Service with a smile: Vietnamese province encourages civil servants to turn that frown upside down

By Staff reporters   November 16, 2017 | 06:50 pm PT
Dak Lak has told its grumpy public servants 'all you need is a smile' to create a friendlier public administration.

Unlike many of Vietnam's cities and provinces that have strict, rigid rules, the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak has found a more creative way to improve the attitudes of its public servants.

The province's People's Committee has published a colorful animated video on its web portal, encouraging them to smile when they greet citizens.


In a friendly but firm manner, the video reflects on the reality that many public servants have a bad attitude when dealing with members of the public and businesses. Unsurprisingly, this has chased many businesses and investors away, damaging public trust and hampering the development of the province.

However, it also shows sympathy for the grumpy public servants, pointing out that they are also normal people with their own problems.

The solution: change their attitudes with a smile. A smile, while only a small change, can make citizens, businesses and investors happy, which would help to improve life in the province. This improvement in turn would solve many of the worries that have been causing their bad attitudes in the first place.

Mien Klong, director of Dak Lak's Department of Home Affairs, said the province borrowed the idea from the central city of Da Nang, according to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. It hired an animation studio to produce the video based on the message: "All you need is a smile."

Vietnam's public servants are notorious for often displaying bad attitudes.

In July, a woman from Hanoi posted a long and angry Facebook rant about public servants in Ba Dinh Ward.

In the post, she accused them of being difficult and uncaring when she tried to get her father's death certificate signed and stamped. The post quickly went viral, prompting an investigation that led to the dismissal of the public servant involved.

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