Vietnam: Opinion about Prime Minister’s forbidding use of mountainous peach trees for New Year’s decoration

Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the opening ceremony of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, held online due to the corona epidemic, in Hanoi on November 12, 2020

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked authorities in provinces and cities not to allow people to cut mountainous peach trees to sell for the New Year decoration (peach trees in the Northern Vietnam is used for decoration in the New Year holiday similar to Western people using pines for Christmas). The PM’s request has caused controversy in public opinion because many people said that he did not understand the nature of “mountainous peach.”

Specifically, the Vietnamese media quoted the Prime Minister’s speech at the conference of the agricultural sector on the afternoon of December 24:

It is absolutely forbidden to cut peach blossoms, other mountainous trees, especially the Northwestern mountains and forests to bring to Hanoi for Tet. Today I declare, who cut, buy, sell, transport, and consume the wild tree is a violation.”

The PM said and assigned the Government Office to take documents to seriously convey this direction.

Today, the Prime Minister announced that people that cut down, buy, sell, transport and consume forest trees are a violation,” the PM cited the New Year’s Day, walking on the dike banks, the street will see many mountainous peach trees are displayed, but if they cannot be sold, they will be used as firewood.

After mass media coverage of the Prime Minister’s direction, many people voiced that he did not understand the nature of mountainous peach.

Public reaction?

The Facebook post of a man named Nguyen Thanh Phong with the title “the PM understands nothing about mountainous peach trees” that has more than 2,000 interactions.

Specifically, he said: “Now listening to the Prime Minister’s opinion regarding the ban on buying and selling of mountainous peach trees, I can say: It is a wrong idea! Those who advise the PM on this are not understanding anything about mountainous peach!”

Peaches sold on the Tet holiday are usually peaches for fruit, which are planted by people.

Peaches sold on the Tet holiday are usually peaches for fruit, which are grown by local people to earn extra income for the holidays. A farmer who grows peaches at the Peach Blossom Garden Nhat Tan Craft Village (Hanoi)

With his long life experience in Northwestern mountainous forests, Mr. Phong said that there is no deforestation and there is no peach forest. He analyzed:

First, peaches are not forest trees. It is a tree but does not compete with trees in the forest, it can only live with other peach trees, plum trees, or live with corn upland, herbaceous rice, or cassava.

Second, peach trees are not planted for timber because it does not fit for construction nor firewood.”

But why is it called wild peach? Because it was taken from the mountainous areas, so it is called mountainous peach in order to be distinguished from peach grown in delta areas.”

Mr. Phong further informed that these peach trees are usually grown by people in the upland fields to eat fruit, leave the seeds in the place where the tents are built, or can be grown in people’s gardens, or peach gardens are planted on a hillside or the foot of a valley.

Now because of the hobby of using mountainous peach trees for decoration, suddenly there is a little commercial value, which is simple joy for the grower and keeps it. But this kind of development is fast, cutting branches and the trees will develop other branches while still playing flowers. Once a tree is removed, another can develop in a short time.”

If you develop well mountainous peach blossoms, it will enliven Tet flower market, add a small source of income for people and enrich the type of business from growing fruit trees in the northern mountainous region of our country,” suggested a man named Phong.

With the same opinion, Facebook Tran Hong Tiem believes that the reason the PM issued a directive on the ban on a mountainous peach is because of the name. He wrote: “The first people who called mountainous peach must not have imagined the implications of that name. If only they kept calling that peachtree by its name – peaches for fruit – it would have no consequences like today.”

The PM must think that mountainous peach comes from the forest, and probably not knowing that mountainous peach is just a kind of tree for the fruit to eat in the northern uplands. The consequences of naming incorrectly can cause many families planting peach varieties for fruit just for sale during the Tet holiday face difficulties as their stock cannot be sold.”

The Facebooker questioned: “The peach growers have the right to sell their fruit, to sell branches or to sell the whole trees. It is their right to seek happiness. The peach tree is in their garden, on their land, they cause no harm for others, why the government is banning sale? Why don’t they have the right to dispose of things in their possession?”

See anything from a mountainous peach?

In addition to the above comments, some public opinion said that this PM’s statement was not satisfactory because there were provisions in the law on prohibiting deforestation, which did not need any more direction. And the peach trees that are brought to cities for sale during Tet are fruit peaches, planted by local people, not forest trees.

On Tuoi Tre, on December 27, there was an article titled “Hobby eradicating mountains and forests” equating selling mountainous peach and deforestation.

Mountainous peach is like a wild boar, it is planted by people. The problem of mountainous peach is not a big deal, but it shows that the PM and his staff, do not understand the nature of the question. Many newspapers also report the issues without thoroughly researching the matter,” a reader commented.

Before that, on February 20, the state-controlled media published the information that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc praised the poem of teacher Chu Ngoc Thanh of Hung Vuong Secondary School (Gia Lai) in the anti-Covid-19 movement.

The poem of Ms. Thanh and the PM’s praising decision also met with conflicting public opinion because the poem is “plagiarism” with its rhyme is somewhat like the poem “My country is so enlightened, isn’t it?” written by teacher Tran Thi Lam (Ha Tinh High School for the Gifted) composed in 2016 about the incident of Formosa.

At the same time, Ms. Thanh’s poem was pointed out by many as untrue. There are many “invented” details, such as the refusal of countries to welcome the MS Westerdam yacht while the Vietnamese government allowed it to dock. In fact, the ship has never passed to Vietnam.

Just a few hours later, articles about the PM’s praise of the poem were simultaneously removed.

What did the PM’s office say?

On December 26, Mr. Mai Tien Dung, minister cum chairman of the Government Office had to speak up about the PM’s directive to ban mountainous peach.

Mr. Dung said the Prime Minister’s instructions are to prohibit cutting down and digging of natural forests and bringing them to the city to play Tet.

As for people in mountainous or lowland areas, who have planted peaches for sale during Tet, they should be encouraged, because it will give urban people a chance to purchase beautiful trees to play Tet while the growers can get money for selling their trees,” Mr. Dung added.

However, many people believe that Mr. Dung’s explanation is just a rescue for the PM’s earlier statement because, basically, the deforestation of natural forests is included in the law on deforestation in general and no additional text is required. If so, it proves that the law is enacted, but all levels have not done it closely, still sluggishly. (Translated)