Captain Sidewalk offers to reimburse Indian couple robbed in Saigon

By Duy Tran   October 1, 2017 | 10:54 pm PT
Captain Sidewalk offers to reimburse Indian couple robbed in Saigon
An Indian couple talk to police in Saigon after their bag was allegedly snatched on Sunday. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran
Saigon authorities are quick to act on foreigners' complaints, but local people don't always receive that level of commitment.

The official behind Saigon’s sidewalk campaign was out doing his rounds again on Sunday night, but found himself in uncharted waters.

An Indian couple approached Doan Ngoc Hai, vice chairman of District 1, to report that their bag containing papers, a phone and VND1 million ($44) in cash had been snatched that evening.

Hai apologized to them and offered to compensate them out of his own pocket; but they refused, saying they just needed the papers and phone because they contained important data.

Hai, who said he had visited India three times, ordered police from his inspection team to “report the case and launch an urgent investigation”.

Saigon, the country’s largest city, drew over five million foreign visitors last year, but street crime remains a constant threat to both outsiders and locals, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Last February, a local woman died after being dragged from her motorbike by two men who were trying to snatch her bag. Her daughter who was riding pillion was also injured.

Another Vietnamese woman died in a similar incident in June last year just a couple of months after authorities issued an official apology to an Egyptian tourist whose bag was stolen on a downtown street.

When a Saigon company agreed to compensate an American tourist $1,000 after she tripped and fell on a metal hook the firm had embedded in the road last April, many people asked why locals are not afforded the same care and protection as foreigners.

Some said that Vietnam is focusing too much on protecting its image and forgetting the things that need fixing closer to home.

Vietnamese people should not be second-class citizens in their own country, they said.

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