124 L. Q. Rev. 318 (2008)
Ho Chi Minh and the Privy Council

handle is hein.journals/lqr124 and id is 320 raw text is: HO CHI MINH AND THE PRIVY COUNCIL

IT is not often that a settlement in a court of final appeal can have a
profound effect on the history of a nation, a region, and perhaps the
world. This claim can fairly be made for the settlement on June 27, 1932
of the Privy Council appeal of Sung Man Cho v Superintendent of Prisons
Hong Kong.1 The claim is credible because Sung Man Cho was one
of the many aliases of Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary who
became President of North Vietnam in 1955 and died in office in 1969.
The case involved British rule in Hong Kong, the jurisdiction of the Privy
Council, the remedy of habeas corpus, the common law, human rights,
and communism. Had the appeal been heard it would have explored the
boundary between deportation and extradition 30 years before this was
done in R. v Governor of Brixton Prison Ex p. Soblen.2
The authors became interested in the case as a result of study courses
held in Sydney for groups of government lawyers from Vietnam. These
were financed by foreign aid programmes to enable the lawyers to learn
something about the common law and the rule of law under an independent
judiciary in a modern market economy. The courses were conducted under
the direction of the second author at the Centre for Asia Pacific Law at
Sydney University Law School.
In 1995 when the second group were in Sydney the first author, who had
heard of the Ho Chi Minh case in the Privy Council, but can no longer
remember how, asked the second author whether the Vietnamese knew
of the case. It occurred to us that the Government of Vietnam may not
have wished to draw attention to the roles of an independent judiciary and
legal profession, habeas corpus, and judicial review under the common
law. The lawyers knew about the case and wanted to know more. We
attempted to help but for a long time got nowhere until the second author
discovered that Ho had been using one of his many aliases.3 This article
is about what we found, and in part how we found it.
On June 1, 1931 the Singapore police, acting on information from the
Sfiret6, arrested Joseph Ducroux, a French Comintern agent,4 and found
I PC Appeal No.9 of 1932.
2119631 2 Q.B. 243, CA. The legislative authority for the deportation of Soblen (if the Secretary
of State deems it to be conducive to the public good: Art.20(l)(b) of the Aliens Order 1953) is
indistinguishable from that invoked against Ho Chi Minh (it the Governor in Council deems it to
be conducive to the public good): In the matter of the Deportation Ordinance 1917 and in the matter of
Sung Man Clio v The Superintendent of Prisons (1931) 25 H.K.L.R. 62 at 66).
3Ho Chi Minh was born in Annam in 1890. as Nguyen Sinh Cung. and left Indo-China in 1911. When
he returned in 1941, he was known as Ho Chi Minh. In the meantime he had used more than 170 aliases
We are only concerned with Sung Man Cho and Nguyen ai Quoc.
4Colonial Office (CO) File (1932) 273/580/3, p.21; 129/539/3 item I.

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