Major online newspaper suspended for three months in Vietnam

By Vo Hai   July 16, 2018 | 07:21 pm PT
Major online newspaper suspended for three months in Vietnam
A screenshot of Tuoi Tre's online edition at 10 p.m. on Monday.
Prominent news site Tuoi Tre Online has been suspended after the Press Authority deemed it had published “untrue,” “nationally divisive” content.

The announcement was made late on Monday by Luu Dinh Phuc, Director General of the Press Authority under the Ministry of Information and Communication.

In an article titled “Vietnamese President agrees on issuing Demonstration Law” published on June 19, the news site quoted President Tran Dai Quang as saying he agreed with the need for a Demonstration Law, and would report this to the National Assembly.

This content was “untrue” and caused “severe impacts,” the Press Authority said. The article had been removed from the site.

In another article about planning for an expressway in southern Vietnam published on May 26 in 2017, a reader’s “nationally divisive” comment was allowed to remain on the site, it said.

The decision ordered Tuoi Tre Online to correct its content, apologize to its readers, pay a fine of VND220 million ($9,800) and suspend publication for three months, starting Monday.

The editorial board of the online edition has accepted the decision.

Tuoi Tre’s other print editions, including Tuoi Tre, Tuoi Tre Cuoi Tuan and Tuoi Tre Cuoi would continue to be published normally.

Founded in 1975 by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, Tuoi Tre is one of Vietnam’s most reputed news publications. Its Vietnamese online edition was officially authorized in 2008.

Its demonstration law article came as Vietnamese authorities were cracking down on people inciting violence during protests against a draft law on special economic zones. The protests erupted in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and several provinces on June 10 and 11 as people reportedly objected a provision that would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years, saying that such a law would allow foreign countries to undermine Vietnam’s sovereignty. The bill which was scheduled to be passed in June has been postponed for further discussions in October.

Following the demonstrations, police detained hundreds of protesters and said they uncovered evidence that some part of the protests were anti-state actions incited by organizations based in other countries using false, distorted information about the draft law.

Six Vietnamese were sent to up to three years in prison last Thursday for violations committed during the protests in the central province of Binh Thuan. An American national joining the protest in HCMC is set to stand trial this Friday.

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