Vietnamese French congresswoman proud of Vietnam’s achievements

By Minh Nga   July 29, 2019 | 05:13 pm PT
Vietnamese French congresswoman proud of Vietnam’s achievements
Vietnamese French congresswoman Stephanie Do. Photo courtesy of the French General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
French parliamentarian Stephanie Do is proud of her Vietnamese roots and of the rapid development pace set by Vietnam.

Her perfect Saigonese accent as she speaks in Vietnamese takes a while to sink in.

But a while later, though, it begins to make sense that Do, the first Asian-origin member of the French parliament, the National Assembly, was politicized by the growth of the far-right in France, with its pronounced anti-immigrant bias.

Do was born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and a French father, and migrated to France when she was 10.

She grew up in Saint-et-Marne, a department with a population of 1.3 million in Ile-de-France, a region in north-central France. And as she grew up, she became aware that the number of people not wanting overseas people and immigrants in "their countries" was increasing.

"I’m a Vietnamese French citizen and also an immigrant, and it pushed me, in those years, to do something and make the place where I grew up to be free from such opinions."

She found the moment to take a life-defining plunge into politics when Emmanuel Macron ran for president. She felt that he was interested in policies that benefit all French citizens, not discriminating against anyone, so she endorsed his candidacy and joined "La République en marche!" (The Republic on the move), a political movement founded in April 2016 by Macron.

She served as the departmental referent for Seine-et-Marne until June 2017 and as campaign director for Macron in Seine-et-Marne during his presidential campaign.

Macro won Seine-et-Marne and later, the presidential election.

Today, Do is the president of the France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians' Group (FVFPG) at the French National Assembly, representing Seine-et-Marne's 10th constituency.

Life is hectic, she said.

"There are lots of challenges and difficulties, especially as a woman. Work consumes almost all my time. On average, I have to work from 9 a.m. in the morning to 1 a.m. the next morning. And normally, I don’t have weekends.

"And as the first woman of Asian origin at the French National Assembly, I think the responsibility is harder because I always want to prove myself and show my abilities."

And Do has been doing that as a parliamentarian in many ways, as secretary at the Bureau of the French National Assembly, as Assistant Treasurer in the Bureau of the La République en marche! Group, as member of the Commission on Economic Affairs and the Commission of Assessment of Public Policies.

Earlier this year, she was nominated a member of the Commission of Inquiry on the situation and practices of mass retailers and its groups in their commercial relations with suppliers and joined the Special Commission in charge of Accounts Verification and Auditing. She was appointed Rapporteur for the Housing and presided over a Working Group on the Housing Act ELAN.

She participated in the Consensus Conference on the ELAN draft legislation in the Senate, tabling 63 amendments to the ELAN Bill, 14 of which were adopted. One of these amendments aimed at providing individualized digital accompaniment, car sharing, bulky removal and recycling in social housing organization.

Her work on the ELAN Bill helped her earn the sixth place in the most influential members of parliament list in 2018.

Do also holds several extra-parliamentary positions.

For her constituency, Do has worked to ensure adequate benefits for 1,800 workers after the biggest employer in Noisiel commune, Nestlé France, relocated.

She supported all communes in her constituency to benefit from the Police Security Daily (PSQ) initiative, which would deploy a mobile police force to help and protect locals whenever they need.

At her job, so far, she has not encountered either racial or gender discrimination, Do said, adding that if it were to happen, "I will know how to protect myself."

France-Vietnam friendship

Do, 38, has also been working hard as president of the France Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians' Group (FVFPG) to boost bilateral relations between France and other countries including Vietnam.

Jean-Luc Reitzer, a member of the FVFPG, said he feels that the group is lucky to have a member and leader like Stephanie Do, because so far, "she has completed all her talks perfectly and thanks to her, we have learned many helpful things about Vietnam."

As a member of the opposition party, Jean-Luc said it is obvious that he and Do sometimes have different viewpoints, but whenever it comes to Vietnam, they are on the same page in seeking to find the best solutions that can benefit both Vietnam and France.

Proud of Vietnam

"I am always surprised at the development pace set by Vietnam every time I return to the country. It is very fast, and as someone with Vietnamese roots, it really makes me proud," Do said.

As head of the FVFPG, Do has had many opportunities to help consolidate bilateral ties.

Leading a delegation of the group to visit Vietnam for one week earlier this month, she said that apart from state leaders, she had met French businesses working in Vietnam and listened to their stories so that she could find ways to boost collaboration between France and Vietnam, particularly in economics and technology.

She said this was a step by step process.

"After each and every activity and meeting with business and state official delegations from Vietnam and other countries, I will make proposals to the president or higher authorities if I see anything that needs to be resolved or made better.

"I have four years ahead in my term and during that time I will try to make as many proposals as I can to the president."

She said she wants to make direct contributions into the success of cooperative projects between Vietnam and France, especially business projects.

"In my position, I would be able to support such projects, creating favorable conditions for businesses or helping their projects reach a new level," she said.

Do said she was worried on finding that there are "many French-Vietnamese projects that are still on paper, and I have been trying my best to push their progress so that they could be executed as soon as possible."

Another thing that she wants is for France to honor Vietnamese soldiers who helped France during the Second World War.

"Those Vietnamese had devoted their lives and died for France so the least France can do is to build a memorial to commemorate them.

"This recognition, for me, is important because in the same situation, France has already recognized and honored Algerian and Tunisian soldiers who helped the nation during WWII.

"However, so far, there’s nothing for Vietnamese soldiers."

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