Ho Chi Minh City wants to ban jeans and T-shirts in public offices

By Staff reporters   October 20, 2017 | 08:25 pm PT
The same ban is already in place in Can Tho, a major city in southern Vietnam, to live up to its first class status.

Civil servants in Ho Chi Minh City will be banned from wearing jeans and T-shirts in their offices if a proposal on a new code of conduct is approved.

The city’s Department of Home Affairs recommends that they should wear shirts, trousers, knee-length skirts or the traditional ao dai.

Aside from clothes, the department said civil servants should not be allowed to listen to music, even with headphones, or play games during working hours, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

Drinking alcohol during working hours, lunch breaks and smoking cigarettes on office premises would be a no.

The code even attempts to dictate the workers' private life by banning extravagant weddings, funerals, birthdays and other celebrations.

Office workers are expected to be role models for the public by being polite, showing respect to others, not swearing, yelling and using slang words.

A similar code of conduct was passed by the southern city of Can Tho earlier last month.

The official behind the ban said jeans are for cowboys, not civil servants.

Banning public workers from wearing jeans to work is an appropriate regulation for a first-class city like Can Tho, said Nguyen Hoang Ba, director of Can Tho’s home affairs department.

The Mekong Delta city is one of five classified as central government metropolises in Vietnam, together with Da Nang, Hai Phong, Hanoi and Saigon. It is the country's fifth-largest city.

The decision has received mixed reactions, with some people supporting it while others saying it's “rigid” and “groundless”.

Chuong Dang from Saigon said that cowboy jeans have grown into a popular fashion icon and are now widely accepted and loved.

“This restriction on jeans needs a more convincing argument,” the fashion designer told Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.

Vietnam’s government offices have repeatedly been jeered at for their efforts to intervene in personal choices.

Various jokes have been made among civil servants about a long-standing ban on jeans, including a poem which makes it sound like people are banned from wearing pants to work altogether.

Last December, Hanoi announced plans to ban its public workers from having tattoos or wearing “improper” cologne. The capital city received more criticism last February when it threatened to name and shame people who wear skimpy clothes in public places, saying it wanted to become a “civil and polite” destination. Experts warned that it would be difficult, if not illegal, to impose restrictions on how people dress.

Vietnam abolished cash fines for people who wear what it deemed to be indecent clothing in public in 2013.

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