Every year Vietnam’s central region suffers from floods in the last months of the year. Artists, mostly in the South, often call for charity to help victims of storms and floods. Prominent can be mentioned singer Thuy Tien with hundreds of billion in donations in 2020 and MC Phan Anh in 2016 with tens of billions of dong. There are also artists like Hoai Linh, singer Dam Vinh Hung, and MC Tran Thanh, et. widely known to the public for raising money for charity after the video clips of Mrs. Nguyen Phuong Hang last year accused them of financial fraud of the collected money.
After that, artist Hoai Linh admitted to being slow to disburse the amount of more than VND14 billion ($600,000) that 2020 he collected for supporting the people of the central region suffering from floods. MC Tran Thanh posted the entire bank account statement on Google Drive related to the previous charity call. Singer Dam Vinh Hung sued Phuong Hang for having offensive words that affected his personal life around raising money for charity.
From such scandals, exactly one year ago, on September 29, 2021, Lieutenant General To An Xo, Chief of the Office, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security told the press that the police would investigate charity activities if there are signs of appropriation. According to Mr. Xo, this is the crime of “fraudulent appropriation of property” or “abuse of trust to appropriate property.”
At the same time, the Ministry of Finance said that it is finalizing the dossier to develop a new Decree on mobilizing, receiving, distributing, and using charitable donations.
On October 27, 2021, the Government issued Decree 93/2021/ND-CP on mobilizing, receiving, distributing, and using voluntary contributions to support overcoming difficulties caused by natural disasters and epidemics, trouble; supporting patients with critical illnesses. Article 17 of this Decree allows individuals to call for charity, but must be responsible for announcing in the media the purpose, scope, method, form of advocacy, receiving account (for money), place of receipt (for in-kind), and time of commitment to distribution. At the same time, send it in writing to the commune-level People’s Committee of the place of residence.
This Decree is said to have overcome the limitation of Decree 64/2008/ND-CP which only recognizes the right to mobilize charitable donations of organizations such as the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front; Vietnam Red Cross Association; central and local mass media agencies; Committees of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the Red Cross Associations at local levels and a number of organizations and units at the central level.
Decree 64/2008/ND-CP emphasizes that no other organization, unit, or individual has the right to organize the receipt of relief money and goods. If violated, depending on the severity, they will be administratively punished or examined for penal liability according to the provisions of law.
Although the new decree has been more extensive, there is no artist to donate to help victims of floods in the Central region who have just suffered from typhoon No. 4 (Hurricane Noru).
Journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia stated the reason to RFA on the morning of September 29, 2022:
“Firstly, the people in the South have been exhausted after the anti-epidemic-like fighting against the enemy by the Vietnamese communist government last year. That leads to the second one, which is the patriotic sentiments that have been smoothed out. From the behavior of the authorities, there has been a serious division among the people. So it leads to the third thing, which can be said to be very disheartening because unemployment is very high while salary is low along with the clearly inflationary economy.
The fourth is that the prestige of the artists is almost gone after the clash with Ms. Nguyen Phuong Hang last year. Although the police later determined their innocence this identification does not save their honor. Now, if the artist world, in general, stood up to call for charity, they would surely fail miserably.
In the current situation of the failure of the rescue call in particular, as well as the most important thing that the Vietnamese communist government has always pursued, the great national unity, that complete failure. Vietnamese communist authorities must take full and ongoing responsibility.”
Recently, Miss Thuy Tien called on benefactors to donate to the charity fund of Ms. Pham Kim Dung – President of Miss Grand Vietnam to help the central provinces. Just a day later, she stopped posting information calling for donations. Many people commented in the press that Thuy Tien should call for donations to State organizations instead of personal accounts.
On her personal Facebook page, Ms. Pham Kim Dung wrote: “We have worked with the Ho Chi Minh City Fatherland Front Committee to jointly implement it. Leaders of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee will come to receive the total amount of contributions on the final night of Miss Hoa Binh Vietnam – Miss Grand Vietnam 2022.”
For many years, people do not seem to trust charitable contributions to the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee or the Red Cross Society. That’s why they contribute to artists, who are known to the public. However, this year’s flood season did not see any artists standing up to donate.
Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh explained to RFA on the morning of September 29, 2022:
“It’s not because of the regulations of the State, but because in the past, celebrities were too scandalous, so now the public no longer trusts them to call for charity anymore. That’s why the art world doesn’t call for charity anymore.
The old decree (Decree 64/2008) led to the misunderstanding that individuals were not allowed to do charity, leading to limited charity work. New Decree (Decree 93/2021) has been revised to make charity work easier. As for the Fatherland Front, it seems that the public doesn’t trust it very much after some non-transparent things.”