Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Viet Nam looks to present ‘tourist-friendly image’ in spite of domestic tensions

According to an article by Professor Long S. Le in Tuesday’s Asia Times Online, a new statue in Ho Chi Minh City is symbolic of Viet Nam’s new attitude towards the West and the legacy of the ‘American War,’ – sentiment that seems to be in line with the growth of the country’s tourism industry.

The statue will be raised in the image and honor of Thich Quang Duc, the Buddhist monk who immolated himself in the streets to protest against the U.S. and South Viet Nam during the war.

Le takes a closer look at the implications of this new momument and how it reflects the changing, and perhaps contradictory attitudes, of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The statue, considered by many to be a marketing ploy, is meant to call attention to a ‘new, tourist-friendly’ Viet Nam. This image has already proven to be enticing to Vietnamese living in the West.

And while the Communist government appears to be trumpeting a new progressive, market-oriented demeanor, the government has only transformed selectively – handpicking certain ideals while still retaining many aspects of conservatism and maintaining its tight grip on religious freedoms and other basic rights.

Although the tourists who visit the new Viet Nam will not automatically see these contradictions, the author asserts that Vietnamese citizens will not be able to deny the hypocrisy of this shift.


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