Vietnamese justice official causes uproar by vandalizing Da Lat cherry tree

By VnExpress   March 5, 2017 | 06:48 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese justice official causes uproar by vandalizing Da Lat cherry tree
Pham Thi Minh Hieu, deputy director of Binh Thuan's Department of Justice with a branch of cherry blossom in hand in Da Lat. Photo courtesy of N.A.T.

She blames the driver for breaking off the branch.

A justice official from the central province of Binh Thuan has been caught breaking the branch of a cherry tree in Da Lat to take photo, triggering anger among netizens in the country.

Facebooker N.A.T in Da Lat posted a number of photos of the incident showing a woman snapping off a cherry blossom in the popular resort town, despite being told not to by other members of her group, who had all traveled by car from Binh Thuan, the Tuoi Tre news site reported on Sunday.

Facebookers quickly identified the woman as Pham Thi Minh Hieu, deputy director of Binh Thuan’s Department of Justice and a member of the provincial legislature.

N.A.T confirmed with Tuoi Tre that the story he posted on Facebook was true, and said he had witnessed the incident while visiting Tuyen Lam Lake, a popular tourist destination in Da Lat.

An official from Binh Thuan's provincial government confirmed on Sunday that the woman in the pictures was Hieu.

Hieu told Tuoi Tre on Sunday afternoon that she and a delegation from Binh Thuan had visited the lake on March 2 after attending a meeting in Da Lat the same day. A driver had taken the branch, which was about to fall off, and given it to her, she said.

vietnamese-justice-official-causes-uproar-by-vandalizing-da-lat-cherry-tree

Pham Thi Minh Hieu, deputy director of Binh Thuan’s Department of Justice, with a branch of cherry blossom in hand in Da Lat. Photo courtesy of N.A.T.

"I took the cherry blossom branch without knowing it would cause such a fuss," she said.

However, some visitors around asked why she felt she had the right to break off the branch, and an argument broke out, prompting them to take a photo of her with the branch.

In a conflicting statement, Hieu said: “I have been made aware of my mistake. I should not have broken the branch. I am sorry for causing this incident.”

Earlier last month, Da Lat authorities decided to cancel its highly-anticipated cherry blossom festival due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Officials said the town's cherry trees had not flowered as expected due to the warm winter.

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