A senior journalist has been dismissed from his job after he posted a satirical column about Ho Chi Minh and the other revolutionary leaders that brought the communists to power.
Do Van Hung was removed from his post as Deputy Managing Director of the widely-circulated Thanh Nien [Youth] daily the day after he posted the humorous piece about the August Revolution of 1945 on his Facebook page. He will also have his press card revoked making it impossible for him to attend official events.
The item appeared on Vietnam’s National Day of September 2 when mass parades and other celebrations were held to mark the seventieth anniversary of the declaration of independence.
It appeared to satirize the events of 1945 by using only one of the six tones available in the Vietnamese language.
The item was liked and shared by hundreds of Facebook users with some describing it as a brilliant play on words – changing the sound of the speeches made by Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap and others.
Officials at the Ministry of Information and Communication appear to have taken a different view – deciding the journalist was making light of one of the key events in the communists’ rise to power.
A senior official from the ministry is reported to have called the paper’s executives immediately after the post appeared.
He was quoted as saying that it was unacceptable for a journalist working for mainstream media to write such a thing and it was the newspaper’s obligation to “teach” the journalist.
The next day, the Communist Party cell at the newspaper convened an urgent meeting in which Do Van Hung was removed from his position. The Ministry of Information and Communication, in the name of Deputy Minister Truong Minh Tuan, stated that Hung’s press card was to be revoked from mid-September.
Hung’s facebook page was shut down shortly afterwards.
Independent bloggers and commentators were shocked by the action taken against the popular journalist and blogger.
Many Facebook users also expressed their anger at the Ministry and the Thanh Nien newspaper.
Do Van Hung has long been known as an audacious journalist who managed to publish many articles on Sino-Vietnam relations, which remains a politically sensitive topic for mainstream media.
He has been the target of government-hired internet trolls who launched campaigns attacking and labelling him as an “anti-state journalist” and “traitor”.
The Deputy Minister, Truong Minh Tuan, has played a significant and vocal role in recent moves to crack down on media freedom. Observers suspect he may be in line for promotion at the 12th Party Congress to be held next year.
Earlier this year, the ministry succeeded in silencing the Nguoi Cao Tuoi [the Elderly], a newspaper that has played a pioneering role in the fight against corruption.
Its editor-in-chief, Mr. Kim Quoc Hoa, 70, was removed from his post and prosecuted under Article 258 for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the state’s interest.”