Le Minh Vuong

Vietnamese motherfuckers like him, Le Minh Vuong, a police officer (#283-658) in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7, are another reason that keeps me from buying property in Vietnam. I don’t personally know Ryan, the guy who complained about Le Minh Vuong, an unaccompanied police officer, invading his EcoGreen apartment in Saigon at 1AM on Friday, June 10, 2022, to conduct a “document check,” but it appears to be legit based on my own experiences. Regardless of whether it’s 12:45 in the afternoon or at night, according to the security guard’s watch, there aren’t any good reasons why Le Minh Vuong is sitting at Ryan’s dining room table examining two U.S. passports with an iPhone in-hand reluctant to be in a picture. Maybe he didn’t read the decree allowing individuals to video record police officers. But, obviously, better, more appropriate ways to conduct a document check exist. Imagine if that was the apartment of a single female living alone.

Considering all the crap that we’ve encountered and know of, firsthand, in Vietnam, those stories don’t surprise me. Extortion by individuals in positions of power, such as members of the Communist Party of Vietnam, other government employees, including police, immigration and customs officers, and even teachers and healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, is commonplace. You, your mother and me are not the only victims in our family. Everyone on your mother’s side of the family have been extorted by Vietnamese government officials and/or Vietnamese police officers during the short time that I’ve been living in the country. Communism has failed its people for corruption to be as prevalent and widespread as it is in Vietnam.

Here are some examples from our experiences.

Marriage. Getting anything official done in Vietnam likely requires multiple documents that need to be signed and stamped by different government agencies, including marriage. Your mother had to get a document signed and stamped by her local police ward that’s required by the Communist Party of Vietnam for marriage applications. When the police administrator checked my passport and saw that my nationality, he made her pay 5,000,000 VND or else he wouldn’t do it. His explanation was that she’s lucky to be marrying an American and, consequently, should help “feed the town.” Well, none of that money ever made it to the town’s people. We had no other choice but to pay since he was the gatekeeper. That was one of the four times we were extorted by government officials to get married.

Passport. Even as a Vietnamese citizen, the Vietnamese government wouldn’t accept your passport application. After meeting all of the documentary requirements given to us by government officials, the same government officials rejected your application multiple times. Every time your mother tried to hand them the documents when it was her turn after literally standing for hours, none of them bothered to look. They’d vehemently shake their head from side-to-side like a damn child. Your mother was fed up but knew there was nothing more that she could accomplish on her own and choose to hire the help of a passport agent on-site. With a quick phone call to one of the same government officials sitting behind the window that gladly ignored her, your mother was given the green light by the passport agent to submit your documents but only after agreeing to pay a 3,000,000 VND bribe to the government official via the passport agent. That was one of the two times we were extorted by a Vietnamese government official to get your passport.

Visa. The Communist Party of Vietnam could care less about keeping foreigners together with their legally recognized Vietnamese family. Although Vietnam has longer-term stay privileges for foreign family members of Vietnamese citizens, such as the Visa Exemption Certificate (VEC), Temporary Residence Card (TRC) and Permanent Residence Card (PRC), like both the marriage and passport processes, the approval process is corrupt. Extortion comes with every document required for submission, including the submission itself, that needs to be signed and stamped by a Vietnamese government official. I’ve been extorted by the same Vietnamese government authorities EVERY time, which has occurred at least twice per year for each year in Vietnam. The risk of overstaying wasn’t an acceptable option. Getting blacklisted would suck much more than having to pay bribes.

Care. A friend of your mother, who we call “Yellow Hair”, gave birth to her son at Bệnh viện Từ Dũ (Tu Du Hospital). She frequently paid bribes to the nurses and doctor for adequate care. Knowing that they’d either ignore her requests in favor of other bribe paying patients or Facebook, she had to give them the incentive to do their fuckin’ job. Otherwise, without consequence, they would have left her possibly bleeding and in pain like colleagues of theirs had left your mother alone on the operating room table after an invasive procedure. She was left to wipe the blood off of her body before going home. Vietnamese public hospitals require payment upfront.

Except for bad hospital care, extortion by the Vietnamese government to process legal paperwork might not seem that serious. It’s not really causing anyone any harm, directly, and could be viewed by some as a necessary, unannounced tax. But I’d argue that, in fact, it is serious. Although most people probably aren’t endangered by extortion, its reach touches everyone, including you – a newborn baby. Whereas corruption is mainly a problem of the rich and/or privileged in the Western world, it’s not in Vietnam. It’s not just a problem of politicians and/or business leaders. It affects normal, honest hardworking families just trying to get by. Corruption is endemic in Vietnamese society.

While we have yet to experience a home invasion by the Vietnamese government, hearing about it happening to Ryan wasn’t surprising. We were already aware of times when it had happened to other people, including Yellow Hair, and know of business owners who have to pay fixed bribe amounts to plain clothed police officers each week. Rather than organize together for better pay, those fuckers and fuckers like them choose to wrongly benefit from a position of power. Scum.

Le Minh Vuong and other fuckers in the Vietnamese government like him are not only another reason that keeps me from buying a property in Vietnam but also from doing something meaningful for this country. Too much bad shit happens in Vietnam every hour of every day as a result of them. The safety of you and your mother is my priority. How can the Communist Party of Vietnam expect its “children” to be in line when many of its representatives are knowingly corrupt and hardly any actions are taken against them? Unless the credibility of the Communist Party of Vietnam is threatened, rooting out corruption definitely isn’t a priority. It’s generally accepted. A perk of the job.

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