Deputies bemoan loss of historic documents

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Vietnam is losing precious historical and cultural documents to the poor and rigid management of archives, deputies said at a National Assembly session on Friday.

"Things of today are invaluable for tomorrow," Le Doan Hop, Minister of Information and Communication and deputy from Hung Yen Province, said at the session to discuss the creation of the Law of Archives.

Hop said many precious historical documents are being lost forever as the number of people maintaining and preserving them has reduced.

He also blamed the dispersal of different documents about one subject for the loss of many.

The country's fight against foreign invaders were mighty but there're not many specific documents about them, the deputy said.

"In other countries, the national museums manage to keep the entire history of their people in three major categories: culture, economy and fighting foreign invasions.

"In China, they store things very well. Documents were written in detail, from royal decrees, discussions at court to the king sleeping with whom and at what time."

Citing an example, the minister noted that museums about Liu Bei (161-223), a general, warlord, and later the founding emperor of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, keep everything about him and anyone who wants to study Liu Bei just needs to go there.

Nguyen Tan Trinh, a deputy from Quang Nam, said many national secrets might be never revealed as they are not kept "systematically."

"How long would we take to reveal a national secret? The military authorities want to keep secrets, the police want to keep secrets, the intelligence agencies want to keep secrets"¦

"But there's not a system to control that secret keeping. So if we need to know something, we wouldn't know where to go."

Nguyen Van Thuan, Chairman of the NA's Legal Committee and another deputy from Quang Nam, said Vietnamese people in general do not have a strong idea about protecting national documents.

Thuan said the military, the police, the courts work separately in storing national documents but some offices don't have much money and they keep documents on the top of wardrobes. 

He said the originals of many documents have been lost. "Our idea of storing is to bury the documents deep and tight, which makes it hard to find them later."

Deputy Trinh also recommended officials to pay attention to Vietnamese documents kept overseas. "Many of our documents on Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands are in France. And once I went to Turkey, people also told me that Vietnam has many Hoang Sa documents overseas but we have not managed to acquire them."

Tran Dinh Long, vice chairman of the NA's Legal Committee and a deputy from Dak Lak, said the new law needs to categorize the documents and decide the storage requirements of each category.

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