Many people were shocked when a senior official said recently that the stamp of quality on crash helmets cannot guarantee that they are safe, as a stamp can be put on any helmet.
Tran Van Vinh, deputy head of the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality - the country's top quality testing unit, was meeting with other officials on May 8 to discuss how to punish motorbike riders using fake, poor quality helmets that do not carry the CR (Conformity with Regulations) stamp.
But Vinh's statement that the stamp does not mean anything leaves consumers once again wondering what is it they can trust and what is the role of the government if it is not to protect its citizens.
Vinh said a crash helmet producer only gets the stamp after all his products have been tested and found to meet safety requirements. But then the stamp can be used for many other helmets and there's no one keeping watch to make sure that these helmets meet all the criteria as well.
While samples are taken for testing every six months, it still means many helmets of dubious quality can slip through the process, Vinh admitted.
A survey by the World Health Organization found only around 46 percent of stamped crash helmets in Vietnam can protect riders' heads from shocks in case they fall off their bikes.
Then isn't it better to buy helmets available on the sidewalks at cheap prices, as no government agency is spending enough time and effort to make sure the so-called official ones are really safer?
There are similar problems with the stamps for beverages and other products, as fake ones keep making headlines once in a while after a lot of them have been sold in the market for some time.
Now that a senior official has admitted the problem, maybe it's time the country changes the ways it manages its quality stamps.
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