Viet Nam News
by Thu Hằng
A few days ago, a driver working for the Science and Technology Department in the northern province of Ninh Bình was reportedly slapped by his boss.
In public, no less.
The reported facts of this incident are this: Vũ Hàm Linh, the department driver, was on duty, driving his boss, the department director and two other staff, to the central province of Nghệ An on July 13. In the evening, after having dinner, the team went to a local hotel to rest. It was dark, and Linh drove the wrong way.
The angry boss asked him to stop the car and said he would walk to the hotel. When Linh followed the boss and apologized, the latter slapped him in the face and took a taxi to the hotel with other staff members.
A few days later, the director admitted his action at a department meeting and directly apologized to the driver. Linh accepted the apology.
Linh also told the media that he’d earlier refused to take the call from his boss when he tried to offer an apology. The boss also reported the incident to the department and he will accept the office’s disciplinary action.
As it often happens these days, the story went viral, sparking public outrage, and drawing comments from prominent citizens.
"I don’t understand why someone places himself or herself at a higher position than a citizen. No matter how senior, officials are citizens and human beings first, and as such should abide by the law and behave with dignity," said Prof. Nguyễn Minh Thuyết of the education and training ministry, told news website zing.vn.
“I think this is a relatively clear image of being corrupted by power and I really regret this,” he said.
Such actions are unacceptable, and we have seen the abuse of power happen all the time.
The recent incident of an official being very rude to a resident in grief, as she tried to get a death certificate to conduct her father’s funeral, is fresh in our minds, as is the one involving a retired lieutenant general insulting traffic police when he was fined for speeding.
The positive aspects of these situations are that many people are more aware of the law and their rights, and are ready to defend themselves from abuse.
While such abuses were kept hidden before and no one dared speak out against them, the advent of social media has significantly changed things, allowing citizens to vent their anger, frustration, sadness and other emotions freely in public.
Many people shared Thuyết’s dismay and roundly condemned the official who slapped his driver.
“This action is unacceptable between human beings, even if he is a boss,” said Lê Trung, an officer of the Việt Nam Railway Corporation.
“Being a boss does not mean that he has the right to attack his employee. Sometimes a leader may lose control and shout at the staff in exasperation, but the official’s action was unforgivable in this instance,” Trung said.
Nguyễn Kim Dung, Trung’s colleague said: “I read the story in some newspapers and I still do not understand how a boss can do it. I heard that he apologized, but nothing can justify such behavior.”
There has been a lot of talk about developing leadership qualities among our youth, especially those looking for jobs, but this behaviour shows a lack of real of leadership quality.
“He seems to think of himself as a powerful man who can do anything he wants. I think he should be strictly disciplined, and preferably, a person like him should not be appointed as a leader,” Dung said.
A provincial official has said the inspection team has not reached a conclusion on this incident, but we have seen from recent experiences that the public speaking out has forced authorities to take action.
That is an important lesson. We have to say what we think can contribute to building a better society. It is not just a right; as public citizens, it is a serious responsibility. - VNS