Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers about if a forest ranger who died of drowning while picking illegally-logged timber from a river bed should be recognised as a martyr. Here are some of the comments.
Phan Tuan, head of Quang Nam Province's Forest Protection Division
On May, 15,2011, forest ranger Tran Van Quy and his team cracked down on illegal logging and found an amount of timber hidden in river bed. The young ranger with his enthusiasm and high responsibility was assigned to fish out the timber. Because of the special characteristics of the work, Quy did not wear a life jacket. With a life jacket, how could he dive to search the timber? Meanwhile, if the timber was not picked up quickly, water flow would sweep it away. The seized timber is also State's property.
We see that Quy was very responsible and brave to take his duty. I think he deserves to be recognised as martyr. Quang Nam Forest Protection Division and relevant local authorities helped his parents to send martyr status recognition application to Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. The recognition would be very meaningful to Quy's family, his parents lost their only son. The recognition will be also an encouragement to forest rangers, especially when they cope with difficulties and danger at work.
Julien Desrousseaux, French
I haven't seen any similar situation in my country so I will try to be objective, just giving my opinion without any judgement.
According to me, the word "martyr" defines a person who died for faith or for a cause, for example, freedom. In this case, I would say that the forest ranger died by fulfilling his duty: protecting the forest. He didn't pass away for a special cause but for a task he was responsible for.
Although I respect the family of the deceased person in this painful moment, I would not recognise the forest ranger as a martyr and I agree with the Ministry about "The fatal accident was unpredictable, not a brave action in an emergency to protect national defence, security and asset." Indeed, the word "martyr" has such a strong meaning to be used in this regrettable fatal accident. I would just apply for the gratitude of the Vietnamese government about a citizen that passed away by fulfilling one of his tasks.
About the life-jacket, I just consider this argument as not admissible because the forest ranger could have been blocked in the deep water hole then the life-jacket would have been useless. I personally think that falling then drowning in a deep water hole is different than drowning when you don't know swimming.
To conclude, I would not recognise and title the forest ranger as a martyr. Nevertheless, the government should recognise the forest ranger's death by fulfilling his duty and support the family, at least financially.
Huong Thieu Huyen, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
When it comes to forest rangers in Viet Nam, I usually respect and admire them because of their harsh working conditions. Just a few forest rangers are assigned to cover a huge area of forest, equipped with some simple tools, maybe including guns, and are always ready to fight against aggressive illegal loggers and gold miners. Thanks to the story of forest ranger Tran Van Quy, I know another job of them. With a comment dictated by feeling, I hope he would be recognised as martyr and his parents would be given support by Government. They lost their son when the son was in his twenties, it's a big pain. However, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has reasons for not granting him the tittle. Criteria for martyr status recognition are regulated in law and laws are made by humans. We can not ask for a law that is right all the time. We expect the law to bring relative equality for as many people as possible.
So, in this case, I think that if the ministry refuses to recognise Quy as martyr, local authorities of central Quang Nam should do something for him and his parents to show that they respect what he did.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Drowning to save a tree, sorry to say, does not deserve a medal, a hero cookie, or martyr status. If anything, this example should be a case study for new recruits and on safety training courses as the ‘don't be like this guy.' Always use the buddy system, work in pairs.
There was a recent case in South Vietnam where a tourist boat crashed into a bridge and the Vietnamese driver and the Vietnamese tour guide both drowned. They were not wearing life jackets. If I were a passenger I would be upset, angry and would strongly dispute just because they died at work they should be awarded martyr status and the family receive special consideration.
Each year I am astounded that hundreds, literally hundreds of Vietnamese students die by drowning. Don't go near water if you can't swim! If the parents want recognition for their dead son, take the tree to the mill, process it into paper, then print a certificate.
No one, State employee or private sector worker, should conduct themselves in a dangerous manner. We say "safety first" back home.
In fact, on one occasion I refused to do oil & gas exploration work, quit and went home by the company's expense. No one tried to punish me or suggest I was wrong.
It is obviously most unfortunate that this man died, but he died trying to save a tree, not a child! Ultimately, he was responsible for his own death, therefore he should have refused, asked for appropriate diving equipment or said, no, I can't do it...it's too dangerous.
One of my students recently had his father die in an industrial accident at a construction site. When I teach this class I feel both angry & sad that this very young man will grow up without a father. I wish goodwill to all workers. Everyone should be able to make it home safe for dinner.
Nguyen Hung, Vietnamese
I am a forest ranger. Many forest rangers die at work and are not recognised as martyrs either. I think that Quy carried out his duty to protect national property and resources. I hope that the labour ministry re-considers their decision, which will encourage other forest rangers a lot. — VNS