Experts and officials are arguing for official selection of a national flower for Vietnam, saying it will boost the country's image and identification.
Pham Sanh Chau, secretary general of Vietnam National Committee for UNESCO, said at a Wednesday conference held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi that having a national flower will help create "Vietnamese characters" at diplomatic ceremonies.
Based on 13 criteria set for selecting Vietnam's national flower by the ministry, Tran Khanh Chuong, chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, suggested choosing the lotus, which has gained immense popularity in Vietnam since the Ly dynasty (1009-1225).
Moreover, the water lily is related to Vietnam's former president Ho Chi Minh, who was born in the Kim Lien (Lotus) Village, some 12 kilometers to the west of the central town of Vinh, according to Chuong.
Dang Van Dong, head of Flowers and Ornamental Plants Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Fruits and Vegetables Research Institute, quoted an online survey finding that 40.3 percent of 130,000 respondents chose the lotus as the national flower.
However, not everyone is enthused with the project to choose the country's national flower.
Le Thi Minh Ly, deputy chief of the ministry's Heritage Department, said: "I wonder what the national flower will bring to the community and if it will help increase our role on the international stage."
Countries with long lasting cultures like China and Russia, or even Bulgaria, which is famous for roses, don't have national flowers, she said.
Deputy minister Le Tien Tho said the culture ministry will consult with more experts before choosing a national flower and ask for contributions and feedback from the public.
It will then be submitted to the government and even the National Assembly for approval, Tho said, adding the project is expected to be completed later this year.