Friday, October 13, 2006

A Look Inside Vietnam: Two Essays

No slang in songs, Vietnam says

October 12/13, 2006

HANOI (AFP) - Vietnam's Ministry of Culture and Information has asked all provinces to pay strict attention to vocabulary used in songs and to exclude slang and inappropriate wording, an official has said.

The ministry send on October 6 a circular to all offices in the country to make sure young composers create better-worded songs, said Pham Dinh Thanh, director of the ministry's art performance department.

"We have asked local officials to pay greater attention to the contents of songs before they are publicly used," he told AFP.

"The censorship concerns exclusively the vocabulary," he said, adding there was "nothing political" in the move.

State-controlled website VietnamNet said "the public has raised its voice about the trend of using 'garbage' words in Vietnamese songs."

"Online forums to attack the creation of what could be translated as 'shockingly-worded songs' have stirred up a large discussion among the public on the issue."

The ministry asked that "badly-worded" songs be changed before licences are issued.

A group of inspectors in different provinces will decide whether or not songs need rewording.

Based on the decisions made by these judges, licences will or will not be issued.

Vietnam Reality Check

By John E. Carey
October 13, 2006

The effort on the part of the Communist Vietnam government to regulate song lyrics seems benign enough, right?

But the issue is freedom of all kinds, especially freedom of speech.

The government of Communist Vietnam has held in jail for more than a year a “political seditionist,” U.S. citizen Mrs. Thuong N. "Cuc" Foshee. She has been held without charges, medical care or legal council for over a year.

Vietnam is nearing entry to the World trade Organization (WTO) and the U.S. is seriously making an effort to grant Vietnam Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR).

President Bush is scheduled to go to Vietnam in early November.

So we applaud and thank the President of the United States on his planned trip to Vietnam. And we want the U.S. economy to share in all the benefits of Vietnam’s anticipated growth. But before we make any lasting commitments we need also to keep in mind the totality of the situation inside Vietnam.

The Vietnamese people have no free elections. In Vietnam, the Communists Party chooses all candidates prior to an election and no people excluded by the Communists system can run in an election. Since all candidates are nominated by the Party, there is no legitimate “voice of the people.”

The Communist government of Vietnam, like that of China and North Korea, controls and monitors all media including the internet and email. Along with the U.S. Department of State web site, the web site of The Washington Times is not available to readers in Vietnam. The Washington Times is too “seditionist.”

Although Vietnam currently has more than 600 newspapers; all are owned and controlled by the Party. No private newspaper has ever been allowed to be published. Vietnam has one of the strictest systems of control over public use of the Internet in the world.

Many web sites with information on freedom and democracy are not available in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese people do not have freedom of religion and worship. In its annual report on religious freedom, the U.S. State Department listed Vietnam among its top eight “Countries of Particular Concern.”

Vietnam suppresses any group it sees as dissident: and this includes the native tribal people, the Hmong and Montagyards.

Please petition your Congressman and Senators for the release of Mrs. Foshee and to assist them in being mindful of the human rights situation in Vietnam.