In a rare event in Vietnam’s press, Ho Chi Minh City’s Women Newspaper, published on May 29, ran an article detailly responding to the Press Department of the Ministry of Information and Communication, after being deprived of the right to use the license for online posting for 1 month.
On May 28, the Press Department announced its decision imposing the administrative sanction regarding violations of the HCM City Women Newspaper.
The department pointed the reason that the newspaper had a series of articles about Sun Group in 2019 that were “untrue and cause very serious consequences.”
The sanctioning form is deprivation of the right to use the electronic newspaper operating license (website) for a period of 1 month together with a fine of VND55 million ($2,430) although the printed newspaper is still allowed to operate.
Only 24 hours later, the Vietnamese newspaper community was abuzz when the print edition of the HCM City Women Newspaper was published on May 29 with the headline “What have been wrong with HCM City Women Newspaper?”
The newspaper also said the number of readers buying its copies on May 29 was very high.
“The editorial board decided to join the 20,000-sheet edition according to the volume ordered this morning,” the newspaper said.
In the long article, the newspaper said it wanted to raise 7 issues related to the Sun Group series and the Press Department’s conclusions.
Regarding the article titled “Conspiracy to occupy 726 hectares of Van Don beach” published by the newspaper on October 25, 2019, the newspaper wrote:
“Regarding the detail (note: this detail does not change the content of the article) ‘The Cong Chao Peninsula Hi-Tech Complex Project’ has been assigned to the Economic Zone Authority at Document No. 505I / UBND QH1 dated July 18, 2019 by the province’s People’s Committee, Ho Chi Minh City’s Women Newspaper admitted that it has not updated the final document (if this document is legally valid) for complete information. Again, please note, this detail does not change the content of the article in order to attribute the article to false writing.”
The newspaper also listed the Press Department’s conclusions on other articles, and posted responses from the HCM City’s Women Newspaper.
For example, about the information “Sun Group deserves to be called “God” because it is protected by the lower world is called the silence of the central to local government” in the article titled “Sun Group- God not from heaven“- Article 1: Rising concrete, hundreds of hectares of Ba Na forest collapsed” published in the printed version on September 23, 2019 and in the article titled “Sun Group – the God not from Heaven” published in electronic version on September 23, 2019.
The Press Department stated that: HCM City’s Women Newspaper wrote wrongly because documents of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Danang City People’s Committee, and the Vinh Phuc province’s Department of Planning and Investment have confirmed that the investor Sun Group has not violated laws during project implementation.
The newspaper relied: “If these agencies claim that the investor has not been wrong, then a series of illegal documents from these agencies (which the newspaper has proven) are correct?“
“Ho Chi Minh City Women’s Newspaper acknowledged and seriously learned from experience when the words in the above discussions are inclined to exclamation but beyond the nature of information. But based on the evidence that Ho Chi Minh City Women’s Newspaper has given (that so far has not been properly criticized from the relevant units, localities) these articles are wrong regarding nature of the problem.
In the process of making this article, we did not receive the cooperation of the authorized agencies as well as the local governments.”
Earlier, the Sun Group and the Danang City’s Department of Information and Communication submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Information and Communications on a series of articles for the Ho Chi Minh City’s Women Newspaper, with 255 pages of documents.
The newspaper explained on Facebook and printed newspaper on May 29, “In the issues of the newspaper from September 23, 2019 to November 4, 2019, Ho Chi Minh City’s Women newspaper continuously published articles reporting and investigating signs of mistakes at Sun Group projects in Ba Na – Nui Chua Nature Reserve (Danang City) and Tam Dao National Park (Vinh Phuc province).
Journalist Nguyen Thu Trang wrote on her personal Facebook page: “Most of Sun Group’s projects and constructions are sandy in sensitive lands such as mountains, primary forests, islands, borders ...”
The journalist continued: “The group of journalists who wrote the articles was also monitored, surveilled, pressured, and intimidated on the way to work. We have submitted a report to the Criminal Department – Ministry of Public Security. But we received silent response only.”
On May 29, on the Online Women Newspaper Facebook page, many readers expressed their agreement with the newsroom about the series of environmental protection investigations, and uncovered the truth about Sun Group’s manipulation of hot land, at the same time, they praised the courage of the investigative reporter group of the Women Newspaper.
