Provincial authorities say Thanh Hoa protests sparked by misunderstanding

By Lam Le    March 15, 2016 | 08:34 pm GMT+7

Thanh Hoa province officials yesterday reported to the central government on the week-long public outcry against a major tourism development along Sam Son beach.

The report claims the protesters had a limited understanding of what the development entailed and were provoked by thugs.

Last week, hundreds of people took to the streets of Thanh Hoa calling on the local government to set aside 500m to 1,000m of coastline for fishing boat wharves. The protesters claimed the project would strip them off their main livelihood.

The tourism development in Sam Son stretches 3.5km along the coast. It was approved by Thanh Hoa province in October 2015. Authorities have since handed the site over to the developer, local FLC Group. The VND315 billion project is set to be completed by mid-2016 and create 1,000 jobs.

Residents say they support beach restoration but worry they will be unemployed. Traditional fishing has been their main livelihood for generations. Most households claim the promised compensation is not enough to invest in a new business.

Following a public hearing on March 7, families protesting against relocation were told they could continue to fish and moor in Sam Son. However, once the new development was completed, they were encouraged to relocate.

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Thanh Hoa Provincial Party Committee Secretary Trinh Van Chien at the public hearing. Photo by Le Hoang

The report to the central government stressed that relocating the fishing wharves was essential to transform Sam Son, a popular tourist destination in central Vietnam, into one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

“[The project] fully complies with the government’s agenda and follows the trend of tourism development,” it stated.

Thanh Hoa authorities have asked the relevant provincial departments to review their involvement in the matter to draw lessons for future reference.