Loa phuong– the local loudspeaker network or public address system – has become a topic for discussion lately in Viet Nam, with many debating the need for its continued existence.
|Illustrative image.— VNS File Photo
With speakers normally resting on poles or street lamps at a height where every nearby local can hear them loud and clear, loa phuong is said to originate from the 1970s, when it would raise the alarm before bombing raids during the American War.
Now the loudspeakers provide local people with news, songs and information at dawn and dusk.
Writer Terence Carter recently reflected on a three-month stay in Ha Noi in The Independent. He recalled: "Most mornings we were woken at 6.45am by announcements broadcast in Vietnamese on loudspeakers from the local Communist Party office, followed by rousing patriotic tunes inexplicably set to salsa beat."
To many Vietnamese people, the loudspeakers have become an important source of news in the country. They also see the system as their alarm clock, helping them wake up every morning for exercise and reminding them when it is time to cook dinner.
However, some see them as an unnecessary annoyance, particularly in this technological era where information is widely available online.
What is your experience of the public address system in Viet Nam? Does it annoy you? Is it still relevant in 2013? Should residents be responsible for deciding the time and the content of broadcasts?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 79 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, May 16, 2013. — VNS