Hmong royal palace to be taken back by authorities, handover to family likely

By Viet Tuan   August 25, 2018 | 10:27 am GMT+7
Hmong royal palace to be taken back by authorities, handover to family likely
The main gate into Hmong royal family's palace which was handed over for use to a local culture department. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Ha Giang has decided to take back a Hmong palace from a culture department and could return it to an erstwhile royal family.

Tran Duc Quy, deputy head of the northern province’s People’s Committee, said Thursday that the handing over of the palace, putatively belonging to descendants of the last H’mong King Vuong Chi Sinh (or Vuong Chi Thanh, 1886-1962), to the Dong Van District's culture department in 2012 was illegal.

But there had been no personal gain behind the act, he claimed.

“Our action was in the public interest, not for personal gain. We did not give the palace’s land-use rights to any particular individual.”

If there had indeed been any personal gain, those found guilty would be severely punished, he said.

“Personally, I don’t think that’s the case though.”

Asked whether it would be handed over to the Vuong family, he said, “If the Vuong family can prove its legal inheritance of the palace, the palace’s land-use rights would be returned to it.”

The fact that the government has turned the place into a national heritage site does not mean its owner must give up the title to it to the state.

Tran Dinh Thanh, deputy head of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's cultural heritage department, had said recently that while the government would get priority should the owner of a national heritage site want to sell it, such transactions must be mutually agreed.

Last month Vuong Duy Bao, grandson of the last H’mong King Vuong Chi Sinh, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asking for the century-old palace to be returned to his family.

He expressed anger and confusion at Ha Giang authorities' decision to hand it over to the Dong Van District's culture department in 2012, which he said the family had only learned of two months ago.

In 1993 the culture ministry had listed the palace as a National Heritage Site without informing the family, and in 2002 Ha Giang authorities attempted to evict them from the palace to turn it into a museum, the letter said.

The letter cited the ministry as saying its decision in 1993 did not nationalize the palace and that the family had the right to use and live in the palace.

The family had only agreed to move out of the palace in 2002 to make it easier for the palace to be maintained and preserved, and had not donated it to the state, it added.

Located in Sa Phin Valley, 10 hours north of Hanoi, the palace was the seat of H’mong kings Vuong Chinh Duc and Vuong Chi Thanh, who ruled over the region during the French colonial era up until Vietnam regained independence in 1945.

The monarchy was abolished after Thanh died in 1962.

The Hmong kings palace sits in Sa Phi Valley, 15 kilometers from Dong Van District center. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

The Hmong king's palace sits in Sa Phi Valley, 15 kilometers from Dong Van District center. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

 
 
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