Vietnam still oppressive

October 23, 2008 – 9:08AM
The Orange County Register

The imprisonment of journalist Nguyen Viet Chien in Vietnam demonstrates that while it may not be the hard-line communist regime it once was, Vietnam still has a long way to go before it is a semblance of a normal government with even a tiny bit of respect for human rights.

In 2006 Nguyen Viet Chien and another journalist, Nguyen Van Hai, exposed a scandal that involved a unit in the government’s Ministry of Transport that siphoned off funds intended for infrastructure, mostly donated by the World Bank and Japan, to lay big bets on European soccer matches. Nine members of the unit were convicted, and the revelation was deeply embarrassing for the government.

Instead of getting a prize for exposing corruption, however, Chien and Hai were arrested. Hai was let off with a suspended sentence, but Nguyen Viet Chien is to serve two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state.” One of his sources, Col. Dinh Van Huynh, was given a one-year sentence for “deliberately revealing state secrets.”

In a free country journalists are supposed to infringe on the interests of the state and expose corruption when they find and can document it.
Obviously Vietnam is not exactly a free and democratic country yet.


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