UK
01/09/2015 11:56 BST | Updated 01/09/2015 11:59 BST

Newhaven Criticised Over Ho Chi Minh Statue To Honour The 'Communist Dictator' Who Worked There As A Pastry Chef

A MP has called for Newhaven council to rethink its plans to erect a monument to celebrate Communist dictator Ho Chi Minh - its third tribute to the dictator who slaughtered more than 200,000 of his Vietnamese countrymen.

The council is currently holding a competition asking for designs to honour the former Vietnamese president who worked as a pastry chef on the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry after the First World War.

He reportedly worked on the ferry after first joining the French steamer as a cook in 1911 and made a number of trips to the East Sussex town.

leader ho chi minh

Newhaven town council are planning on erecting a monument to Ho Chi Minh who once worked as a pastry chef on a ferry in the seaside town

A banner and a small statue have already marked the relationship between the East Sussex town and the dictator for several years.

MP Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes, has questioned whether the links to the despot require any further commemoration.

According to the The Argus she wrote to the Newhaven Town Council after being approached by residents “hostile” to the idea.

She said: “While it is a laudable aim to want to promote international co-operation and friendly relations with other countries, I do not believe that given the importance of using money to regenerate the area that a statue of a deceased Communist dictator should be a priority for the town council."

The design competition was announced earlier this year but the council has not reportedly heard from the Vietnamese embassy since. The statue was hoped to be in place to mark the 125th anniversary of Ho Chi Ninh's birth, which passed in May. The anniversary of his death is in September.

Mayor Steve Saunders told the newspaper the project had potential to further cultural and tourism links with Vietnam and that the monument would not be paid paid for by local taxpayers.

maria caulfield

Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes, has written to the council questioning whether the town's links to the despot require any further commemoration

Saunders said: “I am conscious of the depth of feeling held by some residents regarding the Vietnam War and the atrocities that occurred on all sides during the conflict.

“I am sure that these will be properly addressed and considered during any discussions, before any memorial is proposed and in the assessment of the application to be sited in Newhaven.

“Vietnam is now a peaceful country that has learned from its own history and is benefitting from increased tourism, following years of conflict and having previously had to endure French rule.”

The reaction on Twitter to the monument was more surprise at Ho Chi Minh's culinary links to the area rather than outrage over the council wanting to honour him.