By Huu Ngoc
Dr Nguyen Khac Vien (1913-1997), holder of a Francophone Grand Prix bestowed by the French Academy, was the elder son of Nguyen Khac Niem, a Confucian scholar of great moral rectitude. When, in 1937, he left Sai Gon to study in France, his father went with him as far as the pier. There, his father handed him a letter, which was not to be opened until the ship had reached the high seas. It turned out to be instructions for Vien not to marry a ba Dam (French Westerner) in order to preserve his national identity.