Saturday, July 21 2018


Lamp-post broadcasts add to street clamour, increase stress

Update: May, 17/2013 - 09:30

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The people of Duong Lam Ancient Village in Son Tay District, Ha Noi, recently triggered public debate when they asked for the town's national heritage listing to be removed.

The villagers said they had been suffering because authorities told them not to modernise, rebuild or repair their houses. This was despite the fact that the houses are old and dilapidated, or simply need to be enlarged to accommodate crowded families. The villagers said they wanted to live like normal villages and be left alone.

What do you think of the villagers' protest? As a tourist, are you interested in visiting ancient villages like Duong Lam? If you have been there, do you think the locals have done a good job in preserving the site?

From your own country's experience, what have you done to effectively preserve heritage sites without detracting from the lives of people living in them?

What can be done to help authorities and people reach an agreement regarding site preservation for mutual benefit?

Please reply by email to:, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 79 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, May 23, 2013.

Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers for opinions on the loa phuong, the nation's public address system. We wanted to know if the broadcasts annoyed them or if they considered them still necessary.

Here are some replies we received.

Ken Gremillion, American, Can Tho City

I think that the public broadcasting system should only be used for emergencies. The impact of multiple daily doses of news from street loudspeakers, can be detrimental to psychological health. At the very least, it might be helpful to lower their volume.

A study by a group specialising in ageing found that the brain's response to acute stress, including noise, triggers the production and release of steroid hormones, including the primary stress hormone cortisol.

One wonders if this is a healthy thing to encourage on a daily basis.

John Ball, Australian, Ha Noi

Well may they condemn those early morning street broadcasts, but to most foreigners, the noise is like "water off a duck's back". However, now that the bars are being forced to shut before midnight, more people are waking up to the martial music of a bygone era.

This provides a stirring atmosphere for tourists, but to foreign locals, the repetitious screeching is just part of the overall noise pollution of honking cars and motorbikes.

Left-over from the days of few radios and a need to quickly pass on information about the war - particularly bombings - the broadcasts were once a vital part of the great national unity. They even predate the news services offered by this newspaper, the Viet Nam News, which is 22 years old.

One just hopes that the information being passed on by loudspeakers today is as relevant as it was in the past! But the scratchy, blaring music has been played so many times that the mind tunes out.

How effective would the system be if they played new and catchy tunes with messages like: "Be a child monster. Buy an electric bike and terrorise the roads without a licence"; or "Learn English from the people of Can Tho" (who speak it remarkably well); or "Foreigners really do not like being automatically overcharged" and "Contemplate the wisdom of having pedestrian crossings and red lights that everyone ignores - except the tourists."

From a more local point of view, a fund of relevant information could be provided, including exchange rates, prices for gold and how to get a cheap house loan.

However, like all forms of media, eventually the service has to be run by professionals of one kind or another to get maximum effect. Otherwise, the whole exercise becomes a glorious waste of time ... and everyone, foreign and Vietnamese, is driven up the wall with platitudes and stale music.

David Wood, British, Nha Trang City

I have lived next to the Army base in Nha Trang for five years and the music has become a part of my daily life. It certainly is not a problem for me. What I do find annoying is the loud music in restaurants and the supermarkets here.

Going back to the loudspeakers, I know if they were used in England, they would be ripped of the poles within days, if not hours. No one would put up with the intrusion.

But noise does not seem to bother Vietnamese as you notice when you pass by their homes and hear the volume of their TV and music. If they did that in England, the police would quickly arrive.

Bui Thao, Vietnamese, HCM City

Every 5pm, the local loudspeaker starts blasting out loud songs. The quality is so bad that it hurts my ears.

It would be better if only important news was released - and new musical instruments were used.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

There is nothing more annoying than falling asleep after a hectic day and then being rudely awakened by next door's rooster, dog or Government loudspeaker.

Peace of mind and noise pollution are under-rated and little understood across Asia. At least church bells back home only ring once a week.

Loud noises are not the way to relax or calm down, so why are so many things in Viet Nam so noisy? Schools continue to blare out announcements and some electronic stores drown out the traffic with advertisements that can be heard two blocks away.

If you need information, visit your local government office or library. Pick up a newspaper. Maybe it's better not to know. If you need a propaganda machine to scream at you to get up or cook dinner, let me tell you brother, you've got problems.

People eventually tune out, ignore the message and get on with other things. When we get back home, we lock our doors and close the shades. We say we are giving the neighbours privacy, but really we are ignoring them and shutting out their world.

I moved out of one hotel because of the loudspeakers.

Saul Gomes Neto, Brazilian, Brazil

Even though I'm living in Brazil, I think that a public address system is of extreme importance. Our government intends to install a similar type of communication to alert people about floods, the escape of dangerous criminals and so on.

Since your country already has a system installed and working, it would be irrational to dismantle it. — VNS


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