Dr. Tôn Thát Thiên

Photograph of Dr. Ton That ThienDr. Tôn Thát Thiên is a South Vietnamese nationalist who has been in the unique position of serving and working closely with three historic leaders of post-World War II Vietnam: President Ho Chi Minh in the Viet Minh during 1945-1946, Bao Dai 1954 and President Ngo Dinh Diem 1954-1959 & 1963.

From 1945 to 1975 Thiên was an active participant and a witness to almost all of the major historic events in Vietnam: the 1945 August Revolution, the establishment of the communist government of North Vietnam, the 1954 Geneva Conference, the division of Vietnam and the birth of the State of South Vietnam, the Geneva Conference on Laos in 1961 and 1962, the 1963 coup d'état against Ngo Dinh Diem, the 1968 Tet Offensive in Hué and the April 1975 Fall of Saigon.

He knew or met virtually all of the top leadership among the North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese and American political and military personnel, as well as most foreign journalists who covered the war.

In 1968 he served as Minister of Information in the South Vietnamese government. His reformist efforts allowing an uncensored media led to the Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts in the same year.

Thién earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at the London School of Economics and a Master's degree and Doctorate in Political Science at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

In 1975 Thiên left Vietnam for Paris. Eventually he emigrated to Canada where he worked as a professor of linguisitics at Universite de TroisRivières, Quêbec for the remainder of his active career. During his academic career he travelled extensively to academic conferences in Europe, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, the USSR, and Australia. He also served as a visiting professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and a senior visiting fellow at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.