260. Editorial Note

In his weekly telegram, October 5, 1966, Lodge notified President Johnson that a Cabinet crisis was brewing in South Vietnam:

“A crisis, so far not of serious dimensions, is taking place in the Ky government. The chief of the office staff of the Minister of Health, Nguyen Tan Loc, who, under Vietnamese and French custom, has the impressive title of ‘Director of Cabinet,’ was arrested September 29 and held overnight on vague charges of Southern separatist activity. The charge is believed untrue. Southern members of the Cabinet, particularly Youth Minister Vo Long Trieu, interpreted the arrest as a move to intimidate Southern officials. Trieu and other Southern Ministers apparently seriously considered submitting their resignations as a result.

“At an October 3 Cabinet meeting Minister of Education Truong (Southerner) raised the issue and suggested that Minister of Health Kha (a Northerner) was trying to force Loc out of the Ministry, a charge which may well be true since Loc and Kha are known to have been at odds over proposals to reorganize the Ministry. Deputy Prime Minister Vien (Southerner) then charged that Kha has managed the Ministry of Health very poorly. Kha thereupon tendered his resignation.

“It is not yet clear whether Prime Minister Ky will accept Khaʼs resignation. To fail to do so could trigger resignations by Trieu, Truong, and Vien. In any event regional differences have unfortunately been intensified within the government.” (Telegram 7732; Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)