Viet Nam News
by Bạch Liên
HÀ NỘI — After nearly 30 years and 13 new houses, the enamel washing basin and Russian-made pot Đặng Văn Chu bought is still well preserved.
He bought the basin in 1987 and the pot in 1988, one and two years after Việt Nam began the renewal process in 1986. They were worth three times the value of his monthly salary at the time. They became precious objects in his house. As the years went on and they were replaced by more modern items, he kept them as souvenirs.
Chu and several other witnesses of the country’s transitional period from the subsidy economy to a market economy offered objects from this period to the National Museum of Vietnamese History. The objects will be displayed in August to mark 30 years since the country started the renewal process.
To prepare for the exhibition, the museum organised on Saturday the first meetings with people who lived, worked, studied during this transitional period. They donated objects and shared their memories of that time.
In 1986, Việt Nam launched a political and economic renewal campaign (named đổi mới, renewal period) that put an end to the state-subsidy economy. Đổi mới combined economic planning with free-market incentives and encouraged the establishment of private businesses in the production of consumer goods and foreign investment, including foreign-owned enterprises.
During the subsidy period, food, goods, and services were purchased with coupons or food stamps issued by the government. As goods were very rare, people had to queue for a long time to buy them.
Thirty years after the initiation of the Renewal period in 1986, Việt Nam has emerged from a serious socio-economic crisis, gradually tackling poverty and backwardness, embarking upon national industrialisation and modernisation and integrating internationally.
The people who lived during that difficult period were thankful of the renewal campaign that changed their lives.
“Those objects are part of my memories about a difficult time. Many times, my children suggested I sell them to scrap iron buyers, but I didn’t want to,” Đặng Văn Chu recalls.
Trần Hải Nhị, a retired cadre of the Việt Nam Museum of Revolution, said she was thankful for the renewal campaign as it changed her family’s life.
“The big change was that I did not have to queue any more to buy goods. And more over, as my husband sent me goods from Russia where he was working, I and my children had a more comfortable life,” she recalls.
Other objects that the people donated to the museum on Saturday included an old electric fan, a Soviet-style cassette player, a Czech-made fan, old books, bowls and more.
“This event has important significance,” says Đào Văn Ngự, 78 year old, a retired cadre of the Ministry of Education and Training.
“Not many young people today fully understand the difficulties their parents faced during the pre-renewal period. This event educates younger people about the hard lives of their parents and helps them catch a glimpse of the past,” he said. — VNS