Uncle Ho complex criticised

Son La committee has been inspecting similar monuments. photo Quang Tuyen.

Son La committee has been inspecting similar monuments. photo Quang Tuyen.

The poor rural province of Son La in the mountainous northwest of Vietnam needs much from the central government.

But should the first priority be to lavish  tens of millions of dollars on political monuments ?

Not according to many exasperated bloggers and social media pundits.

Face book and other outlets have been buzzing with outrage and disbelief at the proposal to erect a vast complex of memorials to Ho Chi Minh and his revolutionary comrades in Son La.

“Uncle Ho united with the ethnic minorities in the North West” is the title of the project and the proposal is to start construction in October with an extraordinary budget of 1,400 billion dong.

The aim is “to meet the aspirations and sentiments of the people,” said the local officials announcing the project.

They indicated, however, that the project would do more than simply appease the political longings of the ethnic minorities in the region – the site, they explained, could become a major draw for tourists eager to learn about Uncle Ho’s exploits with the hill tribesmen of the North West.

Some local people appear to support the project in principle but question the vast sums being proposed for the complex in such a poor and underdeveloped area.

The sparsely populated province of Son La has many households living below the poverty line.

Some bloggers have asked how many schools and clinics could be built for the cost of what in effect looks like a revolutionary Disneyland.

The proposal includes the construction of museums, vast statues, temples, a lake, and a sweeping open plaza for staged events.

And it’s not just in the North West, statues to Ho Chi Minh are going up in increasing numbers across the country.

Speaking out against such  ideologically correct projects is not easy for anyone employed by the bureaucracy of state or Communist Party.

So it’s left to the humble Face book user to call the authorities to account and question decisions on the lavish expenditure of public funds that are made behind closed doors.