Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers for their opinions about a new decree stipulating that adulterers and their lovers be fined.
Most respondents questioned the feasibility of the decree. Some said the authorities had more serious problems to deal with than personal morality. Here are some of the responses:
Keith McDonald, British, Vung Tau
In my humble opinion and with due deference to legislators, this decree is ridiculous and impossible to enforce. Will this lead to the introduction of Morality Police as seen in Saudi Arabia, Iran et al? How will offences be detected? Hearsay? Gossiping neighbours?
If a philandering husband and an unfaithful wife arrange to have a consensual physical relationship - they will regardless. If it is not consensual then obviously it is a crime.
Surely the police have better things to do in enforcing current legislation. I live opposite a school and see at least 95 per cent of children over the age of six arriving on motor cycles without helmets. Often the parents do not wear helmets. Your recent article on brain injuries received by children as a result of accidents was both touching and informative. Why don't parents buy their child(ren) a helmet? Where are the police?
Last time I saw police officers in Vung Tau was four months ago when a policeman escorted a pack of cyclists in a race and a few others were on traffic duty. I was greatly reassured that the cyclists were being looked after, but means little to my neighbours who have been subject to robberies.
I would also refer to the front page photograph in the Viet Nam News on November 8. It showed an individual clearing away chemicals and pesticides allegedly buried by the Nicotex company in Thanh Hoa province. The worker is wearing a useless paper mask, has no eye protection, no gloves or protective shoes.
The individual behind him is also at risk. It is more than likely that the buried products will be organophosphorus compounds and, as I am sure many health professionals will agree, are severely damaging to health, even fatal.
Aren't these more pressing issues for legislators and police to deal with than a couple of adults having an illicit tryst?
In Britain, nobody cares about consenting married adults having a relationship with a different partner. It is human nature and will never cease. It more than often ends in tears, but that is their problem.
Luis Felipe, Brazilian
It is important to make a distinction between adultery and bigamy. The first is an act of marital infidelity that only produces consequence for the people involved. The second is the creation of an illegitimate family while maintaining a first legitimate union. This could have economic consequences affecting other parties and should be discouraged by the State.
In my country, bigamy is a crime punishable by prison, but a person must get married a second time in order to commit this crime. Most second families are de facto unions, not actual marriages, as notary systems are advanced enough to simply avoid a second marriage for a person already legally married.
The solution is much simpler than a fine, and more effective. The law now grants legal rights to so-called concubines, including alimony and half of joint property. The first family also has rights, putting the cheating person (usually the man) in financial trouble if caught. This encourages people to seek legitimacy in their relations and takes away from the State responsibility for checking on personal relations.
John Boag, American, HCM City
The new Government regulation imposing fines on those found committing could open the door to others equally odd.
If there was a similar law in the United States, we could eliminate the huge national debt overnight.
Ly Nguyen, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
With all due respect to the Government, I think Viet Nam has more serious problems to handle. I'm sure the regulation is well intended and aims to prevent family break-ups and protect the happiness of children, but it is not possible to fine people for what they do in their personal life.
Sometimes, adultery happens for a reason. For example, when a woman is neglected or mistreated by her husband, it is natural for her to seek affection elsewhere. But again, this is a personal issue and it is difficult to clearly identify who is exactly to blame.
While it is impossible to fine someone for committing adultery, however, I think it is good to punish those guilty of bigamy. However, the fine is so low, between VND1-3 million (US$50 to $150). If I wanted to marry two people, then I'd be willing to pay the price,
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
I'm not sure whether to laugh, cry or ask for the phone number of the person who thought up this social engineering policy. I am a single male, and not a bad catch if I do say so myself. So, for the cost of a stay in a four-star hotel, I may be fined for committing adultery?
How will the police prove I knew she was married? Will they prove we were more than room-mates and that incriminating action took place? Will you establish a hotline to call sleeping cops at midnight when the act is being committed? Will spies get a reward - perhaps a dozen roses and a coupon for dinner, redeemable only on February 14?
In Canada, you also have to be careful. If you live together, after one year if I recall, you will be considered married under common law. We now have the evolving gay marriage issue and the US has it legalised in 15 states.
The Chinese have an expression for trouble as having "two women under one roof". I cannot imagine being Muslim and having four wives. Let's not overcomplicate life, love and lust. — VNS