Tuesday, January 28 2020


Regulation on car commandeering skids into slippery legal terrain

Update: March, 04/2016 - 10:10

Last week Viet Nam News asked readers for their views on a new regulation allowing traffic police to commandeer residents' vehicles and communication devices, in case of emergency.

Here are some responses from our readers:

David Lister, British, Ha Noi

Police chase vehicles in England are custom built for performance, safety and training purposes. There may be a whole world of liability, health, safety and legal implications if Vietnamese police commandeer residents' vehicles and communication devices. I've never heard of this happening. And I don't want it to happen in my country, either.

Not because it's not the right thing to do. But because it is indicative of the state failing in one of its primary roles. Police and emergency services should be well funded, prepared and trained for many eventualities. If the state cannot get a sick person to hospital, or chase criminals effectively using its own considerable resources, then it is failing as a state.

In times of natural disaster or war then it's different, of course.

I think the government will do its job better if it explores why it has problems responding quickly to criminals - and if it uses its resources to solve this issue. If authorities needs help from the people, they should explain why. Then they can raise taxes with the agreement of the people. Or they can collect donations, etc.

Taking property doesn't solving problems. It treats the symptom, not the cause.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

If a cop pulls me over, I expect to get a speeding ticket. If he tries to commandeer my vehicle to chase someone, I will tell the cop to take a hike. In theory.

In practice, I would help the cops. But I would insist on driving my own car or motorbike. The RCMP in Canada ask for and receive rides on skidoos (snowmobiles) in winter, and on a farmer's tractor over muddy fields. We all want to catch the bad guy, right?

Using my phone could inconvenience me long term, if Vietnamese police keep it for evidence in a court case. People help other people all the time. It is only in countries with corruption and general societal mistrust that topics like this are controversial.

I have helped many strangers and chased drunk drivers and robbers, even on my bicycle. Then I revealed where they were and wrote a witness report. We all have a duty to protect one another and be involved.

Maybe one day I will get the phone number of one of those cute Hanoi female rush hour traffic cops.

P S Bounds, British, Ha Noi

My initial reaction is that it seems like something one sees in a 1970s American TV cop show.

A policeman should have the power to commandeer a vehicle if necessary, of course. But this should never be needed, if the police force is a fully cohesive unit.

What situation would make commandeering civilian vehicles necessary, other than a major disaster?

If a car chase ensues, surely it is highly dangerous to innocent people if 2 vehicles charge about at high speeds, with no warning sirens.

In the UK, operations are such that in order to minimise any risk of danger to the public, car chases are tactical and considered. When a policeman reacts to an incident where a chase is required, it is not a reckless chase undertaken solely by the policeman himself. It is fully backed up and monitored, on the grounds of public safety. Vehicles are never commandeered for maverick chasing. It just does not happen.

In some instances, a car chase will be called off or slowed to safe levels in towns, so as not to turn a situation into a death zone.

The taking of communication devices should not be necessary, either. Unless the police person has lost their radio!

As I said at the beginning, this whole scenario reads like TV fantasy, rather than reality.

Sopheak Nuon, Cambodian, Phnom Penh

There are some similarities and difference between Cambodia and Viet Nam, in my opinion. Recently, a new Cambodian traffic law proved controversial. Our government was amending some restrictions and fines. But the new law did not reflect citizens' needs. Government enforcement bodies and institutions need to improve. Then they can help improve citizen's rights, quality of life and protections.

Combating corruption also needs improvement. There are some bad police officers and misguided government interventions. At the same time, individual citizens need to respect traffic laws more. Together, we can all help improve respect for, and compliance with, the rule of law.

In our country, the death rate from traffic accidents is very high. 5 to 10 people die every day. So having laws - and following our laws - might help us to reduce deaths in our developing country. So far, police officers in our country are not accessing devices or vehicles in emergencies to combat crimes.

I think this would benefit many citizens and increase their protection, safety and security. But citizens have a right to be informed. And the government should ensure that everyone knows about this law and how it is going to be implemented. So using media to educate people before this law comes into effect is a very good idea. — VNS

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