Vietnamese official apologizes to Japan for airport funding gaffe

By Dinh Muoi, Thanh Nien News

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A digital rendering of the Long Thanh Airport provided by the Airports Corporation of Vietnam A digital rendering of the Long Thanh Airport provided by the Airports Corporation of Vietnam

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Vietnam’s vice minister of transportation sent a written apology, on Saturday, to Japanese Ambassador Fukada Hiroshi for announcing that Japan would provide US$2billion toward the construction of the Long Thanh Airport.
Vice Minister Pham Quy Tieu tossed the statement out during an online conference hosted on Vietnam's government website Friday.
He said the Japanese government had committed to lending Vietnam $2 billion in official development assistance (ODA) for the construction of the $7.8 billion Long Thanh airport in Dong Nai Province, just outside Ho Chi Minh City.
“I’m honestly sorry for that regretful mistake which I know there’s no satisfactory excuse for,” he said in the letter.
He claimed he made the statement after hearing rumors about about possible funding sources for the project.
Tieu said he had just returned to work from a medical leave.
“I hope the honorable ambassador will forward my personal apology to the Japanese government and relevant agencies.”
He ended the letter by saying he appreciates Japan's continued aid for Vietnam’s transportation projects.

Vice Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu speaking at an online conference on October 17, 2014 where he falsely asserted that Japan had committed aid money toward the construction of the Long Thanh airport. Photo: Tuan Phung/Tuoi Tre
Economists have lately dismissed the Long Thanh project as a costly burden due to the country’s slow economic growth and high public debt.
But the government has defended the project as sound and necessary--and pledged to provide half its funding.
The Airports Corporation of Vietnam has proposed seeking ODA from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Japan, the US, France and South Korea.
But no promises have been made.
Japan has been Vietnam’s top foreign donor despite several bribery hiccups.
In the latest case, several Vietnam Railways executives were detained for receiving $782,000 bribe from Tokyo-based Transportation Consultants to secure it a $41 million public contract using Japanese aid in Hanoi.

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