Monday, March 28, 2011

(Not) Understanding Vietnam

If you want to understand why Vietnam is mired in economic instability, I'd urge you not to read this story on the state-owned Voice of Vietnam news website.

The story - an interview with a national assembly member headlined: "Why are gold and USD strictly controlled?" - meanders around the subject, adding new layers of confusion with each paragraph.

Perhaps it's just a bad translation - I know official Vietnamese can be very tough to render into crisp English.

After circling round and round, the report climaxes with a richly and - I suspect - accidentally ironic ending, which merits full quotation:

Dr Kien: The bottom line is that people have lost their trust in the value of the domestic currency due to one-sided information in the media.

Reporter: Thank you.


  1. This could be a blog in and of itself -- I don't think I spend a day in Vietnam without (not) understanding this place...

  2. Hey, Ben. Please check your email, especially your spam folder.

  3. This reminds me of the regular anti-corruption stories in the "Vietnam News."

    They always quote a senior official saying things like "Coordination must be strengthened" and "Procedures must be improved."

    Remarkably, the articles run 500+ words but manage to avoid saying anything concrete or specific...I admire the sheer artistry of it.