751G.00/5–1454: Telegram

The Chargé at Saigon (McClintock) to the Department of State


2392. Repeated information Paris 842, Geneva 110. General Hinh, Chief of Staff Vietnamese Armed Forces, called on me last night. He said he had sent an “ultimatum” to Bao Dai demanding that he be given portfolios of Interior and National Defense, recommending that Quat be made Minister of National Economy, and concluding that unless such action were taken within one month, he would not be responsible for consequences.

Hinh’s estimate of rapidly deteriorating political situation is that Bao Dai regime cannot last more than 30 days unless action such as he recommends is taken or Bao Dai personally returns to assume reins of government. This latter action, however, Hinh does not expect will happen.1

Hinh confirmed report set forth Embtel 2387, repeated Paris 838, Geneva 1062 of growing movement to form Cochin-Chinese republic. [Page 1561] He said leading element in this group was former Prime Minister Huu, but admitted that his father, Tam, was likewise tending in that direction. (Cf. Embtel 2355, repeated Paris 822.)3

It is quite apparent that Hinh is heading for dictatorship. Much will depend in event he undertakes a coup d’etat on attitude populace will take toward an army which is generally disliked because of arrogance and exactions of officer corps and troops. Much likewise will depend attitude French High Command. I have rarely seen preparations for military dictatorship undertaken so openly and with such naiveté.

  1. In telegram 2372 from Saigon, May 13, McClintock reported that Defense Minister Phan Huy Quat had stated, citing recent desertions, that the internal situation had so deteriorated that all semblance of government might disappear within 10 days. The Chargé further indicated that according to certain French authorities, unless Bao Dai returned and faced up to his responsibilities within 10 days to 3 weeks there would no longer be a State of Vietnam. (751G.00/5–1354)
  2. See footnote 2, p. 1545.
  3. Telegram 2355 from Saigon, May 12, is not printed. (751G.00/5–1254)