Vietnam metro pledges to help rebuild factories, quell unrest

By Dinh Phu, Thanh Nien News

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Ho Chi Minh City's mayor Le Hoang Quan (R) shakes hands with representatives from foreign-invested companies at a meeting on May 15
Ho Chi Minh City leaders pledged on Thursday to ensure the safety of foreign investors in the wake of riots that have ravaged foreign-invested factories in neighboring industrial provinces over the last few days.
During a meeting at city hall, Le Hoang Quan, the city's mayor, told representatives from the foreign diplomatic corps and foreign-invested companies that he shared their concerns over acts of hooliganism (incited by extremists) at firms operating in and around the southern metro.
He said the city government is preparing plans to assist businesses in rebuilding damaged facilities and cutting taxes to help them resume business.
While thousands of Vietnamese people joined peaceful demonstrations against China’s illegal deployment of a giant drilling rig into Vietnam’s territorial waters, Quan admitted that some rallies had turned violent.
The resulting extreme actions, which included acts of vandalism, looting and arson, “seriously violated the law and [are] unacceptable,” Quan said.
He said the municipal government had stepped in to stop the violence and protect the property and safety of foreign companies and investors in the city.
Representatives from foreign companies told Quan they believe in the secure and stable investment environment of Vietnam, but wonder if such riots would continue to occur.
They also expressed their hopes that police and authorities will protect foreign companies in case of riots.
Quan said the recent riots were caused by extremists and weren't at all representative of the general sentiment among the Vietnamese people.
“We will never accept extreme acts that affect foreign investors. Vandals and extremists will be strictly punished under the law, they will soon be publicly tried,” he said.
Police weren't able to take strong actions against the rioters because they were hidden in throngs of demonstrating workers, he explained.
The police must act carefully now, he said.
Quan pledged that the municipal government will try its best to prevent similar acts in the future.
Emergency contact
Quan told representatives from foreign companies that they should immediately call the HCMC Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA), which manages EPZs and IZs in the city, in case of emergency.
They can also call police hotlines or contact the HCMC Department of External Relations, or the HCMC People’s Committee’s office for any urgent matters, he said.
He said the municipal government will consult the central government on how to pay for damages that rioters caused to foreign companies.
Also on Thursday, Vu Van Hoa, chief of HEPZA, said it is calling on some companies, which temporarily closed down, to resume business activities following the riots.
“We have worked with the HCMC Labor Federation to explain to workers that riots will do them no good,” he said.

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