Trần Văn Lắm

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Trần Văn Lắm
Lắm being interviewed in 1971
2nd President of the Senate of South Vietnam
In office
October 1973 – 30 April 1975
Preceded byNguyễn Văn Huyền
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Vietnam
In office
1 September 1969 – 11 July 1973
Prime MinisterTrần Thiện Khiêm
Preceded byTrần Chánh Thành
Succeeded byVương Văn Bắc
1st South Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byNguyễn Văn Hiếu
1st South Vietnamese Ambassador to New Zealand
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byNguyễn Văn Hiếu
Personal details
Born30 July 1913
Chợ Lớn, Saigon, Cochinchina, French Indochina
Died6 February 2001 (aged 87)
Canberra, Australia
Political party National Social Democratic Front
Other political
Cần Lao (until 1963)
SpouseTrương Thị Bảy
Children9 (3 sons; 6 daughters)
Alma materHanoi Medical University

Trần Văn Lắm, also known as Charles Trần Văn Lắm (30 July 1913 – 6 February 2001), was a South Vietnamese diplomat and politician, who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam under Prime Minister Trần Thiện Khiêm during the height of the Vietnam War. He was most notable for his role in the Paris Peace Accords that occurred in 1973. In the late 1950s to early 1960s he served as the South Vietnamese Ambassador to both Australia and New Zealand. Lắm served as the President of the Senate of the Republic of Vietnam from 1973 until the Fall of Saigon in 1975.[1]

When Saigon fell in 1975, Trần Văn Lắm was required to sign an undertaking not to take part in any political activities as a condition for his entry into Australia. He moved to Canberra where he and his wife opened a coffee shop. On 6 February 2001, Charles Trần Văn Lắm died in his Canberra home, aged 87.[2]

Early life[edit]

The son of a well-to-do ethnic Chinese real estate owner, Tran Van Lam was born in Saigon Cholon. He was educated at Hanoi Medical University and trained as a pharmacist. He was the founding Secretary General of the Vietnam Pharmacists Association before his election to the Saigon City Council in 1952, near the end of French colonial rule.[citation needed]

Rise to power[edit]

He moved up to the national legislature and was speaker of the Constituent Assembly in the 1950s and the majority leader of the Assembly after that. In 1961, President Ngo Dinh Diem appointed him ambassador to Australia and New Zealand.[3]

A soft-spoken urbane diplomat fluent in French and English, he remained in the post after Diem's assassination in 1963. Mr. Lam returned to private life as chairman of the Vietnam Commercial and Industrial Bank from 1964 to 1967. In 1969 he became the minister for foreign affairs of South Vietnam.[4]


All Points of the Compass A Vietnamese Diaspora (2005) Directed by Judy Rymer, Australian Broadcasting Corporation OCLC 156899092

Charles Trần Van Lam had the ill-fated destiny to be foreign minister of South Vietnam during the devastating war with the North. He was a patriot, committed to seeing his country emerge from its colonial history. He was also the father of nine children, who with his wife formed a seemingly privileged family, which dined together, had vacations at the beach, learned musical instruments, and were instilled with their Vietnamese identity. As the war intensified, he and his wife made provisions for the children to leave the country. The nine children were dispersed to Australia, France, the U.S. and Scotland. The hope was that they would be educated abroad and bring their talents back to their native country.

That was not to be. Trần Van Lam was betrayed by the United States, his ally against the North. While he was a delegate to the Paris peace talks, Henry Kissinger secretly arranged the pull out with the North. Fortunate to be airlifted out at the fall of Saigon, he and his wife finally emigrated to Australia with one small bag, where they ultimately opened a coffee shop.

The adult children, now in mid -career with families of their own, speak poignantly about their experience of dislocation. They each longed to be re-united as a family and had to struggle to forge a new identity in a foreign land. They were all deeply affected by their father's expectations to become accomplished and"give back." Each one feels "multicultural." All Points of the Compass is at once a gripping portrait of the "immigrant experience" and a new perspective on the American role in the Vietnam War.

Best Documentary, ACT Film Awards, 2004 Bilan du Film Ethnographic, Paris, 2005

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (20 March 2001). "Tran Van Lam, 88, Top South Vietnam Aide". The New York Times – via
  2. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (20 March 2001). "Tran Van Lam, 88, Top South Vietnam Aide". The New York Times – via
  3. ^ Corfield, Justin (2013). Historical Dictionary of Ho Chi Minh City. p. 304. ISBN 9781783083336.
  4. ^ Towle, Philip (2000). Democracy and Peace Making: Negotiations and Debates 1815-1973. p. 178. ISBN 9780415214711.

External links[edit]