Victory for Little Saigon supporters

March 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The issue that's divided San Jose's Vietnamese community for months, may finally be resolved. The controversy over what to call a stretch of Story Road, lead to protests and even a hunger strike.

This is Ly Tong's first meal in 28 days. The 63-year-old vowed not to eat until a one mile stretch of Story Road was named, Little Saigon. On Thursday, he and thousands of others got their way.

"I'm happy because today nobody win and nobody lose, the justice and true democracy prevailed," said protester Ly Tong.

The celebration was cut short hours later, when Tong collapsed. He's awake, alert and now satisfied that his stunt helped convince the City Council to act. They've agreed to let the group, San Jose Voters for Democracy, privately pay for a temporary sign along Story Road calling the area Little Saigon.

"Everyone will see that finally the city recognizes the name Little Saigon is a wide spread recognition from the Vietnamese-American community," said Barry Do from San Jose Voters for Democracy.

"With this agreement in place, I'm optimistic we'll finally be able to bring peace to the community and leave the bitter feelings of the last few months, in the past," said San Jose Council Member Madison Nguyen.

The Vietnamese community, however, isn't letting go of resentment toward Councilmember Nguyen. She originally named the area Saigon Business District.

"Ly tong has ended his hunger strike and he has called for peace, the signatories to this agreement all called for peace, that's what we want," said Mayor Chuck Reed.

"To me it doesn't really matter," said Larry Phan, a business owner.

Larry Phan owns a travel agency on story road. He admits, the name on the sign that stands on the corner, is the last thing that's on his mind.

"This is the Vietnamese business area, and as long as the Vietnamese businesses is booming, I don't care what it is," said Phan.

Little Saigon supporters have already started raising money for the sign that'll go up here at Story Road and McLaughlin. They hope it'll take about three months, and cost 50 thousand dollars.