Rising murder rate forces Saigon police to propose shutting bars early

By Ngoc Hau, Nhung Nguyen   June 24, 2016 | 12:22 pm GMT+7
Rising murder rate forces Saigon police to propose shutting bars early

Police in Ho Chi Minh City have proposed a limit to opening hours for catering businesses across the city at night, especially at beer clubs ('quan nhau'), in an attempt to reduce the number of alcohol-related crimes.

According to Colonel Tran Duc Tai, deputy director of the municipal Department of Police, even though the local overall crime rate has fallen in the first six months of the year, the number of murders has risen by over ten percent. The colonel attributed the worrying trend to offenses committed by people under the influence of alcohol.

“Beer clubs in HCMC usually stay open until 3 or 4 a.m., which is also the peak time for violent crimes such as murders and assaults,” said Tai at a meeting to review the socio-economic status of the city on June 20. “Most of these murders stem from personal conflicts among drunken friends.”

“We have been considering sending delegations to Hanoi and other cities to learn how they manage the night-time food and drinks business,” he said.

“There are just too many beer clubs open across the city, especially the small and cheap ones that provide the perfect place for criminal gangs to gather. We have asked the city to carry out a study on how to reduce the number of murders in these areas.”

Colonel Tran Duc Tai proposed a "curfew" on opening hours for beer clubs, and suggested the businesses should be zoned into some certain precincts.

The city official’s proposal has sparked controversy over how it will be implemented and its negative impact on licensed venues.

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Colonel Tran Duc Tai, deputy director of the municipal Department of Police in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Hau.

Beer consumption in Vietnam has sparked debate in recent months.

In March, renowned economist Pham Chi Lan in an interview with Vietnamnet Bridge raised concerns over the effect of drunkenness in Vietnam, when she argued that it was the reason behind the high number of traffic accidents and domestic violence.

According to the Vietnam Beverage Association (VBA), Vietnam consumed 3.4 billion liters of beer in 2015, an increase of 10 percent on-year, and up 41 percent compared with 2010.

During the eight-day Tet holiday this year, 5,000 people were hospitalized after fights and 13 of them died. Many of the victims were drunk, according to reports.

In 2014 and 2015, the Ministry of Health considered proposals to ban beer and liquor sales after 10 p.m. to combat problems caused by the ill effects of alcoholic beverages.

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Three defendants stand trial for murder in Hanoi in June 2015, when waiters in a beer club stabbed a customer to death after an argument over beer.

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