Saturday, September 21 2019


Wild animal use in medicine condemned

Update: March, 22/2013 - 11:03

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Do you own your home in Viet Nam?

A law allowing certain categories of foreigners to own apartments in Viet Nam for terms of up to 50 years officially took effect at the beginning of 2009, but only a few foreigners own houses today.

Under a resolution passed by the National Assembly in mid-2008, those eligible to buy apartments include foreign firms purchasing housing for staff. The eligible individuals are foreigners who invest directly in Viet Nam or are hired for management positions by companies in the country, foreigners married to Vietnamese, foreigners with special skills needed for Viet Nam's economy and foreigners who have been awarded medals or other honours by the Government.

After four years, only 427 foreigners and Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) have bought apartments in Viet Nam, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Viet kieu are the majority. This number is quite small when compared to the estimated 80,000 foreigners living and working in the country.

Are you on the list? If not, why haven't you bought a house in Viet Nam? Is it because of the price? Or the complicated procedures? Or did you just not know about the regulation?

If you do own a home, what problems did you face when looking for a house?

Please reply by email to:, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, March 28, 2013. — VNS

Last week, the Viet Nam News asked readers for their comments on the topic of the Ha Noi-based National Hospital of Traditional Medicine asking the Ha Noi People's Committee to give it seized wild animals for use in traditional medicines.

Here are some of the responses:

Brett Tolman, American, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Greater Mekong Programme, Ha Noi

Iconic species, such as the elephant, rhino and tiger, as well as lesser known or loved creatures like the pangolin, are facing a crisis. They are threatened with extinction and one of the main drivers is the illegal trade of wildlife parts for use in traditional medicine and as decorative ornamentation.

Unlike the trade in drugs and weapons, the accused in the illegal wildlife trade enjoy near impunity. There are existing laws in Viet Nam concerning biodiversity, which outlaw the use of certain wildlife products.

The national hospital's request to be given the carcasses of dead wild animals seized from illegal traffickers earlier this month for use as ingredients in traditional medicine is in direct defiance of existing laws in Viet Nam concerning biodiversity protection and trade in wild animals and their derivatives.

In addition, this contradicts Viet Nam's obligation under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of which it is a signatory.

This problem requires more than just enforcement. If the species are to have a chance of survival demand for these products must be reduced. The Ha Noi People's Committee would not give 100g of Marijuana that was seized by law enforcement officials to a hospital in order to help treat patients because it is an illegal substance. Endangered wildlife products are also illegal and fall under the same jurisdiction.

Trade and consumption of wild animals is a major contributor to the current threat facing many species in the region such as pangolins, tigers and bears, in addition to animals globally including rhino's and elephants.

Viet Nam plays a significant role as a consumer nation for wild animal goods, contributing to a high demand for illegal hunting and trading. If the Ha Noi People's Committee was to allow wild seized animals and their parts to be provided to traditional medicine hospitals, the national demand for these products could potentially increase even higher than it currently is.

This demand is contributing to an increased risk of extinction of many species within Viet Nam.

Authorities that confiscate live wild animals should take the necessary steps to have the animal's rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Environmental organisations in Viet Nam can help support authorities in identifying conservation preserves and facilities that can help with the reintroduction of seized wildlife back into nature.

In the advent that authorities confiscate dead animals, their products or derivatives, these materials should be incinerated and disposed of in order to ensure they do not then enter the illegal trade or are not illegally sold back into the wildlife trade. Sale of these products is illegal under the law as these species are protected.

The Vietnamese government should accept a clear policy that all animals and wildlife products seized by enforcement agencies must be disposed of, with live animals sent to an appropriate animal rescue centre and documented to ensure that the proper disposal measures are enacted.

In addition, the sale of seized wild animals and their parts and derivatives would be in contradiction to the Ha Noi People's Committees letter to the public sent last Tet which specifically states that people should abide by the provision of laws concerning trade and conservation of wildlife species. In particular, measures should be undertaken to dissuade institutions, businesses and individuals from consuming wildlife products.

TRAFFIC urges the Ha Noi People's Committee to take this opportunity to demonstrate their support of CITES and ensure that Viet Nam plays a global leadership role in eliminating the illegal trade in animals and their derivatives.

Neil Morris, Norwegian, Vung Tau.

The traditional medicine industry in Viet Nam should not consider using any wild animal as part of its production. In modern terms, this is not sustainable and is highly unethical.

The label traditional should not give these products empowerment, as if there is something romantically superior about them. Not long ago, whaling was once traditional in some parts of the world for certain traditional products, but no one in their right mind today would argue that the ban against whaling for non-scientific use should be removed.

Every country in the world has had its traditional ways of doing things, but times change, and where these traditions no longer live up to modern ethics, they are classified as outdated and unsustainable.

I, therefore, propose that the use of wild animal parts for traditional medicine production in Viet Nam should be classified as strictly forbidden, as it is in the modern world, and that the legal system in Viet Nam ensures updated national and international laws are followed immediately, and not postponed because of outdated and unsustainable traditions.

Traditional is not synonymous with ethical. That is how societies develop. They learn to change and adapt in harmony with modern ethics. History shows that if they do not do this by themselves voluntarily, then external pressure will eventually catch up with them and enforce these changes.

Japan continued whaling under the false pretence of scientific investigations, which no one else in the world believed was true. However, due to the endurance of The Sea Shepherd anti-whaling organisation, the Japanese finally had to withdraw from what the rest of the world considered illegal hunting. This was undoubtedly not positive for Japan's reputation.

The rhino is now becoming extinct in Africa because some people are prepared to pay exorbitant prices for their horns, which in some cultures are traditionally believed to have positive health properties. Hunting the rhino and using its body parts are of course strictly forbidden.

Tran Viet Hung, Vietnamese, deputy director of Education for Nature Viet Nam, Ha Noi

I strongly disagree with the request from the Ha Noi-based National Hospital of Traditional Medicine. Using wild animals for commercial purposes is banned under the Government's Decree No 32.

No scientific research has shown that products from wild animals are useful for medical purposes, only folk experiences support their use.

We can treat diseases thanks to the development of modern science.

The Education for Nature Viet Nam urged the committee to not accept the request from the hospital. Many wild animals are at risk of extinction in both Viet Nam and all over the world. If the committee accepts the request, it will unintentionally encourage people to continue thinking that wild animals and their products are useful for treating diseases.

We highly recommend two ways to deal with dead wild animals. The committee should assign authorised agencies to hand over the dead wild animals to units of science and education and research, including institutes and museums. Or the dead wild animals should be destroyed.

This would educate and raising public awareness of the need for wild animal protection and the need to reduce consumption of wild animals and their products.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

If the Ha Noi People's Committee approves the request that a local traditional medicine hospital wants rangers to hand over dead and trafficked wildlife, it will clearly put your country on a downward spiral race to the bottom.

Canada was the 10th member to sign the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1975, and Viet Nam was the 121st in 1994. You should protect wildlife, not eat it.

I absolutely abhor senseless slaughter of elephants for ivory and extracting bear bile – when they are alive and caged. I am guilty of eating one snake in Sai Gon and one dog in Ha Noi, but I do not proscribe to deer antler and other so-called traditional medicines.

Get your priorities in order. Reduce, reuse, recycle and conserve. Decimating a species for spurious medical claims is just delusional. — VNS

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