The Garden Grove City Council Tuesday night voted unanimously to send a letter of support for a Congressional bill establishing a Vietnam Human Rights Act.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey, prohibits the United States from selling lethal weapons to Vietnam and attaches human rights and freedom of expression conditions to trade and security agreements with Vietnam.

Councilman Phat Bui applauded Mayor Bao Nguyen for proposing the letter of support, although not without reminding him of a letter that he had refused to sign months earlier.

Nguyen has been heavily criticized for not signing a letter from the City Council calling on the city of Riverside to rescind a Vietnamese sister city relationship, arguing that “Garden Grove should not tell another city what to do.”

That proposal was sponsored by Bui.

“I hope this is the beginning of your effort to support human rights and… sending advice to other government bodies to improve human rights and trafficking issues,” said Bui.

“So my applause to you, Mayor Bao,” he added.

After the meeting, Nguyen said the letter to support the House legislation was not a response to the political fallout from the Riverside incident.

He also said there’s a difference between writing a letter to Congress and a letter to another city.

“This is not the same issue. The Congress is elected to represent us,” Nguyen said.

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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