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Vietnamese Law Book Recalled Over Cover Photo

FILE - Controversial cover a new Vietnamese law book featuring the face of a comedian Cong Ly.

A state-owned book publisher in Vietnam has withdrawn hundreds of law books from shelves following public uproar over a photoshopped image of a half-naked man holding scales of justice on the front cover.

The Labor and Social Affairs Publishing House published 500 copies of the book on Vietnam’s civil code earlier this year, but came under fire recently when the book's cover went viral on social networks.

It features a muscular male body being altered with the face of Cong Ly, a popular comedian whose name literally means justice in Vietnamese. The image has reportedly taken off Internet sites accessible inside Vietnam.

A publisher's representative, Nguyen Thi Thuy, lays the blame on the Lao Dong Bookstore, the partner in releasing the book.

“There is no such image in the contract. They published that cover without our consent," the representative said. "We have explained our responsibility, [and] now it is up to the relevant authorities to decide. They are investigating.”

One employee has been fired as the result of the scandal and the bookstore could not be reached for comments.

The public has seized the chance to mock Vietnam’s legal system.

“Justice in Vietnam is just a comedy. The publishing house is brave to say the truth,” one netizen wrote on the VOA Vietnamese Facebook page.

The publishing house has offered its apologies to the comedian, but local media reports say he has threatened to take legal action.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.