Readers Dung Dao wrote: “If there are no newspaper reports that dare to tell the bare truths, expose the interests of the group, this society will cover all lies and lies. Thank you – the mighty warriors of the cause.“
Thanh Tinh reader wrote: “Supporting Women newspaper on this issue. The sky of our country, our land and our country are easily covered by one hand? ”
Readers Thuy Le said: “Women Newspaper is the only newspaper (among more than 800 propaganda newspapers) to dare to protest against Sun Group to destroy Ba Na and Tam Dao forests with a series of spectacular investigations. exposing the Sun Group’s environmental devastation scandals approved by Prime Minister Phuc for deforestation as a project but now being suspended for 1 month and fined.”
Activist Nguyen Tien Trung commented: “If the Women’s Newspaper publishes untrue news about the Sun Group, the Sun Group will go to the press for rectification, and if feeling unacceptable, it would sue the newspaper. On the other hand, the authorities do the work of an independent court, which makes people like me believe that the information provided by the newspaper is right so it was gagged.”
HCM City’s Women Newspaper on September 23, 2019 caused a stir by posting two articles condemning Sun Group at the same time.
The editorial introduction, which stated the newspaper’s official position, said Sun Group “was protected from the silence of the authorities from the central to local levels.”
Founded by a group of Vietnamese businessmen returning from Ukraine, starting up in Danang, Sun Group is now a famous corporation in tourism, real estate …
An article titled “Sun group – God from heaven” wrote about a tourist resort of the group:
“Ba Na – resort, convalescence – is a story of the past. Now it is the amusement park, experience, whirling, eating, singing, rolling around in an area of over 60 hectares of forest which were destroyed.”
The second article is entitled “Sun Group, Hell Temple and matrix occupy Tam Dao national forest.”
In this article, the reporter accused a monk, Venerable Thich Thanh Toan, of “dirty” behaviors and seemed to have a close relationship with a vice chairman of Sun Group.
The article also described the meeting with the vice chairman, and later, a Dior bag worth EUR2,500 was sent to reporters by Sun Group.
Chairman of Sun Group is Mr. Le Viet Lam, born in 1969 in Thanh Hoa.
According to the official biography, in 1993, Mr. Le Viet Lam and Mr. Pham Nhat Vuong (the founder of Vingroup later), Ms. Pham Thuy Hang and Ms. Pham Thu Huong and some others established Technocom, a business enterprise for packaged food, mainly instant noodles under the Mivina brand.
In 2007, Mr. Lam established Sun Group in Danang, focusing on construction investment, real estate and resort tourism.
His company has major resorts in Vietnam such as Sun World Ba Na Hills, Sun World Danang Wonders in Danang, Sun World Fansipan Legend in Lao Cai, Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park in Phu Quoc, and Sun World Halong Complex in Quang Ninh ..
In 2018, foreign newspapers posted many news and beautiful images about the launch of the Golden Bridge at Sun World Ba Na Hills, which is considered a tourist highlight.
Sun Group also operates luxury resorts in Vietnam, such as InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula (Danang) and JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay (Phu Quoc).
In the field of transport infrastructure, Sun Group also resonates with three projects in Quang Ninh. They are Van Don International Airport, Ha Long International Passenger Port and Ha Long – Van Don Expressway.
Due to the Sun Group’s stature, two articles from The Ho Chi Minh Women newspaper immediately became controversial.
Writing on his personal Facebook, journalist Han Ni shared: “For a long time Sun Group and Vingroup has been a ‘forbidden area’ for many reporters because these companies spend billions of dong every year to buy the media leaders so journalists can’t write.”
“That’s why, the Women Newspaper investigation series this time is so highly regarded!”
HCM City’s Women Newspaper once criticized Vingroup
The editor-in-chief of Ho Chi Minh City’s Women newspaper is Ms. Le Huyen Ai My, born in 1974.
Graduating from the Pedagogical University in Hue, Ai My worked at the Women Newspaper from 1997, up to the deputy editor in charge of content before becoming the top leader of the newspaper in 2014.
In August 2018, the Women’s newspaper made a public comment when it criticized Vingroup, including “Central Park is exactly like the ‘groyne’ that threatens the Saigon River.”
This sheet also posted, with the affirmation: “Question: Does Vinhomes Central Park park violate the corridors of protecting canals and rivers? Yes, it did reclamation of Saigon River although it built in 2016 before the decision on the canals of HCM City was issued.“
The articles of Women Newspaper regarding Vingroup are still available on its site.