Vietnam’s military says willing to free up land when needed

By Huu Cong   June 23, 2017 | 01:38 am PT
Vietnam’s military says willing to free up land when needed
A piece of military land granted to Tan Son Nhat airport's expansion in February. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong
The deputy minister of national defense said the military will transfer land to Saigon for the city’s economic development.

A top Vietnamese defense official has said his ministry is willing to hand over military land in Ho Chi Minh City for the city’s economic development.

Deputy Minister of National Defense Le Chiem said at a meeting with Ho Chi Minh City's leaders on Friday that the ministry controls a large amount of land in the city, and plans to check on what exactly it is being used for.

He said the ministry would only hold onto areas needed for defense purposes and would transfer the rest to the city for development.

“The military does not do business. It has to focus on building smart and modern forces,” he said.

The statement comes amid a heated debate about whether the country should clear a 157-hectare (390 acres) golf course currently owned by the military to make way for the expansion of the city’s Tan Son Nhat airport, which is the country’s largest airport and currently operating at 30 percent over capacity.

Chiem said the ministry has halted all construction at the course, including work on a training facility, villas and apartments, while the government works on the expansion plan.

He said that although the golf course has been there since 2007 with approval from the country’s top leaders, there's an “urgent” need to reduce the pressure on Tan Son Nhat.

“Civil aviation development should be the priority,” he said.

Last February, the defense ministry freed up 21 hectares of land for the expansion of Tan Son Nhat, three years after it transfered eight hectares.

The 574-hectare international airport welcomes 32 million passengers a year, far beyond its designed capacity of 25 million. Its two runways have been reduced to one on several occasions due to flooding or lightning strikes, and its parking space for 57 aircraft sometimes has to handle more than 70 planes at a time.

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