News / Asia

    PM’s Ire Sparks Debate Over Political Blogs in Vietnam

    Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung pictured earlier this year in Seoul, South Korea.
    Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung pictured earlier this year in Seoul, South Korea.
    Marianne Brown
    Three political blogs have become a hot topic in Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung condemned them on national television.
     
    On Wednesday, Vietnam’s state-run television company, VTV, broadcast a message from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warning people not to read three anonymous political blogs, Quanlambao, Danlambao and Bien Dong.
     
    The announcement condemned the blogs as “villainous plots by hostile forces” and urged people not to read them. He also called for "serious punishment" for those responsible for the websites.
     
    Blogs are particularly popular in Vietnam, a country where censorship is rife among official news publications. Bloggers are regularly jailed for crimes against the state and many sites are blocked.
     
    Despite the official condemnation, the sites have not been blocked by the government's Internet firewall and the number of visitors has since skyrocketed, leaving many observers to ask why the sites were targeted in the first place.
     
    All three are critical of the government, however some have a finer focus than others. Quanlambao, which translates as “senior officials write journalism” directly attacks the prime minister, whereas Danlambao, which means “citizens’ journalism” in Vietnamese has a broader focus.
     
    Retired American diplomat David Brown describes one post which particularly caught his attention. It focuses on competing factions in Vietnam’s Communist Party headed by Prime Minister Dung and his main rivals President Truong Tan Sang and party chief Nguyen Phu Trong.

    “Essentially the guy who posted it analyzes the two factions but in the end he says a pox on both of your houses. If Dung prevails it’s more of the same corruption and nepotism and so forth and if the other guys prevail the country’s going to be run by strings from Beijin,” Brown said.
     
    The inclusion of Bien Dong, a blog which hones in on issues relating to Vietnam’s long-standing dispute with China over territory in the South China Sea, has puzzled observers.  Some say few people knew about the site until Dung’s announcement.
     
    Standing apart from the other blogs is Quanlambao, which publishes stories highly critical of the prime minister. Set up nearly four months ago, it broke the news of the arrest of banker tycoon Nguyen Duc Kien a day before the police made an official announcement. Kien, seen as a close ally of the prime minister, was arrested in August for as yet undisclosed financial crimes.
     
    Observers speculate the blog is written either by political rivals in the Ministry of Public Security or Chinese intelligence services. Brown says he thinks Quanlambao was the real target of the announcement Wednesday.
     
    “It’s almost as though they added the two other blogs sort of as padding because this Quanlambao thing is pretty much sui generis," he said. "We have them in the U.S., it’s called ‘right wing, angry white man talk radio.’”
     
    While some say the high rate of hits is a sign that Dung’s announcement has backfired, others argue the move was the result of a power struggle within the communist party set against a backdrop of slowing economic growth, rising fuel prices and a steady stream of corruption scandals among state-owned giants.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Killer from: Cambodia
    September 14, 2012 7:13 PM
    This bad guy, Vietnamese PM, always do like Ghost in Jail.
    In Response

    by: Reader from: Vietnam
    September 18, 2012 12:24 AM
    We're now really tired, bored with this base political system. After a paint and sorrow war, what people get to? Nothing except a worse life!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora