|Noisy karaoke singers are often accused of disturbing the peace. — Photo thanhnien.vn|
HCM CITY — Karaoke singers have been told to pipe down, or face hefty fines if they sing too loud.
New regulations that came into force on Friday state that individuals causing noise equal or greater than 40 dBA can be fined up to VNĐ160 million (US$6,833).
As well as sidewalk singers, fines can also be issued to noisy restaurants, construction workers, and even people who can’t control their chickens.
But some officials say there will be problems enforcing Decree No.45/2022/NĐ-CP, because specialist equipment will be needed to record decibel levels.
One ward leader in HCM City who asked not to be named told Thanh Niên newspaper that, according to the national technical criterion, the maximum limit of noise in normal areas is 70 dBA from 6AM-9PM, and 55 dBA from 9PM-6AM.
He said: "We adhere to rulings and will try to fine people with these criterions, but we don't have the equipment to measure the noise to have proof.
"A few years ago specialists came here with the equipment but could not find any violations so left and we currently have no equipment. These loudness metres must be up to standards, we cannot just go out and buy one.
"Therefore, we can only give the people who are making noises a warning, but cannot fine them."
He said that the complaints he gets are mostly about people singing karaoke at their houses, or in restaurants. To keep peace between neighbours, the authorities never try to name the complainant, but just issue warnings.
If the violations persist after a warning, a fine of VNĐ750,000 (US$32) per person is issued to the culprits, according to Decree No.144/2021.
The ward leader added: "There is no guidance on where, what and how should authorities purchase noise metres.
"To measure the noise is also not easy, the police must stay undercover and measure for a while, because if they barge in and measure the noisemakers would just turn off the noise instantly."
According to Đỗ Khánh Du, Deputy Chairman of Ward 26 People's Committee in Bình Thạnh District, HCMC, his ward is active in dealing with noise complaints from neighbourhood karaoke, but they cannot fine according to Decree No.155 or Decree No.45, and must instead use the less effective Decree No.144.
Du said: "The new decree which has a fine of VNĐ160 million would need a measuring device, in which we do not have.
"Punishments according to Decree No.144 can only be issued after 10PM."
In terms of protocol, Du said that when complaints are received, the People's Committee will cooperate with local police and often complainants’ names are kept anonymous.
Outside of noisy neighbourhood karaoke, Du once received a complaint about chickens crowing too early at 4AM.
"I said to the owners either move them far away, or just kept one so that the neighbourhood is not disturbed. We lacked the solid evidence to punish them for being noisy," said Du.
Some other peculiar stories involving a whole neighbourhood singing karaoke, with only the remaining two households not participating decided to complain.
"They said that they are singing to remember their relatives who died of COVID last year. Honestly then I had nothing to say," said another ward leader who also asked not to be named.
"In dealing with these noisy neighbourhood karaokes, it's best that we be flexible." — VNS