HCMC newspaper pays steep price for criticizing property developer

By Viet Tuan   May 29, 2020 | 12:02 am PT
HCMC newspaper pays steep price for criticizing property developer
A screenshot of the online version of the Phu Nu TPHCM newspaper on May 28, 2020.
A HCMC newspaper was fined VND55 million ($2,380) and had its online publication suspended for a month for carrying "false information."

Phu Nu TPHCM (HCMC Women) had criticized a major Vietnamese property firm, Sun Group, saying it was destroying the environment through its developments.

This was "false information that caused serious consequences," Nguyen Thanh Lam, head of the Ministry of Information and Communications’ press department, said in a decision he signed off on.

Between September and October last year the newspaper published seven stories in print or online criticizing the company for harming the environment. The stories featured Sun Group's projects at the Ba Na-Nui Chua nature reserve in the central city of Da Nang and Tam Dao national park in the northern province of Vinh Phuc.

Besides the fine and the suspension, the newspaper also has to publicly correct the stories and apologize to its readers.

On Friday morning the paper shut down its online version and had four pages of print informing readers about the penalty. It also carried details of the discussions it had with the press department about the stories.

"What we [tried to do] was provide additional information to enable authorities to check, supervise and clarify evaluation and approval procedures to determine the environmental impacts of projects in forest and sea areas that need to be preserved for future generations," the newspaper wrote.

The press department said it would consider the newspaper’s response once there is enough information available.

Phu Nu TP HCM is published by the Ho Chi Minh City Women’s Union. The newspaper launched its print edition in 2011 and went online in 2015.

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