theme on war and the countryside, which have been still exploited and illustrated by some writers with new point of view, bringing about certain considerable successes, the themes on cities, urbanization and negative affects of the market economy to a human life style and personality are being tried by many writers.

At present,r egardless of what they write about the greatest concern of our writers is to extol and honour human beings, raise the humanitarian values of the work. Once written,e ach work must help people perfect themselves their dignity, know how to live honestly, hate and stand up to fight against all forms of evil. in addition, while seeking for the methods of expressing the new and modern art, a requirement posed to the writers is how to bring into play the independence and the identity of the national culture.

Being aware of the fact that the promotion of national literature cannot be done wihtout the exchange and contact with other countries and the opening of the door to the outside to acquire the quintessence and advance of foreign literature, therefore, the translation of foreign literaty works in Vietnam have been also encouraged and supported by the State.

In fact, in the recent years the situation of publishing translated books in our country has been blooming than ever before. Works of the world's most famous authors have been taught and translated in Vietnam. Regrettably due to the lack of information and documents the introduction of literature of the South East Asian countries has been done very little. However, in the last four years we have participated in the annual South-East Asian Write Award and published a special issue to introduce this award and some short stories of South-East Asian Writers. Another event, that proves the concern of our state to the open door policy and the acquisition of experiences of the world literature, has been the publication of the World's Literature magazine of the Vietnam Writers' Association. This is the first time our country has its own magazine introducing the quintessence of the world's literature to Vietnamese readers and right after its appearance, it has been warmly welcomed by writers and readers. This is one of our concrete actions aimed at meeting the requirement of broadening the literary exchange with other countries.

Once again we appreciate the initiative of the Language and Literature Institute of Malaysia of having organized sthis meeting. This can be considered as a starting step for strengthening the mutual understanding among South East Asian Writers, advancing toward the promotion of the next co-operation and development on literature in our region. Nevertheless, in order to have the next step and more concreta co-operative orientations, we need to have a mechanism for co-ordinating our actions and enhancing bilateral and multi-lateral relations. To do this, we propose that after this meet, there should be a meeting between the leaders of the South East Asian Writers Associations in order to formalize the issues that we can agree with each other at this meeting.

Finally, I wish all of of you good health and success.
Thank you for your attention.

© Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Malaysia. SEMUA HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA 2002
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