Ha Giang residents were privileged recently to witness a grand wedding at the headquarters of the city's Power Department.
Aptly, or so officials said, the groom was the only son of the director of Ha Giang Province's Power Department. Some 1,000 guests were invited, and the wedding ceremony started, fittingly again, at 10.30 in the morning, during office hours.
Dam Ha Son, Director of the Ha Giang City Power Department, saw nothing untoward about the event, its timing and its location. It is "quite a normal thing," he said.
"The place where the wedding was organised was merely the parking lot of the headquarters; many weddings have taken place there already. Mr Thien (Hoang Van Thien – the director of the province's Power Agency) is in his 50s now, it's his turn to hold a wedding for his son. The number of guests is large, so it's appropriate to organise the wedding in a large place," he said.
Now that a sterling example has been set for efficient use of public space by a public official, the general public can follow suit, one presumes.
Park that thought
At a recent press briefing, leaders of the capital city's Construction Department said they will carry out a pilot project that would allow cars to park on certain streets for a fee.
They said this "initiative" aims to ease the messy situation at current parking lots and help reduce traffic jams. Parking for a fee will be allowed on Tran Hung Dao, Ly Thuong Kiet and Dinh Tien Hoang streets, they said.
Let's get this straight. A solution to traffic jams caused by too many vehicles on the street is to render the streets narrower while allowing, in the interest of the holy cows of industrialisation and modernization, even more vehicles to hit the streets every day, most of them four and seven-seaters with just one passenger.
We are well on the way to becoming experts at efficient use of public space and resources.
A sporting gesture – throw in the towel
Talking about use of public resources, we have another inspiring example to cite.
When Ha Noi won its bid to host the 2019 Asian Games, the largest multi-sporting event in Asia, elated organisers said it was a golden opportunity to enhance national prestige, boost domestic tourism and develop the nation's sporting talent.
One assumed then that Viet Nam is an older, wiser nation, having been taught a pretty expensive lesson in the use of sports facilities when it hosted major events like the SEA Games 2003 and the 2009 Asian Indoor Games. Thousands of billions of dong were spent on works that soon degraded and were used for purposes far removed from their original intents.
Now, to host the Asian Games (Asiad 18-2019), Viet Nam will have to build even more international standard sports facilities. Do we know how and for how long they would be used?
Twelve years ago, South Korea spent US$2.9 billion on the Asiad; China had to spend $19.7 billion on the same event in 2010. And a senior official with the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Tourism (MoSCT) insisted $150 million would be enough for Viet Nam!
Well, while not scaling Chinese heights, Deputy Finance Minister Do Hoang Tuan Anh said recently that hosting the event could cost over $300 million, double the original estimate.
As yet, there has been no Government statement regarding the future of the Games.
Given that the choice is between quitting while the event is still years away and burdening future generations with a huge debt, it is perhaps prudent to follow the maxim: Quit while you are ahead. — VNS