Home is where the heart is, so let the jungle duo decide

Update: August, 23/2013 - 10:11

Next Week

The Department of Culture has decided to tighten its management of business sign boards across the country, especially those in foreign languages.

Sign boards without service descriptions in Vietnamese, excluding those that have already become international trademarks, can be fined from VND3-5 million (US$140-240).

The move aims to address concerns over the Advertisement Law violations that sign boards in many localities are using only foreign languages, such as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian and English, without any Vietnamese.

Yet, some business owners claimed they were foreigners and their businesses only aimed to serve their fellow citizens while being checked by the cultural inspectors.

Are you personally running your shop or restaurant in Viet Nam? How has your business handled sign board regulations here?

On another note, it is normally encouraged for expats to operate businesses in a way that make their services more friendly and localised.

What do you think about the business owners' claims that they just wanted to focus on their own selected customers? Is it an acceptable way to form unique expat communities in a country?

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, August 29, 2013. — VNS

Last week Viet Nam News asked readers their thoughts on the story of a Vietnamese father and son found living in the jungle for 40 years and whether they should be allowed to return to the wild if they wish.

Here are some comments.

Kounila Keo, Cambodian, Phnom Penh

There is a similar story from Cambodia in 2007 where a young woman was found living in the jungle like a Mowgli and eating things that a wild animal would.

One week after being discovered, she experienced difficulties adjusting to civilised life. It has been very hard for her to integrate to a normal social life, which she had missed for nearly 20 years.

Several times, she tried to escape from the village where an elder man, who claims to be her father, took care of her since she was discovered and taught her health habits and how to eat, dress and bathe properly.

For that girl, I think that she should be taken care of because she suffered from a traumatic experience and was very sick. For Ho Van Lang (the 41-year-old jungle man), he definitely should have a say about where he wants to live. Of course, the authorities should protect everyone, but then what should be taken into account is whether the father and son living in the jungle would harm anyone or not.

If not, then they should be able to live by themselves or on their own. The authorities or other people can only give help or provide choices, and the father and son should be the ones to make the decision.

Clive James, American, HCM City

It would seem from reports that Lang speaks very little Vietnamese, so after over 40 years of exile, he would clearly find it tough to integrate into society. It is the State's obligation to ensure the welfare of their citizens, but people should still retain the right to choose how they live, so long as they are in accordance with national law.

Consequently, providing the authorities feel he is in good health and able to take care of himself (Lang's longevity suggests this is very much the case), then he should be allowed to choose his own life path. If that path leads him back to the jungle, he should be left in peace.

Peta Kaplan, South African

I have been living in the city of Granada, Nicaragua, for the past five years. There are many people in my adopted country of Nicaragua who live at one with nature. This is something that is admired by others living in concrete boxes with modern "conveniences."

These two men in the jungles of Viet Nam have gone "back to nature" and have been living a life style that has no carbon foot print. That is, they use no oil, no gas, no electricity and zero consumerism. At a time when climate change is upon us due to over consumption, the Vietnamese Government might want to reflect on what others can learn from these men in terms of their ability to live a very sustainable lifestyle on very little.

The lifestyle of living in the jungle may not be for everyone. However, they have managed to survive and not only that, but to survive very well. They are not bothering anyone, nor hurting anyone.

Conversely, at a time when Viet Nam seeks solutions for climate adaptation, a far better response would be to allow these men to continue their lifestyle and perhaps assign cultural anthropologists to observe and learn from them how to survive on very little. We are all in need of these skills and what is currently proposed is akin to putting two rare beautiful exotic birds in a cage. Let them return to what they know. To nature. To a life totally in tune with mother earth. They are examples to the rest of us.

Dang Nguyen, Vietnamese, Da Nang

I remember while I was studying in the US, I learned about Amish people who refuse modern life amenities. I was extremely shocked because they live in the most modern country in the world, but prohibit or limit the use of power-line electricity, telephones and automobiles, and obviously that means no Internet or personal computers.

While obviously we're surrounded by technology, and our modern lifestyle brings tremendous and unbelievable benefits, it's not always good, evidently in the distracting lifestyle bounded by social networks and the people who prefer living "online."

After their health is taken care of, the son, who's still healthy, can decide where he want to live if he can speak clearly. I've read the latest news that perhaps the father and son would be given land in the village to build their own house. But how can he be able to earn a living? If he stays, he would need a lot of help.

Hoang Thi Phuong Lan, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

This is not the first time I read the jungle men story. At the beginning, I was curious a little bit about them, then I found that everything seems to go so far and their lives are seriously intervened by everyone, their relatives, mass media, etc.

I hope that the poor men will be let to live their own lives as soon as possible.

Imagine that someday you'll be forced to live in the jungle after you are born. Lang is familiar with living in the jungle and obviously, everything was good for him and his father. Let him get back.

Charlie White, Australian

Viet Nam is a freedom loving country - sometimes too free, with motorcycles going round blind corners on footpaths in an attempt to eradicate pedestrians. I believe people should be allowed to live where and how they want to live, provided it does not interfere with other people. — VNS