Hanoi woman's Facebook rant goes viral after red tape delays family funeral

By Vo Hai - Vi Vu   July 26, 2017 | 05:28 pm GMT+7

Red-faced officials have apologized and asked her to remove the post, but she wants to see real change.

A long and angry Facebook post by a woman from Hanoi on Tuesday suggests an ugly truth: Bureaucracy spares no one in Vietnam. Not even a dead man.

Vu Thanh Hoa said in the post, published a week after her father's death, that in order to organize his funeral, she needed a death certificate.

Having just lost her father, she had to visit a local government office three times and only got the paperwork stamped after her sister criticized the officials working there.

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Van Mieu's People's Committee office in Hanoi's Dong Da District. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh

She first visited the office in Van Mieu Ward near her house in Dong Da District at 9 a.m. on July 19, the post said.

The man who took her file, who has been identified as Nguyen Le Hieu, asked her to come back in the afternoon because none of the officials authorized to sign the certificate were present at the time. The ward's chairwoman was reportedly there the whole day.

Hoa returned at 2 p.m. but the official was still "unavailable."

She waited for an hour before giving up and going home.

The third time, her sister decided to accompany her. When they arrived, an official authorized to sign the paperwork, the ward’s vice chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thuy Ha, was there with Hieu.

When they asked about the paper, Hieu said nothing, eyes glued to his computer screen, and pointed at Ha.

At this point, Hoa's sister got angry, and said in a loud voice: “A family is dealing with a funeral and we’ve waited from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you guys still cannot give us a signature. Why?”

Ha responded by calling her “uncivilized”, before urging staff to stamp the paper quickly, Hoa said.

They eventually got the paper but it was late and their father’s funeral had to be pushed back a day.

In a country where Facebook is the most popular social network and government bureaucracy remains a major public concern, her status has been read and shared by tens of thousands of people.

It has also caught the attention of officials in the capital.

Vu Mai Khanh, the ward’s chairwoman, on Wednesday morning said that she would take responsibility if her staff had failed to serve the people.

Khanh said her office would learn from the experience and improve.

She said Hieu had been transferred to another job where he would no longer be dealing with the public.

Hieu, Ha and several officials visited Hoa’s family on Tuesday night to offer them an apology, and to ask her to remove the Facebook post. But Hoa refused saying she wanted to see if the ward made any actual changes to improve services.

Hanoi Mayor Nguyen Duc Chung has also ordered an investigation to clarify “signs of malfeasance” in the case. Ha, the ward's vice chair, was also suspended Wednesday.

The city’s Department of Home Affairs and Dong Da District authorities have been instructed to report back by the end of the month.